Useless Camera Centers

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Useless Camera Centers

When I was a little girl, I my aunt was the photographer in the family, and I can remember her and I spending time in the camera centers at the Parks when she needed photography help, film, accessories, or even simple repairs on the fly. It was a huge benefit to her having the peace of mind that if something went wrong it could be taken care of right there.

Flash forward to my trip last October. First off I will start by saying that this was the first working trip that I had ever NOT brought my laptop. My usual routine is that I offload my images to the computer at the end of the day to clear up my SD card. Since we were staying at 3 different hotels over 3 nights, I decided that instead of doing that I would just bring three SD cards with extra memory. That way I would just leave all the images on the card until I got home, and not have to worry about my computer being carried around all day, or transferred with my luggage. I wasn't going to have time for any processing anyhow.

Shortly after we arrived (as in on the Magical Express on the way to the resort) I had an SD card malfunction. The read/write switch broke off and rendered the card currently in my camera useless. No big deal, I still had the bigger card in my bag so I switched that into the camera and simply hoped that all my shots would fit on it. Worst case scenario I figured I would buy another card if I needed it. I shot about 500 pictures on my first day.

Day two came and we headed off to Animal Kingdom, I was another 400 shots into our day when suddenly my camera started flashing that my SD card couldn't be read. I turned the camera off, and then on again. SD Card Error. I tool the card out, and loaded it back in. Still all I got was flashing read error messages telling me to reformat my SD Card. This was the point that panic set it. There was no possible way that I could go back and reshoot those 750 pictures from all of the things we had already done. I WAS A MESS.

I needed a machine to slip my SD Card into so that I could tell if those images were gone or not. We had no other electronics with us that would do the job. No back-up camera, no tablet, no laptop, nada. Then I remembered traveling with my aunt and the Kodak Camera Centers. I knew Nikon was now the sponsor, which could only be a benefit to me because I shot with a Nikon. Tori and I made our way to the front of the Park, with me in an absolute tizzy. We walked in and immediately the friendly cast member could tell I needed help. I explained the situation and hoped that she had something that would be able to tell me if there were images on my card.

She did not. The Disney Parks Camera Centers are now 98% useless for photographers. I broke down in tears. Pretty much all they do is PhotoPass+ sales, and there was a small spinning display with a couple of things on it that I can't even remember, batteries maybe, little stuff like that. They no longer sell cameras or accessories, there's no one there with any actual knowledge of cameras, there's no tablet or computer with an SD slot that could check my card. All there was was PhotoPass sales. The cast member who was trying to be supportive and help me made some off the cuff comment about having heard stories of "way back when" that made me feel ancient and even worse. She was sweet, and did everything she could to try and help me when there was nothing we could do. The best solution she has was me taking an Uber over to the closest Walmart.

I literally went outside, sat down on my ECV and ugly cried as I called my husband and told him what was going on. After finally realizing that there was nothing at all I could do, Tori and I decided that I would stick in the last of my cards, and we would go back and get as many reshoots as possible of my "must have" list foregoing some of the small items that I wanted to capture. I just had to wait until we got home to see if I had pictures from our first day and a half or not.

This was probably one of the roughest working days I have had at Disney. I know that those camera centers in the Parks used to actually cater to photographers, but they don't any more. They're pretty useless, unless you want a PhotoPass. I'm disappointed in this turn of events. I always thought Disney was about keeping guests on property with services, not sending them to Walmart for something that should be as easy as slipping a card into a slot and bringing an image up on a computer. Obviously being useful to someone who takes their own pictures doesn't make as much money as selling pictures they took to people who don't. A little shocking when you consider that Cinderella Castle is one of the most photographed structures in the world, right up there with the eiffel tower and taj mahal.

And for those who have read to this point - when we got home all of my pictures were safe.

Mandy's picture
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Joined: 06/18/2013
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I'm glad you're pictures were safe! I thought it was interesting that the camera centers were just photopass centers. I don't think they have been true camera centers in a very long time.

