Infrastructure Protection Report: Amusement, Theme, and Water Parks


Risk Management Division

  • 2 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • September 13, 2006


Theme parks are amusement parks in which the rides, attractions, shows, and buildings revolve around a central theme or group of themes. A traditional (unthemed) amusement park would likely have the same vulnerabilities as a theme park of the same size. There are approximately 255 amusement and theme parks and 135 water parks in the United States. Theme parks vary widely in size, with annual attendance ranging from 100,000 to more than 10 million.

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activity

Terrorists have a wide variety of weapons and tactics available to achieve their objectives. Specific threats of most concern to theme parks include:

• Improvised explosive devices

• Arson

• Chemical/biological/radiological agents

• Small arms attack

• Sabotage

• Aircraft attack

• Maritime attack (waterfront park)

• Cyber attack

Terrorist activity indicators are observable anomalies or incidents that may precede a terrorist attack. Indicators of an imminent attack requiring immediate action may include the following:

• Persons in crowded areas (e.g., waiting lines for rides, food courts) wearing unusually bulky clothing that might conceal suicide explosives or weapons (e.g., automatic rifle) or tightly clutching an object that may be a trigger device

• Unattended vehicles illegally parked near rides, buildings, or places where large numbers of patrons gather

• Unattended packages (e.g., backpacks, briefcases, boxes) that might contain explosives

• Unauthorized access to heating, ventilation, and airconditioning (HVAC) areas; indications of unusual substances near air intakes

• Recent damage (e.g., significant holes or cuts) to a perimeter fence or gate or damage to security devices Indicators of potential surveillance by terrorists include:

• Persons observing park operations or deliveries, or loitering near the park, over an extended period

• Persons discovered with suspicious park maps, photos, or diagrams with facilities highlighted

• Park personnel being questioned off-site about practices pertaining to the park or the park’s supporting infrastructure (e.g., electricity and natural gas lines)

• Employees changing working behavior, behaving in ways inconsistent with job responsibilities, or working more irregular hours

• Unfamiliar contract workers

• An increase in restricted areas being left unsecured

• An increase in threats from unidentified sources

• Unusual or unannounced maintenance activities in the vicinity of the park

• Theft of employee or contractor identification (ID) cards or uniforms, or unauthorized persons in possession of facility ID cards or uniforms

• Sudden losses or thefts of guard force equipment

Common Vulnerabilities

The following are key common vulnerabilities of amusement, theme, and water parks:

• Open access to the general public

• Large congregations of people

• Evacuation difficulties

• Limited security focus on terrorist threats

• Multiple locations to place explosives or hazardous agents

Protective Measures

Protective measures include equipment, personnel, and procedures designed to protect a facility against threats and to mitigate the effects of an attack. Protective measures for amusement, theme, and water parks include:

• Planning and Preparedness

− Develop a comprehensive security plan and emergency response plan

− Conduct regular exercises of the plans

− Establish procedures for facility evacuation

− Maintain constant awareness of current threat condition and available intelligence information

− Develop policies and procedures for dealing with hoaxes and false alarms

Establish liaison and regular communication with local law enforcement and emergency responders

• Personnel

− Conduct background checks on park employees

− Incorporate security awareness and appropriate response procedures for security situations into park employee training programs

− Maintain an adequately sized, equipped, and trained security force and coordinate security force operations with local law enforcement

− Conduct regular drills and exercises with security force and with local law enforcement as appropriate

• Access Control

− Provide appropriate signs to restrict access to nonpublic areas

− Identify and control access by all park employees, vendors, delivery personnel, and contractors

− Install and regularly test electronic access control systems and intrusion detection systems in sensitive areas

− Remove any vehicles that have been parked for an unusual length of time

− Limit delivery and maintenance vehicle entry to vehicles that have been positively identified

• Barriers

− Provide adequate locks, gates, doors, and other barriers for designated security areas

− Install and inspect blast-resistant trash containers

− Install active vehicle crash barriers at selected areas to protect buildings and populated areas

• Communication and Notification

− Install, maintain, and regularly test the facility security and emergency communications system

− Develop redundancy in the equipment, power supply, and means used to contact security officials

− Communicate current security information to park employees

− Establish a protocol for communicating security issues to the public

− Encourage employees, park patrons, and the public to report any situation or suspicious activity that might constitute a threat

• Monitoring, Surveillance, Inspection

− Install video surveillance equipment

− Install detector and alarm systems

− Monitor all persons entering and leaving the park

− Regularly inspect the park, including after-hours patrols

− Train security personnel to watch for suspicious vehicles near the park; watch for repeat visitors or outsiders who have no apparent business in nonpublic areas of the park; watch for abandoned parcels, suitcases, backpacks, and packages and any unusual activities; and monitor utility supplies and routine work activities scheduled on or near park facilities

• Cyber Security

− Implement and review hardware, software, and communications security for computer-based operational systems

− Eliminate any information from park Web site that might aid adversaries in planning an attack

• Incident Response

− Establish an emergency operations or emergency command center that can be used to coordinate resources during an incident

• Infrastructure Interdependencies

− Provide adequate security and backup for critical utility services

More detailed information on theme parks is contained in the document, Amusement, Theme, and Water Parks: Potential
Indicators of Terrorist Activity, Common Vulnerabilities, and Protective Measures. Information on issues relevant to a wide range of critical infrastructures and key resources is available in the document, Overview of Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activity, Common Vulnerabilities, and Protective Measures for Critical Infrastructures and Key Resources. Both are available from the contacts listed below.

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