When theme park visitors go bad
Time for another edition of "Theme Park Guests Behaving Badly."
We visited the Disneyland Resort yesterday for Brian's 11th birthday. While we had our usual delightful time at Disneyland, I noticed three examples of people whose bad behavior was spoiling the moment for others.
(Pictures are unrelated to the story today, but include a few other notes I wanted to make.) Brian and his sister take the Mad Tea Party for a spin. I love how the mild California weather allows Disneyland to keep so many attractions out in the open like this.
First: Many of us have encountered Disney guests who, for whatever reason, have never heard of the Fastpass program. They blow up the first time they reach a queue merge point, loudly demanding to know why they are being held back while other people with little slips of paper in their hands get to jump ahead of them into the line.
Last night, as we returned to Space Mountain at 9:05 pm (having picked up our Fastpasses around 3 pm), we had to wait a moment while a man and woman laid into the cast members at the merge point, screaming at them for letting the Fastpass line through while they waited.
It amazes me how so many people in our world immediately default to the assumption that they're getting screwed when they encounter a situation that they don't understand. Usually, though, I see such scenes relatively early in the day, as visitors in a stand-by line get held at Fastpass return point for the first time. Nine in the evening was the latest in the day I've even seen this happen. Were they just not paying attention all day long? Or did they just arrive in the park, making them even more clueless visitors for blowing an entire day's ticket on the last three hours before closing?
I'm also grateful that the Disneyland Resort offers food selections that rise above carnival fare, such as the Planetary Pizza Salad (with pepperoni, Roma tomatoes, mixed olives, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and vinaigrette dressing for $8.49) at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port, a blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich (with fries or fruit, $10.19) at Tomorrowland Terrace, and a tofu rice bowl with Thai coconut curry sauce (with stir-fry vegetables and fortune cookie, $9.49) at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.
Second: I marvel at the thought that's gone into Disneyland's evening crowd control system. Disneyland each night constructs an elaborate system of traffic lanes that protect the places of people who've been waiting for the fireworks and Fantasmic! while swiftly moving other park traffic around them, instead of crushing up against those spectators as they try to walk to other attractions or out of the park.
But it seems that there's always some guy (and it is always a guy, in my experience) who sees the ropes, stanchions and flashlight-waving cast members and figures out that Disney's doing it all wrong, and if people would just listen to him, everything would work much better. Last night's guy was berating an unlucky cast member at the Adventureland entrance who was trying to keep the traffic moving in the one-way, counter-clockwise direction that Disneyland enforces around the Hub during and after the fireworks.
Mr. Smartpants wanted to go the other way, and couldn't see why a system that didn't make an exception for him could possibly work. Even as it did.
The entrance to Disney California Adventure is looking more and more like the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Finally: As we were waiting for churros behind a mother and her two small children, a guy in his late teens or early twenties decided that walking around the line was just too much hassle for him. So rather than break stride while running across Tomorrowland, he decided to hurdle the little kids. His girlfriend, appropriately mortified, turned to apologize to the mother as she ran behind her boyfriend. The mom didn't have time to respond before the couple ran away.
Since the mom didn't have time to say anything, I'll say it here. To the girlfriend: Your boyfriend is a selfish person who doesn't treat children with respect. And as a result, you're in a position where you feel like you have to apologize for your boyfriend's actions. Well, guess what? If you choose to spend the rest of your life with this guy, you'll be spending your life with a selfish man who treats children with disrespect and for whom you'll always have to be apologizing.
Keep that in mind, will you?
The Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta restaurant at California Adventure is coming along, but it's going to be a rush to make its announced July 1 opening date.
Please post in the comments your horror stories about fellow theme park guests.
My mom was seating on a bench while waiting to enter to the Country Bear Jamboree theater. A woman seated next to her, and then her family came to the bench one by one until my mom didn't have any space to seat and had to stand up to avoid falling to the side.
