Disney Thinks Photographers Are Terrorists

One of the things I've always admired about Walt Disney World is that it always seemed to be very friendly to photographers.  Disney has plenty of interesting photo spots marked in its parks to help visitors know where to get a good perspective for their photos. There are plenty of staff photographers around to capture moments at some of those photo spots, so nobody has to get left out because they're taking the photo.  If you go on some of Disney's thrill rides, they have cameras that capture you on the ride, often during the peak of action.

Photography is a hobby of mine.  The various theme parks and tourist attractions offer some rich visual treats that make for great photo subjects.  I was inspired to go shoot high dynamic range (HDR) photos at Downtown Disney tonight by looking at the work of Trey Ratcliff.  He taught a photo workshop in Tampa a couple of months ago and I went to learn his techniques.  Trey has some excellent images of Walt Disney World and I wanted to see if I could capture some of that magic.  Seriously, click that link and check out his excellent work.

HDR photography is essentially a product of mixing together multiple photographs of a subject taken at different exposures, from dark to light.  As a result, you end up with a photograph that has the right level of exposure through-out the scene, much like your human eye would detect.  Cameras, unfortunately, don't see light the same way we do. In order to make sure those photographs match-up with each other, you take the photos on a tripod in a burst of exposures.

Unfortunately, I found myself on the unsettling end of Disney Security this evening while taking photographs of the House of Blues at Downtown Disney.  While taking photos, I was approached FOUR times by Disney Security. Every time, they wanted to know why I was taking the photographs and expressed concern that I was with “the media.”  I assured them that this was my hobby and I was taking the photos for personal use and they would go away.  The fourth time was a bit different, though.

Previously, only one security guard would approach me and we'd have the same discussion.  On the fourth and final encounter, I was approached by several guards and their manager, Don.  I don't know Don's last name, since Disney only puts first names on their name tags.

I explained to Don that I'd been approached three times previously. He said that he knew. All of those guards worked for him and they had apprised him of their discussions with me.  I asked Don why he approached me and he said that there were complaints about me.  He never said what complaints he'd received, though, and never brought up complaints again.  I struggled to think what I could've done to cause complaints.  My photos were of buildings, not people.  I didn't ask anyone to move or change a thing.  In situations like that, you just sit and wait for the best moment to take your photos.  After all, everyone else has just as much right to be where they want.  One mid-Eastern family asked me to take their picture and I obliged. I kept my tripod near walls or other structures that weren't in the path of pedestrian traffic.  Basically, I can't fathom what complaint he may have received.

Don is a bit of a fast talker, but it takes him a long time to get to his point.  He dances around the issue and tells me of his responsibility for security.  He wants information, such as my name, where I work, why I'm taking photos and seems to want assurances that I won't be using the photos for commercial purposes.

By this time, I'm getting fed up with the interruptions, but I remained calm and polite.  So did Don.  Hoping to show him that I'm not there to cause any problems, I offer up some information in hopes of appeasement.  I shared my first and last name.  I let him know the name of my employer.  I told him the city where I lived.  Bear in mind that I was under absolutely no obligation to provide him with any of this information, but I wanted to be courteous and thought, as with the previous encounters, he'd be satisfied and go away.

In fact, Don told me that he was satisfied that I wasn't there for commercial purposes.  I explained HDR photography and he said that he had a passing understanding of it.  I showed him examples of my photos, hoping to set his mind at ease that I was just a harmless guy taking pictures of the House of Blues.

That seems to be the turning point.  Don started prodding me for identification while congratulating me on being so cooperative and putting his mind at ease.  At this point, I asked him why he would need my ID.  He expressed concern about my architectural photography possibly being used by terrorists.  He never used the word terrorist, but his implications were unmistakable.

I couldn't believe it.  I kept my calm demeanor, but I told him that his concerns were nonsense.  Disney is one of the most photographed places on Earth.  You can view the place in great detail from satellite on Google Earth.  There are thousands, if not millions, of pictures of Walt Disney World on the Internet and published in books – many by Disney itself.  It is absolutely ludicrous to think that my photos are going to be the ones that supports terrorism.

Don said he understood all of that, but should the worst happen, they wanted to know who was taking photos.

Suddenly, I'm not a visitor or a guest at Walt Disney World anymore.  I'm suspected of terrorism. He wants to know who to accuse of a horrible crime because of some photographs.  That's not the Disney experience you see in the commercials.

At this point, I let Don know that I'm not comfortable providing him with more detailed information about me.  He's never told me where that information will be recorded.  He's all but directly accused me of being a terrorist and, quite frankly, I don't see how handing him my driver's license is going to thwart the terrorist attack he's generated in his mind.  I told Don, twice during our conversation, that I'll be happy to leave the property if he feels I'm some sort of threat.  Don tells me that if I don't provide him with more identification that he's going to call the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

It's frustrating to deal with this kind of mentality.  Photography is not a crime, even on private property. At best, all a security guard can do is ask you to leave the property.  They have no right to tell you that you can't take photographs, confiscate your camera or other property, or even lay a hand on you.  Fortunately, Don didn't try anything physical at all. However, his demeanor definitely changed once I declined to give him my license.  His approach changed from the friendly, but concerned security manager into one of threats and intimidation. While he repeatedly told me that he was going to call for a deputy if I didn't provide my ID, I couldn't help but wonder exactly what crime he was going to report to the deputies.

My plan for the evening was to shoot my photos and have dinner at House of Blues, but Don had definitely turned me away from wanting to give any business to Disney that night.  I had also planned to renew my Annual Pass to take more HDR shots in the parks, but I can only imagine more intimidation and humiliation from Disney Security as a result.  After roughly twenty minutes of dealing with Don, I told him that I was just going to leave.  He was welcome to walk with me if he was concerned.

Don followed me, as did another uniformed guard, Eugene.  During the walk out to my car, Don was on the phone calling in more guards and, I presume, the Sheriff's office.  By the time I arrived at my car, at least two more guards swiftly arrived on bicycles, a couple more had walked up, and there was a Disney Security car.

I took my time walking out.  I took my time putting my gear away in the back of my car so he had plenty of time to let the deputy arrive, but I never saw one.  While I packed up my gear, I asked Eugene if this happened often.  He didn't respond and seemed somewhat uncomfortable.  I mentioned that he probably wasn't allowed to say anything and he told me that he just preferred not to speak.  That's understandable, since his boss was right there. Eugene moved from Maryland to Orlando and started working at Disney eleven years ago.  We talked a little about the weather and he mentioned that he liked the cold, but Disney was here.  I can apprecate that Eugene wanted to work there.  Maybe it's still “magical” for him.

