Photo: Selfie Stick Central
Photo: Selfie Stick Central

Selfie sticks are all the rage, so why are many waterparks, theme parks and museums banning them? After all, it’s just a pole to which a smartphone can be attached so you can snap pictures of yourself or, better yet, take a group shot that includes more people and background.

It’s a safety issue, say park officials and others. The stick can extend 3 feet or more, and if you’re whizzing along on a ride or water slide when you decide you must take a selfie, it can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. If the long pole hits the attraction, it could cause real damage, not to mention if it comes out of the user’s hand and hits the user or another guest. In the case of a ride, it might even derail the vehicle coming along behind.

By all accounts, Disney was one of the first theme- and waterpark businesses to ban selfie sticks on its properties in Florida, California, Paris and Hong Kong in June and July, 2015.

Amusement park giant Six Flags followed on July 20. In a statement to annual-pass holders, officials stated that they were prohibiting “… selfie sticks, monopods and similar devices at all Six Flags theme- and waterparks, effective immediately. Guests who bring selfie sticks to the park will be asked to store them in their cars during their visit.”

Meanwhile, Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks in Wildwood, N.J., is taking a slightly different approach. Selfie sticks are permitted in “waterpark guest areas as long as they are being used in a safe manner and not interfering with other guests.” According to the park’s website, selfie sticks may not be used “… on any water slide, including gang slides and children’s slides; in any activity pool; in any bathroom or changing room.”

Likewise, Universal theme parks and resorts won’t allow selfie sticks on rides and attractions, but guests may use them elsewhere on the properties.

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It will be interesting to see if this more lenient attitude continues. A Disneyland employee recently explained on Reddit that the company’s park-wide selfie stick ban came about because guests wouldn’t use them responsibly. At first, Disneyland tried just forbidding the sticks on rides, but people ignored that rule and brought them on anyway. If a ride operator saw someone with a selfie stick, they were required to stop the ride and ask the guest to stow the stick away. In the case of rides that require a couple of hours to restart, it effectively shut the ride down, resulting in inconvenience and disappointment for other guests. Because people refused to listen to the ride operators, the employee said that Disney decided a total ban was necessary.

Waterparks and theme parks aren’t alone in this. A number of museums have outlawed selfie sticks, and it’s easy to see why. If a visitor tried to take a selfie in front of a priceless painting or ancient statue and the stick accidentally slipped, it could ruin an irreplaceable piece of art. Here are some famous museums that “just say no” to selfie sticks now: New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; Getty Center in Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; National Gallery in London; Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; and the Louvre and Centre Pompidou in France.

Selfie sticks also are banned at some landmarks, such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Versailles palace in France and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

Some things just have to be done the old-fashioned way, even selfies.