Metal Detectors Gone from KI

Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:03 AM

My first visit of the season to Kings Island was yesterday, went down to get my new pass and catch some early morning rides. (Which, incidentally, was great for about an hour until 900 school buses unloaded- yikes!)

Anyway, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the metal detectors and security check at the front gate. This may have been covered somewhere, but I'm wondering if the other Cedar Fair parks where they were present have followed suit. While Cedar Point has never had them, I remember KD did and I think Carowinds as well. Anyone know?

Inside the park I spoke with a couple of security officers about it and they put the "oh no" looks on their faces. I said "This could be a good thing AND a scary thing.", and the one replied "Yes...good for the customer and scary for us."

Last edited by RCMAC, Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:04 AM
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Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:22 AM

They are still at Canada's Wonderland

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Saturday, May 12, 2012 5:37 PM

Good to see that sanity is overriding paranoia in the USA for once. AFAIK no parks at all on this side of the pond have metal detectors.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012 5:56 PM

So? I can't be the only person who has noticed that the magnotnometers at the Kings Island entrance have been unplugged, turned off, and/or detuned past the point of not responding to very large pieces of metal shoved through them filled with small children, daytime necessities, and swimming gear. Let alone knives, small firearms, billy clubs, and anything else they might want to attempt to detect.

They've just finally opted to put an end to the charade.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:09 PM

I noticed it Dave. :-)

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Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:48 PM

Richard Bannister said:

Good to see that sanity is overriding paranoia in the USA for once. AFAIK no parks at all on this side of the pond have metal detectors.

Pleasure Beach Blackpool have had them for the last four seasons or so. Alton Towers were piloting them earlier this year. Worrying!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 8:39 AM

Whether they "worked" or not, wouldn't they at least be a deterrent? Or am I naive? (I've always imagined the folks of southern Ohio, Indiana, and northern Kentucky spinning around at the gate - "aw shoot, honey, we better take these shotguns back to the truck...")

But seriously, wasn't it Kennywood who installed metal detectors and search security at the gate because trouble had finally come to their lovely park? It's a shame to have to wait through that now, but I'm sure in doing so the park was protecting their business in that local/regional market- not to mention their 100+ year old reputation as a clean, safe place for Pittsburghers to go. In other words, if the guests feel protected by the park in some way, they'll keep coming, right?

I guess my mistake was not asking those KI security officers the reason, if any, that they give for the removal. I do find it interesting that the decision seems not to be chain-wide.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 12:57 PM

I visited Carowinds last year and I know they had them, anybody know if they do this year? Canada's Wonderland might not of taken them out because its a different country, I'm not sure how that would work.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 1:39 PM

There's a joke about politeness in there somewhere, I just can't seem to find it.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 2:38 PM

The problem is not so much the deterrent (or otherwise); rather, it's the fact that it greatly increases the time taken to get into the park. I went to Magic Mountain in February, and it took me longer to get from my car to inside the park than it took me to drive from Burbank Airport thirty miles away.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:40 PM

Richard Bannister said:

The problem is not so much the deterrent (or otherwise); rather, it's the fact that it greatly increases the time taken to get into the park.

Is it actually that big of a problem though? Would any average person remember waiting to get into the park after a day of theme parking? I really doubt park management even considers that a reasonable complaint.

Or you know, show up early/when the park opens. It's the same as waiting to get into a sporting event or concert

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:58 PM

Well, yeah, if it takes a half-hour to get into a park, yeah, I'd say that will leave people with a bad taste in their mouth.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 12:14 AM

And oddly/ironically, Kings Island was probably the least offensive in that regard. With such a wide entrance, they had many stations available across the entrance plaza, and on really busy mornings they would utilize most of them and try their best to get the crowds through.

One of the bottleneckiest that I've experienced is Kennywood. They improved and expanded their entrance plaza all right, but it seems the actual number of entrance gates didn't increase by much if at all. It can turn into a human funnel type situation there with parties trying to merge in and jostle for position. Between that, the metal detectors and the bag checks I grew kind of impatient waiting to get in.

Cedar Point's policy has always surprised me in a way - while it's not exactly urban there, they are drawing from both Detroit and Cleveland. In other ways, it's not so surprising. They would have 4 entrances to cover, not just one, and that's a lot of man power. Also, they encourage a lot of in-and-out traffic there, too, probably second only to Disney. Associated attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc. lie just outside the park and I'd guess they'd rather take their chances than inconvenience so many guests so many times during their stay.

Ah well, whatever. This is an element of park-going that I've never really thought about much until now.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 12:30 AM

They're still in use at Kings Dominion. Not surprising, considering its proximity to Richmond, as well as the incident in the parking lot a number of years ago.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 2:01 AM

One of the major issues that parks have to face is the difference between appearance and reality. Kings Island's magnotnometers have not worked for a couple of years now, except on special occasions, and it wasn't much of a secret...when you see someone drive a Rascal scooter through the portal without setting off an alarm, you start to suspect that something is not as it appears...

