They spent billions building the place. They bought huge tracts of land and hired artisans from all over the world to make fantasy come alive. They took two dimensional images from comic books and moving pictures and breathed life into them. They spend a fortune marketing, selling, booking, maintaining, and staffing the place. Not counting the energy, both human and electrical, it takes to make the place go. Then, seconds into the experience, when it all comes together, when the customers are at the apex of their excitement, they ruin it.

Theme park photographers. Right there. The first people you see. In your face.

Want a souvenir photo? We can mount it in a key fob or tee shirt for you! It’s a great way to remember your big day in Funland!

I’m sure they don’t bother the kids, but they set my teeth on edge. I hate being solicited in normal life, but in the context of a theme park, it is repulsive.

Theme park photographers seem to be a vestige of a time when quality group photographs were expensive and/or difficult to obtain. Today, while not everyone attending a theme park is likely to have a camera, I think it is safe to say that 100% of the families or groups attending the park have at least one member with a camera-equipped telephone or actual camera.

Cognitive dissonance is the ability of the human mind to hold two opposing thoughts. This is not usually a problem, until one of the thoughts becomes destructive.

On one hand, the builders and operators of theme parks want to bring delight to their guests. On the other hand, they want to maximize profit. Theme park photographers is where the two collide: the desire to profit tips into greed and the dark underbelly is exposed.

I would be willing to pay 25 cents more for a soft drink (50 cents for Harry Potter’s Butter Beer) if all solicitation in theme parks was eliminated. And I am sure I am not alone.

But doesn’t this happen all the time? Don’t we in or business and professional lives make these mistakes? We cultivate a reputation, build a brand, tweet on Twitter, spend time and money on a classy website and prestigious office space. But we do not notice that the person answering the telephone is chewing gum. Like a cow.

Have you “shopped” your business lately? Asked your customers what you do well and what you do poorly? Sought feedback on any kind? Are you even open to the idea? Maybe you do everything perfectly. I sure don’t.

– Bob Gagliano

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