Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: What Makes You Mad?

November 14, 2014, 10:10 AM · At Theme Park Insider, we've long encouraged readers to keep a positive attitude whenever they visit a theme park. Vacations are supposed to be fun, and we've found that the attitude a person brings into his or her vacation goes a long way in influencing the experience he or she gets from that vacation.

Happy pirate
You know you're having a good time when even the pirates are happy.

That's why we conclude our Orlando guidebooks with a section entitled "Focus on Kindness to Get the Most Enjoyment from Your Vacation." Here's an excerpt:

When you step inside a theme park, you’ve surrounded yourself with many of the nicest people you’ll ever encounter in your life — including many members of this Theme Park Insider community. Most of them are having a great time in a fun place that they love. Open up, be nice to people, and you can enjoy one of the best days of your life.

So let the other family go into the queue first. Make room for others when you walk down the street. Thank the park employees every single time they direct you on or off a ride, take your order, bring you food, refill your glass, or give you directions. Pick up your trash. Offer to take someone else’s picture. If a ride is down, don’t storm off. Say hello to the park employee at the closed ride’s entrance, and with a smile on your face, ask for his or her advice on what to do instead.

Treat a theme park like an enemy land to be conquered, and the park will fight you back. Focus on obstacles and frustrations, and pretty soon, that’s all you will see. And while you are having your inevitable mid-day meltdown, wasting time on a public shouting match, the rest of us will be going about our day, chatting with new friends, and enjoying every moment in the park.

Of course, bad stuff happens — no matter what attitude you bring to the park. A good attitude can help you get over the bad stuff and move on, but it won't prevent you from ever encountering anything potentially frustrating during your stay.

So what is it that most challenges your positive attitude when you visit a theme park? What is one thing that is most likely to tempt you to snap and get angry?

Is it having to wait a long time in line? Or is it the other people you encounter in the park, whether they be other guests or bad park employees? Do attraction breakdowns and closures — from rides to meet and greets — make you feel like your day has been ruined? Or does bad food most likely make you feel that way? What about seeing dirty, messy or poorly maintained facilities? Is that your pet peeve in a park?

Obviously, all of these things have the potential to set people off at one moment or another. For our vote of the week, please pick the one choice that is most likely to make, or most often makes, you really have to work to stay positive when you're visiting a theme park.


In the comments, vent. Tell us about your most frustrating moments in the parks, and how you managed — or failed — to overcome them.

And if you are interested, the newly updated 2015 version of our Orlando guidebook is now on sale in Kindle (US), Kindle (UK), iBooks, Nook, and paperback formats. It's a great Christmas gift for your favorite theme park fan!

Replies (44)

November 14, 2014 at 10:15 AM · I think the worst is when you've got parents/grandparents pushing strollers who show signs of road rage -- they have no qualms about running your foot over just to get to the parade. Sigh.
November 14, 2014 at 10:25 AM · Theme Parks don't make me mad. Ill informed, rude and inconsiderate people in theme parks is what makes me mad. No need to go into my laundry list of what drives me crazy. We all have our lists. My only request to others would be to remember that we are all in this together. Show me courtesy and concern, and I will show it back to you.
November 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM · I HATE when a party puts one member of their group in line and then, 45 minutes later, the rest of their 18-person crew shoves through the line to catch up with them. Where do I sign up for that service, I don't want to spend all that time standing in line either!
November 14, 2014 at 10:37 AM · I was once turfed out of the fast food restaraunt in Simpsons land at Universal, because I went in through an unlocked door 2mins before official opening time! A miserable jobs worth staff member insisted I should leave as 'I shouldn't be in there' till official opening time. I tried to explain i was only going to sit at a table with my 4year old daughter till the food section opened, but all to no avail! This misery of a man (a rare occurrence in my Theme park experiences I might add) was sticking to the 'rules' regardless of how trivial it was. So I had to turn and walk out... Then 1minute later I walked back in! Fume!!!
November 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM · When people don't turn of their flash when photographing animals,despite the signs. Also,the people who take bits of WDWs fabled turkey leg...and feed it to other birds!! What are you doing!!?
November 14, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Definitely Other people….

