Theme Parks

Universal permanently installs metal detectors at popular roller coasters

Riders will have to pass through metal detectors before boarding Universal Orlando's Incredible Hulk roller coaster attraction.

Riders will have to pass through metal detectors before boarding Universal Orlando's Incredible Hulk roller coaster attraction.  (Universal Orlando)

Universal Orlando is increasing safety measures at three of its most popular roller coasters by installing permanent metal detectors.

Guests who wish to ride The Incredible Hulk, Dragon Challenge and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket will be required to empty their pockets of loose change, keys, phones, and even selfie sticks before boarding, reports the Orlando Sentintel. Universal says the metal detectors are a solution to the problem of keeping guests safe from flying objects on attractions.

"It's in response to what people are carrying in their pockets these days," Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder told the Sentinel. "All of us have seen the amount of stuff we carry increase with time. All these things are items that … have no place on high-speed rides. It's just too easy for them to come loose."

Though Universal does not have immediate plans to install metal detectors at other park rides, Schroder said this solution has been considered for a long time as a “preventative measure.” Previously the park prohibited only bags or large purses on rides, providing free lockers for rider belongings.  

Though the metal detectors proved to a slight hindrance for people in line, some guests recognize that importance of having such a safety measure in place.

"I can understand regulation," Universal Orlando guest Terry Reith told the Sentinel, who, along with his friends emptied their pockets of three phones, a wallet and a money clip before boarding. "I'm at Universal; I play by their rules."

But others found the measure unnecessary, calling the detectors “weird” or even “annoying.”

"They made it sound like they didn't want stuff to fly out of your pockets," park guest Dennis Libby. "The way the ride was, there was no chance of that happening."

Still, any loose change behind at the rides will be donated to Give Kids the World, a nonprofit resort for seriously ill children and their families.

In 2011, two accidents aboard Universal's Dueling Dragons twin-coaster – where two coasters used to speed past each other, just 18 inches apart-- occurred when riders were struck by loose objects. One man reportedly had to  have his eye removed due to injury. The park no longer launches the coasters at the same time.

Post 9/11, the metal detectors also provide an added security function, though parks have been hesitant to install them universally.

In 2004, Disney World experimented with detectors at park entrances but did not make them permanent. Wand-wielding guards search bags at the gate today. But installing metal detectors in front of rides is even more unusual even though Disney has received several complaints from guests who claim they were hit by flying objects while riding Space Mountain, though the park claims no one was hospitalized.

Most parks still rely on verbal instruction or signs that tell riders to store objects in provided lockers.