Six Flags rolling out biometric scanners for season passholders

Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Season pass holders at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington can expect to move through the front gate faster this summer when the amusement park switches to a finger-scanning system for entry.

Read more from The Star-Telegram.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:19 AM

Great, I'm sure they'll offer a "pre-screened fingerprints" option, just like the TSA offers security bypass at airports. The rich will once again look down their noses at all the poor saps waiting in line to put their finger on the reader...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:35 PM

The system they had last year (at least at SFA) (handheld scanners) worked great, and people got in faster. This is a sure slowdown machine for sure! How many tries is it going to take some kid before a) he gets in, b) the line comes to a dead stop because it can't read the finger, or c) the system goes down? Just bought my '14 passes this morning, and I'm NOT looking forward to this coming to SFA. Is this a test program?

Last edited by ilovethewildone, Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:36 PM
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:49 PM

^No it was tested last season at a couple of SF parks. No one knows for sure how it will impact lines to get into the park. I'm sure what ever problems they had testing it, they have worked out the bugs. We will know in about 44 days how it works!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:52 PM

Honestly, if you simply accept "good enough" at a minimal number of points rather than aiming for 99.9999% accuracy, you CAN pass people through these kinds of things in a pretty reasonable fashion. If you "Sea World it up," though, the lines to pass through the biometric scanners can get pretty long.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:34 AM

Busch Tampa and Sea World Orlando had them when we were there. We weren't pass-holders but had to use them. We had Flextickets. We had no problems until Sea World. They would not read ours at all and we had the line backed up. We went there 2 different days and had same problem.

As long as it works properly, I am fine with them. I guess I feel spoiled by Cedar Fair's system, scan card, photo comes up on screen for employee to verify, and off you go. And in recent years after upgrading the system, you can use pass at any turnstyle.

But, like any technology, there can be glitches. A couple of years ago at CP opening weekend, our passes were showing up invalid. Fortunately, we got in the mornings because of film shoot. It was upon re-entering park we discovered the issue. Funny thing was, just weeks prior, we visited both Canadas Wonderland and Dorney Park with no problems. Then go to our home park and have big red X on screen!

Thursday, February 27, 2014 1:01 PM

My understanding is that the potential glitch in Gate Central (Paramount Parks' then Cedar Fair's system) was that they replicate the passes across all parks nightly, but it can fail. I may have misunderstood, and this was a few years ago. I would design it to try the local data first, and if that fails, hit the master data where ever it lives. For obvious reasons, I can't tell you how the SeaWorld/Busch system works. :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014 8:01 PM

Don't buy this. Those things are crap. They use them at my former employer, and, because of them being so unreliable, I no longer have a job. It takes forever to get your thumbprint to scan, and for some people it does not work at all. The thing that will really hurt guests with this system, is that you have to physically be there to get them to re-scan your finger, and it takes 3 attempts to do so. And if it doesn't work, you have to wait for them to reset the system to make another attempt.

And we are not talking like my employer, where 10 or 15 people may need to be re-scanned every day. It could be several hundred, and unlike getting a card scanned, this process takes sometimes 10 minutes per person, if it works at all. You also need to take into account that, instead of just a few hundred people using them every day, there may be thousands using them. They are also heat and dirt sensitive, and when that happens they don't work for anyone. Trust me, you don't want to be there when they don't work.

The goal of this scanner is NOT to make your visit quicker, it is to save the company money by not having to mass produce season pass cards. They can save your thumb print in a database with thousands of others. Granted, if the system fails, they may have a back up plan. But that also involves you being present, vs them sending you a new card if there is a problem.

An example being at my employer: The system goes down, and nobody is able to use a thumb print scanner. You simply write down your time, and give it to management for them to process later. But, you never knew if you could trust them to do it. Some people who worked were not punched in, even though they worked, which causes them to have to try to get back pay on a system that fails.

I would be very skeptical if a system failure would be the same as with an employer. I hope that's not the case. But, it could end up with you having to wait for the system to come back online, or you may be in the hands of a supervisor, and, that will be very time consuming. Lots of time spent at guest relations. I certainly would not want to be the person in charge of that job. The guys who was in charge of it at our store hated it, and turned him from a super nice guy, into a grumpy, quick to anger jerk.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Thursday, February 27, 2014 9:22 PM
Thursday, February 27, 2014 9:56 PM

because of them being so unreliable, I no longer have a job.

Something tells me the reliability issue wasn't with the fingerprint readers...

Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:05 PM

This is going to be a big surprise, but T-R, you have no idea what you're talking about. Jesus, man, everything is not some conspiracy to piss you off or oppress you.

Biometric scanners at parks are used to combat fraud. That's all. At least every few months we have a story about some morons getting busted in Orlando for reselling half-used tickets that are supposed to be non-transferrable. That's the problem it is intended to solve.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:25 PM

It certainly was. Go into any meijer store, and ask a cashier what TMAG is. I worked for Meijer for 15 years as a cashier. And, suddenly my loyal service as a cashier was terminated over 60 minutes of late breaks over a 6 month period dues to a device that does not work.

The only reason I commented on this subject is because I am very familiar with what a crappy system it is. So unreliable that a supervisor is needed with a key when it doesn't work to over ride the system. Not only for employees, but when there is a problem for guests as well.

