When a Virginia girl tried to enter a theme park with her season pass, security guards immediately stopped her at the gate. Refusing to let her in, they told her that she had to leave before anyone saw her “inappropriate” outfit.
Rachel Holley is an amusement park enthusiast. Of course, she might not look like your typical Disney World aficionado or Six Flags fanatic. With her nose ring, grunge attire, and tattoos covering her arms, the 24-year-old punk addict doesn’t quite fit the mold of who you’d expect to see riding the bumper cars or Ferris wheel.
However, the Virginia Beach woman is such a fan that she always makes sure to purchase a season pass to Busch Gardens each year so that she can get her fix with unlimited visits to the Williamsburg hotspot. Unfortunately for Holley, she might not be returning to her favorite theme park after she was kicked out for her choice of clothing.
After waiting in line to enter Busch Gardens, Holley produced her season pass to gain access to the park. However, just as she was about to be permitted inside, security was called to the front. It was then that the young woman discovered that her outfit was going to be an issue.
According to WTVR, a security guard stopped Holley from entering and told her that she would have to leave because her attire was “inappropriate” for children. The outfit in question — a black t-shirt with the word “Handguns” written in small cartoon font on the chest and along the top of the back.
However, Holley wasn’t promoting firearms with her choice of clothing. In fact, the word is a reference to the punk band Handguns, and she was merely wearing their merchandise. Still, the security guard refused to allow her in the park, telling her that the shirt could inspire children to play with firearms.
“[I was told] if a kid were to see this shirt, they might think that guns are OK,” she recalled.
Holley explained that she “felt like a criminal” thanks to the security guard’s response. She was finally told that the shirt was inappropriate for children to see and that it violated the park’s dress code. The young woman then offered to turn the shirt inside-out so that no one could see the words. Still, she was told to leave.
Not wanting to let it ruin her plans, Holley left the park, purchased a new shirt, and was finally allowed to enter Busch Gardens. However, she soon saw something that made her do a doubletake.
“I found it hypocritical,” she explained. “As soon as I walked into the park and saw [other t-shirts and toy weapons for sale] that were the same level, if not worse than what I had on my shirt.”
Since the incident has sparked media attention, Busch Gardens was forced to release a statement explaining their handling of Holley’s situation.
“We are committed to fostering a safe, family atmosphere in our parks, including the dress code policy noted. One of the responsibilities of our security officers is to determine the appropriateness of guest attire and considering potentially offensive pictures or words printed on clothing is a major factor in their assessment. We are looking into this situation and have been in contact with the guest.”
According to the park’s official dress code, Holley’s shirt might not specifically be prohibited, but the park outlines their right to deny entrance to anyone with clothing they deem inappropriate.
In keeping with the family image of Busch Gardens®, guests must wear appropriate clothing while in the park. Shirts, shoes, and pants must be worn at all times. Clothing with suggestive or explicit language or insulting statements is not allowed. Busch Gardens reserves the right to refuse admission or ask anyone to leave who is not in compliance with these rules.
Holley told the local station that she still loves Busch Gardens and wants to return. She added that she holds no grudge against the guard but admits that she will be more careful in choosing her outfit the next time.
“If I do go back to the park, I’m definitely going to think about what I’m going to wear,” she conceded. “I don’t want to go through that again.”
Busch Gardens has confirmed that they launched an investigation into the incident and that they will decide whether the guard made the right decision in turning Holley away. They added that they have been in contact with Holley and will keep her updated on the results of the internal investigation.
Although Holley continues to make her rounds at various theme parks, being the amusement fanatic she is, she asserts that the incident has made her think twice about what she wears to these locations. For now, the question remains as to whether the park overreacted in their refusal of Holley’s shirt.