While riding on Test Track in Epcot, a wonderfully nice woman was narrating the ride… “Now we are going into the Hot zone, we don’t like this one, Now we are going into the Cold, we like this, Now we are breaking, now we are turning…”

So when the Photo came up, you can see me sitting next to said wonderfully nice woman, flipping her off…

November 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM · For the most part, its other guests that make me mad. Its rare, but sometimes you just encounter someone who is incredibly rude or inconsiderate. I'm talking about the people who slowly walk side by side down a walkway, making it impossible to get past them, or the people who show up 5 minutes before a parade and think they have the right to push in front of you when you have been waiting for an hour in the same spot. For the most part I try not to let them bother me, but I don't always succeed.

Another thing that always makes me mad is when I see a guest giving a cast member a hard time. Cast members work extremely hard to deliver a level of hospitality that is above and beyond what any reasonable person could expect, so when I see someone yelling an them, it just makes my blood boil.

When we witness a cast member being treated badly, my wife and I try to approach the cast member afterwards if possible and thank them for everything they do. We also carry a little notebook with us to note the names of extremely helpful or patient cast members so that we can let management know what a great job they are doing. Seeing their reactions very quickly make my anger over the rude guests a thing of the past.

November 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM · I don't get mad.
I can be disappointed by people.
We once sat at Animal Kingdom on a bench. Across from us was a bird display and to the right to us the tree. The walkway to the tree was almost empty although it was a bit crowded in the park. Three families walked by. Every time the kids got excited by the birds and wanted to watch the animals. Every time the kids where pushed away by their parents to meet a deadline for a ride or show. That is so sad, children enjoying the beauty of the park but got cut short because of a over planning mother. That makes me sad, sad for those poor kids.
November 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM · @Robert Niles
I am on your site and see a commercial of Ali Express, Not sure what that company is but the images, how do I put this nice, are very far from family friendly...
November 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM · One of the few bad experiences we had turned into a good experience due to an unexpected assistance from a Universal employee. We were waiting in the Hogsmeade entrance line, where the ticket booths are, to enter the Hogwart's Express area. The line was fairly long, even though it was the September off season, since the parks were pretty crowded due to the Diagon expansion. We were close to the area where they check your park hopper ticket when apx. a dozen people (about half adults and half kids) that were apparently foreign visitors since they were all speaking Spanish, pushed in front of us. They were giving the Universal employee a hard time, but she kept her cool and processed them. She then processed us, waved over to another employee to come, apologized to us and instructed that employee to escort us to the train through the handicapped area. So we ended up on the train long before the rude group of people. That was totally unexpected and just another good experience that we've had with Universal & Disney employees in Orlando.
November 14, 2014 at 11:27 AM · The worst experince we had with another guest. We are in guest services at the Magic Kingdom working to renew our annual passes towards the end of the day (electric light parade is going on). There is the guy who waited in line for 30 minutes with us just to verbally berate the poor CSR behind the desk.

This guy was complaining about the traffic flow around main street and the hub. Mind you this was in May of this year so hub re-construction is in full effect and there are many walls and tight spaces to fit a LOT of people through.

So this guy in the process of berating the employee begins questioning "Why don't you guys just push back the buildings a few feet". Calling this poor CSR an idiot and demanding the phone number of the president of Disney World.

The poor CSR was AMAZING beyond belief dealing with this guy. I have no idea who she kept her cool, me and my wife ended up walking away as quickly as we could before we interjected and just escalated the situation. But just the sheer idiocy of some guy who thinks what? The buildings are on wheels? SMH!

November 14, 2014 at 12:44 PM · Wow...what a list! How to pick just one?

Honestly, other folks don't bother me much unless they are doing one of three things: cutting in line, making out in line, or wearing clothing that simply does not do its job (spandex is a privilege, not a right). But most of the time, I get along with other people just fine.

