Universal Studios Stops Retired Cop, Says 'Police' Shirt Is Not Allowed In Park

Retired Ormond Beach Police Officer Vincent Champion said Universal Studios stopped him for wearing a police t-shirt.

Orlando, FL – A retired Ormond Beach police officer and his girlfriend were stopped by security at the gates of Universal Studios’ Orlando theme park because he was wearing a shirt that said “retired police officer.”

Retired Ormond Beach Police Officer Vincent Champion told Blue Lives Matter that the incident occurred just after 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 as he and his girlfriend, Holly Bickel, were headed into the theme park to meet up with some other couples for Halloween Horror Nights.

A 22-year-veteran of the Ormond Beach police, he now splits his time between working as a reserve investigator for the Florida State’s Attorney’s Office and representing other officers through the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

“I walk up to the line wearing a retired law enforcement officer shirt,” Champion explained. “I start emptying out all my pockets and as I’m about to walk through, the girl behind the security counter says ‘do you have another shirt?”

He said he was surprised by the question.

“I told her ‘no ma’am, I do not’ and explained I was in town from Daytona,” the retired officer told Blue Lives Matter. “And she says you can’t come in here with anything that says ‘police officer’ on it.”

Champion said that normally, that would have been enough anti-police sentiment for him to turn around and leave the park.

But on this occasion, Champion and Bickel were meeting up with other couples who were already inside waiting for them so they didn’t want to just walk away.

He told Blue Lives Matter that he offered to turn his shirt inside out.

The security officer said that wasn’t okay.

“There was a group of five or six couples behind us that lost their minds at that point, and some of them started yelling at the security officer saying things like ‘this is what you do to retired heroes, this is how you show respect to law enforcement?’”

Champion said one of the couples behind them handed him another shirt to put on so that he could go in, and he gratefully accepted it.

He said he was standing in line changing shirts when the security officer piped up again and informed him that he was “going to have to take that other shirt back to the car.”

The retired officer explained to the security officer that they had just left their car with the valet and there was no way they were going to get it back. He said he would tie the shirt around his waist or carry it.

“But the girl told me, ‘no, you have to put it in your car,’” Champion told Blue Lives Matter. “So I put my shirt back on and asked for a supervisor.”

“So the security supervisor comes down and he explains ‘we have a policy that you can’t wear any police gear,’ and I asked him to show me the policy,” he recalled.

He said they discussed the signage that said patrons could wear nothing with gang sign affiliations or offensive language, but there was nothing that said anything about “police gear” or shirts with badges.

The security supervisor told Champion that they didn’t permit anything with the word “police” because they didn’t want any of the other park patrons to confuse him with “real police or park security.”

“I explained that my shirt says I’m a retired police officer – and then I asked, if I see something happening inside the park, like somebody getting beat up or something, you don’t want me to react?” he told Blue Lives Matter.

“And he said that would be okay ‘but we don’t want anybody to confuse you with real police or security,’” Champion said.

He said he asked the security supervisor if it would be alright for an EMT to wear an EMT shirt, even though other patrons might mistake them for being a park medic, and the supervisor answered yes.

After almost an hour, the security supervisor agreed to allow Champion into the park wearing his retired police officer t-shirt after he was unable to produce any written rule or policy to the contrary, but the experience was still humiliating.

“Ultimately, I was allowed in. I think it was because I complained enough and other patrons were yelling at him, he said it would be fine. He looked at my shirt and said ‘well, that doesn’t really look like a badge, so you’re okay,’” Champion explained.

He’s still not sure what exactly the problem was – the presence of a badge or the word “police” – because “they don’t have a written policy they can show you.”

Champion said that, as a result of that experience, he will not be returning to University Studios and that he’s started spreading the word in the law enforcement community.

“I will never return to Universal and I know of two other police families who have already cancelled their season passes to that park,” he told Blue Lives Matter.

He also said that police union he works for was considering the theme park for an upcoming convention, but that there’s no way that they’re going to go there now.

“Why can’t we be proud of who we are?” Champion asked Blue Lives Matter. “I was proud to be a police officer – still am – and I can’t wear what I want because they are bowing down to other people who may not like it. Lots of people wear shirts that I don’t like but I can’t do anything about it.”