This is a great article. I've been noticing these things getting worse and worse for the longest time. It amazes me the magnitude of people that have no earthy idea about anything it seems. The fast pass system has been in place for as long as I can remember. It amazes me how many people don't have any idea nor take the five minutes to politely ask. Or better yet take the 10 minutes to start researching their vacation.
Yeah I don't understand how people can't figure out Fastpass. Disney has even put detailed instructions inside the park brochures and people still don't get it. I don't understand why people would stand in a 40 minute line and not at least be curious as to how they could take advantage of that "other line", where people are walking straight through. Don't they get curious about all the Fastpass kiosks and the crowds that can form around them? Yet it happens on every single popular attraction. Of course, other people's ignorance is to the advantage of those who know how to use the system :-)
Maybe if you weren’t so self absorbed you would have realized that was me who was fighting with the cast member at the Adventureland entrance and who leaped over that kid in Tomorrowland. I am awsome. And that was just my Tomorrowland girlfriend. My adventure land girlfriend is way hotter. I could come up with a way better system for Disney or just about any other lame park with lame people who keep me from showing up at like noon and keep me from getting on the best rides with no waits especially on holidays or weekends.. And don’t you say that I am living in ummm an area like like a place of imagination and not real, I can’t think of what you may call a place, or if there was a themed area like that, but what ever that place may be I am not living there.
As a castmember, I have to say sadly we are used to being yelled at for Fastpass. In reality it shortens the wait time for everyone, albeit a concept that can be hard to wrap one's head around, it is true. Merge is one of the most difficult positions to work. Fastpass return can be a challenge too, with people constantly trying to cheat their way in as well as yelling at us because we won't let them in 10 to 5 minutes early. But what surprises me is how people get angry at Fastpass distribution. Some people will go a whole week in the parks and find out the last night there that it was all free, and they let is know hoe they feel. They don't understand that it's only one pass at a time, and not considering the system as a free privilage, they say it's unfair to limit them. We also have trouble explaining to people why there are not an infinite amount of Fastpasses and why we run out, why they can't use them from two months ago and why each person has to have their own Fastpass.
I remember at the Magic Kingdom some years ago it was an angry young man who yelled at the attendant because he kept insisting it's not Fastpass if he can't get a pass then walk right up. I agree with previous posters these people are ignorant. Do they get a clue as to why other people are standing in line? Probably not.
That's an interesting view from a cast member. I think FastPass is great. It works for me, but on my last trip to Disney World we brought my niece's grandmother and I can tell you that it doesn't work well with our elders.
My complaint is about people waiting for parades. For some reason, whenever we find a good place to watch a parade, where there is only 1 row of people sitting on the curb and we decide to wait patiently behind them, as soon as the parade starts, they stand up. Nobody is in front of them, but they stand up in front of us. Then they often put their kids on their shoulders. And they are usually about 6'4". I've seen them do this in front of children and people in wheelchairs. Is it just me, or are there lots of Sasqhatches who love to stand during parades and have no idea how tall they are?
Well, manners have gone out the window and it's like the "me generation". So many people feel they are the only one. It's sad that they only think about themselves and their own family. What they don't realize is how other people think they are jerks and terrible people or they don't care. Would they act that way at home, probably not.
We forget how tall we are. At 6'3", I personally don't feel "tall" at all, so unless I'm doing "Tall-People things", I simply forget. This could also be attributed to the fact that I was short until my senior year of High School...but that was 8 years ago at this point, so I don't accept that excuse of myself. I do try to keep back in crowds though so that I'm not blocking shorter people.
Thank you for the immature comment from the annonymous poster. Guess he's a bit too much of a chicken to share a name with us.
He was being sarcastic, Tim. He's just not very funny. Anyways, I feel for all of the cast members who have to go through Merge. Doesn't seem like much fun at all. Almost makes me wish that they had a required "How to Be a Decent Human Being" video that guests need to watch before entering a park, as I've seen too many people get angry and attack cast members before. They're affecting other guests' enjoyment too. Whenever someone talks or texts during movies, I always remind them that all the people around them paid $10 to watch this movie, and that if they want to ruin their experience, then they should reimburse all of them in full. That usually shuts them up, so I recommend using that whenever you run into a problematic guest at a park (granted, it may be a little harsh for a cast member to use). People just need to learn to be more sympathetic, because going to a theme park is all about having a good time, and no one has the right to consciously take that away from someone else.