Bad, expensive food is aggravating for sure (looking at you Cedar Point - as a flagship park you should be ashamed of yourself), but this problem is generally easy to solve. Just bolt out of the park for a mid afternoon break and get a decent meal at some nearby restaurant. It would be better if all park operators focused on food the way Disneyland Resort does, but this problem is one I can handle myself.

An unkempt park is a huge issue with me. Weeds, oil smears, chewed gum and other litter showcased in some queue line like a badge of honor, overflowing trash cans, dirty tables, horrendous bathrooms, broken rides... these issues are all symptoms of an unkempt park (looking at you, Six Flags Saint Louis). If operators can't (or oftentimes won't) keep things clean, painted, maintained, and up to date, then it will indeed ruin my day.

Long lines are another issue...not long lines because a lot of people are coming to the park, but long lines because of poor ride operations. Nothing aggravates me more than one train operation on an busy morning because park planners are trying to save a buck by under-staffing rides (looking at you Holiday World and Worlds of Fun). Just run two trains - who cares if they are full? Also, slow moving operators on understaffed flat rides raise my blood pressure faster than crying babies at a funeral. Cycle rides are notorious for having one person do all the ops, and that one person is some loafer who usually hates his or her job and moves as slow as molasses loading and unloading riders. Drives me nuts! Makes me want to jump out and help, just to speed things along. And this problem isn't just a small park issue, it happens at a lot of the parks - in fact, it was very prevalent when I visited Cedar Point this past summer. Poor ride operations resulting in long or slow moving lines is probably my number one pet peeve at a theme park. IMHO, there is nothing worse than going to the park on a slow day and still having to wait forever because park operations are pathetic.

November 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Latest complaint is having WDW suits sit in front of me at Eat to the Beat concerts (in their reserved row) and discuss business thru the whole concert (Happened 4 times, 3 of which were the same guys!). Doesn't Disney give the suits the customer service training that it gives to other employees? Or are they just too vain to realize how badly they look to guests?
November 14, 2014 at 12:17 PM · Lack of communication when a ride breaks down. If there is a breakdown, please communicate that fact plus both minimum and approximate times until the ride will be functional again. Offering return tickets to those who choose to leave couldn't hurt, either.
November 14, 2014 at 12:26 PM · My issue is people who think everyone else should appreciate their yelling, screaming, pushing and generally out of control kids. I'm not talking about special needs kids here. This is bad enough in the park's open areas but particularly annoying in the table service restaurants. We had one set of parents who thought it was cute that their two preschool boys were shrieking as loud as they could in the Plaza Restaurant at MK. Our late teen daughter politely asked them to have them stop only to told they were just having fun and she must hate kids. Everyone in the restaurant was very glad when these idiots finally left.
November 14, 2014 at 12:57 PM · This is indeed a tough list from which to make a choice, as at least 4 of the 5 items listed bother me. Dirty and poorly maintained parks bother me and so do breakdowns/closures, but not as much as long lines. When I took a friend to Six Flags Great Adventure in September, we managed to get on El Toro and 5 other coasters without a wait but by the time the Fright Fest crowd showed up El Toro and almost everything else was at least a 2-hour wait - out of the question, so we left. On the subject of ride closures, I had the misfortune to be at Great Adventure on the day that they had a power outage that lasted from early afternoon to closing time, and as a result got in only one ride all day. What's worse, I had gone to the park by bus and was stuck there for 11 hours and would probably have gone mad had a guy with whom I enjoy hanging out at the park not been on the bus.

As to other people, they're getting better - even at Six Flags parks! When I go to the park alone, which is most of the time, more and more people in loading stations are noticing that I'm a single rider and encouraging me to go ahead of them. I met one of my Facebook friends on El Toro and on a recent trip to Six Flags America my riding companions on Batwing - guys I've never seen before and will probably never see again - insisted that I take the outside seat so that someone could take a clear photo of me despite the fact that the four of us had originally agreed on a different arrangement. I've had people offer to let me use their phones (my phone battery goes dead every time I visit a theme park) and I've had people strike up interesting conversations that make the time go a lot faster while I'm waiting in line.

