I wanted to share an experience from our October trip to the Fort. We shared a beautiful trip with family and friends, staying in one of our favorite sites #303. As I usually do on at least one morning of our stay, I rose early one morning before the rest of the group was awake, and slipped out the door with my DSLR and refillable mug. I was dressed in one of my favorite 'vintage' FW T-shirts and began my tour of the Fort. I started at Baylake and worked my way toward the Outpost.
There was no one checking in when I got up front, so I stepped out into the lanes leading to the check in booths. As I stood there taking some photos, one of the managers walked by and asked if I needed help. I explained that I was just out taking pictures, looking for unique shots or my beloved FW. He said that was no problem, and wished me a good morning. I continued toward the guard shack, snapping away. One of the guards hollered out at me asking if I needed help. I offered the same explanation as I did to the manager. The guard accepted my answer, but was clearly not happy I was there. Minutes later, I made out to the road and was heading for the FW monument sign at the entrance when a security guard pulled up.
He told me that he had gotten a call about me taking pictures, and that it had raised concerns. Moments later another security officer pulled up and parked, one of the supervisors. I found it very humorous that I had caused such a stir. Both of them were very cordial, but had a lot of questions about why I would want to take pictures of the front entrance, the signs, the barricades, etc. (You can see where this is going). The supervisor asked if she could review the pictures I had taken, and I handed over my DSLR.
She explained that their security policies do not allow for photographs of areas like the entrance to the campground, especially if it includes areas that show security measures. I once again explained my passion for FW, and my desire to take pictures of more than the regular tourist areas. She was very understanding, and handed back my camera. Perhaps that would have been the end of the story if I'd had my ID on me. Having left early before my wife and friends were up, I had managed to take off without my wallet.
I explained that to them, and told them my site number and offered to have them scan my magic band. They can't scan magic bands, so there I stood, looking more like a photo-terrorist than before. Phone calls were made, and it was decided that the first officer would escort me back to our camp site so that he could look at my ID. None of this was a problem to me, in fact it was only getting more humorous. As he drove me back, I tried to make polite conversation. I asked how long he'd worked for Disney; had you always been in Security, etc. He finally told me that he didn't feel comfortable with the conversation. I told him that my wife and friends were going to get a good laugh when we got back. I told that it would be great if he could cuff my hands behind my back for the full affect. He was quite nervous and didn't seem to see the humor.
He was just finishing writing down my information, when his supervisor pulled up. She had been directed to come and delete any inappropriate pictures from my card. She again began reviewing the pictures. Each time she found one that was a problem she would show it to me and explain the concern. She probably deleted a dozen or so from that morning. When she got to pictures from the night before, she stopped looking. She said she was only asked to look at picture from that morning, and wasn't going any further. At one point as we stood there in front of our site I noticed several of our neighbors looking over to see what was up. One of them kept getting closer and closer. I joked about the spectacle we were creating and how no one in the loop would dare mess with me after seeing all this. The supervisor looked up and was what I was talking about. She was annoyed, and went over and asked the nosey neighbor to move on along.
The whole thing was handled very well. They were only doing their jobs. I totally get it. I told them both that I understood the challenges they face trying to keep a target like WDW safe. She totally understood what it was like to be in my shoes. She had once been chased down when she was spotted taking pictures of a large bridge. We talked and joked for some time, and she agreed to join us for breakfast the next time they have to escort me back to camp. She even promised to bring hot biscuits or some such.
I'm sure that some would have been offended and likely hesitant to surrender their camera. I get it. I've wondered what the outcome would have been if that had been my decision. I do feel like the guard in the guard shack overreacted. Again, I was carrying a resort mug, wearing a vintage FW shirt, and a magic band. I think that if he had been willing to engage me a bit more, that could have been that.
So, has anyone else had a similar experience, or heard other stories?