On his blog, photographer William Beem recounts a recent run-in with security at Downtown Disney at the World Disney Resort when he was attempting to photograph the exterior of the House of Blues, specifically experimenting with high dynamic range (HDR) photography which essentially requires a tripod and multiple exposures of the exact same image.
It’s a fascinating tale and one I’m ashamed to say I’m not too unfamiliar with, although my equipment is far inferior and my run-ins have been at the Disneyland Resort where I was once asked why I was taking a photo of the monorail beam (at around 7 am). When I told the inquisitive security guard I wasn’t, he insisted they had me on camera showing that I was, so when I handed over my camera, he could see that I was only trying to capture all of the letters in the CALIFORNIA element outside Disney’s California Adventure. The monorail beam, in fact, wasn’t to be found at all in my photos. The guard smiled, thanked me, spoke into his wrist and then promptly walked away, leaving me wondering so what if I was photographing the beam? Clearly if I had done it at 12:30 pm, they wouldn’t have approached me about it, I was just designating myself as a target. I’ve also had a security host on bicycle ask me my reason for photography as I was strolling between Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, but he seemed easily appeased when I responded ‘for myself.’
But Beem’s experience goes far beyond mine and it’s a faithful reminder that Disney is private property, not a public space. All of those fancy addresses one passes as they travel along the long, intertwining roads, simply don’t exist in the real world. Downtown Disney is one giant mall and Disney has the right to eject any one off property for any reason it sees fit, even going as far as banning people and having them arrested for trespassing. It doesn’t need to apply the same rules to every one, it can pick and choose and selectively enforce, even if you (or even Disney) doesn’t see a legitimate reason for doing so. Sometimes you eat the b’ar and sometimes the b’ar eats you.
As for Mr. Beem, while a simple Google search suggests photography may in fact not be his full-time gig, he does make a go at selling his work, but I guess hobbyists have always been entitled to do such things. He has also since provided a follow-up featuring one of the troublesome photos that he apparently wasn’t asked to delete.