Theme Park Insider

Let's Talk about Brazilians

April 30, 2015, 9:47 AM · You might have watched this video, released in the beginning of the year. In it, the comedic group The Florida Men, inspired by their own personal experience as Orlando cast members, make fun of how Brazilians act in theme parks. Of course it was exaggerated, as comedy usually is, but Brazilians still strongly criticized it online, forcing the group to publicly apologize for it.

Jokes aside, as a Brazilian, former cast member and theme park connoisseur, I have to admit some of what the video was based on is absolutely true. Most of you has had your share of interesting stories involving tourists from the country in Orlando. After all, Brazil became the number one overseas-visitor in the city in 2013, surpassing longtime winner UK for the first time. Which means that, in 2013, almost 777,000 Brazilians came to Central Florida, a number that has exploded 900 percent since 2004.

As a Brazilian, living in the outskirts of our biggest city, Sao Paulo, I’m the first to say that this is NOT an article to defend ourselves, because we allegedly act in the wrong way when travelling. It is simply an article to talk about the cultural differences between Brazil and the US, and I’ll try my best to explain what those are. Of course it is an impossible task to put an entire population of 204 million people into one “box,” so I’ll make it clear that this is a general guide to understanding the Brazilian tourists in Orlando, divided into five topics.

Flag of Brazil

The language barrier

Robert Niles and other writers from Theme Park Insider have experienced this when visiting Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, Universal Studios Japan and other theme parks from around the world. Yes, we are currently living in an era in which English is perceived as the number one language. That still doesn’t mean that a person wakes up and says, "Hey! I can speak fluent English!" -- especially to Brazilians, since our language (Portuguese) is SO much different from English. We don’t have anything similar to Present Perfect and don’t get me started on those damn phrasal verbs - quotes taken directly from my English classes (I worked as an English teacher for 10 years in Brazil). Another aggravating issue is that English is not taught in our public schools here and even most private (and usually expensive) schools don’t have particular great teachers for it. The solution is to enroll your kid in specialized English schools or private classes for an expensive extra amount every month. (That is also very common among adults.) In the end, that still doesn’t mean that one will become fluent. My students were all upper-middle class, teenagers and adults, most of whom were still having problems after years of classes with the verb “to be” and the pronunciation of the sound “th” in “thing.” (Yes, that is very tough and unusual for a Brazilian!)

Combine that with the fact that Orlando is sold in Brazil as an easy place to travel, and that you can go there if you don’t speak English! If you think about Orlando’s signaled freeways and friendly maps and cast members in all theme parks, ready to help at any problem, and compare it to a place such as New York City, it is true. It is an easy, breezy city to visit... but of course doubts and problems can arise in any vacation, and that is when you see lost, non-fluent Brazilians in theme parks, trying desperately to communicate in a foreign language.

The Brazilian way of doing things

This is a tricky point, because I really don’t want you to see it as something negative. It can be good or bad, depending on the situation. In Brazil we have something called “jeitinho Brasileiro” (which literally means “little Brazilian way”). We have an unique way of handling things, very different from Americans, trying to take advantage of any loopholes we see. For example, we know that we can only travel with one overhead luggage inside the plane. But what if no one sees me taking three? Let’s try it then. The same principle can be applied to most rules. Fastpasses are only allowed at a certain, scheduled, time of day? But what if I talk to that cast member, explain my unique situation, and try to get in the attraction now?

That is why you can often see Brazilians trying to get something out of a situation which has a clear, stated rule. That can also lead, in an overuse of the “jeitinho Brasileiro,” to cutting line in front of other people, for example.

This didn’t come out of nowhere in Brazil. Since colonial times, things DO NOT run smoothly here, even in legal institutions. Sometimes we have to be creative to get things done, such as getting city hall to fix a huge hole on the street you live in. That is why we are perceived in business as creative people, always thinking outside the box. We have to be creative in Brazil just to get by and live our lives.

Disney has known this for a long time. Heck, the character Jose Carioca is the animated representation of the “jeitinho Brasileiro!"

The Three Caballeros
Jose Carioca, center, with his buddies Donald Duck and Panchitos Pistoles

The shopping-spree necessity

This is not necessary something you see in theme parks, but more in the Orlando outlets. I still thought it was important to explain.

