In the immortal words of Frank Costanza, I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it! This blog is normally sunshine and rainbows, but it’s time for you to hear what I really think. It’s time for my proverbial “Airing of Disney Parks Grievances.” (Updated November 29, 2021.)
In our Essence of the Disney Magic post that discusses what makes the parks so special, we share a Walt Disney quote about it taking “people to make the dream a reality.” Clearly, he was referring to the exceptional Cast Members, as all other guests do at Walt Disney World is clog up walkways, obstruct views, make noise during attractions, and lead to longer wait times. 😉
Fair warning: this post is in no way helpful to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or other park trip planning. Actually, it’s not really helpful to anyone, anywhere at all. Think of it as a junk food blog post that you shouldn’t waste your time reading. That is, unless you don’t really care about wasting your time on the internet, in which case, read away!
I want to underscore that this is meant in good fun and with a lighthearted sense to it. No one isperfect. While these things do bug me, I’m sure I do plenty of things that bug others, and I certainly don’t have any malice towards anyone who does these things. We’ve both been guilty of some of the “offenses” here!
Most of the time, I don’t think people are doing any of these things intentionally, or at least with the express purpose of inconveniencing others. While this could be a helpful heads up to let you know what behavior might be unintentionally obnoxious, it’s mostly just some lighthearted venting.
With those caveats out of the way, I’ll let my inner Frank Costanza (I’d like to think he’d be proud of this list…but at the same time would be its biggest offender) take over and share a few of my Disney theme park pet peeves…
Screens Up! – I don’t know who needs to hear this, but YouTube exists.
Joking aside, it’s such an odd phenomenon to see the fireworks start and hundreds of screens go up over heads. Wanting to capture a small snippet to share on social media is one thing, but some people are out there recording the full show with shaky hands from an off-center angle behind a shoulder kid (see below) on a phone with a busted screen. There’s a 100% chance that video will be worse than 100,000+ videos already on YouTube, freely accessible to all.
Don’t get me wrong: having your own photos and videos–even subpar ones–is important. Documenting experiences and having tangible reminders of lasting memories is far better than any souvenir you can buy. What’s key is making them your own. Don’t take photos or video of JUST the fireworks or JUST the stage show or JUST the food.
After recording a few seconds of pyro, pan back to capture the wide-eyed wonder of your child as the glow of the fireworks washes over their face. Take a snapshot of your significant other about to devour a dessert the size of their head. Obtain photographic evidence of grandpa falling asleep during MuppetVision as a future reminder of their distinctly unpatriotic gaffe.
Access Code Agony – You perfectly prepare for success, setting your alarm early, syncing your clock to time.gov, and refreshing right as it’s time to make your first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection or Advance Dining Reservations. There’s only one problem: you need to enter an access code to confirm your login information.
Move over, “Stitch Ate the Page!” because making reservations for Walt Disney World has a new obstacle: access codes. If you’re not yet familiar with this delightful little “feature” of My Disney Experience, consider yourself lucky. You will know the joys of access code purgatory soon enough.
Naturally, these access codes are demanded by the app at the most inopportune times, right when you’ve found an elusive ADR for Space 220 Restaurant or a Genie+ time slot for Slinky Dog Dash. And of course, it’s not a matter of instantly being texted a code. Rather, you’ll receive one via email…at some point! Don’t see it in your inbox? Check the SPAM folder. Not there? Perhaps it never arrived–hit the resend button! Suddenly have two codes and not sure which to use? Inadvertently enter the “wrong” one–and get locked out!
If you’re assuming this is hyperbole, I envy you. My Disney Experience access codes are like tour groups or love bugs–you can go a long time without ever encountering them at all–and then suddenly, they are EVERYWHERE. NONSTOP. ALL DAY. AGGRAVATING YOU ON PURPOSE.
Rudeness to Cast Members – Don’t like the quality of the beef patty in your burger at Cosmic Ray’s? Having yet another issue trying to book Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations? Think lines for everything are too long? Don’t like wearing a mask even though you were warned of the rule about two-dozen times before entering the park? Yelling at the nearest Cast Member seems like a totally reasonablesolution that will absolutely fix the problem.
