On Sunday, I went to SeaWorld with my family to celebrate my niece’s 5th birthday. My wife had mentioned SeaWorld’s entrance system as she has a pass and takes our son pretty often. It wasn’t until I went and saw the system that I understood how messed up it is. The line to get in wasn’t all that long, but took far too long to get through. The problem is that SeaWorld uses an optical scanner to scan in the pass and then a fingerprint to verify that it is your pass.
The optical scanner lets people put the pass under it in any direction and then reads the bar code. This takes about 30-45 seconds for each pass; so instead of using a standard bar code scanner that is faster, SeaWorld has to go high tech with very expensive pieces of junk. The fingerprint thingy is there to keep the honest, honest; it is just like software piracy that I’ve written about before where everyone is punished to combat a small number of cheaters. SeaWorld doesn’t want people to share the passes which I can understand, but their approach is flawed. We goto the San Diego Zoo all the time and the zoo uses a standard barcode scanner to scan in the pass and then briefly checks your ID. This process is much faster and accomplishes the same thing. Whether or not they’re actually checking the ID against the name and/or picture, it doesn’t matter; it is a deterrent that maybe SeaWorld should adopt.