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Avoid the top theme park travel mistakes and faux pas

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Published: October 3, 2013 at 5:26 PM

In the spirit of helping you get the most enjoyment from your theme park vacation with the least amount of embarrassment, here are some of the top mistakes and faux pas made by theme park visitors.

Drawing Goofy
Drawing Goofy is okay. Being Goofy, not so much.

Don't be "that guy." This is your "not to do" list for your next (and every) theme park visit.

  • Buying your "tickets" on Craiglist or eBay.
  • Bringing wrapped presents to a theme park for a party. (You won't get them past the bag check.)
  • Leaning on, grabbing, or pushing characters at a meet-and-greet.
  • Sending someone ahead to get in line so the rest of your group can cut to join him.
  • Yelling "Andy's coming!" at any point during your visit to a Disney theme park.
  • Making a crying child go on a ride.
  • Sitting in the "splash zone," then complaining when you get wet.
  • Using shoe lifts or other tricks so that your too-short child looks tall enough to ride.
  • Insisting that the Tom Sawyer Island rafts run on guide rails.
  • Not turning off the flash when taking photos inside indoor attractions.
  • Sitting at restaurant tables without food while diners are looking for a place to sit.
  • Tipping at the Tokyo Disney Resort (or anywhere in Japan).
  • Asking a Disney cast member where the Harry Potter ride is.
  • Standing during a parade or fireworks when people behind you are sitting.
  • Placing a child on your shoulders when others have been waiting behind you for the show.

Got another to add to the list? Please submit it in the comments!

Readers' Opinions

From Brandon Mendoza on October 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM
Stepping on people's heels and/or pushing forward in line just because you think you'll get there faster if you invade other people's space. Yes I understand that most other parts of the world don't have the same personal space constraints that us Americans do, but you're not getting anywhere faster.

Taking up the entire walkway with your group and not paying attention to the fact that other people want to go around you.

Talking about a show while it's going on and spoiling everything before it happens.

From cynthia henisey on October 3, 2013 at 6:04 PM
Stopping dead in the middle of the walkway without regard to the hundreds of people traveling behind you.
From Charles Reichley on October 3, 2013 at 6:17 PM
Where's Harry Potter -- I'm sorry, but that is just funny, wherever you are.

Who is Andy, and why are we trying to find him?

From 98.200.157.155 on October 3, 2013 at 6:22 PM
DEODORANT! I can't stress this enough, especially during summertime. You get hot & you sweat... you don't even smell that great with deodorant on. But try standing in line near someone that is wearing ZERO deodorant. I'd rather be stuck next to a crying child. They'll at least stop crying at some point. The stink never leaves.
From 67.189.217.152 on October 3, 2013 at 6:26 PM
I just got a wrapped present into Epcot a week ago. Must have been the fact that it was wrapped in Mickey Mouse wrapping paper.
From steve lee on October 3, 2013 at 6:30 PM
According to the Sentinel, that "Andy's coming!" thing doesn't work. But I'm sure folks do it like mad anyway (and then keep yelling it over and over again because they're sure it'll work).

The article in question.

From O T on October 3, 2013 at 6:32 PM
Taking a baby to a theme park should be on that list but some "fabulous" parents will try to convince me they are no child molesters. BUT changing the diapers of your bundles of joy in public is a big NO. I'm looking at you who did that before the parade in front of me on the pavement and you who did it at Pinocchio Village Haus, I was eating!
From Tim Odom on October 3, 2013 at 6:49 PM
Don't ask when the 3 o'clock parade starts
From James Trexen on October 3, 2013 at 6:55 PM
Cynthia said "Stopping dead in the middle of the walkway without regard to the hundreds of people traveling behind you."

Perhaps the biggest annoyance in my everyday life, along with just standing in the middle of a walkway.

From Kenny Vee on October 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Don't try to haggle over prices. No, you will not get a quantity discount for buying six churros. No, it isn't cheaper because you're visiting with your grandkids. No, it doesn't matter that you live in Oregon; You still have to pay sales tax when you're in California (yes, I know that you can drive into Washington and get out of paying sales tax with your Oregon ID, but we're not in Washington, are we?).
From Tyler Stover on October 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Complaining that the main coffee location on Main Street sells awful coffee, is cramped, and has slow service, then complaining even more when Disney brings in Starbucks, expands the location, and multiplies the capacity.
From 97.68.129.236 on October 3, 2013 at 7:30 PM
As a theme park employee, I can say we like to help but please don't stop us in the pouring rain when we are trying to get into work to ask a silly question when your whole family is wearing their ponchos.

Also, figure out who is going to sit where before boarding the ride, musical chairs is not fun for us or anyone else who wants to ride and is being held up.

Be prepared to give employees the TOTAL number of people in your party so we can better accommodate you. If you don't, we can't guarantee that you will all sit together.

