Walt Disney once said that it takes “people to make the dream a reality.” He’s right. Cast Members are the magic, and even guests make the parks come alive. If the post-reopening period at Walt Disney World taught me anything, it’s that an eerily empty Magic Kingdom loses its novelty really quickly.
However, it’s also fair to say that Walt Disney hadn’t yet encountered all types of guests. Something tells me eBay pirates loading up on Loungefly and Spirit Jerseys weren’t a thing back in Walt’s day. Although he was a visionary, Walt might also have some trouble wrapping his head around TikTok dance routines. And anyone who only used rotary phones might have a tough time with iPadography and selfie sticks.
Suffice to say, the overwhelming majority of guests add a lot to the experience at Walt Disney World…but not every single guest. Some are the magic, but there are sometimes a few who detract from the magic. To that end, we’ve put a list together identifying the worst types of guests at Walt Disney World. Consider this part venting and part “cautionary tale” so you know what types of behavior to avoid.
With that said, no one is perfect 100% of the time. Not you, and certainly not me. Try as I might, I have been guilty of certain entries on this list. Perhaps it’s something in the Florida air (humidity) or water (swamp stuff).
Or maybe it’s the tremendous weight of planning and executing a “perfect” Walt Disney World vacation that has incredibly high stakes due to the monetary cost and convoluted systems and processes, glitchy apps, chaotic crowds. Even if you’re trying your best to have a great day, from time to time, that stress can overwhelm even absolute angels.
I offer this caveat because I’m not a fan of call-out culture nor do I like the idea of putting people “on blast” even if it’s in a just for fun venting post like this one that uses abstractions rather than specific instances of behavior we’ve seen recently. So breathe a sigh of relief–you aren’t going to find a hidden-cam ‘mugshot’ that I snapped of you that one time, against your better judgment, you let loose and did the “pee your pants challenge” for clout at EPCOT.
In short, while these types of guests do bug me (and others), I can recognize that nobody is perfect–including me–and I certainly don’t have any actual malice towards anyone who does these things. If anything, I think most of the problems lie with Walt Disney World for making a visit to the parks so stressful. But that’s another topic for another day.
Fortunately, 98% of guests on any given day are great–just happy to be at the Most Magical Place on Earth. Unfortunately, the bad often stand out more than the good, so even that 2% of guests can be annoying if you’re unlucky enough to cross paths with them.
With that out of the way, here’s our list of the worst types of guests at Walt Disney World…
The Ones Whose “Vacation Cost A Lot” – Did you know that a trip to Walt Disney World costs a lot of money?! Some angry guests feel the need to remind others of this when their bad behavior is met with resistance, seemingly oblivious to the fact that everyone’s vacation cost a lot of money. (I guess it’s possible that they’re right, and Walt Disney World’s top demographic is lottery or giveaway winners.)
This type of guest is an interesting case study, of sorts, as they’re one of the few that actually vocalizes the sense of entitlement that is an animating feature of all the worst types of guests. This guest is vocally oblivious to other tourists also spending a lot of money to be there, whereas most of the other types act in a manner that reflects that they don’t know or care that their behavior negatively impacts others.
The Flashers – No, we’re not talking about the infamous incidents that occurred that gave Splash Mountain its R-rated nickname and made it controversial back in the day. Get your mind out of the gutter!
Rather, we’re talking about guests who use flash to take photos on dark rides or their flashlights to record videos of fireworks. Not only is this rude to other guests because your flash destroys the illusion that the Imagineers created with carefully considered show lighting, but it makes your photos look like garbage for the exact same reason. When it comes to videos of fireworks, it accomplishes absolutely nothing–the subjects are too far away (and light themselves). All it does is illuminate heads in the crowd, which probably wasn’t the goal.