“By the way, if I had that shirt on, what are the chances anybody would do something in front of me? We also prevent things from happening,” he added.

Champion's girlfriend reached out to Universal Studios on Twitter on Nov. 4 and told them what had happened.

"Hello, while we're honored to welcome off-duty first responders to our resort as Guests, safety is our highest priority. Our Security Teams and local emergency officials maintain a strong, ongoing presence in our parks. To avoid any possible confusion this attire is not allowed," Universal Studios replied.

Blue Lives Matter reached out to Universal Studios to ask what the official policy was regarding police apparel at their theme parks but had not received a response by publication time.

UPDATE: In a statement from their communications department, Universal Studios said, "I want to assure you that all of us at Universal have tremendous respect for police, firefighters and all first responders. We cherish our relationships with our local police and sheriff’s departments and work closely with them."

"We are sorry for what our guest experienced – and we have reached out to him and apologized," the statement explained. "Our policy is designed to keep our guests and team members safe. But this guest’s shirt is something we would allow in our parks and is not the kind of thing our policy is designed to prevent. We want you to be proud of what you do or have done for those of us in the communities you serve."

"And so, as always, we are going to use this as an opportunity to learn and grow and improve," the statement concluded.

Comments (148)
No. 1-50
flybynight
flybynight

Hope they don't have a problem and need the police./sarc

LEO0301
LEO0301

Well, since I avoid Orlando and theme parks like the plague, I don't think this will be an issue for me.

rid0617
rid0617

Scratch that place off my holiday vacation list

Balkanbobby
Balkanbobby

Another place that will never get my business!

RetiredCorrections
RetiredCorrections

Scratched off my list of places to visit, not good enough for cops not good enough for me

kittyboo
kittyboo

The parks are too expensive for nothing.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Wait a second.... so universal has their own police department? or they wear non-universal studies police t-shirts as their uniforms? and they have thin blue line skulls on the back?

If the answer to these questions is no, then how could there be any confusion between a guess who is an off duty LEO and the uniformed security officers? Does the management of Universal studios really think their patrons are the stupid?

Bigyoda20
Bigyoda20

Absolutely retarded!

yelyana
yelyana

It was good to see other patrons standing up for this retired police officer. Now, this so-called 'theme' park is off the list of places to visit.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Instead of just boycotting the park, maybe boycott movies made by Universal Studios as well.

Ron1617
Ron1617

Won't be going there anytime soon. I will be forwarding this to members of the NYPD that may be looking to vacation in Orlando area, or who live in Florida.

SARick
SARick

SAD. Grow a pair, Universal.

Riverrat34653
Riverrat34653

They need to stop selling shirts and hats with the Universal logo. I confuse these tourists with Universal employees.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Blue Lives Matter reached out to Universal Studios to ask what the official policy was regarding police apparel at their theme parks but had not received a response by publication time.

Thank you, Blue Lives Matter. Please keep up pressure everywhere you see this kind of disrespect. They need to be held accountable.

John Chapman
John Chapman

That pisses me off. I won't be going there ever again.

Ladyfluterby
Ladyfluterby

Universal Studios is now OFF my list of places to visit now that my husband is retiring. I am already retired from law enforcement and he will be in December. We will be traveling full time and will be in Florida in May. If we can't proudly represent what we have done for a living while at Universal Studios then we don't need to spend our money at their park. I guess they would probably have the same attitude with my husbands retired USAF shirts too.

Tpr365
Tpr365

Unbelievable. My family, kids, grandkids will never go to Universal again. Your anti-police attitude tells me all I need to know to take our business elsewhere.

RiaB
RiaB

My son is a police officer who was wearing a shirt that said K9 with a picture of a dog. He was refused entry for the same reason at Disney world. A fireman in line gave him a shirt and that was deemed appropriate. He was shocked.

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

I’ll never go to Universal Studios in Florida. Id like to see a list of all anti-police organizations so I can eliminate them from my list of potential vendors.

This is a great of example of discrimination. Apparently, its ok to discriminate against people that you oppose politically or morally.

