Universal Orlando Installs Metal Detectors at Rip, Ride, Rockit

March 25, 2015, 7:59 AM · Universal Orlando this morning installed metal detectors in the queue for one of its roller coasters — the latest escalation in its ongoing effort to keep riders from bringing loose objects onto the rides.

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit

The metal detectors went up this morning at the Incredible Hulk Coaster in Islands of Adventure and Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit at Universal Studios Florida. (Update: Reports from readers on Twitter earlier this morning said that the detectors were going up on Hulk, but Universal is not testing this system on that ride.) Earlier this year, Universal team members began insisting that visitors show that they'd emptied their pockets before they'd be allowed to proceed through the queue to boarding on these coasters.

Universal provides lockers at its roller coasters, which are free for use for a limited period. That amount of time changes, but is based on the current wait time for the coasters so that visitors should have enough time to wait, board, and ride before their free time expires.

Several years ago, Universal changed the timing on its dueling Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters, Dragon Challenge, so that the two trains would no longer "duel" by passing closely past one another at several points during the ride. That change was prompted by several incidents where loose objects fell from riders' pockets and struck other riders on the trains.

Some Universal fans said that they would welcome the new metal detectors if it allowed Universal to return the "dueling" element to Dragon Challenge. However, there are no metal detectors for screening fans on that coaster at this time.

Update: I asked Universal spokesman Tom Schroder about the Dragon Challenge question and he emailed this: "Our test is about making sure we like the way the metal detectors are helping us to enhance our safety program and making sure we are happy with the resulting guest experience. We want to make sure we get this right before rolling it out. If the test is successful, our plan is to use metal detection at several of our coasters. That's all I have to share for now."

As I mention in the comments, falling debris has been a problem at other parks, too. Will other parks follow Universal's lead? Or is this an overreaction to a limited problem? What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

Another Update: Universal removed the metal detectors this afternoon, but team members said that tests might resume at some point in the future.

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Replies (37)

March 25, 2015 at 8:03 AM · This is a joke. What next? Only visitors in underwear allowed that nobody can sneak in a wallet?
March 25, 2015 at 8:10 AM · I almost got hit in the face by some flying coins some idiot had in his pocket on Rockit. Totally support this move.
March 25, 2015 at 8:29 AM · It's sad that guests not follow rules.
It's the reason we have seatbelts in Splash Mountain and other noncense stuff that makes the ride and/or the experiance less fun but when people don't respect authority (please start raising your kids) you can't failt the parks to go to extreems to keep safety up and lawsuit nightmares down.
March 25, 2015 at 8:34 AM · I always wear shorts or pants with zippers to avoid having to pay. I wonder if they will take that into consideration
March 25, 2015 at 8:35 AM · If it gets to the stage where you have to endure airport-style security just to ride a coaster that's going to suck a whole lot of the pleasure out of the experience....
March 25, 2015 at 8:44 AM · Why does it always seem like Universal Studios is the only theme park with this sort of problem? First the mandatory locker usage, then the employees enforcing at the gates, now metal detectors. Why isn’t this an issue at a more coaster heavy establishment such as Busch Gardens just an hour down the road?
March 25, 2015 at 8:54 AM · David - it's already at that stage with Rip Ride Rockit.

This is an overreaction to an issue. In Sept of 2014, during a family reunion, some members of my wife's family and I went to USH. We put our bags in the provided lockers. Free lockers are a great resource to guests - a perfect place to store larger belongings like purses, bags, etc during the ride.

But it's the next step that really bugged me. I was asked to remove my wallet from my buttoned back pocket and place it in a locker. Long story short there was a civil back and forth discussion, that in the end I felt if they were going to be that adamant about I wouldn't ride the attraction. The rest of my family enjoyed the attraction.

There are plenty of other similar attractions across the world that don't require extreme "safety" measure. Even Disney doesn't have similar requirements for the same attractions - Space Mountain in DL you need to put stuff in the pocket, at TDL you can set it on the floor. I even witnessed a guest coming off Space Mountain at TDL with a large character balloon!

March 25, 2015 at 9:21 AM · Ryan - that's my impression of Universal every time I've been. I don't feel welcome or encouraged to stay, which is a shame as I'd really like to enjoy the amazing experiences they have on offer. This simply isn't a big issue anywhere else.
March 25, 2015 at 9:38 AM · I've seen far more stuff drop from Manta at SeaWorld Orlando than from any other coaster, including a cell phone that shattered on the pavement about three yards in front of me, once.

This is the risk involved with building coasters that travel above guest pathways. It looks cool, but falling objects can end up in the way of and even hitting other guests, unless the parks install nets or shields to catch the debris. Say what you will about Six Flags building roller coasters in empty parking lots (and we have)!, but no one's getting hit by flying debris there.

