Nothing in pocket on rides policy

March 29, 2019, 10:46 AM

As the time for the 18 month annual pass deal draws to a close (4/4) at Universal, I wondered what are your thoughts on the very strict ‘nothing on the ride’ policy that they enforce? I would love 18 months for 12 months, but at a bare minimum I have to take my car keys into the park, and having to put those in a locker just because I want to ride the Hulk, in all honesty puts me off buying the pass.

A lot of you most probably go to the park way more than me as you are here on vacation, but I remember when I rode the old dueling dragons on the last day before it closed, I was irked by the fact I had to put my stuff into a stupid little locker. Of all the parks I visit on my travels, I don’t know of anywhere else that forces me to take everything out of my pockets. Do you guys know of anywhere else ??

It irks me more because I have 2 pairs of cargo shorts that are my roller coaster shorts …. honest :) One has zippered pockets and the other has 2 clip-button pockets, and nothing ….. nothing !! has ever got even close to falling out of those. And we are talking about some serious rides at parks across the US, and in the UK.

Is Universal’s policy a little too strict …. what do you think ??

Even though the 18 month deal is closing next week, I also bring it up with Hagrid’s ride opening in mind as well.

Replies (15)

Edited: March 29, 2019, 11:22 AM

I think the policy sucks, but what can you do? The needs of the few that can't keep their junk in their pants outweigh the common sense of the many that know how to properly ride a roller coaster without beaning someone in the head with a loose article. It only takes one idiot to film a POV on a roller coaster with their hand-held cell phone to make every one else's life miserable.

I understand the policy, and so long as Universal is willing to provide lockers for free, I don't have an issue with it. It's the parks that see these safety rules as a mechanism to generate revenue that I despise. Parks should strive to create the safest possible environment for all guests, but when a rule requires guests to essentially pay to ride a roller coaster, then those safety rules become exploitative.

March 29, 2019, 6:37 PM

>>>has ever got even close to falling out of those. And we are talking about some serious rides at parks across the US, and in the UK.

I do recall however seeing a lot of lost change when riding Colossus at Thorpe Park.

When I was at Universal I didn't really have too much of a problem with it. Unfortunately a relatively few morons have ruined things to the point of needing to go to the extreme "nothing at all" step.

With a park that gets the number of guests that USO does, that's a lot of morons in real numbers, even if they are a minority of the total.

Edited: April 1, 2019, 9:08 AM

Honestly, when I visited Universal, the ride que line attendants at HULK were extremely rude to me. The attendants on the other coasters were absolutely nice & great. At any of the rides that required "empty pockets", I took everything out of my pockets except my wallet. My wallet is VERY small, thin, the size of a credit card & made of neoprene & since I'm sitting down on HULK, there's no way that my wallet will just fall out. They made me go back & put it in my locker anyway which made me hafta rent the locker after reopening it just to put my wallet in there. I rode all the other coasters, including Dueling Dragons (then Dragon Challenge) with no problems, no other ride attendant/que line person said ANYTHING to me about my wallet except for them. I think they were picking and choosing who they harassed about things because they didn't check everyone in front of me & my shirt was long & pulled down over my pockets, like a lot of other patrons, so I know they didn't see anything in my pockets. Then when I went back to the que, they made me stand there for several minutes while they "checked me out".

IMO, yes the "empty pockets" policy has its place, definitely, however...the que line attendants go way too far on HULK. Obviously, a wallet, especially if it's small, thin & made of a non-slip material, like mine, is NOT going to just fall out of a back pocket, especially since we're sitting on our behinds in a relatively closed-in train car! It's not a "loose article" as I pointed this fact out to them, they still made me get out of line & go back to the locker. They need to lighten up.

April 1, 2019, 9:40 AM

The wallet issue is a very interesting one IMHO. My wallet is closer to George Costanza's than the one Adrienne describes, but it contains important items that should never leave my person. When I first experienced the empty pockets policy on Rip Ride Rocket at USF, I initially interpreted the rule as any metal or items in loose front pockets. However, I was stopped by the employee at the metal detector who spotted the bulge in my back pocket and asked me to place the wallet in a locker. I didn't have an issue with the way I was asked or the fact that I was "singled out", but I was a little confused about the request based on the logistics of the situation. I asked the attendant if I placed my wallet containing my ID and credit cards in the locker, how was I supposed to get my items back if I did not return to the empty the locker within the requisite time to qualify for the free rental period. The employees were puzzled, because they quickly understood that if my credit cards were in the locker, I would have no mechanism to pay to open it if my stay extended beyond the free rental period. Their response was to make sure I retrieved my items in time, but could not provide a logical solution to the problem I posed. I presumed that such a situation could be resolved by the locker attendant manually opening the locker (just like they would do if you forget which locker you're in or if your finger prints don't work), but that would override the payment system, essentially resulting in a free locker rental that would have otherwise have cost a guest money. A guest could theoretically place their items in a Hulk locker, and then walk over to Dudley Do Right/Bluto's/Jurassic Park, circumventing the pay lockers at the water rides.

I do think the policy is intrusive, and some employees can be a bit more snarky and picky about the rules than others, but if what looks like a wallet in someone's back pocket is actually a cell phone and ends up flying out of a rider's hand while filming a POV injuring another guest, every single ride op and attendant on the coaster at the time will be immediately out of the job. The attendants are just doing their job, and you're always going to come across some that are more observant and bigger sticklers for the rules than others. Remember that the employees running the metal detectors are part of the full coaster operations crew, and rotate responsibilities throughout the day (loader, restraint checker, lead op, grouper, etc...). I would hazard a guess that most probably despise working the metal detectors.

