Security always a concern at a Central Florida theme parks

Posted Friday, December 4, 2015 12:35 PM | Contributed by Jeff

In the wake of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, many are expressing security concerns in central Florida. Security experts said theme parks can be considered targets because of the large amount of people who visit every day.

Read more from WFTV/Orlando.

Friday, December 4, 2015 12:45 PM

Sigh, I guess this means there will be security theater at even more parks now. I was very upset by having to put up with it at Cedar Point. Every place can be a target. There's really nothing you can do to stop it.

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Friday, December 4, 2015 12:46 PM

SECURITY THEATER!! I'M GONNA BE FIVE MINUTES LATER TO MY FAVORITE COASTER!!

Oh? Wrong Buzz? Sorry. Carry on.

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Friday, December 4, 2015 12:57 PM

I think Disney does a pretty remarkable job of hiding meaningful security. Aside from the bag checks, you can kind of feel that they're there, and you're being watched. It's hard to describe.

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Friday, December 4, 2015 2:30 PM

Thabto said:

Sigh, I guess this means there will be security theater at even more parks now. I was very upset by having to put up with it at Cedar Point. Every place can be a target. There's really nothing you can do to stop it.

I hadn't even seen this when I originally posted...

So tell me, outside of 'it is unnecessary' or 'I don't like it', tell me what your big issue is with 'Security Theater'? A real, thought out response.

At Carowinds this past fall, there was a huge fight in the parking lot amongst teens. The park had gotten rid of its walk thru scanners and had even lessened the amount they used the handhelds.

When the fight happened? It was all over the news and parents were VERY upset at the lessened security they felt was there. Even though it had nothing to do with the fight in the parking lot.

So it is much better for a park to spend a little bit of money on having a show of security while the real security can do their jobs, which by it's very nature makes it necessary. Its there to make paying customers feel better. And that is far more important than a 30 second inconvenience.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Friday, December 4, 2015 2:31 PM
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Friday, December 4, 2015 3:00 PM

Who is going to be the first to respond to Tek with the Ben Franklin quote? Thabto, DJ, or Noggin?

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Friday, December 4, 2015 7:54 PM

Jeff said:

I think Disney does a pretty remarkable job of hiding meaningful security.

For whatever reason, this has recently fascinated me. According to this recent article, WDW pays around $8M a year to the Orange County Sheriff's department for law enforcement protection.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-disney-orange-co...story.html

When I enter the parks, I certainly observe way less than that in law enforcement presence. Meaning, I really wonder, and fantasize for that matter what is armed and ready to go behind the scenes.

It's no secret that an active shooter situation at WDW could inflict some serious damage. I really would love to know what tactical response plans exist behind the scenes, for no other reason than curiosity. I mean, do they have a SWAT team on site, on call, ready to respond within seconds to an incident? It's interesting to think about at least...

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Friday, December 4, 2015 8:39 PM

But how does meaningless security theatre make people feel better? Every dollar spent on theatre is a dollar not spent on actually making a park secure.

Insert Ben Franklin quote here.

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, December 4, 2015 8:40 PM
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Friday, December 4, 2015 8:51 PM

You act like they can't have or afford both. If it makes patrons happy it's worth it.

And that's still your opinion that it isn't worth it. Give me a real reason. The park is paying, not u.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Friday, December 4, 2015 8:53 PM
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Saturday, December 5, 2015 1:06 AM

It's a non-productive waste of valuable resources; I remain unconvinced that it does anything but at best annoy patrons; every person who buys admission to the park is paying for the meaningless waste of resources.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 8:53 AM

Every admission to the park that I buy is helping to pay for the meaningless waste of a resource called kiddie rides.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 9:00 AM

I frequently attend large-crowd events and places, like all of us here do, and I've given this matter some serious thought. It occured to me while at an Ohio State football game how much damage could be done to a whole lot of people at once. Then it occured to me that inside the Shoe is probably the safest place to be, and the likely terrorist act would be outside the place where thousands of tailgaters and streams of pedestrians could easily be taken by surprise.
The same would go for the amusement park. Why would someone bear the risk trying to get weapons into a park when there's a parking lot full of people arriving every day?

