Disney, Other Parks Add Metal Detectors for the Holidays

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Disney and Other Theme Parks Add Metal Detectors for Holidays.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — With the nation increasingly concerned about safety in public, three major theme parks announced Thursday that they are adding security measures including metal detectors ahead of the busy holiday season. It has also decided to discontinue the sale of toy guns (including water pistols) so as not to confuse security staff and has banned people over the age of 14 from wearing fancy dress costumes when visiting.

The metal detectors were installed Thursday at Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., according to a Disney spokeswoman, who added that Disney would stop selling toy guns inside its parks. Officials at Disney, Universal and SeaWorld’s Florida theme parks said all three parks will be using metal detector screening for guests as they enter. Guests entering SeaWorld Orlando can also expect thorough bag checks as well as metal detector checks,” SeaWorld spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley told FoxNews.com via email. Guests at Disney theme parks in Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida, previously had their bags checked by hand and with a handheld metal detector, officials said. The moves come at a time when many public venues worldwide are stepping up security efforts to thwart possible terrorism or other attacks after recent violence in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

Disney said in a statement: “We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate.” “The safety of our guests and team members along with the welfare of our animals have always been our top priority,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “Like other major attractions and venues, we continually evaluate our existing comprehensive security plans.” Tom Schroder, a Universal Studios spokesman, said the devices had been occassionally used at Universal parks before for special events such as Halloween Horror Nights. “This starts with the fact that we want our guests to feel safe when they come to our parks,” he said in an email. The theme park companies did not refer to either event in announcing the increased security, although Disney did say it was increasing security in light of recent events. Michael Dorn, a security consultant, said metal detectors can serve as “more of a feel-good measure than something actually designed to really stop anybody.” They are costly to set up and run, they inconvenience patrons and can be ineffective unless set up as thoroughly as you might see at an airport, he said.

Though Disney will not be installing metal detectors in front of additional attractions, the company says that some guests will “be randomly selected for a secondary screening using a metal detector,” which will likely extend the overall waiting time to get into the park. When Times readers were asked recently how often they think of the possibility of a shooting in everyday life, several Times readers said they have become fearful in crowded spaces. Line-cutting tools like Disney’s electronic Fast Pass will become an even more attractive option for those who want to speed through the park once inside.

Unofficial third party apps like Touring Plans and Undercover Tourist offer daily average wait times and suggested schedules based on how much time you have during your visit. David Zilka, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., said a Transportation Security Administration agent in Fort Lauderdale confiscated one of the faux guns, a purple-and-green Buzz Lightyear toy based on the “Toy Story” character, from carry-on luggage after he bought it for his 5-year-old son in November. Theme parks already have long lists of items that are banned from the grounds but with more thorough bag searches, people attempting to sneak these in shouldn’t risk it. He had brought the child on a day trip to Disney World, where the child loved the Buzz Lightyear ride, in which he rode in a car and shot lasers at aliens.

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