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More Metal Detectors Installed at Universal Orlando Roller Coasters

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Be prepared for enhanced security screenings at more of Universal Orlando’s biggest thrill rides. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Remember a few weeks back when Universal Orlando stirred up social media park-stalkers (present company included) by installing electronic security screening devices — a.k.a. metal detectors — outside Universal Studios Florida‘s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster? Well, hold onto your hat (but NOT your phone, keys, or coins) because UOR sprained the interwebs again with yesterday’s introduction of more metal detector screenings at Islands of Adventure‘s Incredible Hulk Coaster and Dragon Challenge.

As of April 9, 2015, all Universal Orlando guests wishing to ride the resort’s major outdoor roller coasters must deposit all loose and metal objects in a locker before entering the queue. Mandatory airport-style security screenings, including walk-through metal detectors and handheld scanning wands, will be used to ensure that no prohibited items — specifically phones, keys, coins, cameras, and selfie sticks — are carried onto the attractions.

As always, the mandatory lockers are free for a period of time that’s tied to the attraction’s posted wait time, plus an appropriate buffer. If you overstay your free period, you will need to pay to retrieve your items, of find a team member to assist you. Soft wallets with no metal and ticket lanyards may be taken into the queue.

On the first day of operations at these attraction, I observed some congestion and confusion, which is to be expected. As Universal Orlando representatives have stated, these metal detectors are part of an ongoing test; hopefully procedures will smooth out over time.

Incredible Hulk Metal Detectors

At the Incredible Hulk, the line appeared to be moving fairly well, though it is awkward to see guests being “wanded” in full view.

Though the wait was posted as 30 minutes, exiting guests reported an actual wait of only 5 minutes, once they were through the security screening.

Dragon Challenge Security Screenings

Over in Hogsmeade, Dragon Challege’s brand-new security procedures have cluttered the ride’s already underwhelming entryway with temporary queues.

You may no longer enter the Dragon Challenge queue with a phone or camera, even if you are a non-rider. No more taking photos of what was originally one of Islands of Adventure’s most elaborate queues.

Dragon Challenge’s metal detectors are located on the pathway near the back of Hagrid’s Hut, shortly before the crashed Ford Angila.

Apologies for the awful photos, but the Hippogriff queue is as close as you can get to the metal detectors without emptying your pockets.

The re-ride shortcut at Dragon Challege’s exit is also closed off for now, necessitating a longer walk around if you want to experience both tracks.

Do these enhanced screenings make you feel safer on and around Universal’s roller coasters? Or does this make you feel less inclined to ride these attractions? Share your opinion in the comments bellow!

Memes are the creation of Derek Burgan. This author disavows all responsibility.

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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

33 thoughts on “More Metal Detectors Installed at Universal Orlando Roller Coasters

  • I think it’s not a great deal, once you get used to it will be (hopefully) painless.

    But the re-ride of Dragon Challenge will be missed. What I don’t understand is, if the re ride is after the screening, why should it be closed?

  • PeaJay18

    It will be worth it if Dragon Challenge goes back to duelling.

  • Jessfriends

    Was there an incident that made Universal do this?

    • Yes, someone got hit by something quiet hard on Dragon Challenge.

  • I don’t get this at all do they do this for coster in other p[arks or is this just universal over reacting because of a few incidents? I’, sorry I just find it ridiculous that you have to empty your pockets and put stuff into a locker before going on a roller coaster. However I have never been on any of the ones in question the only one I’ve been on that goes upside down is California Screamin at Disneyland but I din’t have to empty my pockets during it.

  • Laura B.

    I don’t have a problem with the detectors, or the requirements to empty pockets – but I do emergency response and safety work at my job, so I usually err on the side of caution. What I have mixed emotions about is not having my phone on me in line. Even on vacation, I’m often on call for work. I have limited time to reply to emails. Missing an email during a 5 minute ride, no problem. Missing an email b/c I’m in line for 75 minutes is a no-go. Being on call while out of town is my trade-off for getting to travel with my family more often. Yes, I realize that an unusual case, but it’s something I’m going to have to think about when considering what parks to visit/rides to ride.

  • What prompted this? Is it attorney driven w/ “liability” for falling objects? This may be enough to push our family time for our tweener-age boys more to the Mouse than here.

  • Wow. That’s annoying. Also- no phone in line for entertaining yourself while you wait.

  • I think it is terrible, and will definitely impact our decision to go to Universal vs WDW. We take kids and friends, and staying in touch OFTEN, ride by ride, is vital to us knowing they are okay on their own. And more importantly, calling us if there is a problem. We’ve had them call from ride lines, shows, or even another park if they are being bullied or harrassed, are sick etc. The fact that we could be unavailable for an hour or more is not acceptable. Even a half hour is unacceptable. It’s not about convenience; it’s knowing they are safe and that we can quickly help in any emergency.

  • Well, one more comment from me! I have the “worry” factor but my husband is in total agreement with some of the other comments in that being unavailable for work extended wait times just can’t happen. In his business, that can have a direct affect on his livelihood. So there is that too. 🙁

    • Exactly. My husband owns his own business and if the people that work for him can’t get in touch with him it could be a problem. Him being able to be reached at a moments notice allows us to go on vacation more frequently. If his cellphone is buttoned up in his pants pocket, it’s very unlikely that it’s going to fall out on someone. This past weekend he didn’t ride DC or RRR. I was also a little bit concerned this past weekend when my niece and my son rode DC and it took a bit longer than we expected and couldn’t text to make sure things were ok. That being said, my parents survived just fine without being able to get in touch with me every microsecond when we were at a themepark!!! I guess I will too!

  • I find this to be ridiculously extreme. Why is it a problem to have phones or keys if they are secured in a pocket with a closure? I understand no purses, or other loose items, but no metal items at all? Even if they are secured? Silly.

