Last month, my girlfriend and I (not pictured at right) took a trip to the red-headed stepchild of Southern California theme parks to check out the now-extinct Back to the Future ride. Neither of us had ever been to Universal Studios before and it didn’t seem like the kind of place that was worth the $49 per ticket price tag, but we found a two-days-for-the-price-of-one special online, and both being BTTF fans, we bit our respective bullets and bought the passes.
It’s probably too late to go on a rant about how much the ride blew and how it was probably for the best that Biff and the Doc were taken out behind the wood shed for a little Old Yeller action, but feel free to read on for more snarky theme park editorializing…
Getting to the park was no big deal. Getting in was a different story. We brought our printed-out passes with us to the entrance gate and handed them over to the ticket-taker. We were then asked to place our thumbs on a small black scanner that took a record of our fingerprints before entering.
They say they need our prints so they can make sure no one else uses our return tickets. It doesn’t matter if we don’t want to come back. They’re gonna take ’em anyway.
At the turnstile next to mine, my girlfriend shoots me a dark look. I’m not a particularly paranoid person, and the fact that it’s just an amusement park makes the idea seem all the more innocuous. We get scanned and make our way inside.
In retrospect, I have two problems with this method of security:
2. Universal Studios sucks. It’s the worst excuse for an amusement park I’ve ever had the displeasure of wasting my money on. There are only three “rides”, some questionable live shows**, and and a ton of shops that sell nothing but the same overpriced crap you can buy at Citywalk, which is just outside and is free.
Which brings me to my second question, Why would anyone want to come back? I can understand if people were busting down the door to get in, or if it was a super cool place to go, but I get the sense that when you need to offer “buy one day get the whole year free” specials on a regular basis, you’re getting pretty desperate for visitors. Even California Adventure doesn’t need to pull that kind of crap. Oh, wait I forgot… California Adventure is fun. People actually want to go there.
Photo by jsfanjul. Used under Creative Commons.
*I’ve heard that Walt Disney World also uses this method of park security, and the same concerns apply.
**Except for T2 3-D: Battle Across Time. That show alone is almost worth the price of admission.