While I agree with you Robert, the crowd control at DL is a bit out of control, especially during the parade. I am used to large crowds at WDW, but the fireworks crowd control was, in my opinion, was bad, especially the "run around the hub" thing. I will admit, however, I have no good ideas for alternative option. Come on Disney! Why did you have to make such a popular park :)
Why did you have to remind me of the horrors that is merge point and the nightly parade. About once a shift I get that "guy" that just doesn't get it waiting in standby at Jungle and he's staring me down, 3 rows of queue back, screaming his head off at me. Now, I dunno about you, but if I see that guy as furious as he is, but would you want to make the line move faster so he can get closer to you? This happened right when Pirates Evac'd and all the re-ads handed out went straight to our FP line, and our lead said hold the standby longer than you usually should so we can clear out FP line. Good! I was gonna do that anyways. Thankfully, by the time I cleared out the FP line, and ever so slowly moved the standby, I was relieved of merge point. Later on while I'm on a boat, guess who is loaded onto my boat?
I wish you had been able to tell that girl about her boyfriend's behavior and her ugly future with him. She really needed to hear it. She probably thinks his "antics" are cute now, but unless he grows up, she'll pay the price later for being with a solipsistic twit.
A number of years ago I was in line for the Indiana Jones Adventure and I became aware of a couple of Asian guys who were making their way forward in the line by pushing past people each time the line moved, a couple people at a time. I don't believe that there was a culture clash or anything of that type, just two guys who decided to try to get away with shortening their own wait at the expense of others. When they tried to push past me, I blocked them with my arm and told them "NO!," very loudly. They were startled, and looked at me with something just short of shock. I then asked the line behind me how many people had been passed by these guys. It was roughly thirty people, and I held those guys in place until all thirty were ahead of us. I then walked past the very appreciative crowd and regained my place in line.
I've been a witness to countless theme park atrocities presented by park goers over the years; I would need a whole website devoted to this topic. Yet, there is one thing I witnessed in particular, though it may seem rather mundane, it sticks with me the most because it happened during the opening days of Islands Of Adventure, probably the first month after soft opening. I was waiting in the queue line for Spiderman and visitors had already start to graffiti the walls along the outside queue. I was standing behind a mother and daughter and they were reading and commenting on what others had written. Moments later, without any prompting from the daughter, good ol Mom pulls out a Sharpie marker and hands it to her daughter to further vandalize the walls.
I have not had a lot of bad experiences with other guests at theme parks. Most of the time I am more frustrated by inattentive or lazy employees who don't move fast enough when it comes to loading and unloading ride vehicles.
Bad behavior in theme parks is like impending train wrecks -- you don't want to watch, but there's just something so compelling about watching a poorly bred moron having a meltdown in front of a group of total strangers!
My husband and I had the worst park experience of our lives at Six Flags in Maryland. First, driving into the parking lot, and while walking to the front gate, we noted several kids urinating in the grassy areas. I'm not sure why they could not have waited until they made it inside the park. Then, they opened the gates only to make you stop while inside the park to watch a lousy music number before they let you in any further. Most of the rides were shut down. I went to complain to staff about paying 55 dollars a piece to get in and having only a handfull of opperating rides. All they gave us were a few of their fastpasses. We were so upset by that point, we endded up just giving them to a family we just happened to pass by. Oh and also, one of the ride opperators slammed a ride restraint as hard and as tightly as they could on my husband and I. I promised myself that as much as I love parks I will NEVER step foot in another Six Flags park.
