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Terrorist threats: Are theme parks safe?

Written by
Published: August 11, 2006 at 10:48 AM

With the recent discovery of a plot in London involving liquids and discharging explosives mid flight, it is abundantly clear that we are still at threat of a terrorist attack on US soil. With that clarity in mind, how long before plans are discovered or made to hit yet another symbol of American disregard, the theme park? I'm not saying that theme parks are bad places with a disregard for human life or values...far from it. I am, however, saying that many religions who see the U.S. as an enemy, could see the theme park industry as a prime target because of the fact that so many people spend their time and money there.

The first thing that pops into mind is, of course, Disney. It is the biggest theme park of them all, and certainly the most well known. Everyone has been expecting an air attack, but what about ground attacks? Are theme parks doing enough, by checking bags at the front gates to ensure no improper materials be brought in?
In recent months security has been scaled down at parks like Universal Orlando to help move lines quicker. Instead of checking everyone at admission gates, they check certain individuals at the parking center. Are these measures enough?
Many parks say a resounding yes, saying that not only have their own security forces been stepped up, but the hiring of offduty sherriff employees as well.

Will this latest discovery have an effect on the still faltering tourist industry in Florida with the "British Invasion" currently weeks from hitting its peak? Experts say yes. This could cause enough panic, and frustration at the airports to keep many people away from traveling. The good news in this, you may see theme park prices lowering due to falling attendance. And you may see more parks adapting Universals "Kids Stay Free" way of marketing. Either way you look at it, its not good news for the theme park industry.

Readers' Opinions

From Brian Emery on August 11, 2006 at 11:09 AM
I am not worried about Orlando too much. I think Vegas and DC are more or a target.
There is an easy answer but too many folks will complain, Racial Profiling. Check those you look like they need to be checked. Sorry but it works. Simply look at all of the terrorist from 911. The first thing I do when I get on an airplane is look around for one type of person. If I think someone look’s “different” I will watch for anything suspicious. It may sound mean but I am being honest.
From Anthony Murphy on August 11, 2006 at 11:29 AM
Of course anywhere could be a target, but I do not think that FL is an effective state to target for terrorism. Yes, it is full of American Entertainment, but I don't think that it s big enough to make a statement.
From Chris P. on August 11, 2006 at 3:59 PM
*sigh*Once again the media has an "are-theme-parks-safe?" article. And this time an actual site dedicated to theme parks. How disappointing.
From Greg S on August 11, 2006 at 5:20 PM
I don't know about other Theme Parks, but Disneyland does a poor job at checking bags. Six Flags doesn't do a great job either. :Sure Six Flags has metal detectors, but it's easy to slip or sneaking something non-metalic, that's dangerous to the parks in a pockert or bag. Universal missed a few people with backpacks, cause they were not paying attention.

BUT, I think a Theme Park attack is too predictable. I don't know, I'm sure it will bother some people, and change their minds, but it isn't changing my views on family vacations, or traveling to Theme Parks.

I think Brian is correct though. They would most likely go for DC, New York, Vegas, or California before a theme park in Florida, or specific others.

From Gareth H on August 11, 2006 at 7:39 PM
Beat ya Erik
From Michelle Seago on August 11, 2006 at 10:49 PM
I don't think we can or even should try to guess where terrorists will strike next. Seattle had been a target at one time and wasn't Disney World a target in the past? I think it's sad when we have to worry about things like this, but this is what we must do for our freedom. We live in a world so far advanced technologically that we can't ever be sure we are safe. And the rest of the world doesn't always agree with our beliefs, unfortunately, terrorists think nothing of murdering us and themselves because they disagree with us. I'm sorry to have to agree with Brian, but I think racial profiling may be a good idea. When you see these terrorists beeing arrested or in their videos to the world, I don't see any blue-eyed blondes! But I also don't mind being searched just to be a little safer. And to keep my family safe on vacation, there's nothing I wouldn't do.
From Mark Hollamon on August 12, 2006 at 4:01 AM
We live in a free society where people can move around as they wish. There is no greater society in the world. The main drawback is that living in a society such as ours opens us up for attacks like these. There's only one way to give that up and that's to give up our freedom. People who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve and usally get neither.
From Terri Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 9:30 AM
If terrorists really want to target Disney I don't think there's any way to stop them. Fanatics are just that because they place a low value on human life and are not only willing, but eager to give up there own for their cause.

Forget Gatorade & toothpaste. They don't do body searches at theme parks so it would be a simple matter for a terrorist to carry explosives on their person. They only check bags and even have a line you can go on if you don't have a bag to search - imagine that.

Believe me, I'm fairly certain that even if theme park execs spring for beefing up security, the terrorists of today could still pull a fast one on security guards if they wanted to, don't you agree? Oh, it would look great in the media, "Disney steps up security promising a safer vacation for you and your family." They'd love to use that to justify the 50% inflated cost of a ticket.

Extreme measures take extreme dollars. I'm not willing to pay an exorbitant rise in ticket prices to see the mouse just to ensure that the family of five riding Space Mountain next to me didn't bring a sports drink and a tube of toothpaste into the park with them while there were no measures taken to ensure that the group of five without any bags to check weren't under even more suspicion than them.

From RANDY TAYLOR on August 14, 2006 at 11:03 AM
I think that SAFE is a relative term. If some one is ready to give his/her life to take yours, there is really little that can be done to stop them. That being said, Doing little things like checking bags, having guests pass through detectors and just being more aware of what is going on around you when in large venues like ball parks, concerts, planes and trains, etc can go a long way towards making us all feel a little safer.

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