Vote of the Week: Should Theme Parks Ban Selfie Sticks?

January 9, 2015, 11:16 AM · On your last theme park visit, how many selfie sticks did you see?

If you're not (yet) familiar with the selfie stick, it is a long device people are using to take cell phone "selfies" that include more than they could fit in the picture by holding the phone at arm's length. Here's a photo from Wikimedia:

Selfie stick

Selfie sticks began appearing in any significant numbers only last year, but they're already sparking a backlash. Several commentors on Reddit this week complained about selfie sticks at the Walt Disney World Resort:

On our trip just before Christmas somebody was using a selfie stick on Splash Mountain, and a CM came on the intercom no less than 7 times throughout the ride telling them to keep their camera in the boat. It was very disruptive because the announcement cut out the ride audio every time.
I was super annoyed with anyone that was carrying a stick after that.

I saw so many on my trip last week! I didn't realize they were so commonplace now. I was on line for Rock n Roller coaster and the cast member couldn't send off the next car because some guy was using one, fully stuck out. How could you possibly think that's a good idea? He like, moved it a few inches down when she told him to put it away, but was reluctant to fully put it away.

Others defended their use:

I have a selfie stick. I try to be considerate of others. I plan on taking it at the end of the month when we go. I've never considered using it on a ride. Seems a little dangerous on some. There is a time and place for everything. I call it my "narcistick."

It's tempting to compare selfie sticks with tripods and monopods, other photography accessories that some parks have banned or restricted. While all the devices mount cameras, they affect people around them in different ways. Tripods and monopods create stationary obstacles wherever they're set, but their size dictates how much they intrude on others' personal space. A monopod might not intrude on others' space at all, simply extending to the ground directly below the camera, where a tripod's legs can stick out a couple feet in several directions around the camera and photographer.

Selfie sticks are by their nature, however, an extension into the otherwise public space around a person. Their entire purpose is to extend beyond arm's length. While this isn't an issue in an uncrowded park where everyone has plenty of space around them, selfie sticks can lead to conflict in more crowded places. And will parks need to amend their safety spiels to say, "please keep your hands, arms, and selfie sticks inside the vehicle at all times"?

The frustration with selfie sticks is leading some theme park fans to call on parks to ban the devices. What do you think? Are selfie sticks so inherently problematic that they should be banned? Should parks stop short of banning them, but try better to restrict them? Or should parks just leave them alone, and let people use them to their own enjoyment?

It's time for the Vote of the Week.

Please tell us in the comments what you think about selfie sticks? Do you use one? Have you seen them in the parks?

Replies (44)

January 9, 2015 at 11:29 AM · Most of the parks that ban tripods & monopods it's because of their dislike of professional photographers and they hope that the ban would be a not-so-subtle comment on that pros aren't welcome.

As for selfie-sticks, I love them. I love anything that quick identifies someone as a person to avoid. Selfie-sticks are on the list, like spandex leggings, t-shirts advertising clothing manufacturers, Go-Pros stuck to the head and tour guide flags. I see any of those in the parks and I make a wide berth. BTW, I'm a professional photographer and have never needed a tripod or monopod while shooting in the parks.

January 9, 2015 at 11:51 AM · Add GoPro extensions to that list. They are annoying and dangerous. Maybe, add using tablets as cameras by sticking them in the air in front of other guests behind them.

What happened to common courtesy?

January 9, 2015 at 11:55 AM · It doesn't sound like selfie sticks are a problem, it sounds like inconsiderate/dumb people are the problem.

Flash photography on dark rides is a big problem, but you wouldn't ban cameras in the park because it's not the cameras that are a problem. It's how people use them.

