October 21, 2023, 4:23 PM ·

Is fighting becoming more common at Disney and other theme parks?That’s the question that I got asked this past week by a Los Angeles radio station. Producers there were reacting to the latest viral video of a brawl at Disneyland. This time, park guests went at it in front of the Storybook Land Canal Boats.

Frequent Disneyland visitors know that narrow pathway between Storybook Land and the Mad Tea Party as one of the park’s more notorious pinch-points. It’s pretty much impossible to walk through there without at least bumping shoulders with someone on many days. Throw parked strollers into the mix there, and the crowding gets even worse.Is that enough to spark a fight? Ultimately, none of us ever knows all the reasons why another person decides that this is the moment of their Disney visit when it’s time to throw hands. But it does happen, as TikTok and Instagram are so eager to show us. Anyway, you can hear my response to the crew at KNX Radio below:It’s so much easier for people to see Disney fights these days, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices and Internet connections. Since Disney parks are such popular destinations, videos from the parks have a much higher likelihood of going viral, thanks to the large number of people who have the parks in their location histories. And the old TV news adage, “it it bleeds, it leads,” continues to apply to social media algorithms, too.

But seeing real people fighting in public spaces such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World also normalizes that behavior for some viewers. They see people throwing down at Disney and think, “hey, that’s something that I can do,” as opposed to thinking, “what the hell?” The short, unedited format of IRL fight videos means we never see the aftermath for the participants – the hours spent in a windowless park security holding room, the park ban, and possibly the police arrest. So are fights actually happening more often in the social media era, or are we just seeing more of the fights that always have been happening? I would like to get some data from Theme Park Insider readers, based on your first-hand experience. Forget what you have seen online or in the news. I am asking today about what you have seen with your own eyes, on your own park visits.
Stories and analysis welcomed in the comments, as always.

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