Things are expensive in Brazil. Very expensive. I’ll get a little economical here, but I promise I’ll be brief. Our current average wage is of R$1943 per month (having worked 320 hours that month). For us to go to the mall and buy a pair of Gap jeans, we would have to expend around R$139, or 7% of the average wage. In the US, that would represent only 1.5% of the average wage. It gets worse when we talk about electronics. An unlocked iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy S6 will cost almost TWICE our average wage, whereas in the US it is roughly a third of it. Add to it the fact that we don’t have a lot of outlets stores or malls in Brazil and voilà! You get the gist of the shopping necessity that gets to Brazilians when they arrive in the US and see things like “Buy One, Get One Free.” It is our chance to stock up on clothes, tennis shoes, electronics and whatever we feel like we need, for a REASONABLE price.

Cheerfulness is our middle name

Brazilians are cheerful. Not only that, we greet each other with kisses on the cheek; hug people we hardly know; and are loud, loud people. It is in our nature. And that can disturb others when, in the middle of the park or in a line, we start talking loudly or decide to sing some song to pass the time! Don’t take it personally! We are friendly, optimistic and informal people and not afraid to show it, even when it isn’t necessarily the best place or time…

Living the “once in a lifetime” dream

If you think that the theme parks tickets are expensive right now, imagine for us, having to pay it in dollars, a currency at its strongest (current exchange rate: US$1 – R$3.10!). Plus airfare tickets (at around US$800), hotels, car rental, you know the drill. All of it in dollars!

A cheap solution to that is embarking on a pre-fixed tour with a guide, accompanied by other fellow Brazilians, a.k.a. those groups you see in Orlando, wearing T-shirts with the same color. That can be cheaper and also solves the problem with the first topic regarding the language.
Even so, for a lot of Brazilians, it is their longtime dream to go to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and it will probably be a dream they will get to live only once because of how expensive it is. So it is important to live such dream at its fullest, by visiting everywhere and, why not, using the “jeitinho Brasileiro” to do everything!

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Replies (38)

April 30, 2015 at 9:51 AM · Thank you, Renata. I think the last point is essential. In the two posts we linked at the bottom of your post, I wrote about my attempts to fit in as an American visiting other countries, with other languages. I like to think that I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but on my first attempts, I often screwed up abroad.

That's what we need to remember when we encounter some of these tour groups -- they're filled with first-timers who haven't had the experience to learn how to do better fitting in to our culture. Unfortunately, due to the expense of visiting Orlando from Brazil, we almost never get to see tour groups of experienced Brazilian visitors to counter the impression left by all the rookies.

April 30, 2015 at 11:49 AM · I have no issues with any group of people being loud, or being boystrous and enjoying themselves. But i do have issuse with being rude, no consideration for your fellow guest - MANNERS IS UNIVERSAL, it's not lost because you are from a different country. Now not all Brazilians are bad mannered, but a minority ruin it - be is pushing in, randomly screaming around you and scaring the little ones, pushing, selfie sticks banging into you, umberallas that hit you in the face, having no consideration at all for the fellow guest.

April 30, 2015 at 12:05 PM · I think most people's issues stem from annoyance due to perceived immaturity, and it's easy to blame a race or flag since it is easily visible.

My cousins are Brazillian and even they don't understand the chants that take place in the middle of the stretching chamber on Haunted Mansion.

Working at Epcot though I figured it out... It's not that the groups are Brazillian, it's that they are full of minimally supervised teens and tweens. You'll experience the same annoying crap behind the cheerleading groups that show up from Ohio.

April 30, 2015 at 12:20 PM · AWESOME ARTICLE - I love how theme parks (specifically around Orlando) are melting pots of many different visiting cultures.
And I agree with 'Court E'... I think it's the minimally supervised teens that are more annoying and not the race itself. Mild 'crowd mentality' ensues. But just because they're dressed the same they become easier targets to blame.

Although I'm an Asian American who grew up here, I've always been curious with those Brazilian groups going past me. Without sounding racist, they seem so different compared to the Asian cultures I'm more used to. And since I won't be visiting Brazil any time soon it was pretty cool getting a small glimpse of Brazilian culture through this article.