November 14, 2014 at 1:07 PM · My biggest pet peeve in the parks - Parents who find the biggest stroller they can, stuff it full of everything they own, and then get mad at us when we won't move out of their way so they can park said stroller in front of us at a show or parade. We've been waiting for an hour and they show up 5 minutes before the start time, push their kids through everyone so little Freddy can be right at the front, and then here comes the house on wheels. Please people, leave the huge strollers at home and pick up a cheap folding one for your trip. Put the "extra's" in a locker - why do you need to cart it all around all day? IMO the Disney parks aren't built to accommodate the oversized strollers and all they do is get in everyone's way. And alot of the time the kids aren't even in the stroller, assorted stuff is.
November 14, 2014 at 1:28 PM · What annoys me are those who think that rules don't apply to them. Any time that we go into the theatres for the 3-D movies, the cast members always say "pick a row and go all the way across". There are always quite a few people who just stop right in the middle of the rows. What don't they understand about "go all the way across"?
November 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM · How about families or groups that go through the single rider line, then they are extremely upset and throw a fit when they find out their party is going to be broken up? They gripe loudly and often, they get their way and ride together on the ride without having to go back to start of the queue. There's a special place in hades for those people...
November 14, 2014 at 2:41 PM · The stupid unreliable iPhone main gate photo check they do at Disneyland. The wifi or wireless network they use causes long lines anytime it goes down. When Disney's crappy photo check system goes down due to lack of a strong network, there is no reason for that to be burdened upon the guests waiting to enter the park.

Lack of line jumping enforcement.

November 14, 2014 at 3:54 PM · I chose dirtiness in a park. I have less than great memories of going to Magic Mountain, seemingly remembering what felt like an entire section of the park that was abandoned, with trash strewn about. I know Six Flags doesn't really care about being family friendly and clean to Disney's standards, but I was appalled. The Riddler's Revenge was broken during my trip, and my wallet was stolen.

But it was dirty, and I'd never really thought about the park's cleanliness before, because I'm so accustomed to Disney and Universal, but it struck a chord with me, for sure.

Just as a person should take pride in how they look, a park should take pride the same way.

November 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM · I chose long waits. The worst is when the wait is an hour or longer, but they are only running one car or with minimal staff. Any time the wait is long but doesn't have to be. This is almost always with Six Flags parks. Now that Fast Pass Plus has extended things needlessly at Disney, I admit I was frustrated, but it is nothing compared to the extreme indifference shown at a Six Flags park. To be honest, the worst thing is an unruly patron who just blows their stack for no reason, but I can just ignore them, so it isn't an issue for me.
November 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM · For me it is mainly the people, like alot of people above

1. the use of strollers as weapons. I can't tell you how many times people have pushed into me or run over my feet.
2. people who push in front of you in the parade line. I am short and it never fails the person who is tall, worms their way next to me and then pushes their body in front of me to snap pictures just as I'm taking pictures. Even if I tell them to stand behind me. They act like they don't understand English and continue to do what they are doing.
3. with that I also don't like when people walk in front of you and promptly put their kids on their shoulders. I wish the parks could find a way to resolve this. I have to say, we were so glad when we paid extra for the Villain's Soiree. The room to watch the parade and fireworks was fantastic!
4. people who don't give their kids a break from the park. We were at Disney World in October and people were lining up to watch the electric parade. I heard two sets of kids crying that they wanted to go home to sleep. It was almost an hour wait and the parents just kept telling them they wanted to see the parade and watch the fireworks first. I felt quite horrible for the kids.
5. like the guy above I hate waiting in line to have a large group meet up with their one friend. I actually said something to a group who did that to us at Universal. Needless to say it didn't go well for me with the verbal abuse back.

I'm not sure what happens to some people, because it seems that in their enthusiasm they leave their manners at the gate.

