Disney Responds to my Letter
Last week while I was on a business trip, I received a reply from Walt Disney World Guest Communications regarding the harassment I received from Disney Security. Here are the links to previous posts, in case you haven't followed the story:
Here is the response I received from Disney on May 4, 2010:
Dear Mr. Beem,
Thank you for contacting us regarding the Walt Disney World Resort.
We apologize for your inconvenience during your recent visit to Downtown
Disney. We understand taking photographs is an essential part of
creating lasting memories and encourage our Guests to take photographs
of their vacation. As I am sure you understand, there are occasionally
security matters associated with certain types of photography. In those
instances, our security team is trained to observe and, when
appropriate, engage those guests.
Since the safety and well-being of our Guests are of the utmost
importance to us, this policy has been implemented merely as an added
security measure for all Guests who visit the Walt Disney World Resort.
Thank you for your comments.
Guest Communication Services
Walt Disney World Resort
Let's say that I'm underwhelmed and disappointed, but not completely surprised. It's politely phrased, but my own interpretation of this note is to suggest that Walt Disney World really doesn't give a damn and they will continue with their policy of harassing photographers that they perceive as threats to security. This was specifically referred to as “policy” at Walt Disney World. That means it's documented and supported by the company. This wasn't a case of some overzealous security guard going beyond his responsibility. Walt Disney World has written directions to harass photographers. It's their plan of action.
I responded and asked to see the policy in writing, but once again, I've heard nothing. I pointed out that a guest has no way of knowing whether they are in compliance with Disney policy or not, since there are no signs prohibiting photography (one exception is a sign for the House of Blues concert hall, but not the exterior where I was shooting). If this is policy, shouldn't Disney inform its guests?
Personally, I don't know of any security matters associated with photography in public places, even if those places are on private property. Security goons like to recite 9/11 and terrorism, but that's just a load of bunk. The 9/11 attackers had planes, not cameras. Timothy McVeigh used a rental truck and fertilizer, not cameras. When investigators want to find out what happened at an event, they look for the results of video and still cameras. Photography help. It is not a security threat at all and I'm insulted that Disney would suggest as much in its response to me.
Despite the fact that I pointed out the fact that Disney did not address the questions in my original letter, and that I wrote back inquiring for clarification of this policy, I don't expect to hear back. I think that Walt Disney World just wants to sweep this incident under the rug and Don will continue to harass other photographers at Downtown Disney. I've heard from others who were hassled by Disney Security there since my incident, and at least one of them had media credentials to shoot there and another who is under contract to shoot there.
Amazing, isn't it? Walt Disney World refers to any area accessible by the public as being “on stage.” I guess the show is just more “security theater.” I would have expected Walt Disney World to live up to a higher standard, but clearly it does not.