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Top things you never should do when visiting a theme park

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Published: September 9, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Here a few of the things that you really shouldn't ever, ever do when visiting a theme park. You'll find some of these listed on our travel tips for visiting theme parks page, as well.

Show up at noon.
Parks have their biggest crowds at mid-day. Arrive early, or way later, to find the shortest lines.

Buy your tickets at the front gate.
Don't waste time in line when you could be in the park. Buy your tickets in advance to find the best deals, too.

Forget to wear sunscreen.
Unless you really, really love crispy skin with a side of melanoma.

Stop in the middle of a walkway.
Please, to help the flow of traffic behind you, move to the side when you need to stop.

Get into the biggest line you see.
Really, do we even need to explain this one? Yet long lines have magnetic qualities, attracting the clueless.

Push, pull or tug a character.
Be nice to the folks with the toughest job in the park. The costumes look soft and fluffy on the outside, but on the inside, they're often a frame of metal and hard plastic, waiting to jab the helpless employee inside if pushed the wrong way.

Make a crying child go to something.
Theme parks are supposed to be fun, not exercises in cruelty. Plus, many rides won't load a crying child, holding up the line for everyone behind you.

Never use lifts or tricks to make a child appear taller than s/he is.
Height requirements are there for a reason.

Try to jump off a ride.
Stupid. Dangerous. Forces the park to shut down the ride, inconveniencing hundreds of other visitors. Then, you get tossed from the park and possibly arrested, too.

Carry around a large souvenir.
Every park has some package check or delivery service, so you can pick up your purchases when you leave.

Got a few to add to the list? Submit yours in the comments.

Update: On the flip side, here are the top things you always should do when visiting a theme park.

Readers' Opinions

From Brian Emery on September 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM
Thanks Roberto…

I Now cannot do anything fun at Theme parks according to your list…What’s next – I have to wear a bathing suit at water parks….??
Hahahaha

From M. Ryan Traylor on September 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM
I think stopping in the middle of the walkway is the biggest pet peeve for me. Unless you are trying to take a photo of the park. But if you are referring to the map, then step to the side.

Never, ever, ever stop in the middle of a main street section of the park.

From Stephen Landsman on September 9, 2010 at 1:34 PM
NEVER go on a spinning ride immediately after eating!
From amy lockland on September 9, 2010 at 1:51 PM
The one that always gets me are the people that think "securing all loose items" does not apply to them. I was hit in the face by a hat on Volcano in KD and hit in the face once again on El Toro by a pair of unsecured sunglasses!
From Barry Wallace on September 9, 2010 at 1:57 PM
You should never...

...think you are more important than those around you. Just because you've waited an hour for a ride doesn't mean you get special treatment before anybody else whose also waited an hour. In fact, the rules are there for everyone - don't cut line, don't hold 15 spaces for the whole extended family, don't curse, don't complain loudly about the Florida heat (we all feel it!), don't barge in front of everyone when the queue opens up to a general standing/seating area.

You should never NOT be courteous to those around you, and that includes the attendants and ride operators. They are responsible for the smooth, SAFE running of a ride and any extra distractions beyond those normally planned for in moving people in and out are annoying and at worst dangerous.


But here's another question - what's the limit in innocently chatting with cast members (I use Disney as an example). The Haunted Mansion is famous for having "in character" cast members. When is it too much when you try to interact with them? What's the limit (aside from obvious limits like touching, etc)?

From Brandon Townsend on September 9, 2010 at 2:14 PM
Never change diapers in open/public areas. This really shouldn't even have to be mentioned but I've seen it before.

Never wait to decide what you are going to order when you get to the cashier at meal times. Have your order planned out before hand and your payment method ready. Disney meal lines are especially stressful and these delays only add to it.

From Daniel Etcheberry on September 9, 2010 at 2:28 PM
Drive an electric wheelchair in a kids playground; I went with my 2 year old nephew to the Sesame Street playground at Busch Gardens, and a baby got under my wheelchair and I didn't know it. Then I was going to move my wheelchair backwards when my sister stopped me in time. Little kids get too curious with the electric wheelchair.

Bottom line: never get into the kiddie's section if using a motorized wheelchair and look around when you drive it on the rest of the theme park.

From Brandon Mendoza on September 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM
I know this isn't Facebook, but is there a "Like" button? And even though most of these are "DUH" ideas to those of us with common sense, it's almost like 90% of Theme Park visitors drop their IQ by 50% when they walk through the front gate.

This kind of thing needs to be printed in a Newspaper or posted online on Yahoo or Google! Spread the word! What ever happened to courtesy too?

From Jorge Arnoldson on September 9, 2010 at 4:46 PM
Eating meals at peak hours.

Since almost every visitor does this, the quick-service lines for food you might not even like will get terribly long.

From Mary Ann Nowak on September 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM
Bring newborns and very small children to a park on a very hot, humid day and expected them to behave, be totally happy and not throw tantrums after dragging them around a park all day. Usually what follows next is a tantrum and yelling and screaming from an adult who is probably crabby from the heat as well.

Can never understand why anyone would want to put their child in danger this way. There have been times I just want to shake the parents.

