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Disney World's Finger Scanners Are Not Your Ordinary Turnstile

Since September of 2006 Disney World has incorporated a finger scanning device as part of an attempt to eliminate ticket fraud and misuse.

At the entrance to each of its four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, & Disney's Animal Kingdom) you will find special ticket verification stations attached to the turnstiles.

Each time a ticket in put into the machine, a computer reads the magnetic strip on the back and then determines whether the park entry is valid based upon the information it reads. As a security measure it also will scan one figure of the ticket holder to determine if this is indeed the original ticket owner.

The finger scanner looks at certain points on the guest's finger and creates a mathematical representation of those points as opposed to a full digital picture of the fingerprint. It compares the information obtained upon the initial use of the ticket with that of the current user. If they match then that person is allowed entry. If not, it will not automatically allow you to pass and you may be asked to show ID.

This security device is used to protect Disney from black market ticket resales of used tickets and the use of stolen tickets.

There are some who are concerned about their privacy and whether this kind of technology is really overkill for entrance to a theme park. Disney has downplayed privacy issues, saying the scanned information is stored "independent of all of our other systems," and "the system purges it 30 days after the ticket expires or is fully utilized."

Although it is not advertised widely, if you do not wish to participate in the finger scan you can opt to show your ID each time you enter the park instead.

The ticketing system has come a long way from the time when a multiple day ticket had hand stamps placed on the blank for each day the ticket was used. If you lost that ticket, you had no way of recovering any used days. The current system allows you to recover the unused portion of a lost ticket as long as you have the ticket ID# that goes with the bar code on the back of the ticket.

It is always a good idea to photocopy the backs of your tickets, take digital pictures, or write the information down somewhere in case a ticket is lost.

The technology applied is quite amazing. It also allows for the Walt Disney World Resort to collect massive amounts of data to better understand their theme park guests and hopefully create a better experience.

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