Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Disney to ban selfie sticks at parks over safety fears

Reuters, ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Walt Disney Co plans to ban selfie sticks starting next week at its theme parks around the world, the company said on Friday, joining a growing list of attractions that restrict the camera accessories for safety reasons.

Beginning on Tuesday, the company will not allow selfie sticks — extension rods used for taking self-portraits with smartphones — at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, or Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The ban is to begin on Wednesday at its theme parks in Hong Kong and Paris.

“We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in a statement.

Disney tried allowing selfie sticks in the park but not on rides, according to Prunty. However, violators were forcing park staff to stop rides for extended periods of time, including on Wednesday when a roller coaster was shut down at Disneyland, frustrating other guests.

Starting next week, security personnel are to ask Disney guests who arrive with selfie sticks at the parks to stow them at a storage facility or return the sticks to their hotels or cars, the company said.

Major museums worldwide, including those in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, have banned the sticks.

Other major tourist destinations such as the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris and the Colosseum in Rome as well as music festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza have also prohibited them.

Universal Studios spokesman Tom Schroder said selfie sticks are banned on rides in its parks.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc allows selfie sticks in the company’s parks but not on rides or over animal habitats, spokeswoman Becca Bides said.

Separately, Disney is to invest at least US$1 billion in its Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California, under a plan providing the company continued protection from a potential ticket tax.

The city council is to consider the proposal at a July 7 meeting, according to a statement posted on Thursday on Anaheim’s Web site. Disney is to begin construction in 2017 on new attractions, a parking garage and road improvements that will improve local traffic flow, and have until the end of 2024 to complete them.

Disney has been investing more than US$2 billion per year in its global theme-park business. Attractions such the 2012 Cars Land addition at California Adventure led to a 23 percent increase in attendance that year.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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