For some reason, The Public equates magnetometers and bag checks with safety and security. I have no idea why, but I suspect some 30 years of airport experience probably has something to do with it. The reality is that in a setting such as an amusement park, magnetometers are really a poor option, because they have a false positive rate of nearly 100% because of the amount of detectable ferrous metal...from car keys to pocket change to cell phone integrated circuits to eyeglass frames...that people tend to carry with them. They are non-selective detectors, which makes them not much more than a nuisance. Bag searches are almost worse, because they will only find those objects that a person bothers to pack into a bag and which are positioned in such a way that the person doing the searching will actually find them. By now, any suitably observant Bad Guy knows, for instance, that if you want to smuggle a firearm into a Disney park, you had best either bury it in the bottom of a picnic basket, or stuff it into your pocket. And of course while the design of the Disney parks means it won't work there, if you want to get your BFG into a Six Flags park you can probably employ the Axel Foley method. The bottom line is that amusement parks are not airplanes, and treating them as such isn't going to address the real safety concerns.
I happen to know that Cedar Fair does have a pretty good idea of what DOES work for maintaining safety and security in their parks. Instead of hoping that they've managed to disarm every thug who happens to walk through the gates, they concentrate on making sure that hazardous situations are avoided, de-fused or scattered before trouble begins. I've actually seen a couple of "takedowns" happen at Cedar Point, and I must say, they're kind of fun to watch. But they're also pretty difficult to spot. Usually, the 'perp' doesn't even realize that he is surrounded by officers, and ost people on the midway never knew that anything at all had happened.

The point is, the presence or absence of a security nuisance at the front gate has very little to do with the quality of safety and security one will actually experience inside the park.

As for Kennywood, they installed measures not because trouble had come to the park, but because management feared such trouble was on its way.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 12:06 PM

Carowinds currently is using theirs.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 4:23 PM

Thanks, Dave, for your insight- it's an eye-opener and food for thought. I feel like a TOTAL chump, as it never occurred to me that KI's weren't totally functional, and always assumed that strollers, jazzy chairs, etc. were either subject to their own special look-see or given a pass depending on the circumstances. I also didn't care, I guess! I'm just the guy who, not even really knowing how these things work, dutifully emptied his pockets at the gate 20 times a season for the last umpteen years and moved on through. Sheesh.

I owe Kennywood an apology for stating that trouble had come to their park. The steel trap part of my mind remembered a discussion back then around gang activity in association with the announcement they would install detectors. The hazy part of my memory recalled stories about a few evenings there where things weren't so great, but I wasn't sure and things like that don't always hit the news. (trust me on that one, I work at the Ohio State Fair...). So before I spoke I looked for information and came up with an article (without a by-line) in the Observer-Reporter dated may 10, 1993 titled "Kennywood installs metal detectors". It also reported the park's new ban on gang colors, bandanas, etc. and included guest's thoughts on the subject. No where does Kennywood state the decision was in response to actual trouble or gang activity at the park, and I should not have made the connection.

Since, I've come across another article from the Post-Gazette dated May 5, 1993 where Andrew Quinn states that the move was not due to any specific incident, but they basically (after much thought) were trying to be pro-active as gang activity heated up across the city. They also at the same time instituted a ban on after 7 pm ticket sales to unaccompanied minors.

So, my apologies, I'm corrected.

Thanks to all who reported the situation at their parks. Now I wonder how many other parks out there have been pulling the wool over my eyes, or was it strictly a KI thing?

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Monday, May 14, 2012 5:30 PM

I think KI is the only one that still had detectors that they weren't really using. And you really could tell; for the past two years the guard basically stood there and waved people through, occasionally spot-checking bags.

Kennywood's search is far more thorough, as they do investigate the reason the detector beeped, and they do check bags. But again, for them it was a proactive step.

I think it was Six Flags over Georgia and at Carowinds where I set off the detector but the guard waved me through. In that case, I suspect their tactic is to assess the "threat" and use the (usually false) positive as a reason to investigate further if someone makes them not feel quite right.

The point is, there are three parts to any security plan, and all three parts are important:

1) Make people feel safe. Bag checks, metal detectors, uniformed guards, fresh paint, adequate lighting...all that stuff contributes to convincing people that the park is safe (in the police sense). Of course the problem is that when you have a generally nice crowd, you're trying to move thousands of people through very quickly, and hassle tends to annoy people, with a detailed inspection you're running the risk of causing an incident at your checkpoint, in order to prevent an incident in the park. When the risk of causing an incident increases beyond the probability of preventing anything, your security measure has become ineffective. There are lots of ways to accomplish this goal before dragging out the airport staff.

2) Make the bad guys uncomfortable. The stuff in (1) tends also to make evildoers uncomfortable, but if they are *really* evil, then they're not going to be fazed by any of it. Which is why...

3) Make the area actually safe. That means keeping an eye on things, identifying problems as they erupt and dealing with them. Much of this part means figuring out who is a likely threat and who is nothing more than a random coaster nut. And then it means doing some old-fashioned security work.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 6:43 PM

If I recall correctly, didn't some scumbag try to bring a gun into SFGAm last year or the year before? I strongly disagree with the sentiment from some of the people in this thread that security measures such as metal detectors at amusement parks are over the line. Frankly I think it's pretty naive to think terrorists and other assorted psychos haven't thought to target amusement parks, because, like sports games or concerts, they draw large crowds.

Better safe than sorry. Its not like they're that much of a hassle anyway in my experience at SFNE (where the detectors actually do function), and I suppose even nonfunctioning ones will make someone with a concealed weapon think twice about going through. Now if they wanted to put in those full body scanners, that'd be a different story.

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Monday, May 14, 2012 7:53 PM

bjames said:

Frankly I think it's pretty naive to think terrorists and other assorted psychos haven't thought to target amusement parks, because, like sports games or concerts, they draw large crowds.

It's more naive to think metal detectors are stopping them.

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