From 68.118.86.140 on October 3, 2013 at 7:45 PM
I know this is pretty disgusting, but if you make a mess that you can't or won't clean up, then please go to a cast member and tell them about the mess so it can get cleaned up. I am talking about vomit, pee, etc. I have seen it all just sitting there because whomever did it was too embarrassed etc. to report it. It needs to get reported and cleaned up quickly.
From Mark Hollamon on October 3, 2013 at 8:06 PM
I will never gripe about a screaming kid at a character restaurant, but please, I beg you, do not sit in the Brown Derby and let your baby cry or kid throw a fit and not do the proper parenting thing and take them out of the main seating area to finish their meltdown.

I get it. Kids are kids and I don't blame the kids for crying or even acting out a bit in this environment. It is sensory overload, but parents need to be respectful and proactively so.

Sorry for the rant.

From 184.90.251.158 on October 3, 2013 at 8:10 PM
1.Stop asking UK pavilion cast members at Epcot to say, "Harry Potter".
2.Overloading your stroller to the point of capsizing. Deduct mucho points if a child is inside.
3.Smoke only in smoking areas.
4.Finish food and drink before entering a ride.
5.Don't take 3D glasses as a free souvenir.
6.Go with the flow of traffic. Stop only when you can pull off to the side.
7.Read ride descriptions on maps and posted signs before approaching an employee and asking "What is this?"
8.Don't bring what you can't replace.
9.If visiting abroad, learn basic words to make interactions easier.
10.Sadly, just because the posted wait time says so doesn't always mean exactly that. And more often than not, the employees don't know either.
11. Sometimes an employee honestly doesn't know. So hounding them and accusing them of lying is not okay.
12.Slow down and take time to read things. (signs, maps, menus, etc.)
13.Don't send children off by themselves. For anything.
14.Height and age requirements can save your child's life. Don't risk it.
15.Never be afraid to ask for an employee's opinion. They usually give good advice.
16.Understand loading arrangements BEFORE your group of 40 reaches the loading area.
17.Sometimes there just can't be anything done about the weather or the long lines. Sorry.
18.If a ride is down, no one knows when it'll be back up. Not even the maintenance crew.
19.When a ride is down, never exit the vehicle of your own volition. Unless you feel like cheating death.
20.Don't give the characters a hard time. They have enough to deal with.
21.Practice good hygiene.
22.Chains and ropes mean go around, not under, over, and through.
23.Abide by the Fastpass time window. The early or the late get denied.
24.Make sure your stroller is identifiable.
25.Don't leave food in a stroller.
From 75.141.200.37 on October 3, 2013 at 8:16 PM
New issue for us! My husband is pretty big and we have a friend that is pretty big and the CM on POTC tried to put 4 of us in the same row. I was leaning over the edge and they kept announcing that you needed to stay in the boat!

Don't get me started on people with strollers.

In a queue and you keep edging closer to one side of me like you are going pass me!

Waiting at a counter service for 10 minutes and get up to the register and THEN decide what you are going to eat!

Listening to a CM tell people where they can and cannot stand during a parade and then sitting in the area they said not to. Like...in front of the garbage can that I am leaning on and pushing it backwards to make room for your behind on the curb.

From 50.89.249.144 on October 3, 2013 at 8:22 PM
Don't bring your children into the Main Street Confectionery, let them look at everything and then say they aren't allowed to have any. We'd rather not have to hear their temper tantrum just as much as you. And no, doing this in front of the kitchen WILL NOT automatically get you free samples for your crying child.
From 71.199.12.221 on October 3, 2013 at 8:36 PM
Please don't talk through the ride. Enjoy it and talk about life after
From Andrew G on October 3, 2013 at 9:34 PM
Don't hold an iPad over your head to take a picture of fireworks or anything else. You block the view of people behind you, and the iPad camera is awful anyway.
From Tyler Stover on October 3, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Lets modify that last one to be "Don't ever use an ipad to take a picture in public, period." No picture is worth looking that ridiculous. And don't take an ipad to a theme park. The whole point is that you're paying good money to be entertained in the first place.
From Paul Moreau on October 3, 2013 at 10:06 PM
"Not turning off the flash when taking photos inside indoor attractions."

Oh, this was a particular pet peeve of mine while I visited the parks. Very annoying!

From Paul Moreau on October 3, 2013 at 10:08 PM
What Tyler said. The last time I went to the parks, I noticed awfully a lot of people were carrying iPads and other tablets. The question is, why would anyone bring them to the parks? When I go to the parks, I usually just bring my iPhone which can take pictures and record video, access wi-fi to check the waiting time, restaurants, etc, etc at the parks. It's very compact and will do its job just fine.

The key to visiting a park is to pack lightly. Very lightly. You don't want to lug everything around all day long.

