Ah, the digital age. Isn’t it wonderful? A whole computer, pocket-sized and ready to cater to your every whim. A world of convenient devices at your finger tips. But what happens when worlds collide?

Walt Disney World is supposed to be a place where you can escape from the real world and its troubles; a place where you can lose yourself in, as the sign at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom puts it, “a world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Yet recently, as the digital age has taken a hold of America, it seems the world of fantasy has been injected with a heavy dose of reality.

Cell phones were the beginning, but when they first appeared most of them were too bulky and expensive to really create much of an imposition. Of course, now everybody has one, and as much as they are are handy for keeping track of your family, they are a royal nuisance when you are forced to hear someone else’s conversations while eating lunch, waiting for a ride, and yes, even using the restroom. (By the way, if you feel so bold, next time you hear someone in a restroom talking on their phone, make the loudest, rudest noises you can. It may make them think twice about where they hold their “private” conversations.)

In my Guide to Enjoying Walt Disney World Through a Viewfinder, I recommend bringing a digital camera for taking pictures. They can make taking and saving pictures a lot more convenient than conventional film. Consequently, making something more convenient also tends to make people less considerate about it. With the ability to take as many pictures as you want (within the limits of your disc capacity, of course), and delete any that you don’t, digital cameras have become a major source of annoying habits around Disney World. People will take pictures of anything, anywhere, with flash, for the unlikely chance to capture something, usually with little to no consideration for the people around them. Take a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean for a perfect example of this. These people are a reason why I created the Guide to Enjoying Walt Disney World Without Annoying or Offending Others.

The third thing that bugs me (though thankfully this is not am imposition on anyone other than the user) are iPods and other music players. Though I admit I wear earphones while I navigate the parks by myself, I never have them on when I’m with someone else. Plus, I have an excuse: I know all four parks inside and out and I am aware of the atmosphere, and that’s important. The Attractions are only half of what makes Disney World magical, the other half is atmosphere, and half of the atmosphere is the sound effects and background music. By wearing earphones one denies him- or herself a huge part of the Disney difference. That may not matter to the person with the iPod, but it projects outwardly a lack of interest in what makes the place special.

It’s a shame to see Disney losing control of its environment, through no fault of their own. There seems to be no clear solution either, nor do I believe Disney is looking for one. It’s one of those problems that only bothers the anal-retentive Disney fanatics like myself, and frankly Disney seems more interested in attracting more new guests than keeping their old and devoted ones. But that’s a topic for another entry…