Metal Detector Madness

In case you haven't seen the news, Universal has begun to test, and what now seems like permanently implement, metal detectors at the front of their three major roller coasters. Riders of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Dragon Challenge and the Incredible Hulk coasters will be subject to screening before being allowed entry to these attractions.

Why is this happening?

Roller coasters have never been the safest attractions around. Seems like coasters are getting stuck in precarious positions for hours on end all the time. Many injuries have been sustained from the ride itself and even deaths. Even Disney's seemingly more "tame" coasters aren't immune to these unfortunate malfunctions.

The need for metal detectors on these rides stems from another, outside risk of injury: falling/flying debris. When you're traveling upwards of 60mph in an open air vehicle, anything that hits you is going to hurt, if not kill you. That could be anything from a quarter falling out of someone's pocket to their phone, keys, and especially a selfie stick getting loose while the vehicle is in motion.

Universal previously placed signs before these attractions warning passengers to not bring any loose articles on the coasters and apparently that did not work. Before metal detectors were placed, the "dueling" aspect of the Dragon Challenge coaster was no longer offered after riders complained about being struck with falling objects. One guest, who previously only had one functioning eye, was hit by an unidentified object in his one good eye while on the ride, thus losing his sight. Universal tried what they could, but ultimately they feel that metal detectors are the way to go.

Why can't we just be trusted not to bring on loose objects?

...will you think you or your child being struck in the face by a cell phone at 60mph is worth not having to pass through a metal detector?

People can't be trusted. It might sound harsh to say but it is the unfortunate truth. Theme parks trust guests not to smoke in non-smoking areas and they do anyway. They trust not to bring alcohol into the parks but they do anyway. They trust not to bring weapons, including guns, and they do anyway. From a socially acceptable standpoint we'd like to trust that our fellow park guests won't raise a full size iPad over their heads the second a show starts but...well, visit any park to see what I mean. There are people that refuse to follow the rules.

I've seen countless numbers of people try to pass through airport security with cell phones in their pockets. Some out of pure ignorance and some because they completely forgot. People forget really obvious things like removing their cell phones through security all the time. It can be infuriating when they are holding up the line. But that cell phone could easily be a gun or other weapon. The point is, will you think you or your child being struck in the face by a cell phone at 60mph is worth not having to pass through a metal detector?

Even with all the signage and warnings and every hint possible thrown at riders, I guarantee you will still see people attempting to bring on cell phones, Gopros, selfie sticks, etc.. If you feel like a criminal too bad. There is an obvious and documented risk and for the time being this is the best way to mitigate that risk. You are more than welcome to choose another attraction.

What about medical items and implants?

If you have a hip or knee replacement, pacemaker, insulin pump or any other medically necessary item Universal will still allow you on. This really should be of no concern. 

How will this affect my ride experience?

At the end of the day your enjoyment of the actual ride should not change at all. Universal provides free lockers on attractions that do not allow loose objects. Stow your belongings beforehand and you'll have a safe and equally enjoyable ride. Especially since the jackass in front of you had to leave his selfie stick behind.

Theoretically this shouldn't even slow the queue down all that much either. There might be a bottleneck at the metal detectors but once you pass those the ride won't be a walk-on attraction anyway. So don't fuss at the start of the line just to wait another 20 minutes after screening.

I recently tweeted "If you need to pass through a metal detector to ride an attraction, maybe it’s time to change the ride, not the guests." I still believe that. And in the future new roller coasters might take into consideration guests with items in their pockets or possibly pulling out some of those items. For now though, we have to work around what we have, and work around a select few that could put others in harms way.