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Theme Park Access Control

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Millions of people attend theme parks each year, but rarely does anyone think about how the park is secured during operating hours.  Theme parks have access control measures in place to keep their property safe and to ensure there is no unwanted entry.

Entry to the Park

In this day and age, many theme parks use complex computer systems to control who enters the park.  These systems determine whether each person has a valid entry.  A common type of access control system consists of a computer, a scanner, and a touch screen monitor.

The exact way the computer program works will vary by park, but the general methods are similar.  Each ticket has a barcode or a number on it.  Tickets come in many forms: receipt paper, computer paper, card stock, on a mobile device, on a gift card, etc.  That barcode is scanned with the scanner, or entered manually on the touch screen monitor.  The monitor will tell the attendant whether the guest has a valid ticket or an invalid ticket.  Only guests with valid tickets can enter.

If a park uses season passes, they work essentially the same way.  However, since these passes typically have a picture assigned to them, when they are scanned the picture pops up on the screen.  The attendant verifies that it is the person presenting it, and allows the guest in.  Parks have different consequences for people attempting to gain entry with another person's pass, or with a bad ticket or pass.

Many parks allow a person to leave the park and return the same day.  A popular way to track this is to use the "invisible" hand stamp.  These stamps use a special waterproof ink that shows up under a black light.  When a black light lamp or flashlight shines on the stamp, the attendant can see it and determine whether or not the guest can has actually signed in.  Other methods to denote acceptable re-entry are to use regular stamps or wristbands.

Restricted Areas

Once a guest has entered the park, there are still areas they are denied access to.  These areas will be marked with signs that indicate guests are not allowed there.  In some back areas, a sign is sufficient.  However, in restricted ride areas, a sign won't cut it.  The wrong person gaining entry into a ride area at the wrong time can lead to serious injury or even death. 

Ride area gates are secured with heavy duty locks, and only authorized personnel are allowed to enter these areas.  Numerous different types of locks and keys are used.  Extra locks and keys are kept locked away in a secure location, where access is severely restricted. If a key gets into the wrong hands, serious problems can occur.  If a key comes up missing, all locks that take that key must be changed immediately.  This is to ensure everyone's safety. 

Why Is Access Control Important?

Access control systems that track entry to the park are important for many reasons.  They help make sure that every guest has a valid entry into the park and that the product is not being given away for free.  It also helps the park know what kind of tickets are popular and what areas to market to.  Access control also helps keep out guests who have been restricted from visiting the park, which in turn keeps the other guests safe. 

Restricting access to ride areas can be a matter of life or death.  There have been many cases across the industry of a guest losing an item on a ride and attempting to gain entry into a ride area.  If successful in gaining access to that area, the guest is in great danger.  People, including trained maintenance workers, have been killed by entering restricted areas.

For more information about access control systems, or if you want to purchase them for your business, visit Midwest Lock & Security.