Carowinds guest banned for five years after allegedly entering dark ride to retrieve dropped phone

Posted | Contributed by LostKause

A guest at Carowinds shoved a ride operator out of the way to go onto the tracks and retrieve a cellphone that she had dropped, according to the York County Sheriff’s Office. The incident happened about 9:20 p.m. Friday on the Boo Blasters on Boo Hill ride, according to a sheriff’s report. The ride operator said a guest approached him and said she had dropped her phone on the ride.

Read more from The Herald.

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Tek! When will you learn to behave? Hope you're happy now.

Good! Bad guest behavior is often tolerated (and in some cases even rewarded) and in a situation like this, it is a serious safety issue. I wish parks would take this stance more often when guests misbehave.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I wonder if the ban had more to do with the shoving or disobeying a ride operator than it had to do with going into a ride area.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

How does a park enforce the ban? If the guest uses a ticket how do they know the person is entering? Is there facial recognition technology in place at the gate? How would the ticket taker know who is not allowed in?

Same company that counts the number of tourists who visited Orlando also tracks people who have been banned from various parks (and other venues). Park automatically gets a notice if banned person tries to enter the gate. Turnstiles lock and person is escorted to their car. Up to the park to determine if they want them jailed.

joe.'s avatar

What company is that?

bjames's avatar

Anyone know how parks enforce bans like this?

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Jeff's avatar

Yes, the person who shows up after being banned risks being charged with criminal trespass.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I've used clever disguises for years now.

It takes a lot to get banned from a park, there probably aren't all that many, and they know who this gal is now. They won't forget her, and they have her picture posted, etc. I'm sure they do their best.

Besides, once you get banned from a place what are the chances of wanting to go back?

Years ago I knew of a fellow who loved Kings Island so much that he bought a house next-door, there in Kings Mills, so he could go every day. Which he did, and walked around like he owned the place. They finally got so sick of him and his shenanigans that they took his pass from him and banned him from the park. So he spent all his free time after that with nothing to do but look over the fence at Kings Island from his backyard.

Lowkae's avatar

I've been wondering for awhile how they keep track of banned guests too. When I worked at Cedar Point I heard stories about unruly guests (usually fits about height requirements or Fast Lane) have their physical descriptions sent to nearby rides to warn employees. You don't have to present ID to buy a ticket or enter the park. While I can expect security and admissions workers to recognize faces for a few days, what's stopping someone who was permanently banned from going back in a few years later? The majority of the park's workforce will be different by then.

Jeff stated what the deterrent is- criminal trespassing charges. Some security people are amazing at remembering faces, especially those who've caused problems in the past. I used to issue them at a business I ran for a few years and I've never seen or heard of anyone who returned.

LostKause's avatar

I don't know how advanced Carowinds' security is, but facial recognition technology merged with video surveillance is amazing these days. It is rumored that Walmart received the tech a few years ago.

The first thing I thought about when I read this story was the accident last year in which the man climbed Raptor's fence to get his phone. He went against what he was told by park staff, and the outcome was that he lost his life.

Even though it was not a roller coaster, she was still in danger. Can you imagine the awkward walk to her car by security after that incident?

slithernoggin's avatar

I have an iPhone but I'm so phenomenally cheap that I don't pay for cellular data (I'm on a friend's account), I just use wifi when it's available, so maybe I just don't "get it". I'd have followed instructions. (And what was so important that she had to have her phone in her hand to lose it while riding a mildly entertaining ride?)

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Everyone wanted to see *her* recording of the ride, and not the hundreds of other recordings of it that are already out there.

Original BlueStreak64

These kinds of bans don't need to be 100% enforceable to be effective. Of course there is a decent chance the banned patron may get away with returning before the ban is over. But the mere threat of more serious consequences makes them much less likely to cause any problems if they do return, and the park now has more leverage to prosecute at even the slightest hint of trouble. If she buys a single day ticket in 2019 and gets through the gates but minds her p's and q's all day to avoid being noticed by security, the park has still accomplished its primary goal.

Someone who ignores safety warnings/park employees and goes on the track of a ride in operation to retrieve a phone will be much less likely to care about criminal trespass (or even know what it is or the consequences of it) than your average bear. Such a ban is more likely to be effective against someone who never would have gone on the tracks in the first place. Not clear to me a park would even pursue criminal trespass charges if she shows up again and they catch her (though that would likely vary depending on what she does while in the park particularly if she violates safety rules/park employees again or is involved in some type of disruption such as a fight -- certainly not out of the question for someone who hops on the tracks to get a phone).

The logistics of enforcing such a ban work against the park (particularly as time passes). The park understands that. But it may well provide some legal protection. Shows park takes safety seriously. What more could they do? Whether its actually effective is beside the point.

Typically where I have worked in the past, these bans are more effective than you may think. While there is nothing preventing someone who is banned from obtaining a one day ticket and coming in, there are far more undercover security folks in plain clothes at main entrances than you may realize. They obtain daily BOLO announcements and remember faces better than most. I was always shocked at how many of these folks the security team remembered and dealt with prior to them ever reaching the park entrance. There is no facial recognition software at theme park entrances. Often times names are flagged in ticketing systems, so if she were to attempt to purchase a season pass or some type of ticket where her name was needed, there is a chance she could be caught.

Obviously, as time goes on and staff changes and there are new incidents and BOLOs, someone would have more of a chance of not getting caught. If this woman goes back to Carowinds today, she is going to be spotted by someone and arrested. If she goes back in year 3 or 4 of her five year ban, the chances of staff turnover and forgetfulness would make it likely she would be fine. However, folks that have been banned are typically the ones who are most likely to get in trouble and cause another problem. So if that were to happen, the park and law enforcement then have every right to criminally trespass and arrest her for violating her ban. While nothing can prevent her from returning to the park during the five year ban assuming she isn't caught, any future behavioral issues in the park now warrant criminal action, which is the main goal of the ban.

Last edited by BrettV,
Jeff's avatar

I know of a specific instance of a park imposing a ban and prosecuting the individual when it was violated. The list of these bans is pretty short at any given park.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Tommytheduck's avatar

maXairMike said:

Everyone wanted to see *her* recording of the ride, and not the hundreds of other recordings of it that are already out there.

My son's friend (14) was saying last night at CP how he wanted to strap a camera to his chest to take on-ride video. I asked "Why? all you have to do is go on Youtube and there will be multiple videos already there." He didn't have a good answer (they never do) but wouldn't change his stance either. (again, they never do.)

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