Florida Man, Worried About BLM Protests, Brings AR-15 and Handgun to Disney Vacation

A Florida man reportedly brought multiple guns to a family vacation at Disney World over fears about nearby Black Lives Matter protesters.

An unnamed 43-year-old man from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida brought an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun, along with a large amount of ammunition, during a family trip on Labor Day weekend due to fears that his family could be in danger from protesters, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.

The paper reports that the man brought the carried the guns in a tennis bag while checking into the Polynesian Village Resort on September 5, citing a police report. The man was said to have a concealed weapons permit and was not arrested since no laws were broken. Regardless, Disney security confiscated his weapons and held them during his stay due to their policy prohibiting weapons.

“Our policy is clear that weapons of any kind are not allowed at our resort regardless of whether someone has a permit,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Newsweek.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to the incident after a bellman carrying the man’s unusually heavy bag noticed the guns inside, which prompted his manager to contact police.

Disney World
Disney World reopened in July, about four months after the Florida resort had been closed over public health concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gregg Newton/AFP/Getty

The police report states that when questioned by officers about the weapons, the man said that “he brought the rifle with him for their safety because of the riots and civil unrest going on down south and in the Central Florida area,” according to the paper.

Like many areas throughout the country, protests against racial injustice and police brutality have been ongoing in the Orlando area, where Disney World is located. However, no related protests have been reported at the resort itself, nor have resort guests been targeted for any sort of physical attacks by protesters.

Another incident involving weapons occurred in July, when a Georgia woman who did not have a concealed weapons permit was arrested after Disney World security alerted police upon finding two guns and a small amount of marijuana hidden in a diaper bag as she attempted to enter the resort’s Epcot theme park.

Her arrest happened days after Disney World reopened following four months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the resort opened its doors as cases of the virus were surging in Florida, preventative measures including reducing capacity to 25 percent may have resulted in it not being tied to any major outbreaks.

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was sending a team to Florida to discuss preventative measures with an eye towards eventually reopening California theme parks. Disneyland has remained closed since the start of the pandemic due to public health concerns.

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Black Travel Summit weekend webinar brings together travel pros and leaders

Monet Hambrick, the Miramar-based founder of the travel blog The Traveling Child, and her husband James, create content to encourage families to travel the globe. Monet will speak at the Black Travel Summit’s virtual conference, which runs from Oct. 17-18.

Monet Hambrick, the Miramar-based founder of the travel blog The Traveling Child, and her husband James, create content to encourage families to travel the globe. Monet will speak at the Black Travel Summit’s virtual conference, which runs from Oct. 17-18.

Traveling with kids, taking care of your mental health on the road, traveling while Black – these are some of the topics an upcoming webinar hosted by the Miami-based Black Travel Summit will highlight this weekend.

The two-day virtual event will bring together 26 speakers from around the globe, including content creators and a director for the Seychelles Tourism Board. The event runs from Oct. 17-18 and is sponsored in part by the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which will deliver a keynote address Sunday.

“This is a celebration of people of color in the travel space,” said Anita François, founder of the Black Travel Summit. “We’re trying to create a connection between us and the travel industry by fostering collaboration with influencers and encouraging partnerships.”

Attendees can register online at blacktravelsummit.com. General admission is free, but up to 500 VIP tickets ranging from $20 to $70 dollars include vendor discounts and a lifetime membership to the Black Travel Summit. Part of the proceeds will go to Dream Defenders, a social justice nonprofit.

VIP tickets come with a curated gift box containing samples from Black-owned brands.

The conference, titled “Movement,” will include breakout sessions featuring yoga and a cooking demo, as well as presentations about living as an expat, building a brand and travel writing.

Other sessions include a presentation by a mental health professional who will target self care and a historian who will talk about Black History Month in the United Kingdom, which is celebrated in October.

Black travelers are a valuable and untapped audience for the industry, according to Mandala Research, a tourism and travel research firm. Black Americans spent $63 billion on travel, according to the firm’s 2018 report, and the number is expected to grow to $90 billion in coming years.

But representation is lacking, said François. She founded the summit about two years ago, encouraged by her own experiences as a British expat in the U.S. and a lifelong traveler born to an east African mother and Haitian-American father.

“When you don’t see yourself in the mainstream travel media, or on a billboard or taking a cruise you almost feel like, is this for me? Is this something I can do? Is it safe for me as a person of color, because I know how America views people of color but how do other countries view people of color?” François said. “Black people have always been traveling, but now the world finally has the opportunity to have a glimpse into what it looks like when people of color travel because of social media.”

In recent years, content creators have carved out a niche for themselves, agrees Ernest White, creator of the blog Fly Brother and host of the travel docu-series “Fly Brother with Ernest White II,”

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