From AJ Hummel on October 3, 2013 at 11:54 PM
This is my personal list of the top ten worst guest behaviors (with #1 being the worst):

10. Guests who refuse to move with the crowd and either push their way through or go at a crawl, especially when traveling in a large group

9. Guests who use inappropriate language or engage in excessive PDAs while waiting in line

8. Guests who stop in a moving queue line to get a picture/allow slower members of their party to catch up and don't let others pass

7. Guests who argue with an operator when their child is too short to ride or ask for a picture, thus holding up the dispatch

6. Guests who don't have their order straight by the time they approach the counter at a food service location

5. Guests who stop in the middle of a walkway or right in front of a ride entrance and block access

4. Guests who block the view of others at a show by placing their child on their shoulders or filming everything with a tablet

3. Guests who use any type of lighting while taking pictures or video in a dark ride

2. Guests who did not join the queue with their party and attempt to force their way in or engage in any other type of line jumping

1. Guests who cause a ride or show to be interrupted due to them not following directions (in my opinion this should be an automatic ejection, especially if the ride has to be stopped to deal with the guest)

From 68.7.200.203 on October 4, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Don't add to the show! Noone wants to hear you narrating haunted mansions intro, or fake screams on the Matterhorn or for God sakes your relationship gossip on the Pirates of the Caribbean! If you're that bored and unentertained on an attraction then don't ride! Some people are actually enjoying the attraction!
From 70.118.4.210 on October 4, 2013 at 1:01 AM
Do not yank on cast members' pin lanyards. Ask nicely to see their pins and they will hold the lanyards out for you to see.


From 65.33.212.83 on October 4, 2013 at 1:14 AM
Dont' yell or whistle to get the rest of your groups attention from 100 feet away.

Don't narrate the ride! 1st night of soft-opening for Transformers and I got stuck with some people that narrated the ENTIRE ride... :/ (this includes yelling on the ride)...

People that take up more room walking down Main Street than The Beatles did walking across Abbey Road.

People that stop to take pictures of the Walt Disney World sign on World Drive to take pictures!! :O

From Kelly Muggleton on October 4, 2013 at 1:18 AM
These should be printed and handed out at theme park gates.
From Kelly Muggleton on October 4, 2013 at 1:23 AM
If the announcer is saying 'DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROW' in a theatre.... DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE FOOLS!!! I WILL step over you and you will hate me...but not as much as I loathe you in that moment.
From TH Creative on October 4, 2013 at 4:01 AM
Do NOT mock the hat!
From Thomas Caselli on October 4, 2013 at 4:27 AM
Kelly, I couldn't have said it better myself. For some reason half the people that go into the shows think that they don't have to abide by the rules. I always want to stand up and yell for everybody to move to the end of the rows.
From 98.228.182.112 on October 4, 2013 at 5:19 AM
But I love seeing the cast member's reaction when I ask in a foreign voice where is Harry Potter at Magic Kingdom. Lol
From Nick McKaig on October 4, 2013 at 5:24 AM
It drives me crazy when I get into a queue and a party behind me decides I'm walking to slow and trails inches behind me. We're all going to the same place, it's not a race to get to where the line starts where we have to wait anyway!!
From Jeffrey Britton on October 4, 2013 at 5:48 AM
I love your list and many of the comment's lists but lets face it the world is full of ignorant, inconsiderate buttheads. The people who need to see these lists of what most of us would consider common courtesies won't be found on theme park enthusiast sites. The fact is that even if every good point here was put on a list, displayed to the public, published on maps, ect. we would still have to deal with IIBs on a regular basis because they don't read and they just don't care. The world revolves around them. For me half the enjoyment of visiting a theme park is the vibe. Most people are enjoying themselves and happy which generally leads to increased politeness. Not IIBs they ruin the vibe as well. The best we can do is set an example for theme park behavior and ignore the IIBs. I will end my rant with a Mickey Rourke quote from the movie "Barfly". "Its not that I don't like people. I just feel better when they're not around"
From 68.54.249.80 on October 4, 2013 at 6:38 AM
I disagree with the comment about taking pictures in a queue line. You are not getting on the ride any faster if you hurry through the queue only to wait closer to the entrance. If there is no wait to get on the ride or attraction up ahead, then letting those behind you pass while you take pictures is the right thing to do. But otherwise, what difference does it make?
From Kelly Muggleton on October 4, 2013 at 6:58 AM
Thomas, being English I have (for Absolutely Fabulous fans) once in a while, adopted my very best Edina Monsoon voice and blustered 'come along. Just move around the stupid people!' :-)
From Marcela Ishii on October 4, 2013 at 7:22 AM
Mostly when it's too crowd, listen to "go all the way down, people". I know it's annoying sitting on the beginning or on the ending of the theatre, but it's even more annoying having to pass over seated people!
From Mike Gallagher on October 4, 2013 at 7:25 AM
Jeffrey, I never saw Barfly, but that's a great quote. I hope to use it occasionally. :)
From Nick Orlando on October 4, 2013 at 7:33 AM
I think the most important faux pas has not been stated yet...

