Disney erects bomb barriers
From the Orlando Sentinel...
Steel barricades block service entrances at theme parks
Walt Disney World has installed high-security, anti-terrorist barricades similar to those protecting the White House, U.S. embassies and nuclear-waste depots.
The hydraulically powered, steel barricades block the service entrances of the giant resort's four theme parks and were apparently designed to stop a 20,000-pound truck bomb traveling 70 mph.
The dozen or more yellow-and-black barricades are so state-of-the-art that the manufacturer recently shipped the same model to Baghdad, Iraq, to guard the new U.S. Embassy there.
Disney did not install the barricades in response to a specific terrorist threat against the parks, spokeswoman Jacquee Polak said Friday in confirming the new security measure. Rather, they are part of Disney's continually evolving "security plan," she said.
"We're living in a time of heightened security, and we're continuing to undertake strict security measures," she said.
Since the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., homeland-security officials have warned that Disney's iconic theme parks could provide an inviting target for terrorists.While Disney has routinely declined to discuss the steps it has taken to increase security at its parks, some measures have become public. For example, last year the company persuaded Congress to close the airspace over Disney World to low-flying aircraft. And just last month, Disney began after-hours testing of metal detectors at the main entrances to its parks.
The Orlando Sentinel learned of the barriers when the installation work was in its final stages. Friday was the first day the Sentinel observed any of the barriers in use as a matter of routine. Polak said construction work on the barricades began several months ago. They have recently become operational at all the parks, she said.
On Friday afternoon, only the barricades at one Animal Kingdom entrance appeared to be in use -- three standing full-time at about a 30-degree angle. A long line of Disney work vehicles and outside delivery trucks waited as a security guard checked identification and, in some cases, searched vehicles.
Once appeased, the guard activated a hydraulic unit that lowered the lane-wide barrier flush to the road. As soon as the vehicle passed through, the barricade shot to attention in a matter of seconds.
For years, Disney has performed security checks at its service entrances, Polak said. The new barricades, she said, lend a greater degree of efficiency and order to the screening process.
But the barricade that Disney apparently chose -- the Delta Scientific Corp. DSC501 "Advanced counter-terrorism barrier system" -- was designed to do far more than create orderly vehicle lines.
It is perhaps the most secure and most popular barricade on the market today, exceeding U.S. State Department and Defense Department safety requirements, Delta Senior Vice President David Dickinson said.
Delta mainly supplies the federal government and the U.S. military. It has installed barricades at U.S. embassies in Jordan and Yemen -- and soon, Iraq. One of its barricades protects the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. -- home of Vice President **** Cheney. Another protects a nuclear fuel-reprocessing plant in Idaho.
Similar barricades, though not designed by Delta, protect the White House.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, an increasing number of private enterprises -- Fortune 500 corporations, banks and, in a few cases, museums -- are turning to the DSC501 to protect their properties, he said. The barricades cost about $30,000 apiece.
"For private companies, it's primarily asset protection. If you have a landmark asset to protect, any attack could hurt your business," Dickinson said.
According to the Valencia, Calif.-based company, it has supplied counterterrorist barricades to more than 160 U.S. embassies and consulates in 130-plus countries. In the United States alone, Delta has secured more than 110 federal buildings.
Dickinson would not confirm whether he had supplied Disney with its barricades, and Disney would not identify its supplier. However, Dickinson estimated that his company builds 80 percent to 90 percent of all the high-security barricades on the market today; a picture of the DSC501 on Delta's Web site appears to be identical to Disney's barricades; and the fašades of Disney's barricades are equipped with five large chains, a design Dickinson said no other barricade company employs.
"Disney is ahead of the curve on this. Most companies will do this eventually," said David Cid, a former FBI terrorism specialist and now president of a security consulting firm in Edmond, Okla.
"The concern here obviously is truck bombs and car bombs, the weapon of choice we've seen in the past" for creating maximum damage, he said.
Theme parks are more appealing as potential terrorist targets than many large companies that don't have the same large crowds or high public profile, Cid said.
"Terrorists look to kill lots of people at large public venues. Plus it's a national symbol," Cid said of Disney. "An incident there would have an effect on the national economy."