Having said that- I'm AOK with security checks at gates, and I don't know or care how ineffective they are. If even one person is fooled it might be considered worth it.
It's a sign of the times. I worked 33 years at the phone company and my jobs took me to business locations all over town. There was a time when you could walk into the back door of any company or high school, but especially after 9/11 many places went to one entry door and some kind of security check performed by somebody. It really held me up and added time to my job, but I learned not to get hung up on the inconvenience, the personal violation, or that the person checking would be no help whatsoever in a real situation. I prefer to think that whatever measures are in place are calculated to make customers and employees feel safe and that it actually works.

Every business's goal is to stay in business, and I would think doing everything to convince customers that no harm will come to them while there would be of utmost importance, especially during these tense times. Which, sadly, show no sign of ever getting better.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 10:51 AM

slithernoggin said:

It's a non-productive waste of valuable resources; I remain unconvinced that it does anything but at best annoy patrons; every person who buys admission to the park is paying for the meaningless waste of resources.

This. If a park wants to increase security, just strategically place security patrols within the parks so that an officer could respond within seconds to anywhere in the park. That's far more effective than invading guests personal space when they enter the park. And I also think that an incident is more likely to happen in the parking lot, beach, restaurants or at the resorts than inside the park. Not only that, you got a whole line of people at the gate waiting to be checked, creating an easy target. Is the world really becoming a more dangerous place or is the coverage these tragedies get changing our perception of that? I think it's the latter.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 11:47 AM

Can we have a maintenance guy on patrol, too? We need to have him dispatched to fix this broken record.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:23 PM

I said come up with a reason that was something other than you don't like it and you feel it is unnecessary and you can't. Because apparently neither of you get it.

It isn't a thing designed to increase security. I stated as such. It's a thing designed to make people feel a certain way. Which the parks have deemed necessary by its very nature. Just because you don't feel safer doesn't mean it doesn't work at its intended purpose.

And I'm sorry it takes you an extra 30 seconds to get to your favorite rolly ride for the umpteenth time.

New arguement please.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:24 PM
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Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:30 PM

And after a quick review of events over the last couple of weeks (and years) I'd say it's both.
The scary thing is that martyrs are set to cause harm and fully expect to die in the process, and that is something that we here in the U.S. aren't used to. I heard an expert say that our chance of being involved or affected by a terrorist attack is slim to none. But when stories emerge involving everyday people minding their own business going to school, a restaurant or night club, a marathon race, a movie, or even walking the street it's frightening to think that such a thing can apparently happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone, and that's what sticks.

So while it's likely that inside the fences of a large theme park or a football stadium isn't the easiest target for a terrorist attack, those places still need to assure their patrons that they are taking every precaution they can to insure their safety. Posting groups of security personnel around such places is a good idea, sure, and that might be effective in keeping potential criminal activity low and in decreasing time in responding to an emergency. Once it happens.

In the past the general public may have seen a big security presence somewhere as a sign that the place is bad news. But these days we might be more inclined to perceive it as a proactive measure. Business owners have chosen to post guards at their entrances, and I see the message as "Trouble Can't Get Past Here. Feel Free To Relax About It And Spend Money Here Because It's Safe, K?" And if all they find all day long is a few knives, a bottle or two, and the occasional bucket of chicken then they're happy with that and money's well spent.

We might know in our hearts and minds that it's all a buncha hooey, but friends, I think it's here to stay.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:33 PM

Interesting consensus on this one.

I'm with slithernoggin. It's an ineffective method of actual security and I'd say enough people know this that it's not really producing all the feels that it's intended to. While a certain amount of dumbasses might feel safer, I do think there's a decently sized segment that see it as the unnecessary annoyance it really is.

I don't think it's fair to require an explanation beyond "you don't like it and you feel it is unnecessary" because that's the reason. Maybe what we need is a better reason than "it makes people feel a certain way" - because the only way some of us are feeling is annoyed by the theatrics. I'm not sure how "the feels" can be an acceptable argument for, but not against.

