A Not So Fun Day Out at the Parks – Getting in Trouble with the Law at the Florida Theme Parks

April 7, 2022 Criminal Defense

If there’s one thing Florida is known for, it’s fun-filled theme parks. There are over 10 theme parks in the state of Florida, and that’s not even including the smaller-scaled attractions. When it comes to entertainment and excitement, Florida is ground zero.

Walt Disney World attractions alone brought in over 155 million visitors worldwide in the year 2019, which was even slightly less than the previous year. As you can see, Florida—Orlando specifically—is considered the theme park capital of the United States.

The appeal of theme parks is that, well, they’re fun! Spending the day riding exhilarating rides, seeing live-action shows, and eating and drinking your way around the parks. It’s all supposed to be a part of a perfect day out for the whole family. Yet, what happens when things get out of hand in the parks?

Large-scale theme parks such as Disney and Universal are known for being strict when it comes to criminal activities on their premises. So that leaves the question: what happens if you get arrested at one of Florida’s theme parks? A look into the most common arrests, example cases, and how to defend yourself in the case of a criminal charge at a theme park will all be reviewed.

Common Arrests that Happen at Florida Theme Parks

Even though it may sound surprising to hear that crime happens at a theme park, it often does. If things get out of hand, incidents can occur. The following is a list of common theme park offenses:

Under both Walt Disney World and Universal’s rules and regulations page, they list items that are prohibited from the parks. Included in the prohibited list are the following:

  • Firearms
  • Ammunition
  • Knives or weapons of any kind
  • Marijuana (including marijuana enriched products) or any other illegal substances
  • Fireworks
  • Alcoholic beverages not bought from inside the park grounds
  • Glass containers
  • Horns, whistles, megaphones, or loud noisemakers
  • Drones
  • Selfie sticks, or any hand-held extension poles for cameras or phones.

In addition, the parks address what is considered prohibited behavior while on the park grounds. Within the prohibited activities is that guests cannot engage in unsafe, illegal, disruptive, or offensive behavior. If the park employees believe that a person is failing to comply with the rules and regulations by engaging in unsafe or illegal activities, they reserve the right to deny the entrance, ban the individual from the park, or involve the police. To read the full list of rules and regulations, you can find it on Walt Disney World’s or Universal Orlando’s web pages.

Example Cases

Although it is not an everyday occurrence, there are times when criminal activity takes place on the grounds of a Florida theme park. The following are just a few of the various arrests that have been made recently on Florida theme park grounds.

On February 4th, 2022, a 37-year-old man from Bristol, England was arrested at Universal’s waterpark, Volcano Bay. James Stuart Evans was found by authorities acting out in an intoxicated and disorderly fashion, and the employees of the park tried to force him to leave.

While an Orlando police officer was escorting him out of the park, he continuously shouted, “[a]rrest me!” The police officer attempted to do so, but Evans resisted arrest and injured the officer’s arm in the process. Both men were taken to the hospital, and Evans was taken to jail on drunk and disorderly charges, along with resisting arrest.

On October 26th, 2021, a drunken brawl took place at Disney’s separate park area called Disney Springs. Two siblings from New Jersey had been visiting the Disney parks and got into an argument while attempting to leave the premises. Their phones had died and requested that Disney security called them an Uber. When the Uber arrived, the driver refused to take the sisters, claiming they were already too drunk.

After this, the two asked for help calling a taxi, and then a fight broke out between the two. Witnesses heard one call the other a bad mother, slapping her, and the other threatening to punch her. According to the police report, “both females began punching, slapping, and pulling each other’s hair.”  

Somehow the story then took a strange turn of events. A security manager attempted to pull the sisters apart, but they continued to run after each other. Supposedly one sister slipped in the other’s vomit and fell into the bushes. She then proceeded to take off her dress, exposing herself in public. The two continued to punch one another until another cast member was finally able to separate them until police arrived on the scene.

Although there was no surveillance footage of the fight, with the help of the witnesses, the police officers arrested both sisters for domestic violence, battery, and disorderly intoxication.

On December 18th, 2021, a family visiting from London, England was arrested for grand theft after they entered the Universal theme park without purchasing tickets. According to the police reports, surveillance videos showed the group walking through the ticket turnstiles without having any tickets scanned.

One employee tried to stop them, but they continued on. Police caught them later on at the newest Jurassic Park ride, where the story unfolded more. A woman identified as Mary Anderson told authorities she was the two younger teens’ mother but had been at a party all day, yet the security camera clearly showed the entire group entering the park.

The report declared that the children of Mary Anderson were acting on their mother’s behalf, and she was charged with theft for each of the unpaid tickets, which equated to $936.00—resulting in a grand theft charge under Florida Statute section 812.014(2)(C)(1)

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Although the example cases may seem extreme, they are only some of the most recent arrests made on theme park grounds in Florida. Going to a theme park is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for people of all ages. Whether you’ve traveled from afar or live right here in the state of Florida, it’s important to remember that going to a theme park does not mean that there are no laws. There are often police officers all around theme parks to ensure no illegal activities take place.

If you or a loved one have found yourself accused of a crime while at a Florida theme park, it is imperative that you seek out the assistance of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney. Navigating the legal world can be daunting—so you can ensure that your case is in the right hands when you rely on Pumphrey Law Firm. Don Pumphrey and his team have represented clients all across the state and understand what it takes to defend your case. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation today.

Written by Karissa Key

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