JMed's picture
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Joined: 02/16/2014
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Oh I read, I had that issue with a friend's wedding I was shooting, talk about ugly cry.... I held it together in front of everyone but i was about to die inside. Luckily it was all good and they loved the pics.

They divorced 6 months later but that's a whole different story LOL

Glad you had your pics and yes, they should offer some service, you see people with cameras all day. Mostly phones at this point but I still see tons of DSLRs and such.

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wdwizbest's picture
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One of my old girlfriends was a photographer, she actually minored in it in college. So I remember going in to the camera shops in WDW back in the early '80's. They had film, lenses, cameras, straps, and flashes etc. She had a 35 mm camera that she took pictures with. I don't think I've been back in to those shops in over 25 years, so they don't have any camera supplies whatsoever now?

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Mandy's picture
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wdwizbest wrote:
One of my old girlfriends was a photographer, she actually minored in it in college. So I remember going in to the camera shops in WDW back in the early '80's. They had film, lenses, cameras, straps, and flashes etc. She had a 35 mm camera that she took pictures with. I don't think I've been back in to those shops in over 25 years, so they don't have any camera supplies whatsoever now?

They have memory cards, batteries and they use to sell disposable cameras.

JanJ's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2013
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In today's society of phones with cameras, I completely understand why they don't have them anymore. But that doesn't make it easy for the people that would still use them like yourself Kristen.

Kristen K.'s picture
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JanJ wrote:
In today's society of phones with cameras, I completely understand why they don't have them anymore. But that doesn't make it easy for the people that would still use them like yourself Kristen.

I think it would be nice if there was at least one on property. Maybe not full service in each Park anymore, but if there was a nice camera shop at Disney Springs maybe? I dunno, it was traumatic for me. I don't think I will ever travel without my full mobile office again.

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I used to buy my cameras in those shops. Some do still sell a real camera or two, they all sell the SD cards and batteries like Mandy mentioned but you are right Kristen, it would be nice for the people that still use cameras to have some sort of support in the parks. Guess they just figure you could go to Wal Mart or something. Would be nice to have a nice camera shop in Disney Springs. Can't imagine it wouldn't do good there.

Would be nice for the resorts to have a place too, a small photoshop with machines that print pictures or put them on CD's.
when was the last time you took your camera for a tune up Kristen? Sound like you might have a problem with it.

Kristen K.'s picture
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MrHub wrote:
when was the last time you took your camera for a tune up Kristen? Sound like you might have a problem with it.

Ummm.... never. laugh
That sounds like a good idea though, I should look into where I can do that.

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Kristen K. wrote:
MrHub wrote:
when was the last time you took your camera for a tune up Kristen? Sound like you might have a problem with it.

Ummm.... never. laugh
That sounds like a good idea though, I should look into where I can do that.

Best Buys do them, but I would go to a professional camera shop. I do for my Nikon

Kristen K.'s picture
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MrHub wrote:
Best Buys do them, but I would go to a professional camera shop. I do for my Nikon

I'm pretty sure that we still have a camera shop in town. I'll check it out!

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How about the hotels that have business centers? I also travel with a laptop now, so haven't checked them out for a number of years, but the hotels with convention centers like the BW used to have computers and equipment you could use if you asked at the concierge desk?

Kristen K.'s picture
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vwathome wrote:
How about the hotels that have business centers? I also travel with a laptop now, so haven't checked them out for a number of years, but the hotels with convention centers like the BW used to have computers and equipment you could use if you asked at the concierge desk?

That's a great idea! I wish I had thought about that. But it will now be in my mind if the issue ever happens again. Thanks for saying something!

Kristen K.'s picture
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I thought it was interesting that when they announced the new closures at Epcot to re-imagine Future World that one of the things going away will be the camera center. Since they've become pretty useless, I'm glad to see that they are turning the space into something else (It will be Pin Central)