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Should Disney Ban The “Selfie Stick”?

Move over strollers and Brazilian tour groups,  There’s a new Public Enemy No. 1 in Disney Parks: The “Selfie Stick.”

Should Disney Ban the "Selfie Stick" | Home is Where The Mouse Is

Recently, Disney has been cracking down on the use of “Selfie Sticks” on rides, and I see a lot of people calling for Disney to ban them from the Parks completely. According to the latest rumors making the rounds, that may indeed happen.

Ultimately, that’s Disney’s decision and we should abide by it.  But I think banning them all together would be a shame.  Selfie Sticks aren’t bad.  Here’s why:
The “Selfie Stick” as we know it today is a phenomenon, but the actual device itself is not new.  It’s been around almost as long as photography.

This may be the first “Selfie” ever taken with a camera, back in 1839:

First Ever Photographic Selfie by Robert Cornelius
Robert Cornelius may have taken the first “Selfie”… EVER!

Even before the invention of the photograph, when pictures had to be painted or drawn, or a person’s likeness was carved out of stone or clay, we have had “Selfies”.

Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh… the Egyptians, Ancient Greeks… they all created “Selfies”.

No doubt they all used whatever means was at their disposal for creating these works, most likely some sort of reflective surface.

So it’s not surprising that as more and more people had access to cameras, someone figured out how to put a camera on a stick and hold it out to get a “Selfie”.

First Use of a "Selfie Stick" back in 1926
The first ever “Selfie Stick” back in 1926.

The “Selfie Stick” has a long history, but what has brought about the recent phenomenon is not the stick itself, but the advances in cell phone/camera technology and social media apps.

The “Selfie Stick” is actually a more portable version of a mono pod, which is itself a portable version of a tripod.  They’ve been around for years, but until recently, nobody was pushing to ban them.

Why is that?

Here are the arguments I see being made:

1. They are Dangerous – I see people claiming to be constantly hit with Selfie Sticks.

While I don’t doubt that this happens on occasion, I have a hard time believing this is happening all the time.  We’ve been to Walt Disney World numerous times and we’ve yet to be whacked with a Selfie Stick, nor have I hit anyone with mine.  In fact, with my GoPro attached to the end of it, the LAST thing I want to do is damage it, so I tend to be overly careful.

This same argument has been made against strollers.  As a stroller-pushing dad who has both the culprit and the victim of stroller-related accidents, I can say with confidence that it’s not the fault of the strollers themselves.  These types of accidents are the result of one or both of the people involved not paying attention.

I am sure the same is true of Selfie Stick incidents.  Some are the fault of stick-wielder. Some are the fault of the other person.

2. People Stick Them Outside Ride Vehicles – For as long as I can remember, you’ve had to keep your hands, arms, limbs, and other items inside the ride vehicles at all times.  The nature of the “Selfie Stick” invites users to extend them outside the vehicle.

"No Selfie Sticks" sign outside the entrance to a Disney attraction
Photo: Hollywood Reporter

I am with Disney on this one.  That’s always been the rule.  The “ban” on rides is just a recent effort to enforce this rule and make sure all guests understand it.  There’s a guest safety issue here, but it’s more about ride safety.

When Disney opened its parks, a conscious decision was made not to sell gum, not for health or safety reasons, but because gum gets stuck on everything.  Disney didn’t want to have to clean it up, nor spend extra time and money on the maintenance of the parks to deal with the damage.  I think the same goes here for potential damage to attractions from Selfie Sticks.

If Disney does end up enforcing a park-wide ban on the Selfie Stick, I think it will be for this reason.

3. I Can’t See! There’s a Selfie Stick in My Way! – Parade, Fireworks, and stage show views are being ruined because you can’t see around the people who put their Selfie Sticks in the air.

4th of July Fireworks set to begin at Disney's Magic Kingdom
4th of July Fireworks at Magic Kingdom

This was an issue before the “Selfie Stick”.  People put their phones and cameras in the air before the craze, they just used their arms to do so.  Nobody likes an obstructed view, but so far I’ve found the impact of “Selfie Sticks” to not be as bad as other obstructions, such as iPads, children on shoulders, or larger LCD screens on video cameras.

In the end, it’s about consideration. Stick or no stick, everyone should be considerate about those around them.

4. Use Disney’s PhotoPass – Disney provides photographers that will take your picture, thus negating the need for a Selfie Stick.  They are more than happy to take your picture with your camera as well.  You can ask any Cast Member, or other guests for that matter.

Disney's PhotoPass Photographer gets a group shot in Epcot

The problem with this argument is that Disney Cast Members are not everywhere. PhotoPass photographers are only in certain spots. You might be hard-pressed to find an available Cast Member if you aren’t right near the entrance of an attraction, restaurant, or in a gift shop.

So that leaves you to ask other guests.  Not everyone is comfortable handing over an expensive phone or camera to a complete stranger.  Even if you are, there may be language, technology, or creativity barriers to overcome.  It’s often easier and always faster to just do it yourself.

5. You Have Arms – Of course, there’s the argument that most of us are born with two built-in Selfie Sticks.  The majority of Selfies are still taken this way.

T-Rex from Meet the Robinsons has a big head and little arms
Image: Egotist’s Club

Not everyone has been blessed with a large wingspan.  This is why the Selfie Stick is such a popular item.  Your arms are only so long.  How much detail you can get into a picture is limited by how long far you can reach.

6. Selfies are Obnoxious – One of the most popular arguments against the Selfie Stick is that it enables people to be more into themselves than others.  I’ve yet to see any discussion of “Selfie Sticks” where someone doesn’t refer to it as a “Selfish Stick” or a “Narcisstick”.

This I don’t understand.  For some reason it’s acceptable for someone else to take your picture in front of Cinderella Castle, but it’s “selfish” to do it yourself???

I fully believe this is not a criticism of the Selfie Stick, but an attack on the generation of the Selfie.  The word is associated with teenagers making ridiculous duck faces, which everyone who isn’t a duck-face-making teenager can’t understand.  That’s the only reason I can think of for the irrational disgust that many have toward a stick.

If anything, the Selfie Stick allows you to get a wider angle and actually show something in the picture besides your face.  It actually makes the Selfie less obnoxious.

7. You’re Missing Out on What’s Around You – Put down the phone/camera and pay attention to what’s around you!!  I see this one mentioned in every discussion as well.

Lisa watches Disney's New Year's Eve Fireworks in Magic Kingdom
Lisa taking in the Fireworks in the sky all around the Magic Kingdom

That’s not a criticism of the Selfie Stick, but about cameras/phones/technology in general. This argument seems to be that Disney should ban all cameras and phones from the park. Otherwise, how do we enjoy ourselves?

People take photos for many reasons.  Sometimes it’s to have the memory for themselves, and other times it is to share the experience with others.  I couldn’t imagine going to Walt Disney World and not bringing my camera.

Final Thoughts

If Disney decides to ban the Selfie Stick from the Parks all together, that’s their call.  I think it would be a shame to do so, and hopefully they’ll avoid doing so unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I hate calling it a Selfie Stick because it’s a useful photography tool.  Mine will be in my bag on our upcoming trip.  I wonder if I’ll be allowed to bring it into the Park.

So do you think that Disney needs to completely ban the Selfie Stick from its parks?  I want to hear your thoughts.  Write a comment, or join the conversation on our Facebook page!


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