A Welcoming Problem at Walt Disney World

Although it’s not as popular as the ubiquitous castle shot, taking a picture of the “Welcome to Walt Disney World” sign is an important part of many visitors memories. At least it was until a few months ago when signs went up saying that parking in the area was for emergencies only. That has cut down on the number of photos dramatically, or shifted them to ones taken from inside the cars. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel safe knowing that the driver in the car next to me could be trying to take a photo at the same time.

There is another welcome sign that is even more popular than Disney World’s. The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is a hugely popular icon. And for much of its life it had the same problem Disney World did. People would stop on the side of the road and take photos. Only in Las Vegas it was worse, becasue the tourists would run across the street to get a photo in front of the sign. Then a few months ago there was a change in Las Vegas too.

They added a parking lot. Yep, Las Vegas realized the value of their sign as free marketing for the city and made it easier and safer for their visitors to spread the news about the city.

This is one area where Disney can learn from Vegas. Disney and the county need to add a parking lot. The only difference from Las Vegas is that there are two of them. There is plenty of room along either side of the 536 and Osceola Parkway to add a safe parking area with a fence between visitors and the busy road. It would make visitors happy and work as a great advertisement for the resort. This is one of the best marketing tools to attract future tourists to Central Florida and it’s just going to waste.

Photo credit: Princess Ashley from Flickr.

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19 Responses to A Welcoming Problem at Walt Disney World

  1. Leigh says:

    I completely agree on the parking lot idea. I continually see people fumbling around for cameras or cell phones while approaching this sign – I saw it again just last night.

  2. Maybe Disney should sell postcards with the pictures, that way people can get a professional shot for a buck or two.
    One major problem with a parking lot is that the traffic through there is quite high speed (regardless of the speed limit signs!) so turning off into a lot would not be safe if the car behind you is doing 65MPH. I’m perfectly happy with the in-car shot – I just have whoever is in the passenger seat take it. If I’m in the passenger seat I try to put the camera out the window so I’m not taking a picture through the windshield.
    [And actually there are four of those signs, if you count the one across from Crossroads on 535 and the one on Western Way.]

  3. Lura says:

    Just a minor, nitpicky correction- The parking lot by the Las Vegas sign has actually been there a couple years, not months. I believe it was finished in late 2008, just after I moved here.

    I personally can’t see the attraction in taking a picture by either sign, but I’m all for anything that would help increase driving safety in these days of increasingly distracted drivers.

  4. How Disney is letting one of their better marketing tools go to waste. http://bit.ly/cu4z13

  5. GrumpyFan says:

    Great idea, and I completely agree! It’s a problem, and it’s sometimes scary driving thru that area. We avoided that entrance last year, and came in from the 429 tollway and hit Western Way. They have the same sign there, plus they have areas on the side of the road where you can safely pull off. Seems like Disney took a look at the problems at this other entrance and planned this one out a little better. I would add too, that the Western Way entrance is not used by very many, so there’s usually not any traffic when you go thru there.

  6. Beeker says:

    Excellent idea! Note: this probably means nobody will follow-through with actually implementing it… see, folks like to bash gov’t for not implementing ideas fast enough (if at all). but beauracracy limits private industry just the same.

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  8. Alison says:

    A parking lot is a great idea.

    When I was a CM I saw countless numbers of cars coming off of i-4 in that area at an high rate of speed. A car comes around that corner at 65 mph and meets a car just pulling out after being stopped on the side of the road and it is a accident waiting to happen. I drove that road daily and witnessed MANY near misses there. I’ve seen countless people run across the road to get a picture. I’m actually surprised that someone hasn’t been kill or injured yet trying to get a photo.

    They put in deterrents to parking up years ago & there has been some signage for some time.

  9. How Disney is letting one of their best marketing opportunities go to waste. http://bit.ly/cu4z13

  10. Darby says:

    I actually disagree on this idea. I think seeing a parking lot with a bunch of tourists near the sign would take away some of the “magic” of the said sign. Just my opinion. I’m guilty of snapping that shot from the car (not while driving) and I think it adds to the fun and spontaneity of the photo!

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  13. Robert Fleming says:

    Another option would be to take the signs down… no signs,no problems. It worked for a very long time so it should work again.

  14. MickeyB says:

    NO PARKING LOTS!!!! Come on, folks! Is this really necessary? You are spoiling the view of the natural surroundings. In Las Vegas, there are no trees or protected wetlands in the area of the sign. However, WDW has large pines and cypress and wetlands surrounding many of their signs. Do you want to go in a tear out a bunch of trees for a flat, barren, concrete parking lot? Seriously? It is a sign… the real attractions are inside, within the “gates.” Please consider all options before going with a knee-jerk reaction.

  15. Chris says:

    I agree with the comment that the signs should come down. Pulling off to the side of the road is indeed an accident waiting to happen, but people will take pictures of the signs as long as they are there and that may mean a drive inside a car trying to take a picture of them….not a good idea.

  16. Marc Bigbie says:

    RT @amandatinney: Parking lot…a great idea! RT @thedisneyblog: A Welcoming Problem at Walt Disney World http://bit.ly/aymxpa

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