Anyone familiar with flying might have thought Universal Orlando Resort was imitating security officials at the airport. In a TSA-like move, the theme park banned guests…ala airport security…from bringing in bottled water.
It was only temporary.
But weeks later, Disney World beat up on selfie sticks. Banning them.
That created a rash of social media questions. Was everyone banning selfies?
No, not really.
But you might think anyone is welcome at any theme park anytime -- carrying bottled water or a selfie stick, for that matter.
But not true.
Short people, stay away
Very short people (meaning kids), for example, are banned from selected park rides.
And there are other non-welcomes as well.
Here’s an effort to clear up security confusion at the theme parks. And more on what you should know on the subject in general.
The selfie stick issue has been simmering for a while.
Under its new policy, long-rumored because of the growing and often obtrusive use of the devices, poles are turned away at the Disney bag check. The sticks also won't be allowed in Disney World water parks or DisneyQuest, a gaming attraction at Downtown Disney.
"We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast," said Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty.
Leave your selfie at home
Disney World is restricting the use of selfie sticks on attractions, insisting that they be stowed within the ride vehicle and not extended or otherwise used on the ride.
Disney is not taking away the sticks, but simply asking guests to put them away.
Guests are checked for the equipment during the routine bag check near the parks' entrances. They have an option of turning in their selfie-sticks for pick-up later or to go back to their cars or hotel rooms to stow them.
Such sticks may be popular with the public, but Disney is not alone in not wanting you NOT to bring them with you.
Some tourist attractions around the world, including the Smithsonian, the Palace of Versailles, and the Coliseum in Rome have banned selfie sticks on their grounds.
A spokesperson pointed out that selfie sticks, along with all other loose items, are also not permitted on rides at the Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal stirred up some massive controversy earlier this year when they instituted an all-liquid ban at the park that lasted a week. It was heavily enforced. Can you bring your own water?
Guests entering the "bag check" area right before CityWalk during this test were instructed to discard all liquids, including drinks and water. Would-be guests were not permitted to enter the park until they left water behind, similar to security lines at the airport.
This caused massive backups and delays for other guests, according to news reports. Some guests even reported having trouble bringing medicine, baby formula and other necessary liquids into the park.
The backlash had an impact. After several days of the all-liquid ban, Universal ended it.
Universal spokesman Tom Schroder confirmed the end of the “test.”
What was behind it? No reason was publicly stated.
Rumors had it that it was really an effort to keep alcohol out of the park (which is much easier to sneak in without security).
For Universal, that was not the end of security initiatives.
Airport-style metal detectors
A pop-up metal detector appeared in front of the “Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket” roller coaster. Universal said this “security test” was only temporary.
Guest reaction was not positive -- particularly after the water ban.
Universal has always encouraged guests to store personal items such as hats and wallets in free lockers while waiting to ride an attraction. But not long ago, riders outside “The Hulk” were asked to turn out their pockets before riding. Reports were that some people with smartphones were asked to store the item in a locker before riding the coaster.
That security measure was also temporary.
So it’s hardly a surprise that park-goers are at times confused.
So are guests still welcome if they bring in baby formula, medicine and other items?
Of course, park officials say.
But long-established park policies have also applied to short people, otherwise known as kids. Twenty one attractions at Universal have height requirements, with another 19 at Disney, according to one recent report.
You have to be at least 40 inches tall for some rides, or even 48 for others (such as “Revenge of the Mummy”).
This varies according to the ride.
Don’t come alone
Also, kids riding alone are not welcome unless they are with adults for some rides such as “E.T. Adventure” of even the “Simpson’s Ride.”
If it’s any consolation, some rides allow all heights such as “The Magic of Disney Animation” or “Spaceship Earth.”
There are also ages that are not wanted.
Only kids three years and older are allowed on “Space Mountain,” “Big Thunder Mountain” and “The Barnstormer.”
Disney World already prohibits items such as skateboards, inline skates, wagons, folding chairs and glass containers, according to its official website, which also lists “other items that we determine may be harmful or disruptive.”
If you want to bring a knife to Disney or another theme park, you are not welcome. Leave your Bowie knife at home
All weapons are banned, of course. And there are restrictions of the sizes of suitcases and strollers you can have.
Leave your pet at home unless he or she is a service animal under “your control at all times and on a leash.” Water bottles may be welcome these days but not glass containers.
Your conduct in the park itself is also a factor. Don’t try to re-sell that soft drink you bought here to another guest. Rules say you can’t try to sell goods or services of any kind.
You can’t feed any animals, and that includes birds.
And don’t try to portray costumed characters (this has happened).
Other Disney rules say you aren’t welcome if you use profanity or engage in other “offensive” behavior. Rules also require proper attire, which is defined as meaning shoes and shirts.
Rules also ban running (these type of bans are obviously not very rigidly enforced which seems ridiculous since kids run all the time).
Some parks have even more particular restrictions.
You can’t walk around with balloons and plastic straws in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park (“For the safety of our animals,” Disney says).
Good advice: check rules or use your common sense
There are other rules, and it’s probably a good idea to at least check them at the various parks.
Of course, common sense also plays a part.
And if the selfie ban is really bothersome to you, keep in mind it is not in effect everywhere.
SeaWorld Orlando does not keep you from taking your sticks there -- at least not yet.