And yes Jeff, I know about the fraud end, as our service desk began using thumb print scanners to cash people's checks at the service desk. Not only on checks, but also for those people who make frequent returns. Though that is more to deter people from wanting to cash their checks at Meijer, and to curb the massive amount of fraud in returns. It is not used as a perk to get people to come to the store. There is a difference. And the amount of people using them at a theme park would be 100 times higher every day at a theme park, as compared to a store. The readers themselves need to be replaced, cleaned or serviced frequently.

But, guess what happens Jeff when the thumb print reader doesn't work? Guests are told that they need to cash their checks elsewhere, or wait for the system to come back online. While returns need a supervisor over-ride, when the system fails. Which in my 3 years dealing with our crappy system, is sometimes every day. And there may be hours in any given day where it does not work at all.

And regardless of the system working, even when it is operating, little things can still cause it not to function. Dust, dirty fingers, heat, moisture. Those things can all delay the process. I used the stupid things 5 days out of the week for 3 years, 8 times a day. So, don't tell me I don't know what I am talking about. I know.

One more comment. Like I told my store Director. How can you have a system that is not 100 percent reliable? In the case of a theme park, I just see this as a big head ache for guests, and like Meijer, the company is not going to care that their system isn't convenient for you, they are going to use it anyways.

Also you can't order your thumb print on line.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:02 PM
Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:37 PM

If you worked somewhere 15 years and were fired for being late from break because of a system that didn't work, I'm guessing there's a little more to the story.

And someone correct me if I'm wrong: you still have to have a season pass card, right? The finger scan is just to verify that the person using it is the person to which it was issued.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:55 PM

No there isn't Bigboy. I was one of 8 people who were fired the same day for the same reason. And, I am in contact with my former friends and former employees who have also been fired for the same reason. You almost need to be a Meijer employee to understand their logic. Which is to use the system to have a steady flow of low paid workers, by using it to fire as many people as they can. That's why I have a problem with it.

If they have the cards great. So, why the need for this? Cedar fair, simply snaps a quick photo of you, and when they scan your pass at the gate, the gate attendant can see your photo in an instant. I think is a much wiser choice then scanning a thumb print. I breezed right through the gate each time at Michigan's Adventure, and Cedar Point.

I would not have been happy at all, if I had to use my thumb. Not only is it slow, it's also a pain in the rear for someone with tendinitis, and you have to get it on there exactly right for it to work. If you don't you have to keep doing it until it does work. We had one girl in our store who had to continue using a time clock, because her thumb print never worked.

So, like I said. if it was 100 percent reliable fine. But, please don't use it until it is.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:58 PM
Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:27 PM

A) 8 people out of 190+ stores getting fired does not make a pattern.

B) Nothing is 100% reliable.

C) Show up on time.

Friday, February 28, 2014 9:55 AM

Timber-Rider said:

I would not have been happy at all, if I had to use my thumb. Not only is it slow, it's also a pain in the rear for someone with tendinitis, and you have to get it on there exactly right for it to work. If you don't you have to keep doing it until it does work.

Dear God can you complain any more? You bring nitpicking to a level unheard of before by the human race. 1st world problems.

Friday, February 28, 2014 12:54 PM

Timber-Rider said:

it's also a pain in the rear for someone with tendinitis

Not to mention ... it completely discriminates against anyone with no thumbs!

Friday, February 28, 2014 1:23 PM

Then I shouldn't have to worry. I'm all thumbs. :)

Friday, February 28, 2014 11:01 PM

Who's got two scannable thumbs and think T-R is full of it? This guy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 8:02 PM

Slithernoggin. I was not fired for not showing up on time. I was fired for late breaks, most just 2 minutes over 15 mintues, because the readers would not react to my thumbprint. The clock is ticking away while you are trying to get the thumbprint scanner to work, and the computer does not care if the reader is working properly. You can even try to show up 2 minutes early, if the reader is not working you are still going to be late.

And, correction, it is not 8 people out of 190 stores, it is 8 people out of 1 store, not including additional people who have been fired from the same store since. Probably 20 or more from 1 store.

Also my complaint about the system is how time consuming it is. They say you will get through quicker, I say Bull. There were many times when I tried to use them that they did not work at all, and you have to go to the next one, to see if that one works, which again, eats away minutes.

The difference is, when I am trying to scan my thumbprint, and it doesn't work, I wouldn't have had a line of people behind me waiting to use the reader. I would just go down the line of some 28 lanes, and find one that did work. At a theme park, these things might be in use all day, and right when the gates open, there might be hundreds using them. So, they won't have the luxury of moving to the next one that works, they will be stuck behind someone who is having a problem, and stand there for who knows how long, not knowing that the device is working or not.

In my 3 years of dealing with them, they are a stupid idea. Go into any meijer store and ask about their thumbprint readers, and ask about their point system. And ask them if the company cares if their stupid thumb print readers work properly or not. I think they also use them at Walmart.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:46 PM

Timber-Rider said:

You can even try to show up 2 minutes early, if the reader is not working you are still going to be late.

And, correction, it is not 8 people out of 190 stores, it is 8 people out of 1 store, not including additional people who have been fired from the same store since. Probably 20 or more from 1 store.

If showing up two minutes early isn't enough, then show up five minutes early. It's your responsibility to get back from your breaks on time, not the companys, even if their systems suck.

I used to live in Michigan. I've spent plenty of time in Meijer stores. They employ a whole lot more than eight people or 20 people. You got fired for not doing your job in accordance with company rules.


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