Over the past few days, there has been a bit of a hoo-ha on Twitter. Okay, yes, there is USUALLY something happening on Twitter.. But this one piqued my interest because it’s a matter close to my heart. It involves Theme Parks and Filming.
It all started two days ago when Theme Park Worldwide shared this picture
It’s perfect weather for a ride on the Congo River Rapids! We’ve just experienced the ultimate KFC Mega-wave! @altontowers #CongoRiverRapids pic.twitter.com/M67ms4tDya
— ThemeParkWorldwide (@ThemeParkWW) May 13, 2018
Fairly innocuous I suppose.. However Alton Towers replied –
Due to the safety of all our guests, we cannot allow anyone to film on our rides and attractions – so please refrain from doing this in the future.
— Alton Towers Resort (@altontowers) May 13, 2018
You see the thing is. Alton Towers and all the other Merlin parks – and actually most of the UK theme parks don’t allow you to film on rides.
These tweets then sparked a massive debate as to whether it is definitely forbidden, and indeed if it should be. Judging from the official Twitter feed, and indeed this from the FAQs – you definitely can’t film / take pictures on rides.
“I can do what I like!!!”
We are a self filming, forever documenting, selfie taking generation. Our phones poised to capture everything around us. The thought of someone telling us ‘No’, is difficult to process. Someone argued that having paid to get into the Towers, they can do what they like. I’m not so sure that is a sensible statement. I’d like to stamp on the glorified USB sticks that Vapers use to blow plumes of candy floss scented fog out from. I’d like to kick the people who queue jump. However – I can’t. Even though I’ve paid to get in, it doesn’t allow me to commit criminal damage, or assault.
You might argue that ‘what harm can filming on a Rapids do?’ I’m not going to lie to you, in times gone by, I’ve done this myself. However last year, our boat took a massive whack against a wall. It knocked Mrs H out of her seat, and sent me flying too – despite both of us holding on! These rides are generally fairly sedate – however they can definitely bite back. If I’d have been filming at that point and not holding on, then I imagine I’d be down a camera, and possibly up a swim in the Rapids.
Theme Parks in the UK, especially Merlin owned ones have to be so careful with risk. We’re increasingly a litigious society. Merlin need to be seen to avoiding risk at every opportunity. If they allow every oik with a GoPro to run riot, then, 9 out of 10 times – everything will be fine. It’s that 1 out of 10 time when things can be difficult. The £3 filming mount from China might let you down. The lanyard might snap. Then, you’ve got a flying camera. It won’t hit the person who had been holding it. It will fly and smack some other poor sod. If you’re taking a snap on the rapids and your phone slips out of your hand – it will end up either in the water, on the floor of the boat, or bouncing off a fellow passenger. The first two are hard luck for you, the last hard luck for whoever it hits!
Have Alton Towers confused matters by having a sign on the entrance saying ‘Video equipment and cameras are taken on this ride at the owners risk’ ? Perhaps.. I tend to read it in that you have to take all your belongings on with you, and they aren’t liable for any damage if it gets wet. Not so much ‘film and take photos with gay abandon’.
Although according to this tweet – AT have said it’s fine to film (although in an unofficial – unconfirmed manner)
A member of senior management has confirmed that the use of cameras and mobile phones on the Rapids is at our own risk. The park do however state that everyone in the boat must remain seated and hold on at all times, which may be difficult with camera equipment
— ThemeParkWorldwide (@ThemeParkWW) May 15, 2018
Although this contradicts what was shared by Attraction Images
As does this sent to me TODAY, but it's not good enough vs "I spoke to someone and they said yes" it seems pic.twitter.com/XguqfBdANk
— Attraction Images (@attractionimage) May 15, 2018
I’ve reached out to Alton Towers for official comment, and an Alton Towers spokesperson has said –
“To ensure the safety of all our guests, we cannot allow filming on our rides and attractions. Our ride operators use CCTV to monitor guests and, where appropriate, are trained to stop some of our rides if they see a guest using their phone or camera.
This is primarily for the safety of our guests, but also to reduce the risk of damage to our rides if a phone is dropped, and to ensure the availability of our rides is not disrupted for other guests.
This is an issue that’s very important to us, and we will take any breaches of our ride rules very seriously.”
There we go – absolutely clear – no filming or photography on rides at Alton Towers.
You can of course submit official filming requests to most theme parks, as well as having some proper equipment, you’ll undoubtedly need public liability insurance. That way your pocket takes a dent instead of the park operators if there is an issue.
What’s your opinion? Should we be allowed to film what we like, when we like? Or accept not every minutiae should be committed to digital storage? Drop a comment.
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Great read Kip incredible to think such a innocuous question has raided such a Savage debate.
As your aware I’ve reached out also and expect a formal line shortly, needless to say, if nothing else, it’s cleared up the confusion or at least, it will have done shortly
My personal thought is, if it’s ok for Disney then it should be ok for other parks. At least it should be made very clear before entry to each specific attraction, on the website is not good enough. Also is this including Postman Pat and in the night garden, is the sky ride a ride etc…. as I see no problem of me taking a photo on these rides. Just taking a photo anywhere in the park, someone could bump into me and cause a problem. We all just need to chill 🙂
Glad you mentioned the rapids specifically, as I too would have previously thought it was safe to take a pic on as it’s a fairly innocuous ride. However, I smashed my leg up on it (despite holding on) a couple of years ago resulting in massive bruising that lasted for weeks; there’s no way that had I been holding a phone or camera it wouldn’t have gone flying. With phones in particular costing ~£500 these days it’s just not worth the risk of loss or damage IMO (and that’s me selfishly ignoring the potential risk/cost to the rides)