While I was packing up, I overheard Eugene on the phone.  Although I don't know who was on the other end of the call, I presume he was speaking to someone at the Sheriff's office.  Don said that he asked for my name and I was unresponsive.  Well, that was a blatant lie and I told him it was untrue.  I reminded him that I'd given him my full name, where I lived and even where I worked.  Don seemed annoyed.  It was bad enough that he lied about that (I understand that lying to the police is a crime), but then a few minutes later he told the same lie again.  Clearly, this guy was working the phone to make me look like as bad as he possibly could.  A few lies here or there were probably OK if it helps catch a terrorist; perhaps that's how he rationalized it.

Once I closed the car I told them I was ready to leave, unless they planned to detain me against my will.  Don said they wouldn't do that and I was free to go. He then instructed the several security guards around me to take plenty of pictures and get everything.  I found this somewhat ironic.  I'm sure that I was captured on security video while on-site.  Don's guards likely took photos of me, my vehicle, my license plate and property.  Then I drove off slowly and a Disney Security car followed me until I left the property.

There were plenty of people at Downtown Disney with cameras, ranging from camera phones to point & click to digital SLRs.  I can only presume I was singled out because I had a DSLR (Nikon D700) on a tripod and took my time taking photographs.  This happened around sunset and I took multiple shots from different angles, watching the light and waiting for crowds to pass.  To the average security guard, I can only presume this makes me “suspicious.”  I find it interesting that Don was concerned about my architectural photography (which really wasn't the point of my images, but so be it).  If I had been taking pictures of other guests, would he have instead accused me of a sex crime?  I don't know.

My Disney experience was one of false accusations, threats, intimidation and humiliation.  When a cadre of security guards carefully walks someone out of the park, people look.  They assume the worst about you.  I've heard that all Disney cast members are empowered to make sure a guest has a “magical” experience.  That policy must not extend to someone with a camera and a tripod.

Here's what I've learned from the encounter:

  1. Appeasement doesn't work.  You don't know what is going to set them off, so it's best to just stay quiet.
  2. Remain calm & polite. I could've become as indignant as I felt, but I think that would've just taken me down a more annoying path and I didn't want to continue ruining what started out as a lovely evening.
  3. Follow-up.  I'll be writing to Disney management to learn and understand why I was singled-out for harassment and if I should expect such behavior in the future.
  4. Listen.  Better to let them reveal information and intent than for me to share information.  See #1.
  5. Share.  Ultimately, we need to keep this message alive.  Harassment of photographers is not providing any security.  If there's someone out there with ill intent toward Disney, they aren't going to go out with an expensive camera and a tripod to draw attention to themselves.  They'll show up with some buddies or a family to look things over.  There's no indication at all photography was used in any other high profile attack, so they probably won't even have a camera.  If we're going to stop this asinine behavior from the security industry, we need to continue communicating about the stupidity of their actions.

On the bright side, I was treated very well at Portofino Bay.  Dinner at Mama Della's was outstanding.

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  • Kelly Verdeck April 11, 2010   Reply →

    I’m sorry to hear that the madness has spread to WDW, or at least to that particular security crew. I’ve always shook my head at reports that security and authorities hassle photographers because they could somehow be taking pictures for terrorist activities. As if there aren’t already a million photos of every angle of every conceivable civilian target on the Internet! Anyway, I’m sorry you got hassled and I think you handled it as well as you could have. I’d be very interested in an update on what you hear back from management, if anything.

  • T.J. Powell April 11, 2010   Reply →

    I am not happy after reading your post. We are headed to Disney in Florida this summer and I plan on taking my tripod into the parks and other areas. I hope that this is not going to be the new normal for Disney. Please keep us posted on any responses you receive from the Management of Disney!

  • William April 11, 2010   Reply →

    Thank you, both. It’s my hope that this was an isolated incident. I brought up the fact to Don that Disney was one of the most photographed places on Earth, you could find satellite photos of it all over the Internet, but it changed nothing.

    My only suggestion for either of you is to take your shot and move on before they get suspicious. It’s a shame and a disappointment to find Disney is willing to employ such harassment techniques just because a guest was taking photos.

    • Elizabeth April 7, 2014   Reply →

      Hi William! This confrontation and experience is appalling of course but, I am more curious as to whether you ever received a reply from someone at The Walt Disney Company? I am in the graduate program at Baruch College for a Masters in Corporate Communications and if it’s alright with you would like to see a copy (if there is any) of the reply from The Walt Disney Company. Thanks

  • Jan Rieger April 12, 2010   Reply →

    This is outrageous! I hope bloggers pick this up. Sorry you had to go through all that insanity. Simply outrageous.

  • Terry Reinert April 12, 2010   Reply →

    That is ridiculous. You’d think that they deal with photographers enough to know better. It sounds like we should schedule a photowalk in that area and flood the place with DSLR’s. 🙂

  • David Terry April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Sad. Submitting this to Digg now. I hope Disney hears about this.

  • Rasmus April 12, 2010   Reply →

    I would not have been so nice about it. Also, I would not drop it after the fact.

    I hate aggressive wannabe cops, but ultimately they are the responsibility of the company that hires them. In this case Disney.

  • Aaron April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Great post, although i disagree with the statement “They have no right to tell you that you can’t take photographs” Actually, they do, but they’d have to do the same with the hundreds of thousands of other guests as well.

    Let’s just assume Don didn’t make it though the police department. You also never know what kind of things are told the upper upper upper management about “terror alerts.” If they do what they did on your occasion, they look like bullies. If they do nothing and something happens, they look like they didn’t do their job.

    All in all, i’m glad it was you this happened to instead of me.. I’d of ended up in the back of the squad car for sure.. haha

  • Kelvin Jay April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Well done for keeping your cool. And thanks for sharing your story. Nice shot too. 🙂

  • Lisa April 12, 2010   Reply →

    I can’t believe that happened. It must have been a just bad luck and a overly paranoid guard. I have been several time with my canon gear and had some of my larger white L lenses with me and I never had an issue. I mean I had more issues getting my bag through security at the entrances when they want to go through everything and every pocket of my bag and examine the equipment.

    I can’t believe they treated you like this and like a criminal. I doubt a “terrorist” will set up a tripod out in front of the place and snap off photos. Did the guy watch too many episodes of 24. Honestly I would have called the next day to corporate and slowly went up the chain till I got to someone important.


  • Mel Edwards April 12, 2010   Reply →

    I’d be interested in learning any response you have from senior park management on this. It may be they were given some details about suspicious people taking building photos and acted as they did based upon that.
    Either way, it brings to mind the innocent man at the Atlanta Olympics who signaled authorities there was a suspicious black bag. Only after they ruined his life accusing him of being a terrorist did they finally say, “Ooops.”
    Here’s hoping your story has a much happier ending.

