Theme park cast member stories: Walking the theme park power walk
By Robert NilesYou think it's frustrating walking through a crowded theme park on a busy summer day?
Published: August 17, 2009 at 12:07 PM
Try walking through those crowds while the 15 minutes of your precious sit-down, air-conditioned break are ticking away.
Every new theme park employee faces this problem. You go on break for the first time, then waste 10 minutes of your break wading through the crowd to get to, and then back from, the break room. (Or the cafeteria.) That's why theme park employees develop what I call the "theme park power walk."
It's the ability to walk through a theme park crowd like a kayaker steers through Class IV rapids. You watch the crowd to see how fast it's flowing, go with the swiftest stream, then keep your eyes open for obstacles downstream that you'll need to steer around.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to navigate a theme park crowd is looking at the bodies in front of them. Look at their heads, instead. Stay with folks looking straight ahead, and prepare to swing around those who move their gaze to either side. They'll soon stop or slow down, throwing the current around them into turmoil.
Strollers are the jagged boulders of the theme park rapids. Swing well away from them.
Big groups are trouble, too. All you need is for one in the group to get distracted, and all will slow or stop. Find the people walking alone, eager to get to their destination, and slice through the crowd with them.
I laugh at folks who try to run in theme parks. Forget the rules prohibiting it. Runners are like those sports cars on the highway that rush up to pass you, never noticing the slower traffic ahead that's gonna force them to eat their brakes. A good power walker, keeping his or her eyes on the current flowing ahead, will beat a runner through the crowd almost every time.
Of course, my power walk drives my family nuts when I've brought them along to a park. My wife worked one summer at Epcot, but she was "talent" (in the orchestra) and rarely had to get through the park alone, so she never developed "the walk." So they hang back like "civilians," wondering why I'm plowing through the crowd when I'm supposed to be on vacation and relaxed.
Hey, old habits die hard. Plus, I've got a ride to get to!
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