EDITORIAL: New Walt Disney World PhotoPass Plan Sparks Considerable (Hasty?) Reaction

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There is no way to overstate how truly passionate a great swath of us are regarding any and all things Disney. Take the general and immediate reaction to any bit of Disney news as an example. Deeply, emotionally attached, we’re not always completely rational.

This week, we once again condemned ineffective Walt Disney World management for another despicable example of allowing our beloved monorail system to fall deeper into disrepair. Reports of another defective door–one that actually fell of the train–sent shock waves throughout Disney blog and social circles. Calls for replacing the entire fleet, and general beheadings, were swift and heartfelt.

If you look deeper into the details–we did, here–you learn the incident was the result of a guest-related accident, rather than specific mechanical neglect. The clarification did little to placate the outraged. Our feelings on the matter were already well ingrained.

Hardly recovered from that arguable calamity, yesterday, fans were hit by news that Walt Disney World will replace PhotoPass Cast Members with automated cameras at select Character meet and greet locations. The rapid public response was simply lathered with emotion.

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Parents, associated Cast, and guests sympathetic to the plight of each voiced–mostly texted–their displeasure over such poorly conceived decision making. Concerns over job loss and whether a mechanized camera could elicit proper photogenic reactions from children were at the forefront. A lot of people seem really upset. Understandably. These Disney moments are priceless. Though, again, we may have jumped to a poorly supported conclusion.

Walt Disney World will not be undergoing a scorched-earth PhotoPass purge. According to now very busy Disney PR associates, nine out of more than 100 current PhotoPass locations will undergo automation. Further details of the change also seem to put our more common concerns to rest. As for not being able to create the same scrapbook memories, the new cameras will stream-capture guests’ entire interaction within the character location. Guests will then choose from a vast and varied wealth of options.

Sure, the professional interactive coaching aspect is lost, but isn’t the most important interaction between the guest and character? All families are different, though from the inception of photography, even the most demonstrable children may demonstrate an uncanny ability to clam up under the intimidating eye of a camera.

We all know the nine locations under consideration will quickly become every location if Disney finds this experiment to their benefit. And, yes, a lot of aspiring photographers may find themselves out of a job. Still, every Character meet and greet will still need Cast Member supervision, as guests attempt to turn these encounters into extended photo shoots. Best case, jobs may be redefined rather than simply lost.

Time will tell. Perhaps we can remain calm and faithful in the interim. Sure we can.

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About the author

Christopher Schmidt

Christopher Schmidt is a former Disneyland Resort bartender and author of The Unofficial Walt Disney World Drinking Companion, The Unofficial Disneyland Drinking Companion, and The Complete Guide to runDisney - Disneyland Edition.
If it involves amusement, attractions, athletics, adventure, and responsible enjoyment of exotic libations, you will find Christopher in the middle of it, eager to tell you all about it.
Questions, topic ideas or improvements, and private correspondence? Drop me a message: [email protected]

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