Disney Trying to Prevent Guests from Taking Pictures & Video of AVATAR Construction

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Over the last nine years, we have certainly made a name for ourselves at WDWNT.com by taking photos and video as often as possible of ongoing construction projects around the Walt Disney World Resort. In that time, I don’t recall ever being asked not to take pictures or video of such a sight. That being said, I’ve seen photographers from other websites asked to get down off of trash cans or nearby planters, but in fairness, those are things that violate park safety guidelines.

AVATAR-Inspired Land Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

At this point in time, we have received several reports of guests being asked not to photograph or video record the Pandora: The World of AVATAR construction site from inside the front gates of Animal Kingdom. I myself have been asked twice to stop recording, but after asking why, the case was typically dropped by the cast member who clearly didn’t want to have a discussion about it.

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The location in question where guests are being asked not to take pictures or video

Why is this happening? Well, a meeting was held with front gate cast members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park just a few weeks ago where they were instructed to ask guests to not photograph or video record in the direction of the AVATAR site when entering through the Rainforest Cafe entrance to the park. The cast members were not given a direct reason for this.

Other cast members at the park were not given such instructions, so don’t be surprised if no one says a word to you if you are taking pictures by the construction walls next door to Tiffins and Nomad Lounge on Discovery Island.

Other locations don't seem to care as much if guests are taking photos or not
Other locations don’t seem to care as much if guests are taking photos or not

Most believe this is an attempt by Disney to curtail the continuing narrative that the project is taking too long to complete. Some believe the reason is that there may be something Disney doesn’t want the public to see, or perhaps it is just a mandate by James Cameron, creator of the AVATAR franchise. If this was the case, I’m not sure why a slightly taller wall wouldn’t be installed. I also can’t imagine why WDWNT.com would have not been contacted regarding our aerial footage and pictures of the site just a few days ago.

Whatever the reason is, don’t be surprised if you hear a polite throat clearing behind you the next time you try to take a picture or video of Pandora: The World of AVATAR, still scheduled to open sometime in 2017.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

23 Comments

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  • I had held my phone up over the gate near Tiffins the other day and a cast member from Tiffins came out to ask me to stop. I was not doing anything that was unsafe.

  • I don’t think this is isolated. In fact, it could be official Disney policy regarding attractions that have not yet opened to the general public, but it simply isn’t consistently enforced.

    I remember when New Fantasyland opened for preview, CMs were stopping guests from photographing anything. At that point, it was obviously open to select guests, the media had seen it, and it was nearly complete and had been clearly visible from elsewhere in the park for months. The only barrier up was a rope and a single CM checking AP credentials. Still, no pictures.

  • They don’t want people to see “backstage” areas, period end of story. They’re trying to “preserve the magic.” The notion that anyone could possibly be confused as to why they were being asked to stop filming things behind walls is baffling to me. They shouldn’t need to put up a higher wall just because someone can reach over the existing one. There was probably some footage that was posted online that has spurred some manager to feel the need to start actively policing the area, but frankly it’s private property and they’re well within their rights to tell people what they can and cannot take pictures of.

    • There shouldn’t be any areas behind the scenes then visible to guests. It’s rude to ask people not to take photos or areas that are of interest to them when they’re in the paid section of the park. To ask people not to take photos is SHADY.

        • You nay sayers are stupid. Get over it. If you’re too cheap to enjoy it when it opens, catch it on YouTube. Preserving the magic that is Disney is a worthy undertaking. Leave it at that.

          • Jacob…wins award for most unrelated post for graduating only 8th grade. Hint: It has nothing to do with magic Jacob. You are a sucker.

  • This article was a little concerning but then I remembered this is Disney, I’m sure they are getting ready to roll out a new option for memory maker or photopass that includes exclusive photo op opportunities like a stool next to a trash can in front of a wall to get a sneak peak into the snails pace construction of Avatarland, or,or,or a new morning safari that drives you thru the construction site to snap pics with a bag breakfast which includes a granola bar a banana and a cup of o.j. all for the low low price of $499.99, of course AP doesn’t get a discount but this is a first hand look at the behind the scenes building of the going on 5 year+ buildup we have had for this expansion

    • Learn some punctuation. Period? See my comment above. But incase you are not swift enough to grasp that…Disney rightfully prides themselves on letting those that are not too far gone (you know, synectics, grumps, jack wads, you…) enjoy magic and surprise creation. All the photo/video leaks are too much TMZ for real magic lovers.