January 9, 2015 at 12:07 PM · Dangerous? Haven't heard of any known injuries or deaths due to selfie sticks. If someone is invading your personal space with one just do what any rational human being would do and ask them to move it.
January 9, 2015 at 12:16 PM · Inconsiderate and dumb people are always the problem, but there's no black and white test to determine who exactly they are, so you've got to take away the tools that allow them to amplify their stupidity. Unfortunately that takes the same tools out of the hands of the 95% that would use them in a responsible manner. That's life. The good people pay the price for the misbehavior of the morons.
January 9, 2015 at 12:22 PM · Let them have the silly sticks, just keep them off the rides.
January 9, 2015 at 1:03 PM · Since I find selfies in general to be obnoxious, you can guess what I think about these things :-). Seriously, people, instead of feeling the need to document every single second of your theme park experience, taking pictures you may never look at again, put the phones and cameras down and just ENJOY THE MOMENT. You'll have less stuff to carry around, you'll have a better adventure, and you'll be way less annoying to everyone else in the park.
January 9, 2015 at 1:14 PM · We encountered someone using a selfie stick once on our recent trip to Disney World.It happened in the Magic Kingdom. My wife and I had waited and procured a great spot in the hub for the projection show and fireworks. Just as the projection show started, a man standing approx 3 people in front on me raised his camera on a selfie stick far above his head to film the show. This allowed his camera to get an unobstructed view of the castle from above the crowd. He left it there for the entire show.
He was standing right between us and the castle, so my previously great view was now partially obstructed by his selfie stick and camera. The hub was too crowded for me to get close enough to ask him to lower the selfie stick, nor could I move to the side to try and see around it. I didn't let it effect my enjoyment of the show much, but the addition of a camera right in the center of my view of the castle did take away from the experience a little.

I saw other people using selfies stick as an elevated camera tripod during a couple of parades. They did not block my view, but they did not seem to care about how they were effecting those standing behind them. If this kind of behavior becomes commonplace, I believe they may need to starting making an announcement before projection shows, fireworks and parades asking folks to please be considerate and not do anything that might obstruct the view of those behind them during the presentation.

January 9, 2015 at 1:27 PM · As a response to Don about a selfie stock blocking his view of the fireworks, I would prefer that to people holding up their tablet to record the show. I was behind a girl doing just that and it was obnoxious to everyone behind them. I was close enough to go and say something to them and about three different people came over and said 'thank you' for saying something to the person.

She didn't intend to block anyone's view, but she didn't think about anyone else when she was doing it.

I do think an announcement before the show would help. Those who don't think about it would be made aware of it. You'll never stop the inconsiderate people who just don't care what effect it has on others.

January 9, 2015 at 1:36 PM · I have no problem with people using selfie sticks to take pictures in parks provided they use common courtesy when stopping for a picture. It takes up less space than having someone stand on the other side of the walkway and it isn't always easy to find a cast member or another guest to assist them.

However, selfie sticks should never be used on attractions or during shows. Unlike flash photography, which is mainly an annoyance, using a selfie stick on a ride is outright dangerous and could result in damage to the attraction and/or injury to guests. During a show, use of a selfie stick is just rude and inconsiderate to those behind you. If the inappropriate use of selfie sticks gets to the point that it negatively affects the experience of others, I do think parks should ban them.

Also, as far as the discussion of using tablets as cameras...don't do it. It's annoying to others and makes you look somewhat silly. I don't even understand why people bring tablets to parks when a smartphone can do everything you'd need to do while in the park.

January 9, 2015 at 1:35 PM · My vote is yes, but let me clarify. Should selfie sticks be banned in parks in general? No. Should they be banned for use while on any moving ride? Most definitely. That's just a safety thing.

Narcistick . . . brilliant. That just may be the funniest thing I've heard all day.

January 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM · First lets look as why these things exist. Because of the social media today, people don't know how to talk/be social anymore. They don't know how to as someone to take their picture anymore. It's okay people, talk to someone going by and ask them to snap a picture of you and your friends. Or grab a cast member. Selfie sticks should not be allowed.
January 9, 2015 at 2:54 PM · On our recent trip to WDW & USF, we witnessed almost all of the (bad) behaviors described by the previous commentators. Our grandkids, of course, thought the users were "cool"; those over age 40 in our party thought the usage as "rude". I think David hit the nail on the head - when you are incapable or unwilling to interact with other people, this sort of obnoxious conduct occurs. I have never refused another guest's request to take their photo, and have never had one of my requests for the same rejected. (I have seen some less than perfect photos, i.e. heads cut off, blurriness, etc., but I'm sure that is because they were unfamiliar with my camera's operation - I've probably done the same to some of the people I've taken photos for. However, digital cameras have pretty much eliminated these problems as you can check the result immediately).
January 9, 2015 at 2:55 PM · Melanie & David summed up my views quite well. Take time to enjoy the experience of your theme park visit, the park's ambiance, and friendly interaction with others.
January 9, 2015 at 3:29 PM · we were at WDW mid-December and I kinda felt like we were in the minority of not having one at the Osborne Lite Display! Given that we were in a should to shoulder sea of humanity it was probably the best way to get a video of it. On the other hand the whole phone video concept totally jammed up the traffic flow at the lite display.

