On Second Thought, Maybe You'd Better Not 'Show Your Disney Side'
Observers today noticed some changes to the Park Rules
that Walt Disney World and Disneyland have posted online. One apparent change notes that Disney considers the use of e-cigarettes to be the same as smoking traditional cigarettes, and restricts their use to designated smoking areas in the theme parks. It's rule (e) under "General Rules" on the page linked above.
But many of us who publish websites that cover the Disney theme parks are noticing rule (f) under "Prohibited Activities" — "Photography, videotaping, or recording of any kind except for personal use."
This is a change from past rules, which barred commercial photography without permission from the company. Now anything that is not "personal use" is prohibited. Which, plain language suggests would include posting photos on any social media platform. After all "social" is not "personal." If you're putting a photo online, where millions of people might have access to it, that's not "personal use."
So much for "Show Your #DisneySide." Now, if you post a photo that you've taken inside a Disney theme park to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or even Theme Park Insider, you have violated Disney's park rules. Disney doesn't say on its rules page what the sanction for violating its rules might be, but let's just say I am not holding my breath waiting for Disney to cancel the tickets of people who post their Disney photos to Facebook.
Hey, look, I'm violating the park rules! No, not the guys with their hands up. Me, with the camera!
In which case, why have a rule if you know you won't enforce it? Why have a rule that your own publicity department has been openly encouraging your guests to violate? (Just a reminder that there's still time to vote in Disney's contest for the best photos taken by guests inside Disneyland!)
For what it's worth, Universal Orlando's posted Policies and Restrictions say nothing about photography. Nor does SeaWorld Orlando's policies page. (Tickets and signs at the park entrance might include restrictions, but I am not in Orlando and can't check that today. Anyone on site with a report?)
It's understandable that theme parks would not want to allow commercial film and photo crews to work in their parks without permission. When I was part of a commercial shoot for Google at Knott's Berry Farm last year, Google had to secure permission from the park to bring in its film crew. When I cover press events at various parks, I have to agree to abide by parks' restrictions on where I can and cannot shoot and film. (Here's an example: I've seen some great close-up views of the construction on Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is being built within a few yards of the park's employee entrance. But I couldn't take photos from there because I have agreed with Universal, and at every park I've ever covered, not to take photos when I am in backstage areas.)
But banning all photography by everyone that is not for "personal" use? In a social media era, that's just lazy legalese. It ain't gonna happen. Disney's not going to stop encouraging people to use social media to build buzz for its theme parks, nor should it.
For more than a decade, we've campaigned here at Theme Park Insider to promote theme park safety. We've encouraged people to take responsibility to keep themselves and their families safe while visiting parks. As part of that campaign, we've encouraged visitors to abide by all posted park rules.
We would like to be able to continue to do that. But theme parks make it hard for us to encourage people to follow their rules when those parks publish "rules" that the parks themselves openly encourage their visitors to break.
I hope they update this rule. That's pretty lazy indeed to have a rule that forces us to keep the photos to ourselves and never post anything on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Does Disney not want us to share the magic with our friends? I mean #Disneyside is free advertising for them.
As corporations' bureaucracies grow, it becomes common for the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. These types of policies make little common sense and even less business sense.
A Facebook profile is personal use. The rule would only apply to pages that are making commercial gain off Disney, such as Theme Park Insider's page, which attracts readers because of Disney and others theme park players and then makes money by selling ads.
Not if you post to friends or to the public on FB. That's not "personal" use. It would be personal only if you used Facebook as a cloud drive to store stuff you made available only to yourself.
In media law, the opposite of "personal" is "commercial" -- not "public." The litmus test isn't how many people see it, but rather whether you are profiting financially from it.
This makes absolutely no sense. Most people I know base their trip plans on what their friends and other websites such as TPI post pictures of. Most people like hearing an actual personal experience followed by pictures of something new or an experience they haven't tried. I forsee a lot of rebels posting pics and daring Disney to catch them in the act.