  • James Chapman April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Thanks so much for writing this great article William!

    Everyone reading William’s article should understand that this is absolutely not an isolated incident, and if you are carrying a tripod of any size, you should definitely be prepared for multiple questions (read 1-5 above).

    As an amateur photographer and Disney enthusiast, I spend 90% of my time while at WDW taking photographs and I always carry my tripod and backpack full of equipment (flash, wide-angle lenses, filters, batteries, etc). I am constantly stopped by both security guards and staff photographers who question why I am taking the photographs, and if I’m a professional photographer. Obviously I’m not shooting for the “family” as I have a DSLR (Canon 50D, 18-200mm) and spend a few minutes setting up almost every shot.

    Most of the time the security guards are fine and after the initial question of “why are you taking this photograph?”, I reply that this is a hobby (exactly as William describes above), and they are satisfied and allow me to continue.

    I have setup in the wee-hours of the morning and taken sunrise shots at Downtown Disney and have closed down Magic Kingdom and Epcot multiple times between 2-3:00 a.m. in the morning and been kindly escorted out by both security and cast members as they watch me snap a few last shots.

    Their BIG issue is taking “guest shots” with cast or costumed members. I found this out a few months back with my own incident, much as William is describing above (except my conversation was with a cast photographer who happened to be in the area), and I DID go straight to customer service management to complain. After 30 minutes of “discussing” the situation (which I really have to hand it to the customer service rep that he did a great job keeping the discussion calm and below a shouting level) I left with this simple understanding…shoot the buildings, parades and fireworks, NOT the customers with the cast members and staff photographers.

    What this all boils down to is money. Disney pays a lot of folks, a lot of money to take photographs for their guests at their parks, and they simply do not like anyone else with a DSLR to make money from their “system”. It’s absolutely that simple. And that’s why those people with DSLRs are asked questions and made to feel anything but like a guest…it’s because you may be the competition…not a terrorist.

    By the way, my website was a Blog about WDW and my family’s vacations. I took everything down after that “discussion”.

    We own DVC property at Animal Kingdom Villas and Bay Lake Towers, visit WDW about 4 times a year and love eating at all of the restaurants, and we have three annual passes. At about 10k a year to Disney, I’d love for Disney to tell me to leave. 🙂 Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Sea World HERE WE COME!

  • Kevin April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Kind of funny, because I’ve already decided that this is the location (Downtown Disney) of where I want to lead a Photowalk when Scott Kelby announces the World Wide Photowalk III.

    I welcome you to join me and 48 other photographers to come photograph Downtown Disney. I hope Don’s working that morning.

  • disneyphotowidow April 12, 2010   Reply →

    we are WDW quite often…quite often 30-45 minutes after parks close with the tripod, big lens & nikon d200. We have never been approached. Hoping this was isolated. U should report him, as it sounds like this is a guy who might be taking his job TOO seriously. I hope you have reported him to rectify this situation.

  • Jon Grant April 12, 2010   Reply →

    Thanks for sharing this story. I am in Disney World with my camera & tripod about 6 days a month… nothing like this has happened yet, but I am almost certain that I will experience something similar before too long. It is a shame. Please keep us posted as to how Disney responds when you contact them.

    On a separate note, I was also at Scott & Trey’s HDR workshop in Tampa. What an incredible weekend that was!

  • Bruce April 12, 2010   Reply →

    I travel to Florida for work and have been to Downtown Disney and caught security guards watching once. I use a basic Canon digital rebel SLR which is by no means a “professional” camera. I have also had someone tell a friend of mine I need to watch my camera in Beverly Hills. I dont think an 18-55mm lens is paparazi by any means. I would recpmmend forwarding this link to Disney guest services and ask if you are going to recieve similiar tratment if you are planning to take pictures.

  • Susan April 13, 2010   Reply →

    You need to contact the executive offices guest communications office about this. wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com
    P.O.Box 10040
    Lake Buena Vista, Fl 32830-0040

  • Sean April 13, 2010   Reply →

    You were on private property. The owners had the right to ask you for your ID. If you’d shown it instead of copping an attitude you probably would have had an entirely different kind of experience.

    • William April 13, 2010   Reply →


      You’re correct that I was on private property. The owners have a right to ask for anything they want. I also have a right to ask for anything I want. That doesn’t mean anyone else has an obligation to provide it. Contrary to your comment, I did not cop an attitude. I was calm and polite during the entire ordeal.

      There is a very simple reason why I didn’t provide my ID to Don. He stated that he wanted to know who to find if something happened. Basically, handing over my ID would be like saying “come blame me if something bad happens here.” I’m not dumb enough to volunteer to be blamed for something like that just because I took a picture or because I was standing in private property. I hope you can understand. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • Daisy August 20, 2015   Reply →

      Sean I’m simply curious …. Are you a Troll????

  • Andrea April 13, 2010   Reply →

    My and my friends go to Disneyland all the time. One time even, we hung out in Downtown Disney after the park closed around 8pm. We hung out, taking pictures, and being a nuisance until around 12:30am, when they asked us to leave… not for taking pictures or acting like fools, but because they wanted to clean the streets. So I know this isnt normal behavior for security.

  • angela dimella April 13, 2010   Reply →

    OMG!! Sounds like the DON I encountered years ago at FW campground!!! He actually followed my son, then 16, around the Fort while he was riding our golf cart. Asked him for ID and what he was doing there. We were camping!! I was right next to him with my 2 younger kids. He asked a hundred dumb questions, asked for my id and followed us back to our campsite. This was BEFORE 911. It was even before the internet was such an easy place. I’m sorry I never placed a complaint. Till this day we call him Deputy Fife, since he was dumber than Barney Fife!

    I also give you credit for remaining so calm. I would have flipped.

  • Terence Tam April 13, 2010   Reply →

    You are on private property – so they do have a right to ask you to leave. That said, if I were harassed like that, as I were leaving, I’d make a point to snap as many pictures (and videos) of the security guards as I can, and plaster them all over the internet, to give them bad publicity.

    Public humiliation and bad publicity is a great tool, and cameras make that easy:


  • Dennis April 13, 2010   Reply →


    I’m sorry you had to go through that. My family and I were at Disneyland last summer and it was a good time. I’ve read a lot of articles recently about photographers being labeled as terrorists. The logic escapes me, as like you said millions of photos of the same places are available on the Web, and Google Earth is a lot more pervasive than one measly photographer with a DSLR on a tripod. 😉

    In your article you state: “They have no right to tell you that you can’t take photographs, confiscate your camera or other property, or even lay a hand on you.” You are mostly right here. Even police officers can’t confiscate your camera/memory card/film without a warrant (unless you’re being arrested). Nor can they tell you to delete photos. That’s called theft and coercion. In fact, if you’re already taken photos they are technically your copyrighted images the instant the shutter releases and are owned by you, whether you’re trespassing or not. They can’t take them away from you. That’s illegal.