Screwed up world.

JJU1204
JJU1204

In December of 2018 I had a similar experience at Universal Orlando where I was asked to take off my Police hat. I was confused at first and showed them my police Identification and shield, but I was advised once again to take my hat back to my car or I would not be allowed in. I am a very proud of my current service and have been a police officer for 21 years. They would not budge and blamed it on the local police department rules so there is no confusion. I asked if they would at least hold my police hat that I have taken to Disney World and Busch Gardens without an issue but the female security declined. I did not want to ruin my daughter’s trip so I had to throw it in the trash. My wife tried to reach out to universal via twitter to complain but they did not care. I had yearly passes which I did not use again or renew. Shame on them.

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

To malign LE , when the rulebook doesn't call for it, smacks of discrimination. I feel a lawsuit is in order.

BPDBabyGirl13
BPDBabyGirl13

My husband is retired PD, which he and our whole family is super proud of! For him to be denied the right to wear anything regarding his profession as a Police Officer would be tremendously offensive to his 20 years of service!! Get real people!! These are the men and women who protected and served your lives 24 hours a day! And they would do it still, even in retirement!! God Bless all the men and women in Blue, active and retired!! BLUE LIVES MATTER! HELL YES!!

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Hey all you members who are LE... don't boycott Universal, go there and fight them, like Champion (fitting name) did! Take a cell video of the encounter. I don't wan't Universal to win and you will win. Clear cut discrimination. Bring a spare shirt though!

strongteabag
strongteabag

The wackos of this world are in control... that is what this article proves. I won't be going to Universal anytime soon.....

CrazyCorpsman
CrazyCorpsman

Universal's policy is in place to protect families and children. Anyone could wear a shirt claiming to be police or security. The fact you people, of all people, don't understand that is disturbing.

Gamar
Gamar

Aside from how insulting this is, whatever happened to our freedom. Free country, freedom of speech, freedom to wear whatever the hell you want to????

Cop Watch
Cop Watch

all of you copsuckers think this is discrimination! that is funny! now you know how us poor people feel when the cops come around for there revenue collecting activity's. or when we get profiled as someone thy don't like!

Peedee1
Peedee1

Universal = Hollywood. Hollywood = Leftists. Not surprised by Universal's actions.

TCSO7801
TCSO7801

Gate attendant and supervisor should both be fired for their discriminatory acts. Not knowing the company's policies and then coming up with their own is inexcusable. Any and all present and future functions of law enforcement, fire, EMS and other first responders should be cancelled immediately IMHO. Wouldn't want mass confusion to reign at Universal

LostAllSanity
LostAllSanity

(Note - I am not an attorney.) I think it is time to consider a legal claim of discrimination. Enough is enough. There have been recent claims where the courts sided with the plaintiff who asserted that an employer or business had not struck a fair balance between the individual rights and their desire to “project a certain corporate image.” Further, there might be a claim that Universal has singled-out LEOs, acting with political prejudice, as evidenced by not exerting the same standards against other First Responders. This week I will also report this to IACP and National Sheriffs - hoping they bring this to the attention of all LEOs nationwide so no more Officers are humiliated by Universal.

unholyone
unholyone

Mr. Champion should have told the affirmative action robots at the gate that he was gay, or a pedophile and they would have let him pass.

eagle11311
eagle11311

What part of the word retired don't you understand? It means cease, ended, no longer are, and a variety of other words, which you don't seem to comprehend.

cspcapt
cspcapt

Dismey refused me to put "God bless America" on one of their theme plates. They told me because it offends some people!

Hershiser
Hershiser

I want to know where I can get one of the shirts in question. Or maybe 30 of them to give out to other retired guys. Then we can all wear them to a fun filled day at Universal Theme Park.

mjlally102
mjlally102

I want to know where I can get one of the shirts in question

shayrae
shayrae

I will be doing my part by sharing on social media. Let's get the word out! Stop patronizing Universal Studios!!!!

