US amusement parks boost security measures

US amusement parks boost security measures
A security checkpoint at the entrance area of Universal Studio Hollywood is pictured on December 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
PHOTO: AFP

Disney and Universal Studios are among several popular US theme parks boosting security measures, including a ban on toy guns and installing metal detectors, they said Thursday.

It reflects heightened tension in the United States following attacks in San Bernardino and in Paris, as well as regular mass shootings in the country.

Disney said it had added metal detectors and police officers at its parks in Florida and California and was bringing in specially trained dogs to patrol key areas.

In addition to the ban on toy guns, it said its stores would discontinue the sale of such items and anyone over the age of 14 will not be allowed into the parks wearing a costume.

"The measures are not based on any particular incident or event but on the current heightened state of awareness," Suzi Brown, spokeswoman for Disney parks, told AFP.

"We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate." A spokesman for Universal Studios said similar measures were also being implemented at its two theme parks in Florida and California.

"We have begun testing metal detection at our theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood," said Tom Schroder. "We want our guests to feel safe and be safe when they come to our parks." "We've long used metal detection for special events, such as Halloween Horror Nights," he added. "And so this is a natural progression for us as we study best security practices for today's world."

Officials at SeaWorld, another major attraction for tourists, could not be immediately reached for comment. But the Orlando Sentinel reported that the company was boosting security at its venues in Florida and California, including the use of handheld detectors.

The increased security measures were announced two weeks after the massacre in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and as several school districts in the United States, including Los Angeles, received terror threats this week that were later deemed not credible.

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