Last edited by Carrie J., Saturday, December 5, 2015 11:20 PM
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Saturday, December 5, 2015 12:53 PM

What bothers me is how everyone has lost their ****ing minds around terrorism. Your lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 77, which is pretty grim if you ask me. Your lifetime odds of dying in a terrorist attack are 1 in 20,000,000. If 9/11 happened every single year, you're still at greater risk of death by driving. People need to get a grip, and reject the fear mongering that people running for office are throwing out there.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015 2:42 PM

For starters I'm with Jeff on the we-shouldn't-worry-about-it thing. The numbers are clear; being personally impacted by a terrorism event is such a low-probability thing that it makes zero sense thinking about it as an individual.

However, an institution that could be a target probably does want to think about it, at least a little bit.

RCMAC said:

It occured to me while at an Ohio State football game how much damage could be done to a whole lot of people at once. Then it occured to me that inside the Shoe is probably the safest place to be, and the likely terrorist act would be outside the place where thousands of tailgaters and streams of pedestrians could easily be taken by surprise.
The same would go for the amusement park. Why would someone bear the risk trying to get weapons into a park when there's a parking lot full of people arriving every day?

In a high-density situation like a stadium, you don't bring in a gun. You bring in a bomb. In the Paris attacks, one of the attackers was wearing a suicide-bomb and attempted to enter Stade de France during France/Germany. Security caught on, and did not allow him entry; he blew himself up outside in the resulting scrum.

And, really, you aren't necessarily looking to kill tons of people with the bomb itself, though that's nice; you are also hoping to set off a panic in the crowd and get them to trample each other. In normal circumstances it takes quite a while to clear a full stadium of people. In a panic, it's going to be ugly. Stade de France's evacuation wasn't a panic, but it wasn't exactly orderly either as patrons ended up on the field with the teams. Had the attacker gotten inside, that might have ended very differently.

After the Paris attacks, the next home game at Michigan Stadium was vs. Ohio State. If you were interested in causing mayhem at a US sporting event, that's about as good a spot as any short of the super bowl. In reaction, for the first time, patrons entering Michigan Stadium had to open their coats as they entered the gates. It didn't really take any additional time to get in vs. a comparable game (MSU), so it wasn't that onerous. But, it was clearly in reaction to the Paris plan.

They were asking people to unzip coats on entry to the hockey game vs. Dartmouth at Yost that night too, and that only seats 6-7K. So, I'm guessing this is the new normal at U-M sporting events, at least for a while.

As a side note, U-M's College of Engineering is starting to have some conversations with the Michigan State Police's Special Operations team. They have an autonomous underwater vehicle that can grab sonar maps of the floor of the Great Lakes, and there are many ships, planes, and people on the bottom of it, but they are checking the maps by hand. We're going to put a team together to automate that process, and probably launch it as a capstone design project for our CS undergrads.

Special Ops has lots of other interesting toys that we might get to work with too. Apparently, they've got some very fast boats, along with a helicopter or two. So, it should be a lot of fun. But, there was plenty of gossip around the office when three state troopers, two in "I'm a cop" coat-and-tie outfits and one (visibly armed) in tactical uniform were waiting for me outside my office on Friday... :-)

Last edited by Brian Noble, Saturday, December 5, 2015 2:46 PM
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Saturday, December 5, 2015 4:56 PM

Brian Noble said:

In a high-density situation like a stadium, you don't bring in a gun. You bring in a bomb.

Hmmm.

I don't want to get too dark or morbid, but I think it depends greatly on the firearm or explosive involved.

Seems like lately people are doing the most damage with automatic weapons.

I'd be curious looking at it from a purely academic standpoint. Would it be more effective to mow a bunch of people down or blow a bunch of people up and what it would entail to get into position with either intention?

I know it sounds like an incredibly shady post, but I'm genuinely curious. I trust Brian's opinion and I'm not sure I really disagree, but my gut says I'm going to need a pretty decent explosion to outdo the damage automatic weapons could bring to the table.

I dunno. At the very least, that line made me think a little.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Saturday, December 5, 2015 4:57 PM
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