This is a good example of giving other guests the benefit of the doubt. In today’s era of ubiquitous smartphones, it’s so easy for a setting to be enabled and the user not know why–or understand how to turn it off. This one is usually less about selfishness, and more about user error or confusion. (Confession time: I still remember accidentally firing my flash on Pirates of the Caribbean in 2009. It was in a boat of my photography buds, making it even more mortifying. I have since accidentally turned on my phone flashlight twice during fireworks, but immediately turned it off both times.)
The Line Jumpers – Few things grind my gears like this, especially watching it unfold in slow motion. The first parent and child politely pass me to catch up to the rest of their family. No big deal, nature calls and kids need to use the toilet at unpredictable times. Then person 2 passes. Then 3, 4, 5, and 6. Just how large is this multigenerational party and were any of them in line in the first place?!
Cutting in line isn’t cool. It’s one thing when it’s the aforementioned bathroom break situation. That I can understand. But sending a “runner” from your party of 12 to hold a spot for the other 11 in line? Absolutely unacceptable and reflects the entitled attitude that your time (and the saving thereof) is more important than everyone else. It defies common courtesy and fairness. Congress should pass a law that requires 51% of your party or more to be present before getting into line. Isn’t that why Walt Disney World has a Hall of Presidents in the first place? To sign stuff like that into law?!
The Ones Who Don’t Want To Be There, And Want Everyone To Know – Walt Disney World is not for everyone. We get it. If that wasn’t clear before, the non-stop parade of not-so-thoughtful “think pieces” about Disney Adults and Childless Millennials have made that much very clear.
For whatever reason, this has spilled over into the parks themselves, with countless badly-designed Etsy shirts that proudly proclaim the wearer does not want to be there. I will never understand this. I do things that I don’t want to do from time to time, but at least I go in with an open mind…because why not? If I’m going to be there anyway, why not make the most of it and try to expand my horizons?
I wish people would realize that vocally hating something other people enjoy, especially in that venue, is not cool, edgy, or provocative. It’s dull, dumb, and pedestrian. (This applies to places beyond Walt Disney World, with the only exception being Minute Maid Park. 😉) You spent money on a shirt advertising something you don’t like? Congratulations on the announcement that you’re bad with money, I guess.
BONUS: Other Shirts with a ‘Message’ – Fun fact about me: I have never changed my vote or views based on a bumper sticker, yard sign, or t-shirt. Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who has. Whenever I see a political or social opinion broadcast on a t-shirt, I am annoyed and also left wondering: what’s the point?! As society has become increasingly polarized, these shirts have gotten worse–with some being hostile or implying the threat of violence towards anyone who disagrees.
It doesn’t even matter if I “agree” with the shirt. This type of attire doesn’t belong at a place that’s about fun, fantasy, and bringing people together. (Some might even say this is a good philosophy to keep in mind when discussing Disney in the comments sections of your favorite blogs!)
The Passholes – Hello, sense of self-loathing! Despite being one at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and beyond (in typical AP fashion, had to squeeze in that humblebrag before some self-deprecation!), I am aware of the fact that my people are not beloved by other guests, some Cast Members, and perhaps even the company itself.
In fairness, APs are not nearly as much of a pain in the neck at Walt Disney World as we are at Disneyland. There, we camp out for hours waiting for nighttime entertainment, snatch up all the limited edition merchandise, flaunt our knowledge, and just generally loiter about like Disneyland is an old-timey version of the Grove or Galleria. At Walt Disney World, we’re mostly harmless, just getting in long lines for Figment and Orange Bird stuff.
Perhaps our biggest offense is premature spieling, which is loudly reciting lines ever-so-slightly before the attraction narrator (so everyone knows that WE know the script!) and sharing our encyclopedic knowledge just a little to loudly while chatting with friends (so random strangers can also benefit from our expertise). We also tend to think that Walt Disney World and Disneyland would be nothing without us, and have a meltdown when the company or other guests even suggest that might not be the case.
