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Another Letter to Disney

Having tried to contact WDW Guest Services without success, I decided to escalate the issue.  Using this list of e-mail addresses for Disney executives, compared against the Disney Management Team list, I decided to use the Consumerist’s executive e-mail carpet bomb approach.

Honestly, I would have preferred to have some response from Guest Communications to address the issue.  It’s fair to say that I’m disturbed that they ignored the issue and I would still like some resolution to the matter.  In this instance, resolution would be a clarification of Disney’s policy regarding photography and whether it constitutes a security threat.  My letter (below) is very similar to the first:

Ms. Crofton, et al:

My name is William Beem.  On April 10, 2010, I visited Downtown Disney to take some photographs at sunset and then have dinner. On three occasions, I was approached by members of Disney Security inquiring whether I was taking photographs for commercial or editorial purpose.  I let them know that I had no intent to sell and was not working on any assignment.  Photography is my hobby.

On the fourth encounter, I was approached by a man whose nametag identified him as Don (Orlando, FL) and other uniformed guards.  Don proceeded to escalate the encounter into an unnecessary confrontation.  For roughly 30 minutes, I was detained and questioned by Don because I was taking photographs.  I tried to assure him by showing my photographs, telling him my full name, the city where I reside and even the name of my employer.  Don still wasn’t satisfied and told me to show him my ID or he could call the Sheriff’s Office to have a deputy get it.  He expressed concern that my photographs could be used to compromise security and he wanted to know who to find should anything bad happen.

I declined to show my ID.  Naturally, I do not want to be the first person to be blamed for any potential crime on Disney property just because I happened to take a photograph.  I tried to explain that Disney was likely one of the most photographed locations on Earth, including accessible pictures on the Internet, satellite photos from Google, and Disney=92s own publications.  It didn’t matter.  Don basically treated me as though I were supporting a terrorist plot. The contingent of Security members increased as I decided to leave.  Don instructed his staff to make sure they photographed everything about me and my vehicle. A Disney Security car followed me until I was on I-4.

Disney castmembers harassed, threatened and humiliated me before other guests. This is not the kind of guest experience I would expect from Disney, a company that I previously considered to be the world leader in hospitality.  I would still like to be a customer of Walt Disney World and have recently thought of renewing my Annual Pass to take more photographs.  However, that would be a waste of my money if this is the way Disney intends to treat me in the future. I did not see any signs prohibiting photography, nor did any of the guards inform me that I wasn’t permitted to take pictures.  Clearly, other guests were taking photographs.

To resolve this issue, I merely want an explanation of why I was approached, detained, and threatened to be turned over to law enforcement if I did not provide my identification to Don.  Please tell me why this happened and if I can expect similar treatment upon my return to Walt Disney World.  I need to know if photography is welcome at Walt Disney World or if it is considered a security threat.

I tried to resolve this issue by contacting Walt Disney World Guest Communications by e-mail on April 13th, but I never received any response, even to indicate someone was investigating the matter.  This issue is very important to me and I would appreciate a resolution to the matter.  Thank you.

You may reach me by email at [redacted] or by phone at [redacted].

I hope I’ll receive some response from this effort.  All I can do is give it a bit more time to see if Disney will elaborate upon its policy regarding photography and security.

About William

Author, Photographer and IT Manager. I have a fondness for chocolate. I also own Suburbia Press and Aperture vs Lightroom. Follow me on Twitter at @wbeem.

Comments

  1. Have you contacted News13 about this yet? One of the local media outlets might be able to drum up some attention to the matter.

    • No, I haven’t done that yet. However, I just heard from someone else who was at Downtown Disney the other day and was approached twice by security – told he couldn’t take photos.

  2. Richard Miller says:

    Your problem is you did not tell security you are a Muslim on assignment for Osma Bin Ladin. Had you done that they would have said okay have a great day, as long as your not taking these photos for terrorists we don’t care.

  3. Interesting.

    I think it’s quite clear Disney does not seem to care about it’s guests anymore. At least that’s what it sounds like now. I’m curious to know whether or not they state anywhere that Disney World rules are subject to change without prior notice.

  4. Any word from them yet? Curious about their response…

    • They gave only one response, which I posted on the blog. Basically, Disney thinks some photography is dangerous and they will treat photographers as suspects for whatever these dangers may be. The same guys also stopped Trey Ratcliff (www.stuckincustoms.com) there and called the cops on him. He posted about it on his blog. He was shooting with permission and notified some folks up the chain. He hopess it won’t happen to others, but I haven’t been back to try my luck yet.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Gray and mmoris, Jason Wilder. Jason Wilder said: Downtown Disney in Orlando harasses photographers http://williambeem.com/?p=522 [...]

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