    You are wrong in saying they can’t tell you not to take photos. While on private property the owners CAN INDEED tell you that you can’t take photographs. When you’re on private property you are there at the owner’s will. Photographing on public property is another matter entirely. While on public property, if you can see it with your eyes it can be photographed. This includes buildings, people, airports, train depots, etc.

    Also, you are under no obligation whatsoever to supply the rent-a-cops with identification or information of any kind. However, I think your five steps are the right thing to do in those kinds of situations. When a uniformed police officer asks for ID you are required by law to supply it.

    Here’s a link to a document called “The Photographer’s Right.” You may have seen it floating around. It’s got some good information in it regarding photography on public and private property. I keep a couple copies of it in my photo bag.


  • Albert Henry Bruton April 13, 2010   Reply →

    What you have experienced is called POWER. Also the very common lack of ability to admit that they are wrong when one finds they have overextended their ability to exert power over someone.
    In short “I can’t back down, and admit I am in the wrong”.
    It’s a simple matter of they can’t accept a loss of face.
    Most people never are afforded the chance to experience the feeling of having power over someone else.
    When someone is given that power, but does not understand how to properly use the power, they will get themselves into a situation where they need to have the ability to simply admit their mistake and walk away.
    Your experience was a perfect example of the results of someone wrongly given power who has no ability to understand it’s proper use, and how to deal properly with their mistaken use of that power.
    “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    • William April 13, 2010   Reply →


      I believe you are correct. As he made his concerns know, I refuted some of them. He wasn’t interested, though. His body language made it clear, in my view, that he just wanted to have my compliance. When he didn’t get it, I think he became more irritated.

  • Gina April 13, 2010   Reply →

    For what it’s worth, I had a similar (yet much shorter) incident at the Disney Store in Florence, Italy two years ago. After shooting a few pics of the store with my humble, standard Olympus camera, I was told not to take any photos, etc. etc. At first I thought that they were joking, but after a minute, I realized that they weren’t. It was all very odd! Because I was a foreigner, I didn’t push the issue. We just left.

  • Adam April 13, 2010   Reply →

    I was shocked to read this. One of my favorite things is to photograph at WDW, in fact I just got back from spending a few days doing just that in March. I have never been to Downtown Disney so maybe rules are different there? I have never been approached by security at any of the four parks or resorts though. I have had guards comment on the amount of gear I bring in when checking my bag – but nothing like this. They are more commenting that I will get good photos and I must really enjoy photography.

    Sorry to hear about the trouble you had – hopefully it is not something that Disney will be starting to do property wide.

  • Wendy April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Obviously a one-sided point of view. You should have just shown your ID. After all, you are a professional photographer, so they had every right to be concerned.

    • William April 13, 2010   Reply →


      You are correct that this is a one-sided point of view. After all, it’s my web site. I am not, however, a professional photographer. Whether I was or wasn’t, I am under no obligation to hand over my ID to a security guard. If you come to my house and I say, “show me your ID or I will call the police”, what would you do? My choice was to leave.

      I was never snarky, rude or abusive. Please tell me why they have every right to be concerned.

  • Andrew April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Magic Kingdom not quite so Magical for Photographers Anymore–Disney Thinks Photographers Are Terrorists – http://twitter.com/el_trotamundo/status/12121425199

  • John M April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Just a point of clarification, according to the US Supreme Court, one never has to provide ID to a police officer who requests it. You are required to identify yourself when asked but you do not have to have ID on you nor do you have to provide it when asked.

    Having said that, you may find that the reaction from the the police officer is less than thrilling since most officers will take your refusal to indicate that you are hiding something. Just ask Bob Dylan when he was picked up in California without his ID.

  • Tim April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Oh My God! I had a similar situation downtown LA yesterday, 4-12-10
    I was doing time-lapse photography of clouds. On the side walk, (not private property)4 plain clothes security)approached me, asking me all kinds of questions. Yes, I had a tripod but it was minimally set and I stood in front to take care, no one would walk into it.

    Isn’t great being a photographer, an American these days?
    I thought that only happen to me.

    Thanks for sharing and doing a good job writing what happened to you. Let’s form our own group, it seems to work for everyone else.

  • Michael April 13, 2010   Reply →

    I have to commend you on your Patience I know I woudl have lost my cool were you didn’t. I love photography and often take Photos on my travels. I am also take my time look for the right shot and do my best to avoid people. I hope this is an isolated incident and you were on the unfortunate end of perhaps a bigger problem not aware of. I have not been to Disney in quite a while I will return some day. I hope I am not greeted with teh same paranoia you were while I’m taking pictures.

  • gerry rosser April 13, 2010   Reply →

    I’ve taken literally thousands of pictures at WDW, including many hundreds at Downtown Disney. I use a DSLR, and one of my favorite, and earliest, HDR photos is of the front of the House of Blues. No security guard has ever approached me, and many have seen me doing my thing.

    That said, I do not doubt your story a bit. I’ve had people at several places where photography was fairly normal ask me my business. This whole terrorist thing, as applied to ordinary citizens doing ordinary things, is just insane in my view.

    I really like the picture you included with this post.

  • Robert April 13, 2010   Reply →

    My guess would initially have been the tripod, and I avoided taking one for concern of running kids tripping over a leg. I know it can be an insurance issue.

    I used to go there to take pictures all the time. One day with an 8mm, another with a 300mm, I’d use one lens a day and see what I could see.

    One time they said I could not take pictures of people. Another time people were fine to photograph, but I could not take pictures of the rides, especially the gearboxes or controls. Because we all know that Al Qaeda is just waiting to get their hands on the Teacups control panel.

    And yes I too was escorted off property. The fun part was trying to remember where I parked my car and leading guards around in circles. Onlookers must have seen me as some sort of VIP with all my security.

    Remember right after 9/11 the government wanted everyone in America to get their film developed in case anyone had seen anything. I bet it every American took just one picture a day of anything we’d have less issues, not more.

  • David Hobby April 13, 2010   Reply →

    My letter to Disney:

    Dear Disney people;

    All it takes is one, stupid overzealous private security guard who has absolutely no knowledge of peoples’ rights under the first amendment and it makes the whole company look like ignorant thugs.

