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.