November 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Let's see here:

1. People who talk during the ride or preshow. I'm fine with the usual screams during a certain thrill part and even love hearing other people comment at a certain part of a ride. What I don't like is when others have endless conversations while I'm trying to hear something. Most of the time, it's the Brazilian tour groups.

2. People who move slowly in the middle of a walkway. It's worse if a group spreads themselves out in a horizontal single file, preventing you from passing. Double anger for those who abruptly stop while I'm behind them.

3. People who take no responsibility for their actions or the actions of their children. Accidents happen, but if your child keeps bumping into me while they're messing around, at least take some accountability, apologize, and tell the child that they're being a bother.

November 14, 2014 at 6:17 PM · As a person relegated to using a scooter at the parks (believe me, I would much rather walk and wish I could) I get very frustrated by the people who know I am there and that I am moving and decide to cross my path immediately in front of me (from one side of me to the other side of me) or who just step in front of me as if they were were challanging me to run over them. It is very difficult to ride a scooter in a crowd as the entire time is not pleasureable but a tense and frustrating experience. I always go home with a headache and a bachache from the tension. Please people, just because we scooter riders may appear shorter than you are, show us some manners!! We want to have fun also!! Thank you.
November 14, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Long waits for me. You pay the same thing to get in on busy days as you do on slow days...... but you receive much less when the lines are long because it means you can't do as much and spending a lot of your day in line is not a great contributor to a fun time.

Maybe admission should be more expensive on busy days and less people admitted (Saturdays, Holidays, etc.) so as to even the crowds out. Just an idea for a solution.

November 14, 2014 at 7:03 PM · what user 162.192.68.100 said also is a great point about long waits..... I use to get so aggravated when I would go to Carowinds and be in a slow moving line that is like an Arrow Coaster that could accommadate two trains, but they are only running one. Literally watching the train come in, have to unload and reload and then watch those people take their entire ride before the next people in line could go..... and this can take a while..... so even if you're at a point that with two trains would only take 15 minutes, not it's double or more that from that point..... that was one of the most frustrating things for me at a theme park. It can't be that hard or energy consuming to run more than one train on a ride that is designed to be able to handle two or more.
November 14, 2014 at 9:28 PM · Bad food...when I go to an amusement park, I don't go for food so as long as it is fast food quality this doesn't bother me. Breakdowns...they happen, and there's usually nothing the park can do to avoid them, so I wouldn't get bad over this. Dirtiness...it won't ruin my day or make me particularly upset, but it will definitely make me less likely to return. Long lines...if they are clearly caused by operational inefficiencies, that is one thing, but otherwise I just see lines as part of the typical park experience. For me, the thing that I hate the most at a theme park is...

OTHER PEOPLE!

Obviously, this does not apply to everyone, but I get quite annoyed when there are guests that are either violating park rules and policies or just not using common sense. You are not the only person in the park, so don't act like you are and be aware of who and what is around you. Also, don't protest when your kid can't ride because they are clearly too short and turn the flash off while on rides (or better yet, put the camera away and just enjoy). Other people can apply to employees also, and it particularly bugs me when someone who is being paid to work isn't putting in 100% and/or just doesn't care about their job and it shows.

November 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM · There was a guy behiend me at the enchanted tiki room quoting along the entire show
November 15, 2014 at 9:23 AM · There really isn't anything on this list that really makes me mad. I am pretty good at keeping calm and I think the main parks(universal/disney) do an excellent job with the things on the list they can control. I voted other people, although I wouldn't say I really get mad at them. It is more of a headshake in disbelief and feeling sorry for them for ruining their vacation.
If you read my post about my Disneyland trip you heard this but the people I travelled with made me pretty frustrated. A larger group makes it tough and can hurt how much you enjoy a trip. We didn't all agree on what to do which made it so we weren't able to do everything.
November 15, 2014 at 9:50 AM · One time, we went to Disneyland and it was so busy we were only able to go on five rides all day long. Our average wait time was between one and two hours but we still had a fantastic time. But that's the kind of people we are. We're like bacteria... wherever we are, we thrive.
November 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM · If you try to run up in front of people, saying "Oh my friends are up there", when everyone is standing in line like civilized human beings I will personally block you. I have done this multiple times to multiple people. I am 6'6 work out daily, have a beard, and tattoos and I am the guardian of the line. Do not cross me.
November 15, 2014 at 11:42 AM · One could make a single choice vote with the choice being "Long waits," and remove all other choices from this vote. That then would describe your average day at Tokyo Disney Resort ;-)