As an avid WDW visitor, Ive made a habit out of staying at the Grand Floridian. Now by no means am I wealthy or rich, I have grown used to the fact that the grand Floridian attracts richer clientell. In my years(approaching decades) of staying their and meeting some fellow guests, I've noticed most are nice people who are just here like anyone else, to enjoy their vacation ana dhave a good time. Then again, however, every year theres that pompous, selfish, annoying crowd, the ones that have to remind you their richer than you everytime they see you. In my years of staying at the GF ive grown accustomed to these people, but then again last year there was a family who wouldn't socialize or talk tpo any1(not even castmemebers) because they considered it beneath them. They once wore very expensive dress clothing to go to the Magic Kingdom for no reason and wouldnt sit next to other ppl on the monorail because they didn't like the crowd that they were in . while I would have liked to call them out on their pompous actions, they werent wrong as defined by theme park rules, just ANNOYING.
Sorry tim and marcus I did not mean to offend. It must just be my subversive iconoclastic nature. This bad behavior can be seen every place ( merging in rush hour traffic when individuals do not follow the one and one policy just drives me crazy). This has always been the case and will always be the case. Robert Niles is correct that the main cause is because people think they are getting screwed. I worked at Mediaeval Times so I have seen the public go bad. I was on the business end of the blowups on a couple occasions. Here is my two cents from working at an attraction why these behaviors are worst at theme parks.
The first time I visited Star Wars weekend at Hollywood Studios my friend and I got situated at the parade route for the motorcade 30 minutes early. We were right up front but had attempted to situate ourselves where there was limited space behind us so we would block anyone as my friend is 6'3. About 2 minutes before the parade got to the point at which we were standing an already sizable crowd had formed in the surrounding area. A lady with her two children showed up behind us grumbling about not being able to see. She then instructed her children to squeeze in between my friend and I and stand in front of us. When the kids attempted to push past us my friend turned and explained to the lady that we had been waiting here for 30 minutes and had no intent of giving up our spaces. She proceeded to scream at us about how they were just children and we were being incredibly rude. My issue here is three fold: 1st: Don't show up 2 minutes before a parade, especially a special event one, and expect for you or your family to get front row seating. 2nd: Don't instruct your children in the bad habit of simply taking what they want without asking. (Had the woman asked if her kids could sit in front of us we probably would have said yes.) And 3rd: Don't use your children as an excuse for your own rude behavior and inability to plan where you need to be and how much time you need to get there in advance.
I think the Fast Pass system is one of the best things Disney ever came up with. It's awesome. Those people who will not take the time to figure it out I also appreciate because that means one less person using the system and hopefully another fast pass for me after I use the one that I am allowed at a time!
People who have really inappropriate conversations loudly enough that people with in a mile's range have to hear it are a pet peeves for most parents I assume.... and for people who just don't want to feel like your trying to force your time at the park on them instead of them letting them have their own experience. Especially if you have kids there, it's very frustrating to overhear the loud inappropriate conversations. Some teenagers tend to do this do to a lack of maturity(which is why sometimes I think family's might get aggrivated at teenagers running rampant unsupervised at amusement parks, but sadly there are adults who do this too. I don't want to hear you on your cell phone telling your friend "that b*** don't know what the f**k she be talk'n bout" and such as that eithor (if that is the only way you know how to communicate, maybe you should stick to texts while in a crowd of strangers). If you have to make rated R comments, know your surroundings.... and atleast don't talk loud like you are on a reality TV show and you think everyone wants to overhear it.
As someone who works in the service industry, I was shocked at my first trip to Disney how nice most people were.
Thanks, Albino, sounds like the cast members involved could have done a little bit more than the nothing that they did. But as I wrote previously, the onus is on the parent to...uh...well...be the parent! Makes sense!
We often get the same response at Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure when using our room keys as Express Pass. The dirty looks from poeple who have been waiting for two hours to ride Spider Man or the Hulk are priceless...
