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Can You Fly a Drone at Disney World?

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They call the Magic Kingdom in Disney World “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” You’d love to experience some of the magic with your drone, capturing overhead shots of the parades, the fireworks shows, or Cinderella’s castle.

Are you allowed to fly a drone in Disney World?

Since 2003, Disney World has been designated a no-fly zone, which means that drones are barred entry under nearly all circumstances. However, over the years, bills have been introduced to try to change that, although not have been successful as of this writing.

If you still have questions about flying a drone around Disney World, we’ve got answers. Keep reading for more information so you can make smart decisions when operating your drone!

Can you fly a drone in any park in Disney World? #

Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a 25,000-acre park, although only about half that space is used for rides, attractions, and entertainment.

The grounds feature four parks in all: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Disney World also has two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

You cannot fly your drone over any of these parks in Disney World, nor can you fly on the other half of the unoccupied 25,000 acres. **You’re not allowed to operate a UAV within three miles of the park at an altitude of 3,000 feet. **

These areas are considered no-fly zones.

It’s not just drones that must abide by these rules, by the way. Disney World, as a designated no-fly zone, prohibits any type of airline traffic, and that includes airplanes as well.

There are certain exceptions, but none for commercial or recreational pilots.

Air ambulance flights are allowed, as are drones or other aircraft used by law enforcement and/or the U.S. Department of Defense.

Disney World is very, very rarely known to approve waiver requests for flights over the park, drone or otherwise, but this is nothing to hinge your hopes to.

By the way, if you’re wondering who set up those rules, it’s the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA, so the no-fly zone is a federal designation.

Both NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (which also happens to be in Florida) and the White House are granted the same degree of protection as Disney World, and that’s saying a lot!

The no-fly rules have been in place since 2003 and seem like they will continue to be instituted well into the foreseeable future.

The only official reason that has been given regarding the Disney World flight restrictions is for “security reasons.”

Considering the rules came into play after the harrowing events of September 11th, 2001, preventing terrorism is surely one of those security reasons.

Even outside of those kinds of threats, it makes sense to have restrictions on flights around Disney World.

According to Disney resource Magic Guides, per day, Disney World attracts 250,000 guests.

Barring of course what a huge interruption to their magical experience it would be if a pilot operated a plane overhead, even if you’re flying a drone, you can annoy or harass paying customers and possibly cause them injury as well.

Your drone could get caught up in the rides, possibly causing mechanical failure. At the very least, you risk damage to precious infrastructure. It’s too risky to fly here.

Is it illegal to fly over Disney World? What happens if you’re caught? #

As we touched on in the intro, there have, over the years, been various attempts made by politicians in Florida to open up the skies over Disney World, but it has yet to happen.

Due to the aforementioned safety risks, we truly don’t see it happening at all. With the rules as they currently stand, if you fly your drone over Disney World, it is indeed illegal.

Per 49 U.S. Code § 46307 – Violation of national defense airspace, violating federal flight rules can lead to a fine as well as a prison term of at least one year and possibly both punishments.

More so than that, your drone could be taken down and detained from you. You probably wouldn’t be able to get it back considering the drone was used to commit a crime.

Can you fly a drone around Orlando? What are the rules? #

If you flew all the way to Orlando hoping to fly your drone around Disney World, you needn’t be disappointed.

As we talked about in this post, Orlando has plenty of spots throughout where drones are welcome.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Orlando? (And the Best Places to Fly)

They include Tangerine Field in Apopka, Shadow Bay Park, Hickory Point Recreation Park in Lake County, Barber Park in Conway, and R.D. Keene Park in Windemere.

Sure, none are quite as picturesque as Disney World, but all are allowable Class G airspace, so you don’t have to worry about any legal issues.

When flying your drone in Orlando, keep the following tips and pointers in mind.

Have the right license #

As a commercial or recreational pilot, you must have a license through the FAA designating you as such.

For commercial pilots, this is known as the Remote Pilot Certificate, and for recreational pilots, it’s the TRUST license, with TRUST being an abbreviation of The Recreational UAS Safety Test.

You can obtain these licenses by taking FAA-approved exams, either the Part 107 exam or the TRUST exam, respectively.

In the case of one’s TRUST license, it never expires, but the Remote Pilot Certificate is only good for two years at a time.

You must carry a current license when operating a drone in Orlando. That goes for any place within the United States, really.

Follow FAA rules #

The FAA has a whole series of guidelines for pilots to follow to ensure they’re safe in the skies and won’t cause any danger to others. These are known, as a whole, as FAA rules.

Since both the Part 107 exam and the TRUST exam will quiz you on your knowledge of FAA rules, we’re assuming you know them very well by the time you launch your drone in Orlando.

Always follow these rules!

Only fly your drone if it’s registered #

Commercial pilots must register their drones with the FAA no matter their weight. Recreational pilots must register a drone that weighs 0.55 pounds or over but needn’t register lighter drones.

Your drone registration will last for the next three years. It costs $5 to register your drone, and you have to register however many drones you’re actively using.

Don’t go near venues, schools, and parks #

According to Orlando’s 2016 municipal law, you cannot operate a UAV closer than 500 feet to a school, a city-owned park, or a venue like the Harry P. Leu Gardens, the Camping World Stadium, or the Amway Center.

If a gathering in Orlando will attract more than 1,000 people, then your drone is prohibited from flying closer than 500 feet.

The only exception is if you have a permit. The permit costs $20 for each flight, or you can shell out $150 upfront for the year.

If you’re caught violating this ordinance, then you’ll be required to pay a fine. The fees are $200 to $400.

Conclusion #

While it would be insanely cool to capture overhead footage of Disney World on your drone, it’s simply not possible. This part of Orlando is a no-fly zone and has been since the early 2000s.

As much as Florida legislation tries to change that on occasion, that never seems to go anywhere.

Considering that the skies over Disney World are granted the same level of federal protection as the White House, it’s not hard to see why.

It’s not worth trying to fly around the theme park (which includes all four parks and the two water parks on the 25,000 acres), as you could risk having your drone confiscated (possibly permanently), being fined, or even spending a year or more behind bars.

Resources:Disney World Statistics (link)49 U.S. Code § 46307 (link)Orlando’s 2016 municipal law (link)


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