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Vote of the week: The most popular theme park destination no one talks about

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Published: November 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM

It's one of the more popular destinations at any theme park, yet theme parks never advertise it. Sure, you'll find a mention of it on the park map, but people never brag about visiting. You'll find one at almost every park - whether it be a regional iron park or a world-class themed resort. But you almost never read any online discussions about them.

What is this ubiquitous, yet often-ignored theme park staple?

It's the first aid station.

The first time I ever visited a theme park first aid station was as a cast member at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. And I wasn't escorting a sick guest. Nope, I was the patient. Being young, foolish and short on time, I'd skipped eating before my shift in Tomorrowland merchandise one afternoon. I hadn't had enough water that day, either, and eventually the Florida heat got to me. On my way off the sales floor, I passed out on my way to the break room. My leads drove me through the tunnel to first aid, where the nurse there gave me both a huge bottle of water and a needed lecture on taking care of my Yankee self in Florida during the summer.

With two children now, I've been back to various first aid stations over the years more times than I care to admit. Yet I can't say that I've ever had a bad experience in a theme park first aid station. I've found the staff members there consistently kind, attentive and effective in addressing whatever ailment brings us in. In fact, I've had better luck in theme park first aid stations than with doctors at home. And no insurance or billing hassles! At times I wonder if I could use a theme park first aid station for an annual check-up. :^)

My best experience was my most recent. Somehow, my youngest ended up doing a bellyflop on our way into Disney's Animal Kingdom last summer. I walked him over to the park's first aid station to get his bloodied knee bandaged. The nurse there (who's name I wrote down but cannot find now, to my frustration because she deserved a guest compliment), smiled and joked with Brian, looked at his wound, then swabbed out every last speck of dirt more swiftly than I'd ever seen. She dabbed on antibiotic gel, then sent us away with fresh spare bandages and instructions to change them at the end of the day.

I think Brian liked that nurse more than any other character he met in the park.


What's your experience with theme park first aid? Please tell us your most memorable stories, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on November 18, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Though I've never been to a first aid station, I've tripped off sidewalks and slipped from puddles quite a few times at theme parks and have never said "SHHH, AHHH! SHHH, AHH! SH, AH, Sh, AHHHH!". Last time I got hurt at a theme park was last week when I banged my back into the wall of the TSM vehicle.
From 173.168.177.56 on November 18, 2011 at 12:51 PM
OK.... So I am kinda a klutz, OK a huge klutz.

Well last year I was at Islands of adventure and was about to board the Cat in the Hat. Then bam I walked right into the side of the ride vehicle. My knew swelled up and was a little red. Then nurse there was also very nice

From Mike Gallagher on November 18, 2011 at 2:37 PM
I've suffered my share of injuries at parks, but I've never gone to the first aid station for any. I have gone in there for water/coolness on a very hot day, and to ask about keeping diabetic supplies.
From Skipper Adam on November 18, 2011 at 5:04 PM
First day of training I ate peanuts by mistake, and I'm allergic to them. So After the EMT's cleared me from any major reactions, I was handed antihistamines from First Aid and sent home. My managers snuck me in because Cast Member's aren't allowed to use the First Aid at MK anymore, we have to go to health services behind Epcot.
From Dominick D on November 18, 2011 at 6:28 PM
Nice to see I'm not the only one on this site allergic to peanuts. ;)
From M. Ryan Traylor on November 18, 2011 at 8:59 PM
My heel caught the dry section of high speed tube slides at Hurricane Harbor in Valencia. Worst first aid experience ever. No "wet" bandages or second skin. My blister was about the size of a quarter and 1/2" thick. Just got a handfull of band-aids that wouldn't stay on in the water. And there was no sign-in sheet so I couldn't record the horrible service.

Once at BGW/E I thought I was getting dehydrated so I increased my water intake. Wasn't helping. Felt really woozy after coming off Alpengeist. Went to the first aid station. Given some standard pills. Woke up the next day and couldn't make it downstairs. Went to Patient First and learned that I had mono, only to be told a week later that it was a false positive. My body returned to normal 2 days after the Patient First visit and to this day no idea what truly happened.

On more general occasions, I will use the first aid station to get some tylenol, advil, etc etc instead of buying it at the gift shops to relieve minor aches or pains.

From Ashleigh Noad on November 19, 2011 at 4:24 AM
This August I passed out at Typhoon Lagoon. I pretty much sunbathed all day - similar to Robert's story, I didn't drink or eat nearly enough as I should have. 4pm rolls around and my family drag me from my sunbed to Crush 'n' Gusher. Standing in the queue my hearing went muffled and I felt like I couldn't stand up. However, thinking that I was still a bit sleepy, I got to the front of the queue where you pick up the inflatables. Next thing I know my eyes literally just turned off and I started freaking out. 5 minutes later I come around and sitting on the floor with a lifeguard calling first aid. Literally two seconds later I was wheeled off to first aid, despite my insistence I was fine. The nurses and all people who work at first aid are fantastic.

I never got a chance to thank them properly, so if anyone from TL first aid is reading - Thank-you!

This instance is kind of worrying as I am in the application process to work at Disneyworld next summer on the IP. Don't want to experience this again - particularly in a cast member position!

From Mike Gallagher on November 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM
Reading the introductory paragraph, I was thinking rest room.

But I guess that's a discussion for another day.

Actually, when I saw the line "ALMOST every park has one," I figured I was off base.

From 98.237.21.105 on November 19, 2011 at 10:33 PM
The staff at Dollywood's Splash Country First Aid building was incredibly helpful when I acquired a bee sting in a VERY inconvenient location for attending a water park-- my bottom (yikes!). Although I was initially embarrassed when I asked for assistance/treatment, the employees were very professional and made me feel at ease. I was invited to return to the First Aid location at any time throughout the day for ice to ease the swelling of the sting or for a place to simply relax out of the sun. Compliments were definitely given at Guest Services that day. Thank you, Dollywood!
From Anthony Murphy on November 20, 2011 at 9:09 AM
The EPCOT one is really nice!
From 71.2.239.137 on November 20, 2011 at 11:18 AM
I was walking into the gates of Universal Studios Orlando and right when I got inside the gate, I slipped and busted my knee open. They gave me some butterfly bandages and then gave us directions to the urgent care in downtown Orlando. 4 stitches. Yeah, it stunk.
From Manny Rodriguez on November 20, 2011 at 8:26 PM
I might be the only one here who is allergic to cats there so cute but there taboo NOOOO!!!!! My Older brother Daniel got seriously hurt on mind bender at six flags georgia he strained his back muscle And no it was not his fault he had to take many pain pills to recover now we will never ride that death trap
From 98.14.59.201 on November 20, 2011 at 9:43 PM
Down at hershey My brother lost his I glass lense on the flume he finds the lends and they said go to first aid for a screw and a repair kit excellent people nice kind and the place was clean
From Mike Gallagher on November 21, 2011 at 10:13 AM
Anonymous poster said "...they said go to first aid for a screw"

This made me laugh for all the wrong reasons. I didn't know parks provided that service. Upcharge? Wish I had known when I was at Hershey in September...:)

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