The root of the problem has to be that some guests just do not prepare for these vacations to theme parks. Now, if you are willing to pay $60+ to be at a great park and not care how long the lines or how those with special priveledges get to the front of the line, then fine. I remember going to Universal two summers ago, during a crowded time. Because I read up on my material (including some helpful info from Theme Park Insider), I hardly waited for more than half an hour in ANY line in either park. It doesn't take long, but the longer you prepare, the less stress there is when you are actually trying to have fun.
Or the people that have the butler or other person from a group SAVE a spot inline for them because they are to danty to wait in the 100 degree summer sun.
I forgot to mention, if anyone is looking for the music from Universal (CD they released in 1999), I bought a sealed copy off eBay and ripped it to my computer in .mp3 format, complete with cover art.
On the bad manners issue : I think it's a sign of the times everywhere now. People aren't always courteous wherever you go but it's particularly sad when you experience bad behaviour at places like Disney. If you can be stroppy and rude here then there really is no hope for you is there ?. Disney try to cater for all tastes in entertainment , organise everything for your enjoyment ( including crowd control ) and yet there are always those that find fault or moan. I'd like these unfortunates to consider the task that faces Disney on a daily basis. The vast numbers of people in the Parks at peak times wanting to get on the most popular rides or eat at their favourite diner or get the best position for the parade.
Holiday World - several years ago. Female patron in 'inappropriate' swim attire. Pat Koch and security offered to help her find something appropriate at the gift shop. She decline the opportunity. She was escorted from the park -- with her whole party -- and given a refund at the door.
While I recognize that there are rude people everywhere, including at Disney parks, I have to agree with the person who said that rudeness is minimal at those parks. This is especially true in comparison with other theme parks, such as, for example, Six Flags parks, which always seem to be wall-to-wall dirtbags.
Not only have i seen fellow guests act rudely toward the cast members, hosts, etc. but towards other guests. The most glaring experience my family encountered was several years ago at Disneyland when we choose (poorly) to eat dinner at the River Belle Terrace. After getting our trays with real (and heavy) platters of food we were confronted by a lack of open tables at which to eat at. This was just before 7 pm and there were people, usually one person holding a whole table to reserve sitting for the Fantasmic show at 9 pm. NONE of them would let us sit down and consunme our meal, after speaking with the cleaning crew (who informed us they couldn't tell these people to leave or not hold tables until after the food locations were closed) we ended up sitting on the planters balancing our food in our laps. At the end of our evening I stopped at the Guest Services office to make a comment about the situation at the River Belle. While i was in there a woman next to me was loudly complaining about the cancelled Fireworks show, demanding her money back and passes for another day. The cast member helping her asked for her tickets which showed they had been at the park since the morning and it was after 11pm at this point, the cast member offered her passes that would be valid after 7pm so her family could enjoy an enevning at the park and possibly see the fireworks. She loudly demanded to know if he could guareente the show would go off at it's scheduled time and he explained that he could not since the weather conditions may not be favorable. She told him he was lying and that it was all a poorly planned way to get peoples' money to get them to come back to the park. She refused the passes and continued with her tirade. I walked out side and waited to see if this show was going to continue and it did with security escorting this "lady" out of the park and her rather vitrolic spoutings getting worse with each step toward the exit gates. I folowed and heard the security tell her she was not welcome at Disneyland until her language was not absuive. My husband was wondering what I was laughing at because he had been shopping with the rest of the family while I was making my comments. I explained to him what had happened and then when we got to the trams there she was abusing another cast member beacause she had to wait for the next tram. We rode on the same tram she did and she continued her tirade and exclaimed that "This is the worse place I've been too". Another passenger grumbled (loud enough for us and her to hear) that she must not be welcome at too many business if this is the worse place she has been too. It turned out to be am entertaining day and we laughed about her all the way home.
RE: Six Flags Maryland. That 6F is notoriously awful. I too am a "Merlinder" and will only go if it is for a closed event (companies rent out the whole place off season). It is a dumping ground for parents who don't want to pay for babysitters or daycare. So there are roving gangs of unsupervised children/teenagers - always. Don't get me started on the actual gangs of gang members either.
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