Rockit has a vertical lift, which elevates the risk of objects falling onto other passengers on the coaster train. That's a risk on any coaster where gravity and centrifugal forces push debris toward others on the train. Vertical lifts seem to me to be most susceptible to this, as on most other coasters, those forces tend to push debris away from the train. Of course, on a dueling coaster, if the force pushes the debris toward riders on the other train, then you've still got the problem.

That said, I think that people ought to be able to keep their personal belongings in zippered pockets or money belts, whether those contents trip a metal detector or not.

March 25, 2015 at 9:45 AM · I ride coasters at Universal virtually every week and have never had someone ask me about a wallet in my pocket so that does seem odd. Considering where Rip Rockit is located it seems a team member may have been hit with something in the back lot area reently. And with the guest being injured shortly ago on Dragon Challenge this seems more a CYA issue dictated by a lawyer than anything else. It really should be a non issue as the wait for the ride is dictated by the number of people in line not a quick walk through a metal detector.

March 25, 2015 at 10:01 AM · Let the jokes begin:

March 25, 2015 at 10:36 AM · It does seem a little like overkill. Are they going to allow people with sealed pockets to keep things in them? Because if not that seems like a seriously unnecessary inconvenience.
March 25, 2015 at 10:57 AM · No outside bottled water ... Metal detectors ... Universal in Orlando is running quite the little police state
.. Next thing you know they will be charging their resort guests to park.
March 25, 2015 at 11:00 AM · Six Flags and Cedar Fair are the king of roller coasters, yet Universal has a problem. Still, the free lockers are a good bonus that more parks should provide.
March 25, 2015 at 11:11 AM · While the lockers are cool and all, I honestly try to avoid using them as much as I possibly can. Getting stuff in and out of those things can be a tedious process, especially when they're crowded with people.
March 25, 2015 at 12:03 PM · They want people to use the lockers so that when the wait times change, they have to pay for the locker, it is free money for universal!!! I have used lockers 3 times at UO and have had to pay all three times!!
March 25, 2015 at 12:19 PM · That's what comes from stupid, pig headed guests who refuse to follow the rules.
March 25, 2015 at 1:51 PM · I recently went to Vegas and they refused to allow a guest on the NYNY roller coaster who had a phone in his pocket. So its not just Universal who is trying to fight this problem.
March 25, 2015 at 3:10 PM · While the lockers are a brilliant idea, I personally try to avoid them as much as possible. They can be pretty tedious...especially when there's a huge crowd. I always prefer to either leave my things with anyone in my party who isn't going, or take extra precautions if i'm bringing my carry-on items: make sure they're not in the pocket facing the outside; drive them deeper into my pocket; and make sure the safety restraints close up the openings of the pockets. But that's just me. I hope roller coasters don't get airport level of security. Even though I'm a Disney buff, and though I often give them crud for often trying to only appeal to the hip, young people and making every new ride into a motion simulator,I love Universal and I don't want their awesome coasters to be ruined by people who weren't careful enough with their belongings.
March 25, 2015 at 3:54 PM · I understand why people wouldn't want to leave thier wallets in a locker, but that's the benefit of having magic band technology. I feel like Universal is going to adopt a system like that if things flying out of people's pockets is such an issue. The zippered pocket should be fine, but if those people take thier phone out on the ride and it flies into someone else's face that would be a big problem.
March 25, 2015 at 5:01 PM · What kind of people are visiting Universal these days?! Single day tickets are priced high enough, so I guess Universal needs to raise multi day and season pass prices higher to keep the riffraff out. Seems to work for Disney.
March 25, 2015 at 5:09 PM · @TH, they actually dropped the water bottle thing, it was just a temporary test.

Unfortunately, this is yet another byproduct of our litigious society. If someone were to be hit by any type of object, there'd be a lawyer whose ready to take Universal for what they're worth. And since it would be nigh impossible to identify the person whose item actually hit someone, the company would receive blame. In the end, having such a greedy legal system prevents us from having nice luxuries.