Mike from Mass

January 9, 2015 at 8:47 PM · As somebody who just got a selfie stick for my GoPro, I plan on bringing it with me to Disney World the next time. Would I take it on a thrill ride and record? No

I think people have to use their common sense a bit. If a ride states that you should keep your hands inside a ride, that would include selfie sticks.

January 9, 2015 at 9:55 PM · I bought one of these because it gives me a really small, light monopod, to help me get better video shots.

I also do video logs and the stick will let me put my camera another foot away when filming; I don't film around people though.

I find people to be largely rude and self-absorbed. It no longer amazes me when people do things like stick tablets in the air to film, or put their kids on their shoulders, or wear tall or wide hats blocking the view of all behind them.

But I've also seen people walk into a sea of seated people in the front of an event, and then stand there. In my perfect world, people would allow shorter people to get in front of them, and would not move side to side because that keeps blocking people behind them. But in my perfect world, people in the left lane move over when faster cars are coming, and don't pull out to pass if it will block someone, and actually pull off rural roads if a faster car is stuck behind them. This is how I live my life, but most people simply are unaware of how their actions impact others.

I've used my monopod to put my camera 10 feet high to film -- but when I do, I'm either in the back of the crowd, or standing right in front of a pole which is already abstructing the view. And if I'm going to film something where I need to be in front, I always set up my camera at the height I'm going to use, NOT over my head, and keep it there so people coming later understand exactly what the sight line will be.

January 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM · While riding Jurassic park one rider had one held high the whole time. They were forced to stop the ride just prior to the drop which seemed to result in the ride shutting down for ten minutes. Resulting in an anticlimactic finale for our raft. I usually don't put much thought into stuff like these by I can see no point in their usage in theme parks. There are just so many rides where they will be problems and issues.
January 10, 2015 at 5:13 AM · I have had people using a stick, tablet held up in the air and even a balloon above heads right in front of me for fireworks (though a cast member did eventually ask the balloon person to lower it, much to the embarrassment of the person). I also noticed that some people just get so obsessed with taking pics and selfying all the time forgetting to actually enjoy the place.

On a recent trip to DL it was extremely crowded and selfy sticks waving around were annoying a couple of times. Ban them? not sure!. I think, as a few people have said, some people just don't think, they are not necessarily bad, they just don't think, and need to be made aware. On my recent trip to DL we took a couple of people who have never been to Disney. We ended up sitting apart on Pirates of the Carib and to my horror one of them kept using a flash, I was trying to get their attention but no luck. Afterwards when i explained to them how the flash ruins the ride for others, they were horrified at what they had done. I do think Disney should have announcements/signs explaining. I didn't see or hear any but I thought they used to have them? To us regular visitors it's obvious but to novices it may not be, of course there will always be some people who just don't care. I think Disney could have more signs or announcements about flash photography and sticks on rides and visual obstructions during fireworks....etc, I am sure it would help

January 10, 2015 at 8:50 AM · I didn't know that selfie sticks existed before I saw this article. To put it bluntly, I think selfies are stupid and annoying. I think the sticks would make them more annoying. People need to stop it already.
January 10, 2015 at 10:48 AM · Yes. Yes. This past year I have witnessed a bloodied guest injured by someone losing their cell phone. I have seen people lose their water bottles on ride. All this at high speeds. Some parks are very lax while others will not let you ride with a rental car key, $20.00 and a credit card in your pocket. Yes IOA(Huilk) I am talking about you. The parks have tough job determining how to control the bad behavior of their guests. Somewhere there is a balance.
January 10, 2015 at 10:57 AM · Should theme parks ban selfie sticks?

Yes, but I'm willing to compromise.

If a theme park doesn't want to ban selfie sticks, I should be allowed hit anyone who is using one or at least make fun of them.

January 10, 2015 at 11:28 AM · If you find people misusing them, simply confiscate them then.
January 10, 2015 at 11:37 AM · I used a gopro on a stick quite a bit during our WDW trip in August. I connected the bike handle bar gopro mount to a swiffer handle, because I wasn't about to pay 40 bucks for a stick when I already have something that will work just fine.