FLYBOYTIM
FLYBOYTIM

tom.schroder@universalorlando.com is an exec with Universal

Roger Lane
Roger Lane

Crap, done, toast, none of my money will go there. Thanks officer fir your devotion to help others. 🤔

FLYBOYTIM
FLYBOYTIM

I wonder what would happen if someone wore a Police (the band) concert shirt

FLYBOYTIM
FLYBOYTIM

From Tom Schroder... I am certain that this is an auto reply do to the expediency of the email.

Thank you for contacting us. I appreciate the chance to speak with you.

Here is what we’ve shared with some media outlets about what happened. I’m happy to speak with you by phone if you like.

Tom

We have tremendous respect for our law enforcement and first-responder guests and ultimately, this guest was able to wear his shirt. That said, for safety reasons we want our guests and team members to be able to easily identify active, working, law enforcement. And so, as is common in our industry, we do not permit guests to wear clothing or items that could cause confusion.

Southern Woman
Southern Woman

Shaking my head in utter disgust. Universal has hit a new low. First of all no on-duty Police officer is going to be wearing a Tshirt. They have Uniforms! Secondly, the man's shirt is clear that he is RETIRED. He worked hard to become a retired Police officer and he is proud of his accomplishments. How stupid can one company be? They would love it if he jumped in to help, if a situation came, but he can not wear his T shirt in here? This is a perfect example of how America is messed up. We honor and respect our civil servants. These people put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. They are not a "Gang". Frankly, he should sue them for discrimination. Not because he should get money, hell he could donate any monetary judgments to charity. He should do it to wake them up! America has become a country owned and operated by bumbling idiots and the remaining sane should take them to task. Universal will never see any of my money.

lmr111702
lmr111702

As an NYPD Mom, I will now boycott this place. No "police wanna be" can ever replace a real police officer. Go scratch, Universal.

Sworn to Serve
Sworn to Serve

Sounds like discrimination to me...

nbrady1229
nbrady1229

Our family was just at Disney and my husband had a Blue Lives Matter shirt on as well as his police jacket (although he is retired). He received no problems entering the park or walking around. In fact, we were dining at a character meal and Mickey Mouse actually "thanked him" for his service!

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

I am a bit confused about what the skull is supposed to be. Is it the skull of a deceased police officer who died while he was trying to shoot bad guys?

Or is it the skull of a dead crook who was killed by the police to spare the state the expense of a trial?

Either way, why are there no bullet holes in the skull? Did the owner of the skull get hit in the femoral or something?

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

I don't go to any of the theme parks cause they charge too much damn money!!! Now I'll definitely not ever go!!!

DNW
DNW

Universal Studio statement is confusing as ulimately no proof of the existence of any 'policy' against police-themed attire could be produced. In the end they had to let him enter the park...

colonelorville
colonelorville

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS OFTEN SHOWS POOR TASTE. THEY COULD USE A LITTLE ENFORCEMENT THEMSELVES WITH THE MANY PEOPLE WHO CUT IN LINE. ONE TIME, WHEN I WAS STILL A VERY PROUD ACTIVE POLICE OFFICER, I HAD TO YELL AT ONE OF THEIR CONVEYANCE DRIVERS TO STOP WHEN HE STARTED TO DRIVE ON WITH PEOPLE IN MID-STEP EXITING

USMCvet
USMCvet

As a Disabled Vet, and constitutional supporter of Trump, I will bring to your attention that BOTH the Disney and Universal ownership is very far left liberals. Disney world has been found to hire many registered child molesters. When observing their young actors, it's no surprise that many of them turn out to be far left adults! Examples are of course, Miley Cyrus, Shia LaBeouf, and other now young adults who buy into the anti-police rhetoric. Before I would EVER give my hard earned money to either organizations, I'd turn my attention to Carowinds in Carolina. They have some of the best rides, food, and entertainment going. For instance they have the "Snoopy" themed section for kids, both a kids and adult pool areas, some of the tallest and fastest coasters in the world, on over 400 acres between NC and SC on the state line which is marked and a photo op!

Lawandordergal
Lawandordergal

I need to know where I can get a blue lives matter T-shirt and a flag. And they are someone to make me take it off. I spent 25 years in law-enforcement I’m proud of it to this day. If I could turn back the clock I go right back and do it again. Shame on Universal for their behavior and I hope they need somebody one day.