    In case you are wondering what I am talking about, first reference is here:


    Consumerist.com picked it up — that’s hundreds of thousands of people right there:


    I tweeted it from Consumerist (one of *many* I am sure) to 24k+ people:


    Used to be, one ignorant rent-a-cop held power over everyone he came in contact with. No the internet has flipped that equation, and one idiot security guard can give your whole company a black eye.

    If you find this uncomfortable, then maybe you should take a moment and explain that a photographer who happens to be using a tripod in one of your parks *might* not be a terrorist. He might be trying to tale a series of photos to combine into one frame to compress the high dynamic range into an interesting photo.

    That’s what one innocent photographer was doing before your guy acted like a thug and repeatedly intimidated him into leaving — photographing him (ironically, dontcha think?) the whole way.

    Disney looks really bad today, to many, many people. This thing could well go much more viral than it has. You might want to consider a public apology to the photographer (top link) your “cast members” screwed over.

    Or maybe you deserve all of this bad PR.


    David Hobby
    Columbia, MD

  • Samantha Decker April 13, 2010   Reply →

    I’m highly disappointed to read this. I thought Disney World was the one place on earth where you could bring in a huge camera, a tripod, and a big honkin’ lens and no one would look twice at you. After all ,people do it all the time. This is just absurd. On the plus side, I just discovered your awesome photography! Keep up the great work! =)

  • Christopher Stampar April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Really great post. I think you handled the situation extremely well, and did everything you can to assert that photography is not a crime. I’ve certainly experienced situations similar to this, but fortunately not quite as extreme. Great to see you sticking up for all of the photographers and please let us know if Disney responds. Keep up the great work!

  • Rich April 13, 2010   Reply →

    Oops. Maybe William will want to be careful about what you ‘AIM’ your camera at in the future. The pictures, above, of Mickey rodent and the moped are fantastic! The best I’ve seen in many (of my 70) years.

    I’m curious, did the subject of a possible refund of your admission fee come up? It sure would have if it were me that was asked to leave before I was ready. Also, do you know if any of the other “Guests??” were harassed by ‘Don’ or ‘Eugene’ that day?

    If you come to Las Vegas and take pictures on the Strip you might well receive an offer from one of my fellow VIVA volunteers to take the shot for you. Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

  • Jay April 14, 2010   Reply →

    I just wanted to offer some of my personal insides on this. First as a former long term cast member of a Disney Store and many other retail stores we have always been instructed that there is no be no photo’s taken in the store. With the Disney Store the only exception to this rule is if you received a call from the home office and the photographer must have the written consent with them. This happens for many reasons and the biggest one is competition. Try walking into Wal-mart and making it know to the management that you are going to take random pictures of the store for no reason and see what they say. Now think about the security team and we don’t know who they were acting on. Most people think that Disney owns all the businesses on property and the truth is they don’t. Most of the businesses on the West Side of Downtown Disney are not owned by Disney. The compliant they may have gotten could have been from the House of Blues themselves. It is the duty of the security guard(s) to protect the interest of these businesses. With taking these kinds of photos it is hard to believe that this is a hobby of yours, and in fact you have your own website and thus is more than a hobby and part of your portfolio and income. If you would post your photo of the house of blues on your site that would turn it into a commercial photo that you are making money off of because it is helping you get work. Just like your beautiful photo of Portofino Bay is now a commercial photo adding to your bottom line. I have taken a tripod and camera into the parks many, many times and have never once had a problem, but anyone could tell it was for pure personal use.

    • William April 14, 2010   Reply →


      I’m not sure how many more times I can say it. I’m not a professional photographer. There is no commercial interest here. Besides, Don’s concern was not about commercialism, but terrorism. You may find it’s hard to believe that this is a hobby, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

      Also, please note that I did not enter any buildings during this visit or attempt to take photos inside. I just wanted to practice some HDR and thought the HOB would be a cool subject.

  • Curt Loghry April 14, 2010   Reply →

    Heading to DW this weekend for the first time.Plan on taking my D700 with a SB900 flash. Thanks for sharing your story,i had no idea photographers were being targeted.

  • Justme April 14, 2010   Reply →

    I am not excusing their behavior but is it possible perhaps that they had recieved a tip or a warning of some possible target at Disney? I am sure Disney is high on the list for those crazies but that they seemed to go so far above and beyond in their pursuit of you makes me think there may have been something more going on.

  • James April 15, 2010   Reply →

    I was in an airport yesterday and wanted to take some photos… the entire time I was walking around with my D90, I was waiting for a tap on the shoulder by a TSA official demanding me to erase the card. Instead, I had a nice chat with a TSA officer who pointed out some interesting features that I might want to photograph.

    Strange that the TSA could get it right and Disney could not.

  • Joe April 15, 2010   Reply →

    Honestly?! People take pictures in every disney park like that. I go to WDW every year and see photographers there like you, who just do this as a hobby. I dont know when this happened, but i wish you the best of luck

  • Concerned Photographer April 16, 2010   Reply →

    Very uncool if this story pans out.

    Very unacceptable.

    First, lying to the police that you didn’t give your name and yet you did, is in itself a crime and it is illegal. Disney security’s manager “Don” should be checked in for his integrity.

    Second, usurping your power to show you can call other minions typically is expected in middle school like you want to gang up on the new kid. A “manager” is expected to lead by example and this was a far cry from a good example.

    Two things should happen from here:

    1. Contact Disney executives telling them this is unacceptable for the security manager at Downtown Disney, “Don”, to be lying to the police and being a bad example to his team. [wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com]

    2. Contact the sheriff department regarding this incident and file a civilian complaint, stating that we want them to understand Downtown Disney’s security manager “Don” and his reaction was unacceptable when someone was simply taking photographs for his personal use. He was not doing anything illegal and lied about an incident that the photographer did not give his name. We want the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to understand that we don’t want our taxpayers money to be used against free speech and we don’t want our money to support any private power trips of Downtown Disney’s security manager, “Don”.

    Contact form here: http://www.ocso.com/ContactOCSO/tabid/160/Default.aspx


  • ted April 16, 2010   Reply →

    My wife of Asian ancestry wants to see Disneyland but we will boycott the one in Anaheim, CA if that’s the way they treat photographers of any sort. Is Disneyworld in Orlando,FL any different? My wife loves to take pictures to show our granddaughter.

    • William April 16, 2010   Reply →

      This happened in Orlando, not in Anaheim. At this time, I don’t know if this is an isolated incident or not. I never had a problem with photography at Disney before this incident and many others have reported similar positive experiences. A few, however, have shared stories with me of similar events at Disney. It appears to be somewhat inconsistent to me.

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  • Richard April 18, 2010   Reply →

    I have a story from the other coast..A few years ago I was drove down to Anaheim to visit the Disneyland Resort for 5 days..

