Photo (cc) by JeffChristiansen
Metal detectors are now greeting visitors to Walt Disney World and other Orlando-area theme parks.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that on Thursday, Disney placed walk-through metal detectors in front of its four Florida parks, and Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando started using wand-style metal detectors.
Disney World — where a man was arrested last week after reportedly trying to enter a park with a handgun — also said Thursday that it would discontinue the sale of toy guns and ban costumes for visitors 14 and older, the newspaper reports.
Disney said in a statement that it continually reviews its “comprehensive approach to security and [is] implementing additional security measures, as appropriate.”
Scott Smith, an assistant professor of hospitality at the University of South Carolina, tells the Orlando Sentinel that the apparently coordinated security changes at theme parks seem to be “really kind of a destination statement of, ‘Look, we’re ensuring all our guests traveling to Orlando experiencing the parks, we’re going to try to provide the safest environment possible.”
The Orange County Register reports that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, both in Anaheim, and Universal Studios in Hollywood also introduced new security measures such as metal detectors and a costume ban on Thursday. They join other California theme parks such as Six Flags Magic Mountain, which has had extra security in place since the 9/11 attacks.
The new security measures come in the wake of deadly terrorism attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
The measures also follow an advisory statement issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday. The statement said the federal agency “know[s] of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland” but expressed concern:
DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places.
As we saw in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.
What’s your take on this news? Would you feel safer at a theme park with metal detectors and other security measures in place? Share your thoughts with us below or on Facebook.