The “Do Not Disturb” sign is a ubiquitous part of the hotel-stay experience. And many would argue that it’s essential to a restful stay. After all, who wants to come out of the shower to find a housekeeper tidying up your room?
But beginning with three properties on the monorail line to Disney’s Magic Kingdom—the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary resorts—the Disney company has begun replacing “Do Not Disturb” signs with “Room Occupied” signs.
The big change, however, isn’t the wording on the hang tags; it’s the policy change that the new verbiage reflects. According to Walt Disney World News Today, “it will now be required that a Disney employee enter their hotel room at least once a day to ensure guest safety.” To that end, the hotels’ revised terms of service now include the following:
The hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purposes including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property.
Disney hasn’t explained the reasons for the new policy, but the prevailing theory is that it’s linked to the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a lone gunman opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Daily room checks will presumably reduce the chances of such massacres’ recurring.
I’ve so far not received a response to my query to Disney’s P.R. team for clarification on the company’s rationale for the change, and how Disney customers have responded to the change. Regarding the latter, however, there’s already a decidedly mixed response in Disney-related chat rooms, such as MouseOwners.com. A sampling:
Not a fan of this. I refuse housekeeping when I stay at a hotel because I don’t want staff in my room.
The Do Not Disturb sign means you do not want to be disturbed. Period. We don’t want housekeeping in the room when we are out either.
Not happy. I do not like people in my rooms ever.
I think it’s bull****. Room inspections are for prisons, boarding schools, and psychiatric hospitals.
We go to Disney to relax… not to be checked up on.
My room is my oasis. We are quiet, leave the place clean, and never disturb anybody. I will admit people and make it available on MY schedule. Not anybody else’s.
Notwithstanding the negative feedback from customers, Walt Disney World News Today expects the new policy to be rolled out to other Disney World Resort Hotels “in the coming weeks.” Thereafter, it might well be adopted by other hotel chains, eventually becoming the new industry standard.
Reader Reality Check
Is Disney going too far in sacrificing privacy for security?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.