SeaWorld going with regional approach

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Orlando, Florida – Major US theme parks in Florida and California, including Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studios, are adding security measures to screen visitors, park officials said. Employees are “cast members,” never to be seen out of character; costumed janitors whisk away trash and horse manure; a hidden army of cats keeps vermin at bay.The Happiest Place on Earth can only remain so by bracing against the possibility of children being mowed down by assault weapons as they await a turn on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster.Disneyland Resorts instituted new security measures on Thursday that include the installation of metal detectors at the entrance of parks, the halt on sales of toy guns and a ban on adults and teens wearing costumes or masks. “We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney Resorts spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in an emailed statement. “The safety of our guests and team members along with the welfare of our animals have always been our top priority.

Major theme parks are installing metal detectors for the holiday season, reflecting heightened security nationwide following the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., and other incidents of gun violence. The added measures, including an increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs at Disneyland, represent an acknowledgment by the nation’s $55-billion-a-year theme park industry that past insistence on discrete, behind-the-scenes security doesn’t go far enough to protect guests from potential terrorist attacks. “We want our guests to feel safe when they come here,” Universal Studios spokeswoman Audrey Eig said. “This test is a natural progression for us as we study best practices for security in today’s world.” At Disneyland and California Adventure, walk-through metal detectors were added Thursday for use on randomly selected customers.

Like other major attractions and venues, we continually evaluate our existing comprehensive security plans,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “We are enhancing security measures at all our parks for the busy holiday season; however, we do not comment on the details of our security measures in order to maintain their effectiveness.” In addition, the parks have banned visitors from carrying toy guys and prohibited those over age 14 from wearing masks or costumes that conceal their identities. 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. And it happens because politicians are unwilling to do anything to actually make us safer in the form of expanded background checks or limits on gun ownership.

Indeed, legislators in many states have succeeded in liberalizing gun ownership, such as by allowing concealed carry without a permit or training, which ensures that more people are armed in public, which leads to the need for metal detectors. On Wednesday, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin saying it was “especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places.” It said the public should expect to see more police and more stringent security at public places and events.

Theme parks may have resisted adding metal detectors because they don’t want customers to think about being vulnerable to gun violence or terrorism, said Martin Lewison, a theme park expert and business management professor at Farmingdale State College in New York. Disney said guests will be randomly selected for a secondary screening using a metal detector, similar to practices adopted by major league baseball, football, hockey and basketball leagues, and at many music concerts. Last week, a man was arrested at Disney World after trying to enter the park with a handgun. “Metal detectors are here to stay, not only in theme parks but we are seeing them in banks, churches and schools,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati. “It does freak me out, but I understand they have to do what they have to do to keep us safe,” said Angelica Moreno, 37, who was visiting the park Thursday from New York. “It’ll be a little weird, but that’s just the world we live in now.” Others said the metal detectors made them feel more secure. “I think this is a very good thing,” said Ana Calahorra, who was visiting from Barcelona, Spain, with her 7-year-old son, Nicolai. “I think it’s necessary given the situation that we currently find ourselves in. Theme parks rely heavily on discrete security measures, such as surveillance cameras that scan the crowds from building tops and plainclothes security officers who resemble guests as they patrol the parks.

The sites of the most horrific gun attacks now form a grim shorthand: We speak of Columbine and Aurora and Virginia Tech, and now most recently San Bernardino. Sandy Hook Elementary — where 20 schoolchildren died — was the attack we all thought was so horrendous that it would spark movement for better forms of background checks for firearms purchases. Contributing to this report were Times staff writer Richard Winton, Dan McSwain of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Sandra Pedicini of the Orlando Sentinel. Instead, we batten down the hatches, assume that everyone is carrying a gun, that a mass shooting can occur anywhere and it’s up to businesses to protect their customers.

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