      • Disney prides themselves ONLY in making money and posting (even if false) positive PR, not their mistakes. Period. Kudos to Tom for accurate reporting. Most media and sites paid off by Disney to only paint one side. Tom covered it all.

      • Jacob put down the pixie dust flavored Koolaide for a second and think about this. Some people love the magic in how the magic is created. Disney understands this, otherwise there wouldn’t be a behind the magic tour or behind the scenes tv specials. The thing that’s different about that is that Disney controls the narrative in those situations. They can’t control what photo bloggers put up and if it’s something that looks negative, like how long it’s taking, than they’re going to react negatively back. You may continue drinking the Koolaide now.

      • I give it to you I suck at punctuation, I write like I talk one big run on sentence but, seriously? Did you get offended? Well if ya did BITE ME PROFESSOR, I’m in the parks every week so look for me and if ya got a problem I can fix it for you quickly, PERIOD. The point of my original comment was to see if I could get it read on air

  • I think it’s all about publicity…think about it, they know human nature. If they tell us not to do something, we’LL want to do it even more. Now our curiosity is peaked: hmmm I wonder what they’re really doing back there. And BAM, before you know it, it’s trending and now they’ve gOT social media and the press working their PR for free!

  • From the looks of it, they must have cut back on the floating islands. The painting depicts many islands and what we see so far are way fewer. I can understand if someone is standing by the walls and try to take photos over the wall. But anything seen above the walls is fair game to me. Besides I can take better photos outside the park or right before the entrance than inside the park.

  • Disney only cares about their image and don’t want how bad they are caught on camera. People and companies generally only hide things they know aren’t right. They have bigger problems trending, and it relates JUST to what your article is about. If they don’t want photos taken because they’re doing poorly or something wrong, then they should actually DO things in a way that they’d be proud to have it document.

    We visited park and there was an injury of a cast member on a barb of broken fencing, and she was bleeding. The number one priority was not first aid, was that all guests were literally screamed at to not photo or take videos. Phones out were checked by security and guests had photos deleted. Disney has bigger problems than documenting their stuff. If they put more into actual parks and their image, they’d win in the long run.

      • I thought it insightful. Kyloken added nothing to the discussion. And Allan’s sounds similar to our experience. We photographed a snake in the Magic Kingdom and security wanted confiscated our phone. When we refused to delete photos, police were called…police said we were in the right, and Disney could only ask us to leave. We have photos. BTW, nothing done to catch the snake. Only to prevent bad PR. Pathetic Disney.

  • Well, if some cast members were told and others weren’t, then this is most likely the work of a rogue manager unevenly enforcing rules already in place (no pictures of behind the stage… they tell guests that when being escorted off of broke-down rides, even though it was OK to take pictures when the ride’s working).

    So, all you pictoral bloggers are going to have to take a stooge with you and have them pose in front of the wall you’re trying to get a peak over…

  • We were at Universal Hollywood City Walk when The Lorax had it’s preview and they had people telling us we could not even LOOK at the stars coming down the Red Carpet!

  • I gotta agree, I think Disney is their own worst enemy sometimes. There’s concerns of bad PR so they create bad PR. This is understandable if guests snuck into back stage areas, but this was people who were where they paid to be, taking photos for their own interest. Disney concerned someone might document something less than perfect in how their building/cranes/OSHA compliance/etc. If there was nothing to hide, there would be nothing to hide. If there was that large of a concern, they would have build a barricade like they do for other projects. (IE Everest).

  • I would have canned the Pandora attraction if I was Disney. Then contacted blizzard entertainment reps and made a live action area like they did the stunt show over at Disney Hollywood’s studios. but of StarCraft, diablo, hero’s of the storm, overwatch and Warcraft characters roaming the area. also blizzard can make movies cartoons and web videos something that jame cameron failed to do with the unique blizzard overwatch already has a map of route 66 area play map exactly similar to Disney california and they have been listed under Forbes business of a excellent company what better way to fire a shot at universal than have the leading game designers working with the company. They could even buy the Disney game Disney infinity rights to keep that going for the kids plus blizzard can take better criticism than James Cameron.

    • Great info. Makes sense. Never thought Disney picked their best ones, and usually very late to the game. A few exceptions like putting Frozen overlay in Maelstrom, I’m ready for a new CEO and blood into Disney’s Florida parks. They need some love. Way behind the curve.

      • Sorry about spelling I’m autistic and they never put a edit feature on this site go figure.

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