Hauling around cash, cards, ID, a phone, and whatever else you need for a day out in a purse or your pockets might not seem like such a big deal when you're just running errands at home. But when you're on vacation in a theme park, your stuff can really slow you down. Many parks won't let you take purses and bags on thrill rides, such as roller coasters, forcing you to rent a locker or leave your valuables in a cubby while you ride.
So what do you do? Disney's spent a billion dollars trying to rid you of the need to carry a bag around its theme parks, with its MagicBand initiative at the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney's wristbands are linked to your admission tickets, Fastpass+ reservations, hotel room key ,and resort-wide charging privileges, freeing you from having to carry a purse or wallet to hold all that stuff. With MagicBands also serving as a PhotoPass, too, you don't even need to bring a cell phone or camera to take pictures — Disney's photographers will scan the band when you want a picture at a photo spot, and the MagicBand will collect your on-ride photos throughout the day.
Still, if you want that phone so you can keep in touch with others in your family or group, should you become separated, or to give you something to do while you're waiting in line, you'll need someplace to keep it. Don't go out with those pocketless shorts just yet!
But what if you couldn't even keep your phone in a pocket? Over at Universal Orlando, visitors have been complaining about Universal team members insisting that riders empty their pockets before going on Incredible Hulk Coaster or Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. Universal has its reasons for the restrictive policy — flying phones and other objects from riders' pockets have struck other visitors, off ride and on, in the past.
No one wants to get clunked in the head with someone else's cellphone. But what do you do when you can't even keep stuff in your pockets when visiting a theme park? Universal provides lockers, with a free grace period, outside its most restrictive rides. Yet our Russell Meyer brings up an interesting question: what happens if you go over the free period, then need to pay to open the locker? That's kinda hard to do if your wallet, cash, and charge cards are in the locker.
(Let's just imagine for a moment if Disney World were to adopt this "empty pockets" policy on one of its rides. How many fans would be accusing Disney of doing this just to promote MagicBand use? Of course, this presumes that Disney World were to have a thrill ride capable of dislodging anything from a pocket. Unless Disney brings Space Mountain: Mission 2 over from Paris, that's not happening.)
Here's a potential solution: Maybe it's time to start using a money belt on your next theme park visit.
It's not just for visits to crowded third-world cities anymore! The main purpose for money belts has been personal security. Hidden beneath your clothes, they keep valuables away from the prying hands of pickpockets on unfamiliar streets and trains. But their security might make them the ideal place to keep a few valuables on a whippy theme park thrill ride, too. Safely zipped up inside your shirt or pants, the stuff in your money belt won't come flying out on even the most extreme thrill ride.
I've used a money belt to carry cash, cards, ID and even my cell phone when traveling abroad. The money belt probably saved me a little money and a lot of hassle when another pedestrian crashed into me while he was running for a crosswalk light outside Harrod's in London. It's a classic diversion that pickpockets use take your attention away from that other waiting pedestrian who will be lifting your wallet. But my wallet wasn't in my pocket that afternoon. It was at home, and its contents were in my money belt.
Perhaps the money belt can save me some hassle on my next theme park visit, too? What do you think? Would you consider using a money belt in a theme park?
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That being said, I'm headed to Universal Orlando tomorrow; I guess as they say at Rip Ride Rockit, I'll have to leave my "Food, Drinks and Smokes in a Locker."
A lot of parks in Europe are fine with any manner of loose object - my DLSR has more credits than some coaster enthusiasts - but I've seen people asked to remove park maps (dangerous!) from their pockets in the US. Then again, park guests in Europe seem to have a bit more common sense than some of their US counterparts.
If a park wants to have a policy of nothing in your pockets, I have no problem with that, but they need to provide free secure storage if that is the case. Holiday World has an excellent system for this, as they are very strict about loose articles. There, lockers are present in the station of all three coasters and you simply stick your valuables in a locker and take the key with you on the ride (there's a wrist strap on the keys). When you get back, open the locker and take your stuff. It's pretty efficient and allows for free storage without non-riders poaching it or the risk of theft from those in the other train.