Edited: April 1, 2019, 10:50 AM

It's sad there seems no way round the empty pocket/locker thing, and that alone will most probably stop me from getting the pass this time around. I may go into IOA on the 14th, the day after I get back from my road trip, and see if there is someway I can circumvent the system. I'm OK with no phone and no wallet, but the keys thing .... I just don't know. Frustrating, especially as I have zippered secure pockets.

April 1, 2019, 10:41 AM

I have no issue with the policy, however try walking thru a dark queue line with out your prescription eyeglasses. Bad enough I am blind with out them but add in the dark element and I walk into things. Last time I rode Dueling dragons with my son who also wears glasses and we looked like Laurel and Hardy tripping thru the line. Very dangerous to ourselves and other patrons.
Most parks have a bin at the end of the line to deposit all your items which I always use. Allows me to get thru the line safely and still enjoy the ride with no danger of items falling from my pocket like glass cases.

April 1, 2019, 10:59 AM

Jeff .... good point on the glasses, something I hadn't thought of. Surely they would have to allow you on the ride if they are essential to your day to day way of living? Maybe one of those bands that attach to the frame and can be tightened to your head would be allowed. I can't see how they could stop you from wearing those. Geez, for some people it would be a complete waste of time going on the ride without glasses !! I have a strap for my sunglasses, and I never have any issues with the ops and/or riding the coasters at all the parks I visit.

April 1, 2019, 11:02 AM

@Jeff - The glasses issue is solved cheaply with a simple strap (typically less than $2). This is a pretty uniform policy in affect at theme parks around the world. I've never been hassled about wearing glasses on a roller coaster if I'm wearing a strap. I'm not aware of any park that prohibits the wearing of prescription eyewear if they're secured to your face with a strap.

April 1, 2019, 12:37 PM

@ Jeff -- I've been going to Universal for YEARS and no one has ever even mentioned my prescription glasses on ANY ride... and I don't have a strap. Try leaving them on the next time and see what happens. I don't think anyone will give you a hard time.

April 1, 2019, 1:25 PM

Glasses are the weak link in most arguments for "no loose articles". Apparently I need to secure my car key fob but my super thick lenses on my face are totally fine.

We should figure out a better solution because we all carry around mart phones and the parks are investing in meeting a guest's needs through smartphone apps more and more. It benefits the industry and makes the Guest more comfortable to think of a way for a Guest to keep their device with them. Personally, I think we need to standardize a safe/secure space for guest belongings on a ride vehicle. I could also see a secured loading an unloading space that is specific for each RV.

April 1, 2019, 1:58 PM

You see it everywhere .... when guests are allowed to take phones on rides, they will sneak them out and start to take pics, so I think UO has a good point in stopping those from going with riders. Loose coins is a no brainer. Other than at Disney, when I'm searching the app for FP's, I don't need my phone at any park I go too anyway.

It's the keys and/or wallet ban that I disagree with. I'm going to make 110% certain that my keys, or wallet, are not going to leave my person when I'm on a ride. I will check time and time again that they are very safe, and will be there when I get off that ride.

Of course there are the exceptions, and unfortunately it's those people who have pockets only large enough to take 1/2 a cell phone, who ruin it for the responsible majority.

April 1, 2019, 2:02 PM

I can confirm that RMC has installed pouches at each seat on Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion, and the rumor is that similar pouches have been installed on Steel Vengeance. For me, that is probably the best compromise since you keep your loose articles with you at all times. However, not all rides can accommodate this type of solution, and with any lose article danger, ride ops still have to visually scan guest pockets and might have to delay the load process to allow guests to properly store their items in the designated pouches. At a regional park with lots of regulars and season pass holders that's probably not a big deal, but at a world-class tourist theme park with lots of first time riders and guests that may not be proficient in the native tongue, it could significantly affect operations.

April 1, 2019, 5:31 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but Universal is not the designer of the main roller coasters that this is the policy on. I think these companies came out with these policies for liability reasons after some people got dinged in the face with some loose change. For legal reasons, Universal must comply with the requirements of the designers. Disney is the engineer and builders of all their attractions, so they can set whatever safety restrictions they feel is reasonable. I may be wrong on all of this, but I believe I recall this being explained in this fashion before.

April 2, 2019, 11:20 AM

As much as it is a hassle, I do agree with the nothing in the pockets policy, although I think the electronic and metal stuff is the thing to be most worried about and not a wallet. When I was on Fahrenheit at hersheypark, a ride with a straight up vertical lift and which has no clear out the pockets policy, I could hear the change falling out of people's pockets as we went up the hill and when we went over the top of the first hill some of the change started floating up and I could see it right by my head. Fortunately we were moving slowly and it was off to the side, but if that had happened with something bigger and with more velocity, there could have been some serious injuries. I've only seen it happen once but it is always a possibility.

I do agree with Russell about the wallets. One time at Universal Orlando I put my bag and hat in the free locker while riding the mummy, but when I got off the ride I completely forgot about it and didn't remember until I was past the limit for the free locker. Fortunately I kept my wallet with me and was able to pay with a credit card to get the locker open, but if not I don't know what I would have done. And I am not going to leave a single credit card in my pocket as that would be even more prone to falling out of my pocket. I think there could be a way around it where if they notice things in your pocket and you show them its just a wallet they let it go, or if they make you go through the metal detector and nothing goes off its ok, but they have to allow for id's and credit cards to be somehow be with you.

April 11, 2019, 11:52 PM

Basically Six Flags is desperate to raise revenue and is out of ideas for additional upsells, so now they have made the roller coasters themselves upsells.

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