Oh wait, no it doesn’t. At all. Frontline Cast Members are about as much to blame for those problems and decisions as the McDonald’s burger flipper is for Hamburglar’s many crimes. The Cast Members you see in parks don’t create the unpopular policies, even if they are tasked with enforcing them. Yelling at any of these people is wholly unreasonable. What exactly are guests expecting to accomplish?
Spending a lot of money on a Walt Disney World vacation does not entitle guests to be jerks to anyone who gets in their way or prevents them from having a “perfect” trip. Cast Members go out of their way to put a smile on kids’ faces and make magic for guests, and should be treated accordingly.
This is especially true now. Cast Members are under increased stress, having had to play babysitter and rule enforcers to adults for the last year, while also seeing thousands of their colleagues lost during mass layoffs. On top of that, they also bear the brunt of ever-increasing guest complaints about reduced entertainment, Genie+, and other policy changes and cuts made by people at a way higher pay grade. None of this is their fault–being rude to Cast Members only exacerbates problems and degrades the guest experience for those who visit later, as Cast Member burn-out worsens.
A good rule in life is to follow Wheaton’s Law. If that’s too tough to follow, a lower standard is: “don’t be rude to people regarding situations that are out of their control, especially when they are doing their best to be nice and help you.”
Walking Etiquette – I walk at an extremely brisk pace. I have no time for shenanigans such as meandering aimlessly. However, I understand not everyone desires or can maintain my pace, and I certainly don’t expect it.
What I also don’t expect is a convoy of 4 double-wide strollers walking side by side taking up the entire walkway so no one can pass. This is especially true in the current time of physical distancing–you should never be walking more than two-wide right now.
Instead, observe the rules of the road. Allow sufficient room for oncoming traffic. Leave open space next to you for a “passing lane.” On a highway, you wouldn’t aimlessly zigzag from lane to lane without regard for traffic behind you, so don’t do the same in walkways. Likewise, just as you wouldn’t come to a dead stop in the middle of your lane when driving 70 MPH, don’t stop in your tracks to look at a map in the middle of a walkway. Navigate the parks like it’s not your first time walking in public.
Filling In All Available Space – One of the only improvements to the modified reopening experience at Walt Disney World was physical distancing. While masks were (and still are) divisive, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone was generally okay without other tourists breathing down their necks.
Maintaining all of that extra space in lines was unsustainable once capacity caps were lifted. Still, I don’t think anyone could’ve anticipated just how quickly queues would snap back to normal in terms of natural guest spacing. As soon as those markers on the ground were gone, guests were “eager” to pile on top of one another, stepping on heels, and so forth.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re at the end of the extended queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and the wait time is 180 minutes, standing as close as possible to the person in front of you won’t make the line move any faster. Spacing way back in line has no bearing on efficiency at load, which is the only thing that really matters. You can leave a little breathing room for comfort farther back in the line.
To be sure, there are times when filling in all available space is necessary. If a Cast Member makes the request, do it–there’s likely an operational reason for it (like getting enough people into the Haunted Mansion Stretching Room to ensure a steady flow in the queue afterwards). Moreover, no one should expect 6′ in all directions at this point. But most of the time, there’s no reason to invade the personal space of the strangers around you. There’s a happy medium.
Disproportionate Line Jumping – I’m a reasonable guy. If you’re a large family with a herd of small children, I get that a trip to the parks is a veritable Detrol commercial. Bathroom breaks are a frequent, time-consuming part of the theme park experience. One parent taking a child to the bathroom while the other jumps in line with the rest of the pack is absolutely reasonable.
What I don’t appreciate is when one member of a multi-generational party of 27 jumps in line, and then slowly the other 26 members trickle ahead of me. That’s not meeting the “rest” of your party, it’s thinly-veiled line-jumping. I never say anything to these people, but you better believe the back of their heads receive a contemptuous glare.
A fair rule: unless 51% of your party is farther forward, the rest of the party moves back. Fair enough?
