Disney, SeaWorld, Universal add Metal Detectors to Florida Theme Parks

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After San Bernardino shootings, Disneyland and Universal Studios step up security.

A guest removes his metal Disney pin loaded lanyard at at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure as he is randomly screened through a metal detector as he enters the theme parks on Thursday, in Anaheim, Calif. Disney and Universal Studios are among several popular US theme parks boosting security measures, including a ban on toy guns and installing metal detectors, they said Thursday. It reflects heightened tension in the United States following attacks in San Bernardino and in Paris, as well as regular mass shootings in the country.

Disney said it had added metal detectors and police officers at its parks in Florida and California and was bringing in specially trained dogs to patrol key areas. 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. The entertainment giant announced the changes quietly Thursday, saying they were not based on “any single event,” but were intended to help security personnel and to make guests feel secure.

In addition to enhanced security checks, Disney also announced that it would stop selling toy guns throughout its theme parks and will ban visitors over the age of 14 from wearing costumes. “The Orlando theme parks are acting out of an abundance of caution rather than a specific threat,” says Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert for About.com. “Just as we saw an increased security presence at the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and at some major sporting events and concerts, we can expect this to be the ‘new normal’ for at least the immediate future at many places where large numbers of people gather.” “For families traveling this holiday season, give yourself a little extra time at the front gate before the start of your favorite show,” explains Pelisson-Beasley. Under the increased security policy, toy guns have also been banned from the park and guests older than 14 won’t be allowed to wear masks or costumes. 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. At Universal Studios Hollywood, screeners began using metal-detecting wands Thursday to search for hidden weapons or explosives on guests entering the park.

Universal has already been experimenting with metal detectors during special events like its Halloween Horror Nights and earlier this year to prevent customers from bringing items like cell phones on rides. SeaWorld says guests can expect bag checks and wand metal detector checks. “We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney said in an emailed statement.

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. Disneyland will also increase patrols by explosive-sniffing dogs around the parks and related properties, such as Downtown Disney and its resort hotels, the company said. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement that although the changes at the parks are being made with the safety of their guests in mind, it is disheartening that they have to be enacted.

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. Disney doesn’t broadly discuss specifics about its security, but measures at Disney World have increased in recent weeks, in both visible and nonvisible ways for its visitors.

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