    I run a website about the history of Disneyland..When I am in the park I take hundreds of photos (with an average digital camera nothing fancy) some of them will make it to my website..

    On the first 3 days I parked in the parking garage and went into the park and took photos..as I would pass plain clothes security they would talk into their wrists ..but I thought I was just being paranoid they could not be talking about me… at lunch time I would return to my car and have lunch (I refuse to pay the high prices for food in the park) in my car..

    Well on the 4th day I was sitting in my car enjoying a cold sandwich and working on my laptop when 2 security guys rode up on their bicycles and asked nicely what I was doing..I explained about my website and that I was going through the photos I had taken..they were interested so I got out and put my laptop on top of my car and showed them my website..they thought it was great..I asked if there is anything I should do in regard to taking photos inside the park..they said I should just let City Hall know and that should clear me..I thanked them and they went on their way…

    I went in the park and talked to City Hall told them what I was doing (taking photos for my website) they said it was unnecessary to let them know..no problem..I went out and shot lots more photos with no problems…

    On the 5th day I when I parked in the garage I saw the same security guys on bicycles I waved at them.. they came over and asked how things were going with my website very friendly..We talked a bit…I went into the park..I noticed during the night they had erected a new Space Mountain spire soon to become a new sign so I took a couple of photos of it..as I started to turn away I noticed the cast member at the entrance to Space Mountain grab a phone staring at me..I had a feeling he was calling security about me..so I went to a bench and waited… 5 minutes later security showed up..they asked why I was taking photos of the spire..I told them the story about my website ..they took down my name and the name of my website..their excuse was they did not want the new Space Mountain sign to be used in any advertising..off they went..

    At lunchtime I went to my car to have lunch..as I am eating I see the 2 security guards and flag them down ..they said they heard on the radio about my run in with park security..they laughed about it…we joked about me being watched all the time…well they decided to reveal why I was being watched and how to avoid being watched…by the way these security guards are friends to this day and say the system is still in place..hence why I wont reveal their names..they said 4 things triggered them (security) to watch me 1) I am alone 2) Camera 3) Annual Pass 4) My car plates were from out of state…..I told them that makes no sense and they agreed..Think about it other than a person being alone how many people must fit that description from out of state with a camera at a Disney Park … but it is part of the signs the company looks for..I asked them what would make me “invisible” to security they said easy… park off site…bring a friend have your friend stand out of frame and “point the camera at your friend” and you are good to go…

    I drove back from my vacation with a new understanding of Disney Security Tactics…

    PS To anyone that wants to do harm to Disney these are not the only signs that trigger them to watch people..If you are harming Disney they will catch you so don’t!

  • Denise April 18, 2010   Reply →

    We didn’t have any problems with taking photographs at Disneyland 18 months ago but we had problems with what we were told were copyright infringements when my neice wanted to do a Princess dinner for her 21st birthday. She decided that we should dress like princesses for her dinner celebration. We were stopped first and told that we couldn’t wear our dresses on the rides. We assured them that we were going to Ariel’s Grotto for the Princess dinner. We were then stopped by one of the women at the security booth until the uniformed guards could come harrass us. First they tried the “can’t go on the rides” routine that we first encountered and finally after almost 3 hours they told us that their concern was that some of their smaller patrons would confuse us with “their princesses.” We informed them of the fact that their princesses do not wear sparkly eye makeup or have visible tattoos. That was when they said that they only allow children under the age of 10 to dress-up. When we then informed them that some of their shops sell Princess dresses in adult sizes that that seemed like they may be profiting when they wouldn’t allow the adults to wear the dresses that they sold them in their park. My sister was insisting on speaking to someone a little higher up to complain but after 3 hours with no jackets, (as we assumed we would be back at our hotel before it got dark) no dinner and my neice’s birthday all but ruined, we came to the realization that Disney officials didn’t seem to care because they feel anything that they do is right. I will never, ever pay one more dime to this company ever again. I refuse to buy any of their DVD’s, go to any Disney or Disney sponsored movie, buy any Disney merchandise or go to one of their parks. I took my sister and her daughters to try and put a little happiness back into their lives after her husband of 21 years killed himself about 6 months before. It was going to be my neices first birthday since losing her father and I thought that Disneyland would be the perfect place. I wish that I had a picture to post so that everyone could see that we didn’t look at all like any of their Princesses and any young child would not have thought anything of the sort. So much for their copyright infringement excuse. Unfortunately Disney security seems to be the same at all their parks.

    After reading about what happened to you, I wish that I had complained to higher management. I did send a rather scathing review to TripAdvisor and also included my boycott of all things Disney. The hardest part of my boycott is that I love Winnie the Pooh and The Muppets and Disney owns the rights to those too.

    BTW, I heard about your incident on The Travel Insider’s newsletter.

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  • Ivan Chan April 25, 2010   Reply →

    Disney, just like most things American are pure rubbish. the sooner the place goes down the toilet, the better!

  • Matt May 6, 2010   Reply →

    Wanted to thank you for sharing this story. Based on the information you provided I don’t think you did anything wrong. BTW the HDR shot is great 🙂

  • Glenn Murdock May 19, 2010   Reply →

    OK – let’s grow up here. Every place has the right to be suspicious and protect the security of the building. By blogging this way, you are just trying to get revenge, which doesn’t say much about your business ethics. Sorry about your luck, but I’d rather Disney protect my security. It’s your hobby, and you need to respect the places and their rules. You should have left when first asked. They shouldn’t have had to approach you 4 times.

    • William May 19, 2010   Reply →


      I find nothing unethical about posting my experience here. You seem to be a bit confused as to whether I’m in business or a hobbyist, so let me clear that up for you. My photography is a hobby. That doesn’t mean that I won’t try to make some sales here or there at some point, but that had nothing to do with my trip to Downtown Disney. I wanted to take some HDR photos of the House of Blues, both for the fun of it and as practice.

      I also really don’t buy the argument that hassling photographers does anything at all to enhance security. Don’t take my word for it, though. Read the opinion of a security expert, Bruce Schneier, about the war on photography.

      Finally, I was never asked to leave Downtown Disney. Not once, much less four times. I was never asked to stop taking photographs. Perhaps that part wasn’t clear to you when you read my article. I agree they shouldn’t have approached me four times, though. You would think they’d treat a guest with more respect.

    • Daisy August 20, 2015   Reply →

      ExCuse me but it’s called the “FIRST AMENDMENT” and he has the right to utilize it.. p s. Are you a “Troll”???????

  • william kosturko May 28, 2010   Reply →

    Maybe you should have just listened to security! Some how I feel that some information is missing here! I am sure that all photographers are beautiful people and never bother anyone!!