And the long waits there typically involve excellent themed queues and the people surrounding you in line are some of the most polite you'll even encounter so it all adds up to a day that is impossible to get mad.

November 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM · I chose "Dirtiness and poor maintenance." These things reflect on how management feel about the guest experience and their attitudes are filtering down to the associates/cast members on the front lines. From trash cans overflowing to areas needing a new coat of paint and ever worse restrooms that become almost unusable shows a lack of priorities. Fortunately I have not seen this very often. "Breakdowns and closures" I am sure are directly related to this.

I do wish we could have ranked the choices from worst to least annoying.

November 15, 2014 at 9:20 PM · Hard to believe 53% would rather be in a dirty run down park than deal with a few idiots a day....
November 15, 2014 at 10:45 PM · I dont see why over half of all voters can't put up with "other people". Surely you deal with them wherever you are, what ever you do?

It's not your theme park and other people have the same rights to be there. I wonder if there could be a poll to non-enthusiasts, how highly some of us would appear?

Theme parks are for all people of all walks of life; what annoys me is park who takes money at the gate but cannot up-keep the park properly. I'd rather put up with irritating individuals in a line to ride a coaster, than that coaster be shut due to poor management from the park.

November 16, 2014 at 4:44 AM · In Disneyland Paris it's the people smoking who drove me crazy. They would light up everywhere and anywhere - in the lines for the rides, while watching the parades, the outside seating areas of the restaurants, around little kids. It was maddening.
November 16, 2014 at 6:06 AM · Agreed, N B, but if you take all three choices that represent a poorly managed park (Long Waits, Dirtiness and Poor Maintenance, and Breakdowns and Closures), it is about 45% of the vote. Bad park operations should get the highest vote, imho, but sadly people seem to have a very short fuse for the actions of their neighbors. This result is likely a symptom of a much larger problem in our world today.
November 16, 2014 at 1:31 PM · There's a simple solution to dirty run-down parks: chalk it up to a bad experience and just don't visit again until the park's cleaned up its act. However, we don't have any jurisdiction in a park with good maintenance against others who ruin it for the rest of us. That's why I think most are voting "other people."
November 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Long waits long waits, long waits. 30-60 mins for 3 mins of satisfaction is not an acceptable payoff to me.

I'd like to see a new park, designed from the ground up for more throughput on rides.

November 17, 2014 at 6:10 AM · Quite simply bad manners make me mad.
There's not much worse than watching a child grab the cookie/Mickey/candy from grandma then turn away and not say thank you. Or 'gimme that' to a CM - I was raised to say 'may I have one of those please?' It takes a lot of effort for me to try and rise above it and just use manners correctly myself.
November 17, 2014 at 7:26 AM · There seems to be more and more strollers in the parks, and the kids seem to be older (some maybe as old as 10). The strollers seem to be bigger, with some having bicycle size tires. I remember when you had to rent your strollers from Disney.
November 17, 2014 at 5:22 PM · I agree the age of some of these kids in strollers and the size of them is crazy. We were actually conscious of the stroller size so we brought an "umbrella" stroller for our 2 year old when we were there.
November 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM · What annoys me at theme parks is when people do not abide by no-smoking rules. Some smokers try to hide the fact that they are smoking by cupping the cigarette in their hands (but it is so obvious) or simply just blatantly ignore the rules. I've seen Disney employees tell visitors to put out their cigarettes only to have them light up again the minute they leave.

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