BONUS: The Ones Who Pillage & Plunder– Even on a normal day, attempting to navigate Walt Disney World’s gift shops is an uncomfortable proposition. It’s exponentially worse when new items are released or restocked, as eBay pirates dock their ships and storm the stores. There is no merchandise–not even limited edition Figment or Country Bear collectibles–that I want badly enough to deal with this category of worst guests at Walt Disney World.
If you’ve never experienced the eBay pirates pillaging and plundering, how unpleasant it is cannot be overstated. I’d rather watch back to back showings of Beauty and the Beast: Sing-Along than visit the Emporium on those mornings. These eBay pirates are rude, aggressive, act entitled, and seemingly love to embrace their role as villains. They’re probably deserving of their own category, but this list is already at 10 entries and I assume most of these “guests” are Annual Passholders, so we’ll include them as a bonus entry here.
Bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers also deserve our own dishonorable mention here. (Sadly.) To my fellow blogging brethren: You know what you did.
The Ones Who Have Never Walked in Public – America is a car culture. Most of our country is suburbia or rural, with few densely-populated and walkable downtown areas. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Walt Disney World, where many visitors encounter their first instance of bona fide urban design, and have trouble navigating it.
Ironically enough, the core problem is that they don’t observe the traditional rules of the road, which actually translate quite well to walking around public spaces. Instead, they seem to observe the Central Florida rules of the road, which (in my experience) are “anything goes!” Zig-zagging all around, changing multiple ‘lanes’ with zero notice to take an off-ramp, traveling in convoys that are 5-wide and block all other ‘lanes’ of the walkway, moving exponentially slower than the speed of traffic? In the parks and on Orlando roads, it all goes!
This is actually another great example of totally innocent behavior. No one walking this way is doing so to be selfish or because they’re entitled. It’s almost always because they don’t live in a city and Walt Disney World is the first quasi-urban environment they’ve visited. This probably does not rise to the level of the “worst” guest, but it does drive me crazy. (Very much a “me problem,” I realize!)
BONUS: The Mall Walkers – Turnabout is fair play, and if the above type of walkers are one of the worst guests (probably not), then so are their counterparts. And admittedly, this is me.
Not only do I always walk briskly or “with a purpose” (even when I have none), but I’ve been known to “mall walk” around World Showcase. If ever you’ve wondered why this blog sounds like it’s written by a curmudgeonly old man, it’s because I have the spirit (and interests, apparently) of one.
The Party Animals – We are far from teetotalers, but the drinking teams, bachelor/ette parties, and other groups in World Showcase at EPCOT sometimes can be a tad too much for a family-friendly theme park. For those of you who want to relive your glory days by attending an open air frat party, this might sound appealing. However, those days are long behind us, and we suspect many families don’t want their kids in that environment.
For what it’s worth, I don’t see party animals being an issue anywhere except EPCOT. Someone having a bit too much might happen from time to time at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, but it’s uncommon. By contrast, it feels like there’s a “drinking culture” represented in World Showcase, in addition to all of the global ones.
The Parents of Shoulder Kids – Rule #1 of the WDW Complaint Club™️ – It is never the child’s fault. Just as kids aren’t the ones that gave themselves participation trophies, they are not the ones that raised themselves. That applies both figuratively and, in this case, literally, over the heads of their parents.
Kids have a tough time seeing a show from the ground and parents have a difficult time holding them at normal eye level, which creates a conundrum. If you put them on your shoulders, they can see but you’re blocking the view of countless people behind you. The alternatives are them having a difficult time seeing from ground level or you struggling to hold them at eye level, but putting them on shoulders effectively says, “my child seeing the show is more important than anyone behind me seeing it.” It’s basically the non-verbal version of proclaiming, “my vacation cost a lot of money (but yours didn’t, somehow).”
The good news is that this is actually a false choice. If a parent cannot hold their kids at eye level, it’s not a matter of either them not seeing or blocking the view of people behind them. The everyone wins alternative is choosing a viewing location that is less crowded (e.g. Fantasyland or Japan) and or where there are not obstructions in front of you (e.g. on a bridge or against a railing). Both exist for the fireworks in Magic Kingdom or Harmonious in EPCOT.
