Can new rules at Knott’s, Six Flags really help keep guests safe? – Orange County Registry

Do bag checks really help protect theme park visitors, or are they just another example of security theatre?

Many theme parks across the country are tightening their rules on the bags visitors are allowed to bring into their parks. Knott’s Berry Farm now limits visitors to the Scary Farm to one bag no larger than 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 2″, which is roughly the size of a purse. That policy now extends to some of Knott’s siblings’ Cedar Fair parks across the country.

Six Flags is being more generous with their new bag policy, which limits bags to no larger than 12″ by 12″ by 6″ during the Fright Fest event. Since Fright Fest is not a separately ticketed event, Six Flags also allows larger diaper bags for visitors who come with small children during the day.

The new policies followed a series of recent safety incidents, including last summer’s stampede at Knott’s, another last month at Carowinds outside of Charlotte, NC, and shootings at or near Six Flags Great America in Chicago and Kennywood in Pittsburgh . Knott’s and some other parks have also introduced mandatory companion policies in addition to the new bag restrictions.

But the items that sparked last summer’s security incidents – cell phones, handguns and maybe alcohol – fit in even the smaller bags that are still allowed in the parks. Or in a bag if a guest doesn’t want to carry a bag at all. Park staff must search bags and people entering their parks to best ensure the safety of their guests and employees.

A small baggage policy can help here, since small pieces of baggage are probably easier and quicker to check than larger ones. Smaller pockets also mean more room for people in the crowded queues and scare zones. Personally, I much prefer to visit parks without a bag, but I acknowledge that I come from a very privileged position in this preference. I’m a man who doesn’t need to carry menstrual products or medication. My children have long since grown up, so I no longer have to lug around diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers and a change of clothes when I visit them. Can new rules at Knott’s, Six Flags really help keep guests safe? – Orange County Registry

Adam Bradshaw

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