There have been 2 incidents in March that have Disney vacation fans buzzing involving the swimming pools in Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line.
Disney’s life guard policy has always been very clear. In a 2008 publication, Disney states that it trains over 1,200 lifeguards a year, including on its cruise ships. Here’s is the statement:
“Together, the Disneyland® Resort, Walt Disney World® Resort and Disney Cruise Line® train more than 1,200 lifeguards a year to monitor activities at these venues.”
“Our lifeguards must complete a thorough training program that exceeds most U.S. standards and includes both a water-skills test and up to 24 hours of basic training in water rescue techniques, CPR, basic first aid, oxygen administration and the use of AEDs. After completion of basic training, lifeguards must also perform four hours of in-service training each month, undergo eight hours of recertification training every year and participate in frequent unannounced audits by one of the world’s premier aquatic safety service providers.”
Each Disney Resort has posted clearly their pool hours that have these trained lifeguards there for your safety. Any swimming after the pool hours are formally closed are at the swimmer’s risk. These hours change daily based on occupancy, weather, etc.
On March 10th 13-year-old Anthony Johnson died after he was found at the bottom of a Pool in Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Anthony was at the pool with his family, from Missouri, when they lost sight of him. He was found by a cousin at the bottom of the pool at 9:10pm (after the clearly posted life guard hours). He was then pulled from the pool alive and his father and a firefighter both preformed CPR at the site. Unfortunately, he died the next day in Florida Hospital South.
It is important to note, there are NO LIFE GUARDS at any of the Disney Cruise Line pools or beaches. When you purchase your cruise, the passenger ticket states that the cruise line does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising out of swimming pools. There are also signs on the cruise ships saying that there are no lifeguards on duty and that swimming is at the passenger’s risk.
On March 30th a 4-year-old child was found unresponsive in a swimming pool on the Disney Fantasy at around 3.30 pm before the ship left Port Canaveral for a 7 night cruise. The boy’s parents were not at the pool when their son was rescued. Disney cast members did give him medical attention before the boy was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando. The ship did depart for the scheduled cruise approximately 45 minutes after the boy and his family left the ship. Today, he remains hospitalized, but officials are not releasing his condition or his name.
Many fans in the Disney community many are now questioning Disney’s life guard policies now. Should there be extended hours for the pools at the resorts in Walt Disney World? Should all of the pools be locked after the pools are closed? Should there be life guards posted on all Disney Cruise Line ships and beaches? Only time will tell if Disney will change their current policy. After both instances, Disney expressed concern and sorrow for the victims.
Our advice when swimming while on vacation and staying safe? Don’t ever allow your children to swim without a responsible adult nearby. Even at a resort, where there are life guards, there is always human error and a pair of eyes watching only your loved ones are the best ones. Also, only swim while there are life guards at the resort pools- these pools are huge! Having another set of eyes other than your eyes or those of another responsible adult who is caring for them is essential for optimum safety. Tragedies happen when you turn your back to grab a towel, sneeze, or take a sip of water. The more eyes checking to be sure everyone is safe- the better. On Disney Cruise Line, please do not let your child go into any pool unattended. The child’s Mickey pool may be shallow and appear to be safe- but it only takes a few inches of water for a drowning to occur.
As a mother of 5, a former Los Angeles City lifeguard and a mom who has taken her children cruising and to pools that didn’t have lifeguards; I can only say that you never trust that a toddler near a pool is safe! I took my 2.5 year old on a cruise (I don’t advise it), needless to say though, he was never left unattended. It is not the fault of the Disney Corporation that a 3 year old got away from his parents. If he was left under the care of Disney, that is a different story, but they hadn’t even left port yet. This is on the parents. It is a huge tragedy, and I am sure Disney will pay dearly for it, but parental neglect shouldn’t cost Disney. This is why so many things are over priced, liability cases are expensive to defend, even if you are innocent!
As a certified lifeguard, I feel 2 drownings in a month is quite a lot. However, many pools with extended hours are for the guests’ convenience. It is up to the parent and the caregivers staying with the children to watch them at all times. However, anyone can drown at any given moment in time regardless of their swimming abilities or age. It is up to the parent to supervise children and to stop dangerous activities BEFORE they happen. Just the same as any lifeguard, that is their primary responsibility. The extended hours on the other hand are okay with me due to the guest’s preference. If a guest enters a pool without a lifeguard present, they are assuming all responsibility and any risks associated with it. If there are any concerns about swimming without a lifeguard present, then the family and children can go swimming with a lifeguard present during regular swimming times.