The Meltdown Parents – It’s presumed that many childless adults can’t stand kids or are overly sensitive to their bad behavior. That couldn’t be further from the truth for us. (Taps sign on Rule #1.) Both of us are pretty good at filtering out crying kids, and view rambunctious behavior as a sign of excess energy that just needs to be burned off by playing. (It’s better than kids being glued to a screen!)
It’s the parental meltdowns that are the real problem. Ostensibly fully-developed adults who should be able to “use their words” to communicate and verbalize their emotions. However, adult meltdowns are all too common, with grownups becoming irrationally upset when things don’t go perfectly as planned or their efforts are under-appreciated. Often this begets the meltdown of a child who cannot do what they want, or has been forced to tour at a whirlwind pace, when really, they’d be perfectly happy to just play in a splash pad for an hour.
Lashing out at a child–especially on a trip for the kid–is never okay, and we’re not defending those who do it. BUT (you knew this was coming, right?) we have noticed a visible increase in these adult meltdowns as Walt Disney World vacations have increased in price, planning has become more convoluted and confusing, and sharing images of the ‘flawless family vacation’ on social media has become commonplace. The amount of pressure to have the perfect Walt Disney World trip is absolutely immense, and it’s easy to see how even the most level-headed parent can crack under that from time to time.
As we’ve said many times before, there is no such thing as a perfect Walt Disney World vacation. It bears repeating that you will make mistakes. Itineraries will get derailed. Dining and Genie+ plans won’t all work out. This also means that the pressure to plan a perfect trip is entirely optional, because there’s no such thing. Paradoxically, every imperfect trip can be perfect in its own way if you let it. You’ll be much better off with the memories of having a laugh at things not going smoothly than you will with the scars of screaming at your kids.
The Ones Who Never Worked a Day in Customer Service – I have seen enough and heard enough horror stories to consider Cast Members true saints. Even with the increasingly common complaints about poor guest service, my reflexive reaction is that it’s because Cast Members have been beaten down and had their spirits crushed over the last couple of years. That the dynamic would improve if guests were better-behaved (part of the reason why this post exists in the first place).
I’m also very aware that I could not last a day dealing with guests. I worked in “low stakes” fast food, retail, and other customer service jobs in high school and college. The way I was treated over submarine sandwiches and supermarket stuff suggests to me that things must be much worse for Cast Members working at multi-thousand dollar vacation destinations. I was also younger, more patient, and had no good alternatives to taking the abuse. I wouldn’t stand for that same treatment today.
This is why I’ve written repeatedly that all Americans should be “required” to work for a year in a service industry so they “learn” how to treat others. For me, this doesn’t seem like something that actually requires learning–you should just know to treat others with respect because they’re your fellow humans and it’s the right thing to do. But I think a lot of people don’t realize this for whatever reason. Perhaps they consider those in customer service roles to be “beneath” them or the jobs to be “easy” because the pay is lower than their wages.
Of course, this is not true. I could never be an accountant or neurosurgeon, but I also doubt that I could be a housekeeper, janitor, or crowd control Cast Member. Not because those jobs are beneath me–all work is deserving of dignity and none of it is beneath anyone–but because it all involves incredibly grueling manual labor. I simply don’t think I could keep up day after day.
I’m know I’m rambling here, but the core point is that the worst guests who are those who are mean or rude to Cast Members. Those guests really suck. Many Americans feel that high prices buy them a certain level of entitlement or that “the customer is always right” includes the ‘right’ to be rude. Those notions are utter hogwash. Courtesy is a two-way street, and if you don’t give it, you should not expect to receive it. Rant over.
Which types of Walt Disney World guests do you think are the worst ones? Think that line cutters, rude guests, inefficient walkers, parental meltdowns, passholes, or entitled vacationers are the worst? Agree or disagree with the entries on our list? 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! Hearing your feedback–even if you think that bloggers are the worst guests–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!