Talking on Attractions – Again, I’m reasonable. I understand that parks are a social environment. They aren’t a library or a movie theater. Some small, quiet comments here and there are totally fine.
Now it’s everyone else’s turn to be reasonable and understand that the rest of us waited 45 minutes in line so we could enjoy an immersive attraction, not so we could hear you talk about that epic party from last night in excruciating detail as if it has all the drama of the Iran-Contra Affair.
Flaunting Disney Knowledge – Let’s level with one another: I write a Disney blog and you read at least one. We both clearly have too much free time on our hands and probably know much more about Disney than John Q Public.
This is neither a Scarlet Letter, nor is it a badge of honor. Some Disney fans don’t seem to understand this. They share their Mad Park Smartz with their friends in the parks. There’s nothing wrong with this by itself, but when it’s done in painfully loud voices that are clearly for the benefit of those around them in a queue, that’s where I draw the line.
Quoting Attractions – Continuing on the ‘talking’ subject, here’s my biggest pet peeve: quoting lines from attractions in the attraction right before the line is said in the attraction. This is a variation of Flaunting Disney Knowledge, but it’s so annoying that it deserves its own spot.
I don’t mind people quoting attractions in general. I’d like to think the wisdom gleaned from Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree can be applied to all facets of life. What I mind is people beating the attraction to the punch, showing off their own knowledge as if this gives them some sort of ill-gotten street cred. It doesn’t.
Just try and go on the Jungle Cruise without someone saying the words ‘backside of water’ before the skipper, or to the Haunted Mansion without someone saying ‘there’s always my way’ before the Ghost Host. A few words is mildly annoying but relatively harmless–let’s just avoid trying to quote entire paragraphs of the attraction script.
Stroller Etiquette – This has become less of an issue in the last couple of years due to a rule change last year. There was a brief period when Walt Disney World turned into the wild west for strollers, with huge wagons, royal carriages, and Star Wars spaceships. No joke–there were businesses renting out “themed” strollers!
If you operate a stroller, please be mindful of the heels in front of you. Let’s again use the roadway analogy: strollers are like cars–yield to pedestrians. Don’t use your stroller as a battering ram to help you plow through crowds when Walt Disney World walkways are a bit congested with traffic!
Shoulder-Children – Are you 6′ tall and want to put your kids on your shoulders for the fireworks? No problem! It’s not as if there are hundreds of people behind you who also want to see the show or anything. I really am curious as to what line of thought can justify this?
Kids have a tough time seeing a show from the ground and parents have a difficult time holding them at normal eye level. This leaves parents with a conundrum: put them on shoulders or don’t. If you put them on your shoulders, they can see but you’re blocking the view of countless people behind you. This effectively says, “my children seeing the show is more important than anyone behind me seeing it.”
Fair rule: if you want to put your kids on your shoulders, do it from a location where there are not people behind you. Alternatively, choose a viewing location where there are not obstructions in front of you. Both exist, particularly when it comes to Disney Enchantment in Magic Kingdom or Harmonious in Epcot.
Shoulder kids could really fall under a general penumbra of “Selfish Guests” that would encompass everything from sitting in the middle seats of what clearly will be a packed theater (despite directions from Cast Members to move all the way down), throwing trash on the ground or not cleaning up the trash at your table for counter service meals, smoking wherever you feel like, waving around your selfie stick without regard for others, and a myriad of other things. Again, that $100+ per day ticket is not a license to do whatever the heck you want because, “YOU PAID A TON OF MONEY FOR THIS VACATION.”
Have you steered clear of my airing of Disney theme park grievances thus far? Well, I have a lot more that you are doing! You couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe…ah, I lost my train of thought. 😉 (I’m sorry, a lot of the references in this blog probably don’t make sense if you’re not a Seinfeld fan. Then again, I’m not so sure I want people reading this blog who aren’t Seinfeld fans.)
What are your Disney theme park pet peeves? Are you so high on the magic of pixie dust when you visit the parks that nothing annoys you? What do I do that annoys you (this is the airing of theme park grievances, after all)? Feel free to vent in the comments. You won’t change anything about how other guests behave at Walt Disney World, but at least it’s therapeutic!