Na'vi River Journey
Walt Disney World

Hey, Idiot! Stop Taking Flash Photography on Dark Rides

There are signs about this. Heed them.
Na'vi River Journey
Walt Disney World

This photo was taken without flash! It's gorgeous!

In December, I took a trip to Walt Disney World. I’m a bona fide Disney nerd and semi-frequent park guest. (I aim to go at least once a year.) I had an amazing trip during the holiday season. I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I got to experience the new Pandora land at Animal Kingdom, and I had my fair share of delicious margaritas at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Despite my #magical vacation, there was one thing that kept annoying me: Other park guests kept taking flash photography on dark rides.

Pirates of the Caribbean? Yep! There’s a big ol’ flash right by the pirate drinking with his pigs. Haunted Mansion? The apparition of the grim grinning ghosts was vaporized thanks to someone’s iPhone. Spaceship Earth? The Phoenicians were interrupted from inventing the alphabet thanks to your lightbulbs flashing in their eyes.

Over and over again, this kept happening. The most offensive use of flash photography was on the new Na’vi River Journey ride at Animal Kingdom. I was pretty excited to get on this ride, and I waited over 90 minutes to take a trip through an enchanted forest. I got a front seat in my boat, which is ideal, but soon my ride experience was diminished. The man to the right of me was snapping photos with a flash on his camera about every 20 seconds. I tried not to be annoyed and enjoy myself, but I had just waited a long time to experience this attraction. I was bothered.

You see, the entire point of this boat ride is that the magical world of Pandora is lit up with bioluminescent lights. This attraction almost entirely relies on black lights and screens to immerse you in the nighttime world of Pandora.

I didn’t say anything then, but I’m saying something now. Hey, you idiot! Stop taking flash photography on dark rides. Not only are you ruining the immersion and experience for your fellow riders, your pictures will not turn out well. Heck, even my (non-flash) photos were ruined thanks to flash photographers.


Carolyn Menyes

See? This photo sucks. And it isn't my fault!


More importantly, the theme park ride designers created their dark rides to be experienced exactly that way — in the dark. Once you bring the lights on, not only will you spot the mechanics of the ride you were never supposed to see, but you’re also going to ruin the illusion. Dark rides depend on perspective, special effects, screens, and very particular lighting to make their magic work for guests. As you can imagine, this gets totally obliterated by blinding flashes of bright, white light.

You can take photos on rides, most park guests are not going to worry about that. Just make sure you’re keeping that light off so we can enjoy the best Disney park attractions as they were meant to be.

Carolyn Menyes is the entertain editor at The Daily Meal. Her best Disney experience is when she finally got to meet her idol Eeyore at The Crystal Palace. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.