So, it is that time of the year when the regional theme parks resume operation. For the next few months, generally until the end of October, these places will welcome guests with open arms, smiles and the promise of lots of fun. Except for Kings Dominion in the Richmond, VA area. No, instead, they assume that everyone walking into the park is a criminal and greet their guests with metal detectors and a generally unpleasant start of what should be an entertaining time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the metal detectors have been at this particular park-and, no doubt, other parks as well-for several years now. But, with this new season, they have taken a page from the airline playbook and now require the removal of your belt if it has any metal on it. Seriously.
As I empty my pockets of my cell phone, keys, wallet (which sometimes sets it off and other times does not) I proceed to walk through the detector. It goes off. I’m like “I don’t have anything else’ and the ‘guard’ says “your belt buckle is metal, take it off’”. Are you freaking kidding me? “no sir, you need to remove your belt.” Had I not already purchased our passes, I might have been tempted to leave. But, like the good little sheep, I took off my belt. Of course, the machine did not go off afterward.
I ask who I could complain to and was directed to the ‘guard’ standing next to me. Her response was “didn’t you hear the announcement? It’s our policy”. Well, NO, I didn’t. The speaker system is like listening to a 78rpm record on an AM radio. Tinny and unintelligible. I did listen again and, sure enough, they do say that.
I’m sure the response from the park would be ‘we do it for safety reasons.’ What?
Regardless, other parks, like the Busch Gardens park in Williamsburg, don’t even have metal detectors and manage to maintain a safe and pleasant venue, so why the hell can’t Kings Dominion?
While we managed to have good time, and I have to credit the park with the improvements made, the overall experience was not as it should have been. I wasn’t trying to ride on a jumbo jet to New Delhi, I just wanted to ride the damned Intimidator.