Follow all safety guidelines and staff instructions- whether you agree with them or not!

Many times when things go wrong at theme parks it is because guests DECIDED not to follow instructions.

From 98.70.77.119 on October 4, 2013 at 7:46 AM
Do not get into the single rider's line as a family and then expect to ride together when you get to the load platform.

Also, even if your child is tall enough to ride alone, ensure you believe they are old enough. In the event of a ride issue they will be sitting in the vehicle, by themselves, for an extended period of time without you there. Can they handle this without being frightened?

From Brian Emery on October 4, 2013 at 8:05 AM

9. Guests who use inappropriate language or engage in excessive PDAs while waiting in line -
WHAT Else am I supposed to do while waiting in Line... I swear, cuss, grope my wife.....

#1 - Do not Fart in line while I am in back of you and Do not Fart in a tunnel area like the Queue for Splash Mountain..

From 68.213.190.43 on October 4, 2013 at 9:56 AM
Don't let your toddler who can't even see over the handles push the stroller and run over the toes or heels of everyone unfortunate enough to be walking near you.

Don't be the family that doesn't figure out how to fold up your stroller before getting on the parking lot shuttle.

From Don Lancaster on October 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM
If you arrive just before a parade or fireworks show, you should not push your way to a good viewing spot. Others arrived early to claim the good spots. If you are not willing to arrive early, then you should accept the best view spot you can find without pushing, shoving or stepping in front of others.
From 71.47.183.155 on October 4, 2013 at 10:24 AM
People who smoke in the non-designated areas

People in motorized scooters who seem to believe they have a right of way at all times

People who interrupt your transaction at a store or cart to ask a question of the clerk

From Anon Mouse on October 4, 2013 at 10:48 AM
"Asking a Disney cast member where the Harry Potter ride is."

That's a trick question. I know the fan is getting into the CM's skin, but that's the point. You know when the 9pm fireworks will start?

"25.Don't leave food in a stroller."

Come on. That stroller allows me to bring food into the park to save money. I put my lunch, drinks, and snacks for the entire family. Of course, I hide it from view so it isn't anyone's business or easily viewed and stolen.

From 199.36.96.66 on October 4, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Don't treat cast members like garbage. If you give them some dignity and respect, they will go out of their way to help you. They don't get paid as much as you think they do, and they have to deal with us guests all day long. This one's for Bob at the Carribean Beach Resort!
From Tony Duda on October 4, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Don't be a wheeled conveyance user, stroller or ECV, who goes against or sideways to the flow of foot traffic after shows or parades when there are masses of people moving. Wait a few minutes and travel in less crowded pathways. In fact, always wait a few minutes, it makes everyone's life easier. Associated situation, if waiting in a pathway, hug the sides and don't stick out 5 feet with strollers and people. You are like boulders in a river, nothing but an unthinking obstacle.
From 108.8.231.93 on October 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM
Bringimg your turkey leg on California Screamin', getting in your seat, putting on your harness. Then when the cast member attempts to confiscate it, arguing until he lets you take it on.

True Story

mcsquared3.14

From 208.107.11.111 on October 4, 2013 at 5:52 PM
When people have been waiting for hours to get a front row seat at a parade, Fantasmic or any other shows - don't send your unattended kids to stand in front of them "...because they are kids and deserve to see this."
From 24.73.231.90 on October 4, 2013 at 7:25 PM
If nursing a child, be mindful of the thousands of people around you. Go to somewhere where there isn't any people or at least cover up. Sure it's natural and the need can come quite suddenly, but so is pooping. Some people will think either is gross and I think most would agree that the crowded princess meet and greet line is not the oportune place for it.
From 50.9.74.78 on October 5, 2013 at 8:46 AM
I would say don't be that guy that takes for every to take a picture. I use to stop in till every time the person would get done taking the picture. But now when I see them just hold cam and wait for it and wait for it now I am done waiting for them. And another one. Because you paid 1oooo to go does not mean I am going to let you run over who you want to. A lot of other people paid the same and they are not doing it.
From Annette Forrest on October 5, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Oh,I was ROLLING at this list. So funny! All of it is true.

I've actually heard people looking for Harry Potter in Fantasyland. And they were not kidding.

I also have heard people asking for Mighty Mouse and wondering why Bugs Bunny is not in the Disney parks.

From 71.63.175.177 on October 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM
If you're walking on the path specifically made to move guests through a big crowd, for the love of God DO NOT STOP TO WATCH THE FIREWORKS.

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