I turned off all the lights and sounds on my gopro, and only used the stick when walking around in the park. To use it on rides, I took the camera off the stick and handle bar mount and looped a piece of quarter inch thick rope through the holes in the case where the mounting screw attaches. I then tied the rope off on my belt loop during rides, so I could get footage on the rides without having my arms or stick hanging out of the ride vehicle. I know that sounds confusing, but if you have a gopro, you know what I'm talking about.

The lighting in shows makes for terrible camera footage. I'm a stagehand, so I know exactly what they did to make it hard for you to get good video footage during shows.

It comes down to being considerate of other park goers. It was a very special trip for us because it was our 5th wedding anniversary, but everyone else had just as good a reason to go on vacation and celebrate something. Selfie away, have fun on your trip, but be mindful of the fact that other people are also trying to enjoy themselves.

January 10, 2015 at 11:41 AM · So will yellow sneakers will be banned next? People wanting to keep memories of a big event in their lives is wrong? Keep them off the rides, but not out of the parks.
January 10, 2015 at 12:10 PM · I never got the whole narcistic self expression with selfies and the stcks take it to a new level. But talking photo's is part of a day of the park. But if saftey or the theme park experiance suffers the park should remove the stcks and their owners from the park.
January 10, 2015 at 12:11 PM · Ban the selfie while you're at it.
January 10, 2015 at 12:52 PM · They will be banned - it is a four step process: 1) Someone gets hurt using a selfie stick. More than likely, using it improperly and in spite of posted restrictions. 2) Said someone sues the park for failing to protect them from their own stupidity. 3) Park's insurance company settles (cheaper than legal action and defense). 4) All parks learn the lesson - and ban them. How long will this take? Place your bets, now....
January 10, 2015 at 1:24 PM · It's not the stick that is the problem, it's the inconsiderate people using them.
January 10, 2015 at 2:11 PM · Anyone holding a tablet in front of me gets a quick squirt of water from a 10ml syringe on their screen, usually enough to persuade them to stop without damaging their device.
January 10, 2015 at 3:12 PM · I honestly don't give a hoot on how people choose to capture their memories. Selfie sticks are no where near as intrusive as a tablet or i pad that people feel the need to hold in the air and continually block my and others peoples views around them. I'm more in favour for banning the tablets etc.
January 10, 2015 at 3:14 PM · An outright ban on the use of selfie sticks is not the answer...very few people trust others to take their camera or cell phone and take a friendly picture of them. And who can blame them these days...BUT as some people have mentioned, there is a time and a place for everything.

Using a selfie stick out in front of Cinderella's Castle to take a photo of you and your spouse or girlfriend is fine...using it on the Rockin' Rollercoaster is out of the question. On rides, the park has to take the safety of everyone into account, and if someone is disrupting a ride's progress or operation or endangering other passengers, then a RIDE ban for these devices for those without the common sense to realize what could happen if they lose their grip on it and injure a fellow passenger with it IS in order. People spend so much effort and risk to take "the perfect picture" or video that they don't take the safety of others into account. And hindsight is 20/20 if your selfie stick takes out the eye of a child a few seats back from you. A life changed forever for a stupid photo.

But strict enforcement is what is needed in these cases. If someone continues to use such a device on a ride when they've specifically been told not to by a cast member, then that person should be escorted to the front gates and ejected from the park. There's always someone ready to break the rules. Report or alert infractions to park staff. We're all there to have fun, not be witnesses to someone else's stupidity.

January 10, 2015 at 3:21 PM · After reading all comments, have to agree with the mayority here. Make an announcement before shows and rides but it's too much to ban them. There are people with OCD and other disseases that can't be touch or let other people touch their cameras or cellphones. So, don't ban them, just restrict their use.
January 10, 2015 at 3:38 PM · One woman here mentions use of these sticks for filming of castle shows or parades. I don't have one of these sticks, probably would not use one, but I have had to hold a video camera up in the air to record a castle or fireworks show. And I've had people doing the same thing in front of me...but for situations like this you just have to grin and bear it.

Are you going to tell a father to take his daughter off his shoulders at one of these shows? I've seen people SITTING on the ground at night in front of Cinderella's Castle staking out "their" ground before or during a show (a fire regulation no-no BTW) yelling at those standing to sit down. I've turned to those people and told them that they have to stand up because they are a danger to themselves and others and I just get their abuse in response. They in turn get to see a great shot of my back.

In general Disney and other parks put the shows at some elevation from the viewing area, and MOST of the action is in the air, or the eye lines are relatively clear. I have to laugh at people when they say I'm in their way at a fireworks display. Um, the fireworks are in the air lady!!

