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Biometrics come to Disneyland, in an old-school way, of course

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Published: January 8, 2013 at 3:51 PM

For years, you've had to touch your finger to a scanner when using your ticket to enter or re-enter a Walt Disney World theme park. But at Disneyland? Just show your ticket and you're on your way. Re-entering the park? Just be sure to get a handstamp and show it when you return.

Disney World's "biometric" system was designed to foil visitors buying unused ticket days from brokers, who bought up partially used tickets from other park visitors. That gave visitors who bought those tickets a price break, but also left them vulnerable to scammers who would be selling voided, used-up or counterfeit tickets, too. (And, of course, by eliminating the secondary market for tickets, Disney set itself up to make plenty of extra money from ticket sales, too.)

Now, Disneyland appears to have started using a "biometric" system of its own. But instead of using those fancy, schmancy finger scanners, Walt's original park is going old-school.

They're taking visitors' pictures.

Disneyland's long used photos to verify the identity of annual passholders when they use their passes to enter the parks. Starting today, Disney's begun taking photos of anyone using a multi-day pass for the first time, according to the LA Times report linked above. When someone tries to enter the park on subsequent days, the turnstiles attendant will see the photo of the original user of that pass. If that picture doesn't look like you, you're not getting into the park.

Toad, and friend
Close... but, uh, no

Disneyland doesn't sell no-expire tickets, so conceivably Disney could purge the photos 14 days after the ticket's first use, when the multi-day ticket expires anyway. But the LAT report doesn't address that issue.

And taking photos seems to me a slower way to get the ID of visitors than the WDW finger scan. (FWIW, Universal Studios Hollywood uses the finger scan.) Throwing one more element into this, a much higher percentage of Disneyland's visitors are annual passholders than at WDW, so this system won't represent a change for them. (APers now get their photos taken by Photopass photographers in the park during their first visit on a new pass.)

What do you think?

Readers' Opinions

From Clayton Lott on January 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM
I have to admit, buying up unused days on multi-day passes from local hotels is an easy way to get a day or two at the parks when I'm visiting my home town. I guess I'll have to go the old-fashioned way - track down old friends who now work at the parks. :-)
From Anon Mouse on January 8, 2013 at 4:24 PM
It shouldn't take longer to take a photo than a finger scan. Both take enough time to cause a delay.

Although I don't know their methods, they can save time by photographing the whole family and linking the tickets. Families usually travel together as a group.

They can avoid photographing kids since I don't expect the sharing of child tickets to be the problem as long as they are with the adults.

If the tickets are bought at the ticket booths, they should consider a quick photograph there. Maybe they should redesign the ticket booths to accomodate the taking of photographs.

From Brandon Mendoza on January 8, 2013 at 5:03 PM
I like this idea. More sanitary than using finger prints too. Hopefully less people will be duped into buying invalid used multi-day passes.
From Tracy Bates on January 8, 2013 at 5:09 PM
have to be better than fingerprints. It always causes problems with people who have lots of children because many would never keep track of which child used which ticket last time. Also kids don't hold their fingers exactly the same over the scanner causing lots of recognition problems and then they have to do it over and over and over.

Never get in line behind grandparents with lots of grandkids . Bad idea.

From M. Ryan Traylor on January 8, 2013 at 5:21 PM
Is sharing a multi-day ticket really this big of issue? I can't imagine it hurting Disney that much.
From Tracy Bates on January 8, 2013 at 7:46 PM
I don't know about Disneyland, but in Florida there are companies that sell nothing but that kind of ticket.

I'd never buy one, but if there are several companies doing it, then it must be a pretty big market for it.

From Deidre Dennis on January 8, 2013 at 8:46 PM
We just got back for. Disneyland two days ago and we had a five day pass. Every time we entered the park we had to show our ID with our ticket. One of the ticket folks explained to me why but I have forgotten now. See,s they had issues with multi day pass tickets being taken or something.
From David Brown on January 9, 2013 at 12:27 AM
When my wife and I took a cruise a couple of years ago we had our photo taken as we boarded the first time. Thereafter everytime we left or re-boarded the ship that picture was checked against our faces. The computer system called up our face image automatically when our keycard was scanned and the whole process was fast and seamless. In fact it was considerably faster than the current fingerprint system in operation at WDW. If Disneyland are using a similar system it should improve the throughput considerably AND prove more reliable!
From 174.67.225.208 on January 9, 2013 at 1:44 AM
As a Disneyland AP holder for over a decade I would love to see the entrance gates specified for different passes (gate for only AP holder, gate for multi-day, single day, return...) Because it's frustrating to get in a "short" line just to have the guests in front of you not know what they're doing or asking the CM a bunch of questions and slowing down the line. AP holders go through very fast, now with this new photo requirement, the multi-day guests are going to slow down entry even more. It would be nice to have separate lines, but I know this will never happen because too many people won't have a clue and will get in the wrong line causing more frustration but I would sure like to have a couple gates as AP ony gates--it would move 2-3 times faster than the others.
From Mark Kausch on January 9, 2013 at 2:48 AM
I've not had the experience of Mr Brown at WDW, but he's correct about the ease and quickness of the pictures on the entrance at DLR. Unfortunately, it's *just* at the front gates, so you may need to show your ID anytime/else you use your AP.
From David Brown on January 9, 2013 at 4:06 AM
Just to clarify - my experience was on a (non Disney) cruise ship - not at WDW. I was merely saying that if the system is similar to the one I saw on use on the ship then it will be great improvement and very easy to administer.
From Anthony Murphy on January 9, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Pictures!

Simple, but effective!

From Eric G on January 11, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I want to second 174.67.225.208 comment that there should be separate entry gates for Annual Passholders. I've felt this way for years and share your frustration with the stupid questions, the slow process of printing hard tickets in exchange for e-Tickets, the even slower process of cast members signing in guests and more than anything else the overly chatty front gate attendant who insists on making small talk with everyone. Sorry, I don't appreciate your friendliness when I'm trying to get in!

I would also add that passholders should be able to scan their own tickets. They should use that automated scanner where you insert your pass into like they do for all tickets at WDW. Yes, it's there at the DLR and works they just don't use it. And I'll add that one cast member should be able to man two turnstiles since all they'll be doing is looking at photos that pop up on the screens. That would save on labor costs which I'm sure would excite someone in management.

From 71.244.104.67 on January 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM
The tickets from our first trip to WDW in 1994 have our pictures on them.
From Gary Knackstedt on January 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Come on, how much is Disney really making on this? Remember when you gave an extra couple of C or D tickets to a family coming in as you were leaving the park after your vacation? Disney got paid for the tickets no matter who used them. Let the buyer beware if you actually buy an expired ticket from any vendor.
From Eric G on January 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Gary Knackstedt based on your comments you don't understand the renting of multi-day tickets or the resale of partially used tickets. Disney is genuinely being ripped off by these scammers. This has nothing to do with handing someone else oa few unused tickets you paid for.

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