What's the point of a bag check, anyway?
Written by Robert Niles
So what's the point of those theme park security bag checks, anyway?Tweet
That's the question I'm sure many Disneyland guests were asking themselves after this weekend's incident at the park. Sometime after 9am on Saturday, someone noticed a suspicious package in the esplanade between the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks. Disney officials closed and cleared the esplanade, which effectively closed the gates to the two theme parks. If you were in the parks, you couldn't leave, and if you were outside, you were held behind the security checkpoints on either side of the esplanade.
The line for the bag check at Disneyland on "One More Disney Day," Feb. 29, 2012. The line-up was even longer three days later, on Saturday, March 3.
While I'm sure the people who arrived at Disneyland early enjoyed getting the park to themselves for an extra hour or two, the tens of thousands of people who were queued up and denied entry to the parks that morning weren't happy about the extra wait. Call it "One Less Disney Day" for them.
The Anaheim bomb squad checked the package, which turned out to be a scroll of paper, and Disney reopened the parks by 11am. But here's the thing - the package was found inside the resort's security checkpoints. If a package has passed through the checkpoint, shouldn't the presumption be that it's okay? (*BTW, we were all over this Saturday morning on Twitter. If you've not subscribed to our Twitter feed, that's the best source for TPI coverage of breaking theme park news.)
Of course, Disney's "security" check isn't really all that secure. It's a soft check, designed to deter clumsy and obvious threats, as well as to keep out the paparazzi - one of the main things Disney is screening for these days is large tripods and long lenses on cameras. But even that soft check imposes inconvenience on guests, who are entitled to wonder what they are getting in return for that extra wait and having to put down and open all their bags.
Presumably, the trade-off is getting to enter the park free from worries about things such as suspicious packages. But Disney guests didn't get what they waited for on Saturday morning.
I don't know that most Disney guests would prefer that Disneyland increase the security at its checkpoints, adding metal detectors and asking people to either open or remove their coats, like at an airport security check. I do know that Disney deserves credit for trying to make up for the lost time in the parks by keeping the parks open for an additional hour that day, and for adding extra performances of World of Color and Fantasmic!
The blockhead who left the package told authorities he was trying to leave a message of goodwill. More than watching an extra late-night showing of World of Color, I think that many who were stuck outside the Disneyland gates on Saturday morning would have liked to give that guy a message of their own. Now that's something people would have waited in line for!
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