by Heather M Eichenbaum Esq
Post-prohibition, American amusement parks were almost exclusively child and family-oriented facilities that didn’t serve alcohol. Times have changed and today many parks serve alcohol. However, in providing alcohol, parks must be conscious of several issues that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
First, amusement parks must be certain to properly train all employees. Those who actually sell or serve alcohol need to be fully aware of age requirements and how to verify proper identification for proof of age to purchase alcohol, as well as limits on quantity served. Annual training is necessary as, with today’s computer/printing technology, the quality of fake identification is constantly improving.
In addition, employees who serve alcohol must be trained to recognise intoxication and to professionally cut off a guest who has had too much to drink, without offending that guest if at all possible. If a patron is injured after getting intoxicated at your park, you will likely be sued in what is commonly know as a “Dram Shop” case. In short, most venues provide that those who serve alcohol have a legal obligation to do so responsibly and avoid allowing a guest to get so intoxicated as to be a danger to themselves or others.
Ride operators must also be trained in how to identify and deal with an intoxicated guest. Most, if not all, ride signage warns against riding while intoxicated. However, the intoxicated guest is unlikely to read or heed such a warning. They may well become brazen and ignore other safety warnings as well, causing an accident and injury to themselves or others. Intoxicated guests may also become sick on a ride, creating a nasty situation for themselves, other park guests and the employees that have to clean up after them. It is imperative that ride operators know they should refuse access to an intoxicated guest and call for security at the first sign of any problem with that guest.
Next, be aware that additional security will be needed, if not required by law, where alcohol is served. While every park gets its share of not-so-polite guests, when alcohol is added, the impolite can become downright obnoxious, belligerent and sometimes violent. Depending on the certifications or licences held by security personnel, physical restraint may or may not be an option. However, security must at least know how to recognize intoxication and handle it in the best way possible to avoid an ugly scene involving a guest.
Finally, employees should never be allowed to consume alcohol on park premises. Allowing employees to sell alcohol to one another is a recipe for theft and, therefore, not in a park’s best interests from a business perspective. The park should be a place of professionalism and work, as opposed to socialising, encouraging staff to pay close attention to their job responsibilities.
Heather Eichenbaum is a member with Spector Gadon & Rosen PC, practising in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition to defending amusement venues, she also handles and provides training in crisis management. Legal counsel to and a board member of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials in the United States, she is also a member of IAAPA, NJAA, OABA and the IISF. Should you need legal assistance, reach Heather at: +1 215 241 8856 or firstname.lastname@example.org