April 30, 2015 at 12:49 PM · As an ex-theme park employee I think this article is a must read for current employees, because while our training did actually mention things to be aware of with the Brazilian groups it also didn't prepare me for the first time I would encounter a tour while I was at an outside booth and had every member of the group touch me on the way past. One guy even gave my shoulder a rub. It creeped me out because I am not even touchy-feely with friends, much less strangers. Reading this would have been great to have helped me understand the cultural differences and be prepared for it as well.
April 30, 2015 at 1:02 PM · I understand that its a different culture. Im latin american and with my hispanic culture I know that all of us have our differences. I think that it all should come down to common sense and being curteous of your surrounding and those around you. I visit WDW with my family every year and have had some type of experience with people from brazil each time. Everything from being pushed, getting cut in line, not being able to hear something because yes the screaming is annoying to the oh so famous having an entire family push their way in front of you for a parade in which you've been saving space for 45 minutes under the sun to watch! The language barrier should not be something to make fun of. Just like many including ourselves we might find ourselves in situations when a little help is needed. Im more than glad to help anyone out, but I find rude behavior unacceptable and dont think that it should be ignored just because of culture difference. I see why this video would upset the brazilian community, but maybe they should look beyond their anger and maybe take something from it (we all should). Lastly, Disney is expensive. It costs a lot to make that magical vacation happen and it doesnt matter if your from brazil, central america, europe or even from the u.s.a. Bottom line we're all there to have a wonderful time. So lets all just be a bit more considerate of others and be respectful. It'll go a long way in the end.
April 30, 2015 at 1:02 PM · Not sure if it is a Dutch thing looking at our past but I Always take time to learn about the country I'm visiting and when I'm there I observe and try to be as respectful as possible as I'm a guest.
But go to Amsterdam and you meet the drunk and stoned UK guests or the obese, rude and load Americans and it's all true in the eye of the beholder. Putting some effort into beeing respectful (even when making mistakes) will never leed to angry faces. Countries as Egypt aren't easy to travel but with that aditude I got a lot of friendly faces and a lot of joy but if it's not in the DNA of the people they have to be prepared to handel some hate I guess.
April 30, 2015 at 1:41 PM · Wow what an ignorant article...

Folks from all over the world come to America to spend their monies here in the USA and you make fun of them... Make them look inept.

I have traveled the world, been to many counties while in the US Military and yes I too have looked a fool not knowing cultures and languages.

April 30, 2015 at 1:49 PM · If it's their dream to visit the happiest place on earth then they should be going to Tokyo Disney resort.
April 30, 2015 at 2:14 PM · I will agree that the problem lies not with the national origin, but the fact that huge groups of teens are off on an international adventure with a small number of chaperones who are only a few years older than they are.
I worked for many years at Six Flags over Georgia. One of the regular events the park hosted was Georgia Baptist Youth Day. It was known among the staff as the day of the year with the most shop lifting, and general shenanigans.
This story specifically gives great insight into cultural differences. It would be interesting to learn about how other cultures experience America and specifically our theme parks when visiting.
April 30, 2015 at 2:50 PM · I mean no disrespect but this kinda sounds like it's justifying poor behaviors because it's a once in a lifetime experience. I mostly go to Disney in the summer and have seen lots of tourism groups doing things that my parents would be ashamed of had I done them in a foreign country. I'm sorry but just bc its okay to try and beat "the system" (I've been cut in line too many times to count)doesn't make it acceptable regardless of who the offender is. Like I said I mean no disrespect, I just expect fellow park goers to show me the same courtesy that I show to them.
April 30, 2015 at 3:46 PM · I shudder when I see people wearing the same shirts. It's always a mob. It is worse when its some youth, school, or some organization. No one minds their manners. They cut in line constantly. It is worse at Universal since they don't stop line cutters. Best to visit the parks outside of summer and school breaks.
April 30, 2015 at 4:05 PM · Thanks for the wonderfully written article Renata. I'm glad to see someone sticking up for the Brazilians. I'm not trying to reopen a debate about their presence at the parks, but I always have felt it a bit unfair to categorize all Brazilians as rude due to the actions of a few. I agree that sticking a big group of teenagers together at a park (or anywhere for that matter) is a bad idea, but teenagers are teenagers and will act as they please, regardless of nationality.

@Brian: I disagree completely with the notion that this is an "ignorant article." It seems to me like the author was trying to encourage others to stop and realize some misconceptions we might have against a foreign group.