However I have often thought the exact same thing about Universal's lockers. What do I do if I go over time - you have all my money! *stashes dollar bill in shoe*
I was under the impression, although I'm not sure where from, that the free slot is in line with wait times and if say RRR has an hour line, it adjusts the free period accordingly. Am I making that up?
To Kelly---The free lockers at Universal do adjust based on the current line (typically 10-20 minutes more time than the estimated queue length), but if the ride breaks down, or if you inadvertently forget that your stuff is in a locker because you don't usually use one, it would be very easy to have your stuff trapped with no way to retrieve them. The time adjustment is only made when you initially rent the locker, not as you stand in line.
What bothers me most is that these policies have arisen because of the misbehavior of a very few number of guests. It's the selfish nature of the few that think they're so cool filming GoPro videos and cell phone selfies that has ruined it for everyone. With the amount of surveillance on theme park rides these days, it would be far easier to eject guests who conduct themselves in this way, but instead ride ops simply verbally reprimand these hooligans and laugh it off. If the parks had taken a stronger stance to enforce rules against those who attempt to hold loose articles during ride cycles, then guests would not be subjected to these ridiculous, over-the-top nothing in your pockets policies.
However, the use of a locker was never intended to stash items that people normally keep and stay in the pockets throughout a ride. It was supposed to be a place to securely store your backpack, purse, camera, and souvenirs that cannot fit into your pockets. With this no loose items PERIOD policy, it now requires people to use lockers for items that were never intended to go into lockers like money clips, wallets, cell phones, spare change, keys, and the like. I brought up the point because the Universal ride op didn't have an answer as to how a guest should approach the scenario. Despite my concern, I still chose to place my wallet into a locker and took my chances (I didn't have any other choice if I wanted to ride), but with the unpredictable queue movement of the RRR during HHN, I was worried that my free time would expire before I got off - I ended up having 5 minutes to spare. However, the potential still exists that a guest could be forced to store their identification and credit cards in a locker and be refused access if they returned after the free period expired. If Universal doesn't know what a guest is supposed to do in this situation, I certainly don't know what you're supposed to do. I would guess you could go to a locker attendant and hope that they'll open it up for you, but whether they'll do so for free is unknown. I doubt it happens very frequently, but the fact that they enacted this policy without considering the consequences is troubling.
I don't think they should make the lockers completely free since they are supposed to be used only while on the ride to prevent people from keeping things in there all day (like a parking meter). However, guests should not be required to store items that are secure on their person, and important for identification and payment, into a locker.
Both Harry Potter rides have free lockers, but they have not enforced the empty pockets policy because if something falls out, it is not a risk to injure another guest.
However the battlestar galactica cast members were actually equipped with hand held metal detectors at queue entrance check that you weren't carrying phone or cameras (and probably keys) on. Why they were that extreme back then (BSG has been closed for over a year now for modifications) I have never really understood.
The idea of a money belt is great to carry some cash to pay for a locker in the event that you over-extend the free time. Last fall my husband kept a few dollars zipped in his cargo pants pocket. You couldn't tell and nothing was said about that, though I can't speak for now.
I think sometimes we make super big deals about things that aren't. We are all there to have fun but not at the risk of others. If you don't like the rules don't go to the park.
We are Annual Passholders at Universal and we don't really mind putting our things in a locker while we ride. We've pretty much got it down to a science now. I do have a real problem with theme parks that require you to put your things in a locker and then don't provide a grace period for the locker use. Great Adventure makes you lock up your stuff and then charges you a dollar to do it! That was the straw that broke the camel's back for us with Six Flags properties. We had put up with their dirty parks, unkempt attractions and hordes of disrespectful, out of control teenagers but when I was having to pay an extra dollar for just about every ride ... enough was enough!
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