If you want to bring your older child to a park for a special treat or vacation, leave the littlest ones with grandma or an aunt and uncle -- they aren't going to remember they weren't there.

(I also would give this discussion a "Like"!)

From Robert Niles on September 9, 2010 at 6:21 PM
Hey, readers always are welcomed to post archive links for Flume posts to their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201009/2091/ in this case.

You also can find all Flume stories linked from our Facebook page.

From 24.90.255.115 on September 9, 2010 at 7:14 PM
Never do on ride vidos it just aint worth it again on eltoro I saw a camera come flying off. o yea and another one never smoke in public bathrooms or in the middle of a crowed.
From Charles Reichley on September 9, 2010 at 8:24 PM
I wanted to say "wear tall hats in shows". Although then I thought about all the other things people do in shows that are annoying. Like reserving an entire row with one person, or coming in late and then changing seats several times because you learn that the seats you got in were empty because they were obstructed.

Then there's "don't move your tall person around in the seats just when the show starts". I know why this happens, the show starts, and people who weren't paying attention suddenly look forward and find that their kids are sitting behind tall people, so they move around so their kids get better views.

The problem is that people behind you WERE paying attention, and they already arranged THEIR children to be behind YOUR children; now you have blocked them, and everybody up the rows has to re-arrange themselves during the show, simply because you didn't pay attention.

From Rob P on September 10, 2010 at 2:33 AM
I have to admit that I did break the sixth theme park commandment once.

Thou shalt not push, pull or tug a character.

We were at a character breakfast and , for some reason, the Pluto character was being decidedly difficult. We were all seated around the diner, Hollywood &Vine I think, in MGM Studios. Pluto showed no inclination to move away from his little spot while Goofy and Minnie visited many tables.
The people we were with wanted a photo opportunity and headed over to where Pluto was standing. Now I'm no expert on body language but I could tell that this character just did not want to do any more than stand around. As we all sidled up beside him for a photo he tried to break ranks and get away. I grabbed him by the tail and pulled him back. I told him to stand still for 10 seconds or else I'd be very disappointed ( if you get my drift ! ).

A cardinal sin some might say. But it had to be done. The photo, by the way, was a hoot. Even wearing a costume you can tell that this guy/gal was unhappy and if you look really closely you can just about make out my clenched fist holding the tail.

From Ron Schneider on September 10, 2010 at 11:23 AM
In case anybody read the above article and still doubts that anyone would be stupid, selfish or inconsiderate enough to actually do any of these things, Rob P's comment should convince you otherwise. Just sayin'...
From 71.249.188.148 on September 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM
Never stop in the middle of the aisle because you think you'll get a better view!!! Cast members repeat this mantra constantly and I don't know how many times I see people plop themselves smack dab on the middle!!!!
From Tiffany J. L. Alfonso on September 10, 2010 at 11:29 AM
Here's one for you Central Florida theme park veterans like me (I happen to live near BGTB and an hour from WDW) - never, ever chant, sing, or talk so loudly! I have heard a lot of folks complain about the excessive noise coming from turismos' mouths. (I'm not just talking about Brazilian tour groups here, but Argentinean youth herds and otros do so likewise!) That brings me to another rule - never cut in line! I don't hate turismos or super-large families (For the former, they come twice a year to help our economy here.), but a line is a line, whether you are at one part of it and your friends are a few people away from you.

Oh, and don't visit at peak seasons - dead on popular holidays. I learned it the hard way when I went to the MK on Christmas Day 1996. It was extremely crowded that I only rode "it's a small world" and Snow White's Scary Adventures! If you want some Yuletide joy, see it all in early December or (if you don't mind the idea of Christmas creep) the November before Thanksgiving. I even give my two cents on crowd levels by month at Walt Disney World in my article, "The Many Months of Walt Disney World Crowds," to help you take this advice to heart. I hope it will help you either learn a hard lesson or plan your trip there.

From 199.123.115.142 on September 10, 2010 at 12:54 PM
Don't buy a Disney meal plan and not make reservations WELL in advance. You'll wind up using all your table service credits at Beaches & Cream.
From Andy Guinigundo on September 10, 2010 at 1:54 PM
This was a much more enjoyable, usable, and thought provoking article than your grumpy Smile Police article. Thanks.

(sorry, everyone is a critic...)

Follow posted signs - especially no line-jumping.

From 24.15.112.193 on September 10, 2010 at 3:54 PM
Here is one: do not receive or make cell phone calls in the Carouel of Progress. Others are trying to enjoy the show, you selfish git.
From David Ackerman on September 10, 2010 at 5:09 PM
Bring your sick child to the park. The rest of us don't care how many miles you traveled and how much you spent. Got to watch a 8 - 10 year old barf repeatly in the queue to get in the park (all over the area in front of one of the turnstyles).

Encountered this same happy family (who clearly couldn't figure out that the kid was sick) at Forbidden Journey where the kid barfed again on the hand rails in the castle. I hate to think what he did on the actual ride!

Yeah, the rest of us just love your sick child to pieces. Should have grabbed some video of it so that I could post the whole family on YouTube.

