Published: July 3, 2007 at 9:06 AM
It's been a while since we were last at WDW - 2002. Back then, Downtown Disney seemed safe and we went several evenings, mainly to the World of Disney store for shopping and such. And in every case, the place was packed and we didn't notice any bad elements.
With that said, one possible solution is to "hem in" the Downtown Disney area to resort guests only. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the sales of all items (food, drink, gifts, etc) across the DD area is from people staying at WDW vs not. Assuming the percentage is high enough to warrant it, this could work.
Gate in the entire area (it's already got clearly defined entry/exit points, so this could be done.) Each gate has a security station for checking all guests coming in, metal detectors, etc. Some may say this would keep them from visiting - not me! I would feel a lot more secure knowing everyone else inside DD with me had gone through the same checkpoint and procedure. A dress code would be clearly posted, saying no foul language on clothing, no gang insignias, and good taste (no partial nudity or butt cracks, etc.) Enforced at the check in as best they can. They do this in the parks, they can do it here.
Entry for WDW resort guests (and the nearby DD Hotels) would be free with valid park admission or resort ID. Anyone else would need to purchase a ticket - say $10 adults, $5 children, perhaps higher - whatever a fair and reasonable price would be, while still being a prohibitive cost for those wanting a free hangout.
For locals, have a few select nights each month, requiring the same security checkins, with a valid ID or visiting with a parent ONLY. On those nights, double security with a mix of very obvious uniformed security teams and plain clothes teams.
To anyone who says they would feel uncomfortable, I respectfully ask, "If you aren't doing - or planning - anything wrong, while feel uncomfortable?"
For Disneyland (my neck of the woods), I think they could move the DD side of the security checkpoint to near the Disneyland Hotel entrance, making the entire area enclosed and requiring the checkpoint.
My two cents. :)