Tourist spots increase visible security but look for more subtle methods
Sheriff Wayne Ivey of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office gives tips on how to survive an active shooter situation. He uses the 4 As: awareness, avoidance, arm and attack. Video provided by Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
ORLANDO — Expect to see more security at your favorite theme parks, festivals, hotels, cruise ships and even vacation condos because of Sunday’s massacre — and that could cost you more money — safety experts say.
But some companies hope the wave of the future will be security enhancements that you don’t notice.
In late 2015, Disney World started placing walk-through metal detectors in front of all four of its theme parks. Universal Orlando began using wand-style metal detectors in an area leading into its parks and nightlife district. And SeaWorld Orlando also began using wand-style detectors.
“We’ve been blessed and never had a theme park attack and hopefully that never happens,” said Rick Munarriz, a senior analyst with The Motley Fool. “If upgrades are occurring, they’ll pass the costs down and I think people will understand and pay more as just the price of security.”
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Dennis Speigel, head of the Ohio-based International Theme Park Services consultants, expects hotels and resorts to place greater emphasis on spotting suspicious behavior and alerting authorities.
“The average Joe coming to the park wants to have a good time and be safe, and he wants his family to be safe,” Speigel said. “If it takes a little extra screening and wanding or some other security measures, he doesn’t care because of the carnage we have experienced.”
The wake-up call didn’t happen Sunday. It occurred Sept. 11, 2001, in part because government officials worried about Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Space Coast after the first foreign attacks on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.
Yet all of Central Florida is vulnerable because it is as much of a playground for families as Las Vegas is a playground for adults.
In addition to Orlando-area theme parks, the Atlantic Coast has Port Canaveral, No. 2 in the country in the number of passengers that come for cruises; and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where more than 1.5 million people gather every year to learn more about the space program. The Tampa Bay area has Busch Gardens theme park, the Ybor City neighborhood with restaurants, bars and cigar shops and the Salvador Dalí Museum.
Concertgoers have close to a dozen music festivals to choose from throughout the year from the Atlantic to Gulf coasts.
“We’ve been ramping up security more and more,” said Gary McCann, executive producer of the Runaway Country Music Fest. “It is something we review each year.”
The three-day outdoor country music concert will have its eighth run March 23 to 25 in Kissimmee, Fla., and typically attracts 12,000 to 15,000 people.
At his festival, concertgoers travel through metal detectors, sometimes are hand scanned and have their bags visually checked. Plus plainclothes security guards patrol and video cameras are on constant surveillance.
“This type of evil, I don’t think there’s a way to stop it all,” McCann said of the Las Vegas shooter who set up in a hotel across the street from the Route 91 Harvest Festival. “Every venue around the world” probably now is reviewing its security plans.
Hotels that are considering increased security have to walk a fine line, said Jerry Trachtman of Melbourne, Fla., a founding member and a publisher of Living Safer magazine.
A search of guests’ luggage, something like what’s done in Israel, might have found Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s weapons cache. But some lodgers would see such searches as invasions of privacy, especially as Sunday’s horror becomes more distant.
“I don’t think the hotels want to be seen as intrusive and lose business,” Trachtman said.
Orlando-based Westgate Resorts announced earlier this year that it was introducing a new concealed weapons detection system at its Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, a nearly 3,000-room hotel with a casino and convention center just off the Las Vegas Strip.
The company also hopes to deploy such systems at other locations around the country, Mark Waltrip, Westgate Resorts chief operating officer. In Florida, it has 9,000 units, mostly condo-style timeshares.
The developer of the system, Patriot One Technologies, describes it as a “an effective tool to combat active-shooter threats before they occur.” It can be installed in doorways and hallways to identify concealed weapons and alert security.
People who attend concerts or football games — or even go to the movies — are becoming more conscious of the “what-ifs.” They are more likely to be planning their exit strategy in case someone starts shooting.
“It’s just a commentary on the way things are right now,” Trachtman said. “It’s terrible that we have to live in a world that we have to do this. But the public needs to be more aware. As Bob Dylan once said: ‘The times, they are a-changin.’ “
When you go
Your actions in the first 30 seconds of a mass shooting at a concert or sports event can be crucial, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. Among his tips:
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Look for the closest exits before you need them.
• Seek places to take cover if you can’t reach an exit.