Disney Now and Then: Technology

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Selfies? Vlogging? Snap chat? Whatever happened to simply bringing your camera to the Disney Parks? You would think that I had worked at Disneyland when Walt was still alive, but in reality, it’s only been 7 years since I quit working at my beloved Disneyland. I currently live in Brooklyn, and while it’s been 4 years since I’ve visited Disneyland, I’ve started to get in the habit of keeping up with my long lost bestie (Disneyland) via social media and fan sites. So much has changed in only 4 years since I last visited when it comes to technology. And yes, technology is a bit of a general topic and of course you’re going to say, ‘Well, Erika, OF COURSE technology has changed in 4 years.’ However, when you just look at technology as it relates to the world of Disneyland, it’s really quite amazing.

PHOTOS

One of my jobs at Disneyland was being a character host. This meant that anytime you saw a character running around the park, I was following closely behind making sure photo locations were setup, guests were lined up, everyone was safe, etc. The most popular question that I received as a host was, “Can you take a photo for us?” I knew how to use every camera under the sun. I used everything from digital cameras, disposable cameras, and once in a while the super sweet Canon professional looking cameras. The bottom line: People still predominately used regular old cameras to document their memories. Nowadays the guests have got the photo taking element covered on their own. Taking adorable selfies with the characters not only makes you self-sufficient, most of the time the photos come out looking pretty cute and personable.

Here’s where the selfie can get a bit obnoxious. Ever heard of a selfie stick? I didn’t until just about right before the ban on them at the Disneyland Resort. Rig your phone to an extension pole so that you can get the perfect selfie of yourself with characters or on rides….On rides??? Yes, people were taking selfies of themselves on roller coasters at D-land, so you can imagine why they had to ban them. Sometimes the need to document the adventure goes a little too far.

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Back in my day, people were generally taking group photos with characters, or photos of the castle, attractions, etc. The point is, they were taking pictures of something memorable that they wanted to cherish. The oddest thing you’d witness was seeing someone taking a photo of the fireworks. Nowadays, people will document anything via photos if it means that they have something to send immediately to their twitter or Instagram feeds. And trust me, I’m guilty of this one. On my recent trip to Walt Disney World, I snapped a photo of every snack and beverage that I purchased as I drank around the world at Epcot. In the moment, it was putting a halt on the experience of simply sitting back and enjoying a beer in Germany or a shot of vodka in Norway. Once I returned home, it was a way for me to share with my friends what kind of things there are to do in Epcot. And it’s so helpful for blogging purposes! It gives people a chance to understand the small details of the Disneyland Resort that may go unnoticed so that they can plan something special whenever they get a chance to visit.

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VIDEO-TAPING

For this next section, would you like a warm chocolate chip cookie or a glass of lemonade? Sit back and hang on tight because I’m about to get all Granny on you again. Back in my day, guests visiting the park occasionally filmed their experiences. They might film a parade or Fantasmic! or they would film an interaction between their child and a character. Vlogging wasn’t a thing. There were occasionally Disney trip vlogs that would pop up on Youtube every now and again, but there weren’t people out there regularly vlogging at the parks or dedicating entire Youtube channels to it. Now, Disney vlogging is totally a thing. And thank goodness, because I love vlogging on all things Disney (www.youtube.com/TheSubwayMouse), but I still can’t get over how much something as simple as videotaping at Disney has changed. As far as using Disneyland as a vlogging location goes, it’s a win win both for the vlogger and for the Walt Disney Co. All vloggers are promoting Disney positively and sparking even more interest in the park which is great promotion for Disney, and vloggers get a luscious and vibrant setting for their videos. The one thing that made me fall in love with Disney vlogging and understand exactly why it’s so important is the fact that I currently live on the opposite coast from Disneyland. Sometimes I miss the sounds and sights of Main Street or I long to go on the Matterhorn again. I’m totally guilty of playing Youtube videos of nothing but people walking through Disneyland in my living room while I enjoy my morning coffee. Sure, I’m not really there, but sometimes a girl just needs her Disney fix! And that’s the great thing about this positive change in technology. Everyone can be included. Just don’t be quick to ruin all the magic for yourself. I feel like I’ve seen the brand spanking new Paint the Night Parade at least 20 times, but in reality, I’ve just watched videos of it.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Guys, I’m about to be real with you. When I worked at Disneyland, Facebook was a new thing. I still had a Myspace account. I wasn’t tagging that I was hanging out in Critter Country when I was hosting Eeyore, and I certainly wasn’t hash tagging all about my #DisneyBounds when I came into the park on my day off. With that said, guests visiting the park weren’t all over their social media either. You would meet tons of AP’s while working in the park, but you weren’t aware of the community revolving around them. While I still do not understand how the heck Snap Chat works (although I do have an account), I love the community that is surrounding social media. It is using its powers for good in the sense that it is bringing us all closer together. Don’t believe me? Go visit Instagram today and search key words like ‘Disneyland60,’ ‘Disneybound’ or Disney’s official hashtag, ‘Disneyside.’ There is a supportive and passionate group of people out there who are just as excited about Disney as you are. There is more excitement surrounding the parks as a whole. You can follow on social media to find out when your favorite Disney inspired clothing lines or artists are doing ‘merch drops’ or ‘art drops’ in the park, so you can go on a scavenger hunt and score some sweet goodies. You can also snap chat your favorite vloggers to see where they’re at in the park. Heck, Disneyland even has a Snap Chat account. Disney has totally jumped on the social media bandwagon, but it was all started by the fans and continuously supported by Disney. For instance, Disney Style, an official Disney blog always supports and posts stylings by Disney fan and official Disney Bounder, Leslie Kay.

MY BOTTOM LINE:

While so much has changed since I last worked there (and also last visited), I’m excited for this kind of change. I just hope I fit in and can catch up with the change when I visit in August for D23. I’m also really happy that I was a cast member before everything changed. I got to see both sides of it. Definitely go out there and tweet and filter those photos, but also don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the magic once in a while. I promise you, if you don’t photo blog about that corn dog you ate on Main Street, the world won’t end. Keep your head up, and enjoy where you are every moment that you’re there.

With that said, if you’re going to be around D23 in August or at the Disney Parks, follow me on twitter to get updates of where I’ll be!

Erika Jenko
Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

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Posted on July 22, 2015, in Articles, Disney Now and Then and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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