Santa Banned From Disneyland Airspace

The reason? Disney’s explanation?

Terrorists could target the park. For the second straight year, the annual “Jingle Bell Jump,” an event in which Santa Claus skydives into the Anaheim Town Square bearing Christmas cheer and gifts, has been cancelled due to TFR 3/2123, which since June 2003 has prohibited aircraft from flying less than 3,000 feet over the Disneyland theme park. The Orlando (FL) park is also protected by a similar TFR, 3/2122, issued on the same day. No other theme parks in the entire country are covered by any TFR’s.

Because the Disney Co. refuses to support a waiver that would allow Santa to make his arrival on a parachute, he will instead have to float in a hot air balloon tethered to the ground, which any kid can tell you is not the same thing. Last year he was forced to arrive in a fire truck. According to Disney officials, the TFR is needed to protect the park from terrorists, and no exceptions are made for red-suited merry men of large girth and hearty laughter.

The management of the Town Square are not satisfied with that explanation, for obvious reasons. “The terrorists are not involved in any way whatsoever,” said Ryan Williams, promotions director for center owner NewMark Merrill, to the Associated Press. “This is Santa landing with his elves.” Local pilots have also complained about the TFR, which forces them to take alternate routings around the airspace. Not even banner towing pilots are allowed to ply their trade over the park to take advantage of the large, captive crowds’ attention.

Williams is not about to let the issue continue as is. He has said he plans to circulate a petition, entitled “Let Santa Land in 2005” to ask Congress to remove the flight restrictions so Santa can resume his airborne arrivals at the Square next year.