At first...i thought you were right...lazy legalese....that they MEANT commercial but used personal instead...and then I thought about it...they will never enforce this rule against Mr and Mrs Smith and their family on vacation...where they MIGHT want to enforce it -- is in case of an accident or other negative public event....they want to be able to control that kind of story, not let it explode on Youtube or FB....Just my thoughts....but I see them being able to prevent guests from recording a child getting trapped between two boats on Pirates, or a monorail crashing into another or a similar accident. Which is how they would enforce the rule...most likely with a polite or stern warning not to record and then ejection. Also...in event of injury to a guest or medical emergency they want to ensure THEY are not made liable for damages because a guest violated the potential privacy of another guest taken ill or in the background. While that recording could be used as evidence...the company will want as few recording as possible because a recording taken out of context can be worth millions of dollars. Just my thoughts....For the most part I think it is a harmless rule not intended for the everyday guest or sites that promote the parks through in-depth coverage. :)
That's a CYA rule, kind of like some of those driving laws that the police don't enforce unless they want to or need for another reason. Probably also some sort of legal premise there as well. It gives them the control they want and the choice to exercise it if they would ever feel the need to.
I have just three little words: Escape From Tomorrow. If anyone else tried to create a movie inside a Disney park, they would now have the legalese to shut it down.
This is obviously in response to that "Escape From Tomorrow" movie - the one where the makers secretively filmed an entire fiction movie on Disney property, edited it together and showed it at film festivals.
Selective enforcement can get tricky, because that can be used against a company if a sanctioned party decides to take the issue to court over something such as a discrimination claim.
When any content is posted to Facebook, it's being used commercially, as Facebook is an ad-supported commercial publication. If you post to YouTube, same thing, with the added possibility of the poster earning a share of revenue from ads shown on their posted videos. If personal is simply non-commercial, I'd argue that it is getting harder and harder to find any "personal" content online.
Where does one find the official policy re photography on a theme park's website? I just looked at Six Flags Great Adventure's website and could find no guidelines. I have been operating on the assumption that posting photographs of rides and other attractions on any medium is OK and in fact I was given permission by the park to use a photograph of a ride op loading Zumanjaro for my review of this ride, published on TPI back in July.
I've seen rules like this at other theme parks, though usually there is more to define "personal use." According to most similar policies, as long as you took the picture, you are the one using it, and you are not making money off it, you are not in violation of the policy. I have a feeling the rules are more in place so the park can prevent people from taking photos or making videos in the park and making a profit off it without the park receiving any compensation. Now, if you're in a restricted area or at a special event, the rules may be different, but no park would ever ban an everyday visitor from posting photos of their visit to Facebook...it's free advertising.
I think you're being a little over-reactive here Robert.
As already said, it is a way to avoid a new "Escape From Tomorrow". I don't think Disney is stupid enough to kill all the free advertising generated by the "Disney side" thing and the people sharing their vacations. It is quite common (here, I remember my law studies) to have some "excessive" rules that you don't want to really apply, unless you see a major problem coming. That gives you flexibility...
Oh and e-cigs and "vaping" are no better than people slathering on perfume/ cologne or playing loud music from their phone in line. That person may enjoy it, but when it's affecting other people's enjoyment of the parks, then that's when it's an issue. It's total disregard for others and their right to enjoy clean air, or obnoxious music even if it's Disney music. It's the same people who say "then don't listen to it" that are totally disrespectful and are selfish.
I got shut down last month shooting pictures at Carowinds. I was trying to shoot a time lapse using a little tabletop tripod (the plan was to shoot a little as a proof of concept before asking the park for permission to use a real tripod). After getting grief from a security guy after being there for five hours, I abandoned the plan. Kind of a bummer, as the limited material I shot actually turned out really good looking.
I am sure Disney considers any angle possible for personal photography, which should absolutely include posting your own photos on Facebook and Instagram, and posting videos on Youtube that includes Disney intellectual property and possibly earning income with sufficient views.
I have to disagree with you, Robert. I don't think posting my photos on Facebook breaks any "personal use" agreement.
My guess is that they're just trying to discourage people from posting ride videos on forums like YouTube. I doubt they care about your vacation pics being posted on social media sites. Why would they not want free publicity?
I think you are taking the rule enforcement a little too far. They want you to use the pictures for personal use, not commercial. That is the same for a majority of other parks and sporting events.
After second reading of the comments, SFGA DOES have this rule as well!
I also think you are slightly overreacting. I would say if you are placing a photo on your personal Facebook or Twitter that is personal use as you are sharing on a personal account so your friends can see the photo (same as showing a paper photo album in the old days).
Not really Sure why all of my previous Comments never posted.
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