March 25, 2015 at 6:56 PM · This idea makes total sense to me everyone. Since I've been there before and went on those rides, it makes sense. Don't say that this is ridicoulous because Universal doesn't want to be blamed or sued from the decision people made to leave their smallest belongings in their pockets. When going on these rides and if you are one of these kind of people and lost your cell phone, wallet, etc. How would you feel? One time when I was going on Rip Ride Rockit there was a party that had to go back to their locker to put thier small belonings away even though they done this ride before with their items in their pockets. So respect of what Universal are trying to do for everyone's safety- to avoid people losing their belongings.
March 25, 2015 at 9:23 PM · "Rifraff " has nothing to do with economics. Some of the worst kids out there are spoiled brats with rich parents. Never understand why people assume that wealthy equals good behavior.
March 25, 2015 at 9:40 PM · Rode it today and was actually one of the first riders of the day and the staff was very nice about emptying your pockets before the ride began. It wasn't much of a problem having to go through the metal detectors since being one of the first on the ride but when it gets into the peak season on a busy ride feel like it will cause a lot of stress and longer waits for the ride.
March 25, 2015 at 10:12 PM · In late January, we were at Universal Florida. We had just gotten to the end of the line for Gringotts, and my wife got pulled aside because someone earlier saw her put our park cards in one of those small body purses/wallets (that is wrapped around her shoulder/waist like a backpack and is under her zipped up jacket) and refused to let us ride until we did something about it. A lot of bickering back and forth. It had money and other valuables, so she wasn't going to just leave it to the side (and I dont think they were going to let her do that, saying she needed to go back and put it in a locker), so she stepped aside as the rest of us rode. Ugh. It was very infuriating. A lanyard or a waving unzipped jacket would cause more harm. I know safety is a must, but sometimes the rules get unreasonable and the lack of good solutions for dealing with "infractions" just create a lot of unhappy campers.
March 26, 2015 at 2:46 AM · Was on RRR a few weeks ago as a single party... The biggest problem is having to stand in line for two hours with nothing to do since my phone was in the locker. By the time I got done riding the ride, the free time on the locker had run out, and I had to get an attendant to let me back in, because my money was in the locker, and I couldn't pay to open it. They need to work on their wait times.. especially since they changed the ride to allow ExpressPasses. There were people riding it repeatedly in the Express Pass queue, while the regular ride line barely moved. Fun ride, not worth standing there for two hours without anything to do...
March 26, 2015 at 2:57 AM · One of the problems with Universal's lockers is the fingerprint recognition system, (assuming they still use it). Last time we were there we experienced multiple times when it failed to recognise the print for some time before finally allowing us into our own locker. On one occasion however it refused to open at all and we had to call in a Universal employee to open if for us, only she demanded proof of who were were BEFORE she opened the locker - difficult with all our possessions inside the locker! We told her exactly what was inside and she begrudgingly opened it for us but wouldn't let us have the contents until we could prove they were ours and we were the people who those possessions belonged to... Since my passport was at the hotel the only proof was hoping that somewhere on the camera was a picture of either my wife or I - since we mostly take pics of things other than each other that wasn't easy. Eventually we managed to find a picture of us on the camera and she reluctantly let us have our own possessions.

Suffice to say I am not a fan of lockers unless they have keys....

March 26, 2015 at 3:17 AM · Riffraff = disreputable persons. People, rich or poor, who are paying tons of money for a vacation are less likely to try to destroy said vacation with actions unbecoming of a reputable person.
March 26, 2015 at 7:24 AM · Maybe we should not bring anything into the park at all. Maybe we need some sort of magic band that let's us gain admission into parks or rides and lets us pay for things. It would be like visiting another world! It's fun to think of what we might get to discuss next.
March 26, 2015 at 7:49 AM · We are annual passholders at Universal and first encountered this issue over the Christmas holidays. My son didn't want to leave his phone in the locker and he had a zippered pocket on his pants that he intended to put the phone into when he boarded the ride. Believe me, my son is going to be careful with his phone and make sure it's secure on the ride. He had a phone fly out of his pocket on The Tower of Terror, slip down between the seat and the wall of the ride and smash to smithereens on the basement floor God only knows how many feet below. He's not about to let that happen again.The attendant was so confrontational and nasty - right from the start - that my son ended up refusing to ride.
March 26, 2015 at 9:37 AM · I've had passes now for ten years. I carry my cell phone in my pocket and wallet. There's never been a situation where either of them fell out. You are sitting on your wallet and the harness is so tight nothing can come out. A ridiculous overkill.
March 26, 2015 at 12:09 PM · that seems a bit over the top, but I've almost caught a camera in the face from some jerk in front of me who felt the need to take photos on a moving roller coaster. At least he lost his camera, so I hope it was an expensive one.
March 27, 2015 at 5:16 AM · I hope I'm still able to wear my gopro on the secure harness, I understand safety is first and foremost but this is taking it a bit to the limit. Rip ride rocket has enough problems without adding to it I think it has broken down every time I've been on it
March 27, 2015 at 12:46 PM · No doubt there are a handful of people every day riding Hulk or RRR that feel entitled to a damn selfie. And can you 100% guarantee that your gopro camera on a secure harness will be just that, 100% guaranteed secure? I have no doubt you are technically adept at operating your equipment, but what about every other individual who claims the same?

Unfortunately for me, I would rather the metal detector at this point, reduces the chances of getting hit by any type of potential flying object that some individual feels entitled to operate while the ride is in motion, then looses control of said object.....

March 28, 2015 at 10:39 AM · I can definetely understand Universal's position. But where they kinda lose me is when they have to be real sticklers about the whole thing; for example one of the above comments where someone mentioned that they wouldn't let his wife on to Gringotts because of her carry-on items, even though she had them concealed. I get what Universal's trying to do, and it's got some good intentions behind it, but there is such thing as going overboard.
March 31, 2015 at 3:08 PM · I think the difference at Disney is that their coasters don't go over guest pathways. Rock'Rollercoaster is entirely enclosed away from guests completely. Whereas RNRR and the adult go over many pathways.

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