This is not a reason to ban selfie sticks...people should be permitted to take their photos and videos within reason, should someone be permitted to jump on top of a garbage bin and shoot their photos or video? No, because if they fall off of that receptacle box they could injure themselves or others. People have to use COMMON SENSE...Disney is actually fantastic at TELLING PEOPLE what to do, but in a nice way. But as others have mentioned, sometimes the rest of us have to suffer the loss of an activity or tool, because there are morons out there.

January 10, 2015 at 4:52 PM · We were at Universal back in November and it seemed like almost every other group had one. We had no problems with the folks using them although I could see them perhaps being a bigger concern at shows if the folks in front of you were holding them up not to get selfies but to record shows or parades.
January 10, 2015 at 8:58 PM · I think "selfies" are just plain stupid. Are these people so in love with themselves that they have to take pictures of themselves every 5 minutes? The whole idea is just too stupid.
January 11, 2015 at 10:58 AM · I have not had a problem with them although I can see having one in the future. I have to use an ECV so I have these issues with people standing in front of me a lot. I have had people using a tablet to record shows before and I sometimes have a better view looking at their tablets than looking at the live show. ;)

I voted no because I think it depends on the park and its attendance, either in general or that day. Or even their projected attendance that day.

January 11, 2015 at 10:58 AM · I have not had a problem with them although I can see having one in the future. I have to use an ECV so I have these issues with people standing in front of me a lot. I have had people using a tablet to record shows before and I sometimes have a better view looking at their tablets than looking at the live show. ;)

I voted no because I think it depends on the park and its attendance, either in general or that day. Or even their projected attendance that day.

January 11, 2015 at 1:35 PM · @Doug, the moment yellow sneakers interfere with safety, or another guests enjoyment of the park, rather than just being a fashion crime, then yes, they should be banned too
January 12, 2015 at 6:17 AM · Narcistick! I am officially adopting that term!

I say - let the stupid people hang the stick out of ride vehicles, so when they drop/break them, we all win. Laugh at the stupid people, the stupid people might learn a lesson! :-) Too harsh? *cackles evilly in the corner*

January 12, 2015 at 12:37 PM · To whoever posted as
I must admit that I do get a bit annoyed when people put their children on their shoulder and block the view of myself or others, however I understand that this is often the only way that little kids can see this sort of thing, so I accept that their right to see the show clearly trumps my right to to get an unobstructed view. If that's the only way for the kids to see, then the inconvenience is justified and I just accept it.
I consider this to be a very different situation than someone blocking someone else's view so they can video tape a show or parade. I would never tell a parent that their child could not get a better view of a show because they would be partially blocking my view, but I would ask someone to lower their camera if they were blocking my view if they held the camera up for more than a minute. I'm sorry, but I honestly feel that I should not have to put up with an obstructed view of a show just so someone else can get an unobstructed video of the show. If someone needs to block my view briefly to film a little bit of the show, no problem, but this guy held his camera up for the entire show. In that case, I do not feel that I should have to "just have to grin and bear it."

BTW, I checked with my wife and she confirmed that I am a guy, not a woman ;-) .

January 13, 2015 at 10:05 AM · Thomas Caselli- I visit theme parks by myself quite often, I take selfies since I don't have a friend with me to take pics with. It's a nice way for a single guy to have a memory of the day. I'm not sure what could be annoying about that. If I was using a selfie-stick in a manner that was obnoxious or obstructing foot traffic, then I could see it as annoying. As it is I'm a shy guy who typically doesn't wanna ask someone to take a pic since I can easily take it myself, I don't see what could annoy you about that. BTW I don't use a selfie-stick, just the front-face camera on my smartphone.
January 14, 2015 at 11:18 AM · Some of the concern (and why they have been banned from some sports stadiums) Are that these could be used as weapons. Some of the more heavy duty ones (including the Go Pro)Could be swung as someone's head with the same size and weight as a 9 Iron golf club. You just wait till someone gets hit with one of these things cause their kid doesn't get to meet Elsa.. That's when you will see them completely banned.
January 16, 2015 at 9:38 AM · My Southern California-native family is making our first ever visit to WDW in three weeks. You can imagine my concern when I received an email from my sister containing a link to a $20 selfie stick and the comment, "We should totally get this!" I simply sent her a link to this story. Her response? "Yeah, we're probably good without it." Hah!

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