Monday, June 29, 2015

Sorry Disney, Selfie Sticks Are Not Your Biggest Problem

Let me first be clear I am not endorsing Universal Orlando Resort solely because Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set their theme parks Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, and yes, this is a Harry Potter blog.

As someone who used to visit Disney regularly and now visits Universal Orlando, it's difficult not to make comparisons on the weaknesses and strengths of both vacation sites.

Most recently, the selfie-stick ban at Disney World theme parks caught my attention. Many blogs are citing safety as the main reason for this latest development, and I wholeheartedly concur. Allowing guests to take selfie-sticks on rides is a huge hazard.

But I would beg to differ that there is one key component missing about Disney World which would make their attractions safer - and wouldn't have to do with banning anything.

Disney does not have specially located lockers

Ever ride a rollercoaster at Disney and have your belongings wrapped around your foot, tucked under your butt, or squeezed with all your might it stays behind your legs so it doesn't fly out? Yes, on roller coasters like Space Mountain and Rock N Rollercoaster (which is a 0-60 mph upside-down attraction), you take your things with you.

When going on any vacation, you are bound to bring essentials into the park or buy merchandise. For all the attractions Disney has, there are zero lockers to store your belongings - except at the front of the park, which you have to pay for a full-days use.

Usually, you have to give your stuff to someone in your party that isn't riding, take everything with you, or leave it at stroller (if you have one). If you buy it at the store, you can request for the items to be sent to the front of the park or your hotel, but this is not something many guests know unless they ask or are asked by a Cast Member. Essentially, you are the one left to ensure the safety of your own things while you are riding.

Safety is the central focus for selfie-sticks bans. Guests vacations are interfered with the use of them walking around the park and the audacity to use them on rides. But for me this is two-fold: Guests making a once-in-a-lifetime trip try to pack in as much as possible. Everyone rushes around trying to go here, there, and everywhere, and are completely oblivious to how they knock into others or run other people down with strollers. But, they do this no matter what they are using - especially looking down at smartphones to text, play games, and check apps while walking.

Does that mean selfie sticks have to be banned from being used as you are standing getting your picture in front of Cinderella's Castle or Big Thunder Mountain? That's overkill to me.

A lot of people are just simply rude to attempt even using selfie sticks on rides. But, people can be as equally rude just waiting for a parade, standing for fireworks, going to meet a character - it doesn't matter what device they are using, a camera, phone, or ipad. People see a great moment to take a photo, and some will do so with hostility, impatience, and complete lack of awareness for their surroundings.

Universal Orlando, on the other mouse's glove...

Universal Orlando has FREE lockers set up for nearly every thrill ride. Storage for your belongings covers the queue time it takes to ride at least once. (If the line is really short, sometimes two or three times.) You only are charged hourly if you do not retrieve your belongings after the allotted time - usually, an hour or so. If the ride breaks down, your locker time is extended. They also have lockers at the front of the parks that you can pay for, and like Disney, send your merchandise to the front of the park - if you ask.

If you attempt to go into a queue of a ride that has lockers, you will be asked to store your belongings. On all roller coasters that go upside down, Universal just implemented metal detectors. In the past, cellphones or a camera tucked inside someone's jeans has caused injuries. Universal Orlando didn't ban these items (like they could) but increased their end of security, which includes metal detectors and bag scanners.

I’ve never had to worry about enjoying a roller coaster or thrill ride and had to wonder about whatever it is I had in my lap. Even while walking around, other guests use selfie sticks all the time - at concerts, in crowds, in lines that do no require lockers. Generally, from the experience of a regular guest, I have not experienced a hazard at Universal Orlando when it comes to selfie sticks.

So, Disney banned selfie sticks for safety. But, when guests are nearly required to go on most rides with their belongings, even previously with selfie sticks, that's not very safe - overall. If guests had someplace to put selfie sticks before going on a ride, the ban wouldn't be needed.


  1. I didn't know that about Disney/Universal. I haven't been to the parks since I was 11, but Universal seems to be way ahead of Disney there. That's smart.

    1. Thank you Brittany! Universal has become my favorite park for some of the small features like the lockers. I would love Disney more if management handled things like this better.

  2. Excellent points! I'm a WDW passholder and have been for universal as well and always wondered why there are no lockers! Not to mention I hate worrying about my stuff flying out on the coasters. I think it's overkill to ban them entirely as well.

  3. I've always wondered why they don't have more lockers! Even Six Flags has those little cubby holes to store your stuff right before you get on the ride.

  4. I agree with you about the locker thing, I live in the Netherlands and I visit Disneyland Paris and I'm always affraid I will lose my bag.


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