On Thursday, three major theme parks — Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld — announced that in preparation for the tens of millions of guests soon to attend their parks, they will be adding extra security measures around the holiday season. The measures include screening parkgoers with metal detectors, with randomly selected guests to receive secondary screenings.
Disney in particular is also banning toy guns at both its Florida and California locations and will no longer be selling these items in the parks. Guests who are 14 years and older will not be allowed to wear costumes to assist in security and screening. Recently, the company has been upping its security in other ways, including uniformed law enforcement and patrolling the area with specially trained dogs.
“We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney said in a statement to press.
As New York Times notes, ever since the 9/11 attacks, theme parks have been considered vulnerable targets, both due to their high volumes of traffic and their Americana symbolism. Though theme parks have an “impressive track record” of gun safety, a Florida man was arrested on suspicion of trying to bring a gun into Disney’s Magic Kingdom park just last week.
President of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence Dan Gross said in a statement that, though the changes are being made for the purpose of safety, it’s a sad sign of the times that they have to be made at all. “Now, families can’t even go to ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ to escape the realities of gun violence in this country,” Gross said in the statement. “Disney’s decision, undoubtedly made with the safety of their guests foremost in mind, reflects the sacrifices we are all being forced to make as feckless politicians kowtow to the corporate gun lobby. It doesn’t have to be this way; we are better than this.”
“The safety of our guests and team members along with the welfare of our animals have always been our top priority,”SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said in a statement. “Like other major attractions and venues, we continually evaluate our existing comprehensive security plans.”
However, Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said that the changes, which will be taking place at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, are not in response to any particular event and are just a “test.” “We want our guests to feel safe when they come here,” Schroder said in a statement. “This test is a natural progression for us as we study best practices for security in today’s world.”
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