April 30, 2015 at 4:26 PM · Excellent article. And, yes, language can be a problem. I made a fool out of myself many times visiting in Europe and trying to speak the languages. But generally the people just laughed & treated me like I was family. Patience is a virtue.
April 30, 2015 at 4:41 PM · Great article, Renata! I was friends with many Brazilians in college, and they are a friendly, fun people. I think the way these vacations are marketed plays a huge role in this. If people are told that the vacation will be simple and easy (as opposed to most vacations abroad ) they won't adequately prepare for language/customs challenges.
April 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM · I've never had a problem with Brazilians. I think most of the bad experiences are self fulfilling prophesy. You see them coming and roll your eyes and sigh, and no matter how big your fake smile is, the group picks up on your vibe and acts accordingly. I love the happy energy these groups bring, and it shows when I greet them, and I get nothing but respect back.
April 30, 2015 at 7:41 PM · What a great piece of work you have there Renata!
I'm glad to finally find some useful information regarding our country, people, culture and even proposing that all of us should not only prepare ourselves for the new county we are about to explore but also be more welcoming and opened to welcome foreigners wherever we are. How amazing can it be to get to know someones' thoughts and cultural references?
Li
April 30, 2015 at 8:44 PM · Olá Renata,
Muito legal ter um brasileiro escrevendo por aqui.
Parabéns pelo texto ! Gostei muito da sua análise.
Um abraço
April 30, 2015 at 9:56 PM · I honestly don't think those groups would be so bad if they had more than 6-8 chaperones for the group of 30-45 kids. Even if they broke off into smaller groups may help. I used to run a camp where we visited Water World in Colorado, and we found it harder to control the kids if they were all together in one large group. If we split the group into smaller groups the kids all became less obnoxious and much easier to manage.

It's definitely an age/maturity issue. It's never been and never will be a race issue. It's a great article that allows some insight into your culture, but it also missed the true problem. Teenagers being teenagers.

May 1, 2015 at 12:52 AM · I was happy to hear the CM say it was "unfortunate" that WDW destroyed Mickey's house. It couldn't have cost that much to maintain Mickey and Minnie's houses, there was plenty of space keep them both and do the FL expansion, and they were perfect for meet 'n greets and photos. Just more bean-counting foolishness on the part of WDW management.
May 1, 2015 at 3:40 AM · I find their tendency to exploit situations rather disgusting. There is no excuse for bad behavior, foreigner or otherwise. Take the time to learn about a particular culture before visiting and act appropriately.
May 1, 2015 at 4:39 AM · Can you please explain why you all lay all over the place? Not only at the theme parks, but at malls. I was Florida mall in July one time, and there were Brazilians laying all over the floor, to the point it obstructed traffic. And why do you leave your backpacks in one big pile and walk away.
May 1, 2015 at 5:07 AM · This video is appalling. I'm both an American and a Brazilian citizen and I do not condone two people making fun of another culture like that. The video doesn't focus on the problem, it just makes fun of people for not speaking the language, which could be considered racist. This article sheds light on many things. Before I moved to the United States the perception of the American citizen was that they were cold individuals who are completely ignorant about the rest of the world. As we obviously know, that is not true (with a few bad apples). Those criticizing this article should understand the author is just starting a conversation and not defending the entire Brazilian culture AKA the actual rude people that would be rude if they were born anywhere else in the world.
May 1, 2015 at 7:09 AM · The `jeitinho brasileiro` is part of what Prof. Roland Inglehart, from University of Michigan calls Survival Values, prevalent in underdeveloped cultures, as oppose as community values prevalent in developed countries. In a hard environment people try to find the best solution for themselves instead of preserving the rights of the others.

That said, it is more than time for us (Brazilians) get rid of this jeitinho. Development is a state of spirit, not skyscrapers, computers and aircraft factories. We need to spot this jeitinho if we want to move along. And respect the others is crucial to this.

Some friends of mine said that the best reason to go to Disneyland instead of Disney World, is that since there are no Brazilian Tour Groups in Disneyland, you don't need to explain to your children why people that speaks portuguese behave so badly.

May 1, 2015 at 7:24 AM · Americans have all the right to complain about bad behavior and even to make fun about cultural issues like lousy noise and people touching each other, but are in no position to make fun of someone for being monolingual.

About Brazilian acting like grasshoppers in malls can be explained not only by the fact that american economy is more efficient and competitive, but also for a loophole taxation. Brazilians pay much lower income taxes and much higher VAT when compared with Americans. When you pay the lower income taxes in Brazil and do your shopping in USA you get the best of the two worlds.

May 1, 2015 at 7:43 AM · Last January I was in Mickey's Philhar Magic, and some families stopped in the center of the rows. There were Indians and Mexicans among them, but mostly Brazilians. The CM kindly asked everyone to move along to the end of the row, so all but one family moved. The CM repeated the call but no one move.