    • William May 28, 2010   Reply →


      I listened to Security. What part of the article made you think I wasn’t paying attention? Also, what information do you think is missing?

  • Rizz917 May 28, 2010   Reply →

    Before we all draw a conclusion with just one side of this story, let’s remember there are always two sides to a story. Now, the photographer of interest here may have fit a certain profile that Disney security agents are trained to look for. Even the model of camera he was using may have fit that profile. Heck, he may have been wearng a pro Islamic T-shirt, we just don’t know. I have to say though, I find it hard to believe Disney will lock on to a random photographer for absolutely no good reason. There is enormous risk involved with that kind of activity. There is potential for endless litigation, follwed by damaging PR for years to come. Disney is the most family friendly place on the planet, are they really going to risk their reputation like this? Now, I’m not saying thing don’t happen because I know they do but I’m not drawing any conclusions until I know Disney’s side of the story.

    • William May 28, 2010   Reply →


      I contacted Disney several times for their side of the story. I received only one reply, which I posted here, as requested by folks who read my initial post. Last night, Trey Ratcliff (StuckInCustoms.com) posted on Twitter that he was in Downtown Disney to photograph a sunset. Next Twitter post was that he had four security guys confronting him. Next post was that his wife and kids arrived, freaking out. Then we learn that Disney called the Deputies to confront him. All of this because a guy with a tripod wanted to take a photograph.

      I would truly love to know Disney’s side of the story as to why they think we’re a security threat. They started off with me about concerns regarding image rights (and I gather something similar happened with Trey), but I’m starting to believe that’s not really the truth of it.

      While I agree with you that this is just bad PR for Disney, they don’t seem concerned about it at all. They continue to hassle photographers at Downtown Disney. If you can find out something regarding Disney’s side of the story that they haven’t shared with me, I would very much like to know about it.

  • Nick May 29, 2010   Reply →

    I understand your upset. And it may of seemed very unfair however, understand it is securities job to notice anything unusual. Typically a normal tourist would snap a off center picture and move on and buy something in the gift shop. it sounds like you were there taking lots of pictures for a long time. because DTD is an open area they are prone to attacks and shady business. also, if you were with the media you would need to go through media relations at disney. i understand you weren’t doing this but they need to make sure everyone is safe and if you let something like that go something bad could happen.

    • William May 29, 2010   Reply →


      “Something bad could happen.”

      That seems to be the extent of thinking on this issue, and most people accept it. I like to ask, what is going to happen as a result of my photograph? What am I going to capture that isn’t available on Flickr, Google Earth, or even published in Disney’s own books?

      Practical experience shows that “bad” people don’t take pictures for their “bad” activities, but security guards around the world need a “bad” guy to hassle. Why not choose the guy with a camera on a tripod? He looks different than everyone else, so he must be “bad.”

  • Carl June 20, 2010   Reply →

    William – The one thing I don’t understand is your reason given for not showing your ID. It seams that your saying on the one hand it was “ridiculous” for security to think you had any covert intent, yet on the other hand you wouldn’t show your ID because if “something bad happened” you could be blamed? What are the chances? Is that really a valid reason to not comply?

    Like many have stated, we don’t know the other side of the story. I can understand how you might have been offended, but in hindsight it seems it would have been better to just show your ID and put the security manager’s mind at ease… IMHO.

    • William June 20, 2010   Reply →


      Think this through a bit. What was the security manager going to do with my information? If he wrote it down, how was he going to protect it? A police officer doesn’t even have the authority to demand ID from someone just walking around. When you get pulled over in a vehicle, you have to show your ID to prove that you are licensed to operate a vehicle – not to show ID. As a pedestrian, I was under no such restriction.

      Also, keep in mind the security manager’s intent. He wanted someone to hold accountable for something “bad” that may happen in the future and he was looking at me as that person. Imagine I complied and gave him my ID. Who knows where it’s being kept or how it’s being used? Given some of the recent problems at Disney (e.g., a hotel clerk using guest ID and credit cards for personal gain), why would I trust someone with such sensitive information when I received no benefit at all?

      I was polite, but I asserted my rights. If others would have chosen to give up their rights, that’s their business. It’s untrue that you only heard one side of the story here. As I noted, I asked Don questions, such as why he needed my ID, and I’ve given his responses. If you want to know more, contact Disney and ask for Don.

  • Kelly June 27, 2010   Reply →

    You were singled out because of your dSLR – I’ve been harassed for shooting the Prudential Center, by crazy women who have followed me 1/4of a mile to find a cp to accuse me of trying to take their picture – wouldn’t wast the digital space on her, and other ridiculous situation when I’ve used my Canon 20D. Not a peep with my Sony DSC-N1 points/shoot.
    When the terror comes, it will be with a Casio exlim.

  • Ron C August 22, 2010   Reply →

    If this had happened to me, I would have gone immediately to Guest Relations.

    I think you’re putting way too much faith in what Don said to you. There are a lot of dumb people who think cameras and terrorism go together but I doubt that he’s one of them. I think he was jerking you around.

    For many years until 2008, I lived in Orlando and have a good friend who worked at Disney World Security for 8 or 9 years. He said that sometimes the topic of photographers would come up. Some of them felt that they should be suspicious of people with fancy cameras or lots of equipment being professional photographers but others thought that was ridiculous and they shouldn’t bother people just because they have a nice camera.

    At least one of those security officers you encountered didn’t believe you about being a hobbyist– despite any conversations you had with them– or they wouldn’t have gone to a supervisor. They wanted to make you go away because they suspected you of being a professional photographer. You didn’t get the hint and leave on your own right away so they escalated it. They never thought you were a terrorist. That was a load of garbage they fed you to make you nervous and throw you off balance. The people at Disney World Security are smart enough (well, most of them are) to know that cameras aren’t terrorist threats. As you noted, it’s a well photographed place and your comments to them about that didn’t change the situation because it didn’t really have anything to do with the situation. Unless they are concerned about an immediate danger, they would not confront a suspected terrorist but would discretely contact the authorities and the person would be followed.
    The terrorism thing was an excuse of convenience to harass you and make you go away and not want to come back. How can you defend yourself? By telling them not to be concerned about terrorism? How can you, or any of us, prove that you aren’t a terrorist? It’s a head game they play. A stupid game, for sure, but a game nevertheless. So was insisting on your ID and taking pictures of you leaving and following you out. They believed you were a professional who was lying about being a hobbyist and they wanted you to leave. They got what they wanted.

    Don’t believe everything security people tell you, especially if you are in a confrontational situation. Very often their goal is to manipulate you in the easiest way they can think of. Remember, they deal with lots of people every day and they can be a lot better at this than most people.

