Fingerprinting at some theme parks

February 10, 2015

One of my favorite pictures hanging on our wall shows our family at Disneyworld. It was 1999 and a helpful employee snapped a photo of all of us just after we had enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.

It was an expensive trip…but filled with wonderful memories for our family.

But what I heard today makes me glad that we no longer have young kids to take to Disneyworld…or Seaworld or Universal in Florida.

I just got off the phone with my sister, who said she and her husband had just returned from a trip to Florida. On the way back home, they visited Disneyworld. They expected to spend a lot of money at Disneyworld…but they didn’t expect their fingerprint to be scanned at Disneyworld.

Boy. Until today, I had been living in ignorant bliss about the realities of visiting a Florida theme park in 2015. After the initial shock, I started researching this  story and discovered it started in 2006. And it also happens at the Seaworld and Universal parks in Florida. They all use fingerprint scanners.

Why? After the initial shock and feeling of intimidation, my sister actually visited guest services to find out the purpose for the fingerprint scan. She talked to an employee there who said it was…drum roll…park policy. (Never mind that it was my sister’s policy not to be fingerprinted at a theme park!) But my sister asked for a more specific reason than “That’s our policy.” The employee left for a while to talk with a supervisor. Then she came back and told my sister that the fingerprint scan was for her security!

Imagine planning a trip to Disneyworld…arranging time off for yourself and your kids…making hotel reservations…waking everyone early…driving to the park…paying for parking…walking with a sea of people ready to flood the entrance gates and hundreds more behind you waiting their turn to enter. You see no signs telling you what to expect. Then you buy your ticket and step up to enter the park. That’s when you’re told to place your finger on the scanner.

There’s no sign about the fingerprint scan before you buy your ticket. So after you buy your ticket, how likely is it that you’ll say “no” to the fingerprint scan…especially if you think that’s the only way you can now get into this park? After all you’ve gone through to get to this point, the pressure to go along with this procedure is immense…even if you believe that your privacy is being violated.

In such a high-pressure environment, how many people would have the presence of mind to ask if there’s another way to get through the gate?

After reading articles about this on Boing Boing and Fox 35 in Orlando, I learned that there is another way you can get inside the park: You can show a photo ID instead. But you have to ask…because there’s no sign about that, either.

Back in 1999, when we were planning our family trip to Disneyworld, we bought several of those guidebooks that tell readers what expect at Disneyworld. We learned the best strategy for maximizing our day at the park…including starting our day at the back of the park and working our way toward the entrance by nightfall.

Little did we know that in 2015, families also would need to decide if they should let their fingerprint get scanned.

If Winnie the Pooh were asked for a fingerprint scan before he could enter the Hundred Acre Wood, I bet he’d sit down at his Thoughtful Spot and ask himself if he’d rather visit somewhere else.





  1. Hi Cindy,
    YIKES!! Rob just read an article in WIRE Mag. about an app. for Disney World that organizes and directs you to the quick right now open lines, best food values etc. Of course this is an extra expense. But fingerprinting is just way to much! Thanks for writing this article.

    • Thanks for your opinion, Ellen. I really don’t see any “security” reason for this. Funny…when I went to Cedar Point last fall, somehow I felt perfectly “secure” at the park without a fingerprint scan!

  2. I really feel that she deserved better customer service, and that the staff should be better educated as to WHY they are enforcing their employers’ rules?

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