From 124.185.155.87 on September 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM
One that I quite often used to see when working at the theme parks here on the Gold Coast, was some of the younger females wearing high heels and glammed up to the nines, with some wearing what i would have thought were cocktail dresses for the evening.

For the love of comfort, and your own safety, sensible shoes and sensible clothing, Being in the sun all day and on your feet experiencing all the rides walking from one end of the park to another in the mid summers heat youve got to be crazy.

Then to watch them walk or be carried out of the park at the end of the day due to exhaustion, no shoes on and moderate to severe case of sunburn.

Ladies a theme park is not a place to get noticed. If your wanting to get noticed or have your 15 minute of fame apply to the film studios next door.

From Robert Niles on September 10, 2010 at 10:24 PM
As hundreds of young, male Theme Park Insider readers hurriedly click to book visits to the Gold Coast.... :-)
From Rob P on September 11, 2010 at 12:59 AM
Ron wrote :

In case anybody read the above article and still doubts that anyone would be stupid, selfish or inconsiderate enough to actually do any of these things, Rob P's comment should convince you otherwise. Just sayin'...


My response:


That wasn't you in the suit and being difficult was it Ron ?

The alternative to my quick-fix was, I suppose, to report the person for failing to do their job and risk having them sacked. Character meals don't come cheap and what we didn't expect was bad attitude from the staff. It was the employee who was being rude and awkward NOT me.

From 68.200.153.92 on September 11, 2010 at 4:55 AM
Thou shalt not use flash photography in a darkened bus at night.

As a Disney bus driver, I'm mystified why people need to take pictures of family and friends in a darkened bus. Is it that you just don't have enough pix of people you care about with washed out faces? But here's something to remember, the those flashes affect the driver's ability to drive safely. And if you are facing forward, the flash will reflect in the rear view mirror, which is no different than walking up to them and flashing a picture in their face.

Please, please, please, if you've got to take pictures on the bus: ** DON'T USE THE FLASH !! **

From 74.214.118.143 on September 11, 2010 at 3:22 PM
The "stop in the middle of a walkway" is probably one of the worst offenses listed (besides "push, pull or tug a character"). I've experienced it in other public places, especially high schools and colleges.
From Donna McKay on September 12, 2010 at 7:51 AM
Without doubt its the taking the small crying child on a ride. The child clearly isn't having fun, presumably the parents aren't either and neither am I anymore since I can no longer hear the film or narrative for the ride I've been waiting ages for.....
From Justin Kermgard on September 12, 2010 at 10:02 AM
One to add to the list is rushing around in a theme park. In my opinion, I like to take it easy when visiting a theme park. Usually the parks that I visit, I am already aware of what are the most popular rides there, so I will make my way over to those rides first, but still at a nice pace. I hate it when I'm walking to a popular attraction and I see 2 or 3 people rushing past me(sometimes actually running) to get to a ride. I see the same thing when I am pulling into a theme park's parking lot/parking entrance. Cars will zoom past me at 50-60mph in a 30mph zone. I'm thinking "really? does it make that much of a difference to be ahead of a couple people in line? Is the ride going to be magically different for you? Is the parking attendant going to hand you a golden ticket or something because you sped up ahead of other cars?" I just don't get it.
From 71.179.1.214 on September 12, 2010 at 10:39 PM
Never run people over with your stroller/ motorized wheelchair. It seems obvious but during our last trip to Disney World, the back of my foot got run over by a motorized wheelchair and my mom's got run over by a stroller. It hurts! Be careful folks!

Never let your child sit on top of the back part of the seat during a show. I listened to an entire production of Finding Nemo the Musical without being able to see much of it at all, because despite nicely asking both the parents and the child to have the child sit on the seat/ in their lap, they ignored it. (And they did speak English.) Both my dad and I missed out on seeing the show because of their selfishness. We understand that they wanted their child to be able to see, but put the kid on your lap for crying out loud! Its dangerous for a 4 or 5 year old to sit on a 2 inch wide ledge where they could fall backwards at any moment (on top of the people behind him) but its also common sense that if your kid's body is sticking up about a foot higher than the tallest adult's head, he is going to obstruct the vision of everyone behind him. I couldn't believe the rudeness of those parents.

From 63.118.157.201 on September 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM
I have to agree with Donna's post. My older sister took her four year old son on the Shrek 4-D ride with myself and other family members last summer. We waited a total of 45 minutes for this attraction. We found out very quickly that my nephew was afraid of the dark (which my sister already knew). He screamed over and over to the top of his lungs, "Get me out of here!" for about a minute or so and I tell you it felt like he was screaming for 20 mins. My sister was embarrassed and instead of leaving, for some odd reason she thought covering his mouth would calm him down. This move only heightened the situation and believe it or not he screamed even louder. Of course at this point no one was watching the show because they were too busy trying to find out who was killing their kid. My little sister and I finally convinced her to leave the theater. The entire audience clapped when she left, including myself and rest of my family. Ridiculous and Embarrassing
From Joe Brown on September 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM
Based on my trip to Holiday World this weekend, don't spit. Lost track of how many times I saw someone spitting on the sidewalk.

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