    • William August 22, 2010   Reply →


      I believe pretty much what you wrote. Having discussed it with friends who are both former deputies, they said a lot of what I heard from Disney Security was just made up. As you say, it’s a tactic. Sadly, it’s a stupid tactic that really doesn’t accomplish anything positive for the business that they’re supposed to support. At the time, I wasn’t aware of Guest Relations. Should this ever happen again, I’ll take that advice and visit their office to see what happens.

  • Kirk September 23, 2010   Reply →

    Because of this, we are no longer considering WDW for any events our company sponsors.

  • Shutter Expressions February 12, 2011   Reply →

    I’m sorry to hear that happened to you, and sometimes there really is no rhyme or reason for another person’s action. I feel you handled it very well as it could have been worse. Now, I don’t know why you are not considering yourself a professional as from what I saw on your website, you surpass those who charge professional rates. AMAZING!!!

  • Kyle December 3, 2011   Reply →

    Are you sure you even took photos as I cannot find them anywhere except the painting. 🙁

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  • TammyNaborsMiddleton April 25, 2012   Reply →

    Beautiful photography!  But everyone should remember – Walt Disney World is PRIVATE PROPERTY.  As a security manager there, for many years, I know that security officers have to right to question any guest, not harrass, but question.  The same right you would have if someone came into your home.  The event of 911, has put high security everywhere for good reason.  Cooperation goes a long way.  And you are correct – it is a beautiful place to photograph.

    • William Beem April 25, 2012   Reply →

      Of course it’s private property.  However, I was NEVER asked to leave.  I was harassed.  The security manager demanded my ID, claiming he needs to know who I am in case something “bad” happens.  What nonsense is that?  If someone else does something “bad”, I’m automatically to blame because I took a photograph?

      The 911 attackers didn’t use photography in the planning of their attacks.  So why are security guards still citing that tired excuse that has absolutely no bearing on protecting property?  It’s a tourist destination.  Plenty of people take pictures and post them online.  There are satellite pictures on Google of the entire property.  A terrorist doesn’t show up with a large camera and a tripod – something that causes him to stand out in a crowd.

      Downtown Disney is a public place.  My home is not a public place.  Comparing the two in that manner isn’t really equivalent.

      However, I was nice.  I cooperated.  I showed them my photos.  That’s when it got WORSE for me.  That’s when Don started making accusations, so I told him I was leaving.  He called up every other available security guard.  I was circled by nearly a dozen Disney guards.  Don told them to make sure they got pictures of me, my car, my tag, etc.  Basically, photos are good for security guards, but not for guests.

      I haven’t patronized Downtown Disney in the past couple of years since this experience, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

    • Daisy August 20, 2015   Reply →

      Tammy your not quite accurate. I was a Character Performer for 16 years ” Donald/Daisy” and in 2010 at the Studios now disney MGM studios “Pat” a Character Performer Manager in a meeting told us the Characters and the Character Attendants that the “PUBLIC DOMAIN” Law gives guests the right to take photos. The issue was raised because when a Character Attendant would see a random guest photographing somebody else Child or Children during a Character meet and greet, the Attendant would address the stranger photographing a child or children that wasn’t theirs.

  • I can attest that this is how it works now. I was photographing the holiday inn directly across the street from universal studios, and during the shoot I went over to the top of the parking lot levels with the gm from the hotel, to shoot the hotel – not universal studios. Within 10 minutes there was a guard on a bike telling us to stop taking images while he called his boss…. the short story is that we were told to leave. The guards weren’t accusing or harassing, but we weren’t even allowed to take photos of another structure from the parking lot!…. that said, shooting at disney boardwalk was not a problem at all. I think certain areas have different security issues?

    • William Beem May 8, 2012   Reply →

      I think you’re right.  A cast member at Animal Kingdom told me the guys at Downtown Disney were probably much more heavy-handed because it’s an “Open” area – meaning there’s no ticket required for entry.  On the other hand, I’ve also shot photos at the Boardwalk without incident.  The only issue I had there was the confusion of the guard when I drove up to the parking lot.  She asked me why I was there and I told her I was going to take some pictures.  She replied that she had NEVER heard of anyone coming there just to take pictures.  I got the feeling she didn’t like the idea at all, but she let me park and that was the end of it.

  • Dan February 24, 2014   Reply →

    Suppose that’s what you get for shooting HDR lol….

  • Jeff June 14, 2016   Reply →

    William, as soon as we get serious and have a moratorium on Muslim immigrants things will hopefully go back to normal.
    This, obviously, will not occur until the current (treasonous) POTUS has left office. Your current POTUS will always side with his
    Muslim Brothers and, since the savage who just slaughtered 50 in Orlando HAD BEEN SCOPING out Downtown Disney prior to
    deciding to target the gay nightclub, look for Disney to increase security even more. The price we pay for electing a Muslim as POTUS.

  • Brian August 7, 2016   Reply →

    I stumbled on this article while looking up “Photo Rules” for Disney.
    Your experience is not uncommon. In my opinion, the minute you step foot in the “Walt Disney World Resort Area” regardless of an admission ticket, you’re on THEIR property. And most places, Stadiums, concert venues, shopping malls—Mostly have a “No Tripod” policy. And I get that. You were doing the right things, by standing out of the way and blending in. But just think of all of the photo N00BS that got their best buy camera just in time for their family vacation—You wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere.

    The problem here is, it’s not properly communicated. If there first security guard approached you and said, “Hey dude, you can’t shoot on a tripod here” you seem like the type of person that would apologize, pack up and move on. The lack of clarity seems to be the issue.

    It is a bit lame and misguided when mall cops try to pull the “We’re looking out for terrorists” BS. Terrorists doing recon work aren’t pulling out giant tripods and fussing with their shutter speeds. I think our nation’s security would be a hell of a lot easier if all of the terrorists were wearing photos vests with gitzos over their shoulders.

    • William August 7, 2016   Reply →


      Thanks for the note. I agree with everything you said. The problem is a lack of communication about photography. When guests aren’t informed, they may do something that sets off a guard or other cast members. The same thing is true on the other side. When the employees aren’t informed, they tend to make up the rules as they go. Occasionally, it results in an unpleasant experience for both sides.

      The good news is that I’ve had other photography experiences with great results at Walt Disney World. I also had another poor experience at Animal Kingdom because I was taking photos of their “facades.” Once again, I left because of a “policy” made up on the spot.

      For what it’s worth, Disney’s web site states that you may bring a tripod that fits inside of a “standard backpack.” They don’t provide any dimensions for the standard backpack and I’m not aware of any existing standards, so it still has some ambiguity. That said, I just bring a smaller tripod when I visit Disney World these days.

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