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2018 IAAPA Attractions Expo: Safety and Security Seminar Takeaways

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December 18, 2018
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Continuing our education in our client’s field of work is an important part in delivering strategic guidance, especially for crisis communications. As my mentor Barbara Pierce always says about crisis –the worst thing that can happen to an organization is suffering reputational damage because of an issue that should have been foreseen and easily prevented with proper preparation and planning.

This message was reinforced during the safety and security seminars I attended while at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) 2018 Attractions Expo. Here are some key takeaways from those sessions that all amusement park and entertainment organizations can use to improve safety and security operations:

Security Round Table with IAAPA’s Security Committee

Including safety and security leadership from: Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, Herschend Family Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company and Universal Orlando.

  • The Value of Training – Linda Reid, Vice President of Security for Disney said it best, “people will forgive you if something out of your control happens at your park, but they won’t forgive a poor response to it.” Annual security audits and drills with emergency response personnel will help keep your staff alert and prepared.
  • Entrance Security – During this session, experts explained that bag checks, although seemingly primitive, are no less efficient than metal detectors and are actually more effective at detecting items. For example, Disney claims to have a 68 percent gun-detection rate through bag checking, while TSA only has a 4-6 percent gun-detection rate through metal detection.
  • Tools of the Trade – The Security Committee recommends upgrading your technology every five years to keep up-to-date on the rapidly changing landscape. New camera technology like virtual fencing uses motion detection to alert officers of wall scaling and illegal entry. Text alert systems are also helping parks speed up notifications to employees, partner organizations and emergency responders.

Presentation by the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection

  • MOAB – Did you know there’s training specifically designed to help organizations with the Management of Aggressive Behaviors (MOAB)? Taking advantage of this can help with de-escalation or keep incidents from happening in the first place.
  • Preparing Outside Support Do your local emergency responders have maps to your park? How about direct communication lines? Have you had them onsite to train and prepare for issues, so they know where to go, who to contact and what to expect when they get there?

Round Table with International Amusement & Leisure Defense Association (LALDA)

  • Website Accessibility Lawsuits –The LALDA recommends all amusement parks and entertainment organizations evaluate their websites for accessibility, especially visual impairments to avoid lawsuits that are becoming quite frequent.
  • Liability Waivers – Many organizations, including family entertainment centers (FEC), have liability waivers that wouldn’t stand up in court. Many states don’t allow parents/legal guardians to sign away a minor’s right to sue. It’s critical to have an informed amusement and leisure attorney review your waiver materials before collecting signatures.


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