  • Lauri Uzee

    Well I’ll never go back. My one experience with the supposedly “free” lockers was a joke. The ride was stopped so they could add more ride vehicles; everyone was late getting back to the lockers, no one had any way to pay because their credit cards were in the lockers and there were no employees anywhere near there. We did complain and the park staff were unconcerned.

  • I agree with Blair/ What if you have these items in a fanny pack, or a pocket with a fastener? We never take bags into Universal because we hate using the locker system and the time it eats up. But we do want to take a camera and cell phone (and perhaps car keys) with us. My husband usually wears cargo shorts with buttons/snaps on the pocket flaps to store these items. This is no longer allowed?

    Ugh, this may make us rethink a visit to Universal. It’s just not worth it if you have to leave *everything* behind. Are you really supposed to leave your car keys in a wallet all day?

    I have to wonder why they’re so obsessed with this, when Disney lets you take entire bags with you on rides,. even on Rock ‘N Roller Coaster, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, California Screamin’, etc. You can’t tell me that those rides have ‘less movement’ than the Hulk or Dragon’s Challenge.

    • ralfrick

      Those rides don’t repeatedly go upside down over walkways, that’s the difference. Dragon doesn’t, but I can accept it there much easier if the duel returns. I can’t speak for the accuracy, but there were reports of people (well, idiots), throwing things at the other train and broken faces. Having seen this type of speciman spitting out of a gondola, it doesn’t surprise me.

  • HelenB is absolutely right. The experience will be degraded: working through crowds of people at the locker twice EVERY ride, plus the non-ability to communicate w/ kids, work, etc, non-ability to take pictures, the visual of converting rides queues to airport security, all that removes “amusement” from amusement park! Great example of attorneys run amok! Some of Mouse’s things are frustrating, but for the most part they strike the right balance w/ experience. This completely moves the needle the wrong way.

  • DisneyDad

    Gosh. How did we manage to get through the day–let alone an hour–before we convinced ourselves we must remain constantly available to others and entertained by our cell phones?
    I own my cell, it doesn’t own me. If my boss can’t manage without me for a hour, I’m not really on vacation. And if my children need an electronic tether, they’re too young to be unsupervised.

  • So even if you have it secured onto your belt or zipped into a pocket you can’t take it onto the rides? Maybe they are afraid you will take it out. This is going to be a pain in the neck. I don’t mind being without my phone for an hour but I hate having to waste time going to the lockers before and after each ride. 🙁

  • J Price

    I won’t even bother going near Universal after this. If I can’t bring my things, I’m not getting in line. Which means I’m not going in your park.

  • If this becomes the norm at Universal, I won’t be in a hurry to return. I hope this doesn’t spread to Disney.

  • Bill C.

    So, all loose items must be placed into a locker that’s free for an “appropriate time”. Got it! A time buffer is added. Got it. But…………….delays happen often enough and when they do. Everyone delayed will now have their items in a locker they must now pay for or have a CS rep open up for them! One. how are you supposed to pay if all your stuff is locked in that locker? Two. Yeah right, everyone wanting to get their stuff at the same time is going to take how long?!?!!?! No thank you, I’ll stick with WDW.

  • I was there last week and went through the detector on Rip Ride Rocket and thought it was totally unnecessary. I think it is even more unnecessary on the Hulk & Dragon Challenge, especially if Dragon Challenge is going to keep running separately. I have been on coasters that go much higher and much faster and have never had to empty my pockets. I can see maybe asking people to put things in buttoned or zippered pockets, but the metal detectors are ridiculous. I am glad I went when I did as this will keep me from going back if they are going to keep this policy.

  • My one wish as I read this is that everyone who is threatening to not go to Universal because of the new ride restrictions actually follows through with their plans….less of a wait time on the coasters and all the other attractions for me!

  • I just went through the ride line. No signs, no employees alerting us to the change of rules. My husband didn’t want to ride, so he had all my things, except my cell phone so we could find each other after. I arrived at the metal detectors, only then to be told I couldn’t have anything at all in my pockets. About 30 people had to go back, and the only way was through the line that was already packed full.

    If you’re going to implement it, alert us, or find a better way.

  • I can live with most of the current locker requirements, but there is talk that Universal may add eyeglasses to the list. This would be *all* types of glasses — prescription included. So I would end up having to put my glasses and other stuff inside a locker, after which I would be stumbling to the queue, riding a ride that I couldn’t really see, and then stumbling back to the locker. That is not going to work for me.

    Also, while I empathize with the scolding comments about being owned by one’s cell phone, that’s just the way the world is. Technology changes day-to-day life and there is no going back. Guests forced to separate from their phones for an hour or more are going to be extremely displeased; something tells me this particular security rule isn’t going to survive the testing phase.

    • I was there tonight and was told they have no plan to ban eyeglasses as long as you are wearing them (not in a pocket). I was also told my wallet was ok as long as it was in a buttoned pocket, but I’ve gotten mixed answers on that.

    • Banning eyeglasses would be ridiculous. And I would think possibly violate the ADA.

      What they could do is what Cedar Point does on certain rides (like Top Thrill) is require straps on glasses (sun and regular) that more secure the glasses to your head.

  • Roger Simmons

    This is going way too far. I’ve been riding the Hulk Coaster and dueling Dragons for years and never ever dropped my phone, keys, wallet ect.. now I have to put even my wallet and keys in a locker? WTF! My keys click on my belt loop and I’m sitting on my wallet and my cell is in a zippered pocket so this makes no sense. I was turned away because of my keys, wallet and cell phone??? I do not trust to leave my cell, wallet and keys in the locker. just canceled my annual pass.. thanks for the good years universal, before all this BS!


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