*It may be a small world, after all, but it’s an increasing sad and dangerous one, as well.
In a real wake-up call, and in the wake of recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Disney theme parks are installing metal detectors at their entrances. For the first time, they’ve banned costumes for guests over 14 years old, and banned the sale and possession of toy weapons in all of their parks, for fear that they’ll be confused with the real deal.
Disney’s move comes a week after they had to arrest a man for trying to enter the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida with a handgun, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler told USA Today.
What are some of those measures? They include dogs that can detect explosives worn on the body.
Sounds like Mickey’s job just got a lot more dangerous and complicated.
The extra security is being put in place at both Walt Disney World in Florida and California’s Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. Disney hasn’t been clear about whether their security enhancements are permanent, or just for the holiday season, which is traditionally one of the busiest seasons for theme parks nationwide.
What’s next? Gas masks in the gift shop? Body armor on the ride operators?
For what it’s worth, other parks are making similar moves. Universal says it has added metal detectors to its theme parks on both coasts. “We want our guest to feel safe when they come here,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said. “This test is a natural progression for us as we study best practices for security in today’s world.”
SeaWorld says that guests at its theme parks should expect more thorough bag checks and wand metal detectors. But as much as I loved seeing Shamu as a kid (boy, have times changed), its not Disney. No place on earth is as far as I’m concerned, so when “the most magical place on earth” has to take measures like this to make their guests feel safe, we’ve let this world go, as my mother would say, to hell in a hand-basket.
I’m not alone.
“Now, families can’t even go to ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ to escape the realities of gun violence in this country,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a 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 reckless politicians kowtow to the corporate gun lobby.” Gross said. “It doesn’t have to be this way; we are better than this.”
I think we are, too.
Others believe the security measures are appropriate.
“I think the metal detectors are a reasonable precaution,” Tim Harden, an Orlando graphic designer, said. “You’re going to wait in lines all day long, so what’s one more line?”
It’s one more line. And as I stand in it this spring, in the same line I stood in as a kid, and later stood in with my kids every other spring break, I’ll be saddened, and reminded that we as a society have lost control of the gun control issue.
What do you think? Is this a reasonable precaution? Will you feel safer at theme parks with metal detectors at the entrance, or have Disney and other parks gone too far? Let us know in the Comments section.