So one Brazilian in the back of the theater shouted in portuguese " hey idiot, she is asking you to move on!". One third of the theater was filled by Brazilians. Since nothing happens more people start to shout in portuguese "move, move, move". The CM looked astonished, without knowing what to do. The family finally stood up, under a thunder applause, and exited the theater.

I believe that the couple had a hard time to explain to their children why they acted like the bad guys.
We are in the process to get rid of the "jeitinho". Just give us some time!!!

May 1, 2015 at 7:43 AM · Last January I was in Mickey's Philhar Magic, and some families stopped in the center of the rows. There were Indians and Mexicans among them, but mostly Brazilians. The CM kindly asked everyone to move along to the end of the row, so all but one family moved. The CM repeated the call but no one move.

So one Brazilian in the back of the theater shouted in portuguese " hey idiot, she is asking you to move on!". One third of the theater was filled by Brazilians. Since nothing happens more people start to shout in portuguese "move, move, move". The CM looked astonished, without knowing what to do. The family finally stood up, under a thunder applause, and exited the theater.

I believe that the couple had a hard time to explain to their children why they acted like the bad guys.
We are in the process to get rid of the "jeitinho". Just give us some time!!!

May 1, 2015 at 7:44 AM · Last January I was in Mickey's Philhar Magic, and some families stopped in the center of the rows. There were Indians and Mexicans among them, but mostly Brazilians. The CM kindly asked everyone to move along to the end of the row, so all but one family moved. The CM repeated the call but no one move.

So one Brazilian in the back of the theater shouted in portuguese " hey idiot, she is asking you to move on!". One third of the theater was filled by Brazilians. Since nothing happens more people start to shout in portuguese "move, move, move". The CM looked astonished, without knowing what to do. The family finally stood up, under a thunder applause, and exited the theater.

I believe that the couple had a hard time to explain to their children why they acted like the bad guys.
We are in the process to get rid of the "jeitinho". Just give us some time!!!

May 1, 2015 at 8:46 AM · The problem is the groups are filled with mostly teens! You take a mob of minimally supervised children anywhere you are bound to have problems, no matter the nationality. One lady was chaperoning a group of 50 all by herself at one point!
May 1, 2015 at 9:34 AM · The thing that annoys me about tour groups Amin general no matter what ethnicity, is the chanting but even worse the act like they own the place and push you and cut in the line. I have seen your groups push children away from there family just to get to a ride.
May 1, 2015 at 12:25 PM · Part of the fun of going to places like this is seeing people from all over the world. We dont have many Brazilians, British, or Asians in the deserts of far West Texas so insted of being annoyed by their foreign behavior, we embrace it and smile.
May 1, 2015 at 12:33 PM · Also a good point was brought up about the shopping. I live in El Paso, TX, and our malls and shopping centers are flooded by Mexican tourists because its a lot cheaper here! They bring mannerisms like in Orlando, but you just deal with it as in Florida
May 2, 2015 at 7:53 PM · I se a common theme here and I concur with the theme. I live fairly close t Niagara Falls and go there quite often. I have seen tour groups from all over the world there. Language is not a huge issue. I think the problem is that the Brazilian groups may be excited but they are ruining others expensive vacations. I have always thought that when travelling abroad one learns some of the more important customs before they go. I realize that mistakes will be made but there is no excuse for ruining another's vacation by what you think is perfectly fine. Rudeness is rudeness The behaviors I see at the Magic Kingdom by these groups is more appropriate for the clubs not the family oriented park. I will continue to call these people out when I see them and will push for their removal from the park if they can not follow the rules like everyone else.
May 3, 2015 at 1:59 AM · Interesting article. I've always had a feeling there's a logical reason why some cultures act the way they do in places like Disney and Universal, especially in large crowds. Back in my Jungle days, some of us have figured out how to make the most of having a boat full of neon wearing foreigners. Instead of telling our stale jokes that go over their heads, we simply point out animals . . . "Monkey, elephant, rhino" etc and try to make noises and get them to make noises back. You know you have a good Brazilian boat when they sing for you, now THAT'S magical!
May 3, 2015 at 6:46 AM · YEARRR! I'm BRASILIAN! No not Native - I burn by Mistake in Germany but live in the Azores (also a Portuguise Language Country) but I act exactly like this Article discribe the Brasilian Way of Theme Park Life. Exept the Grouping Question as people like the Alveys do not like me and make it UNPOSSIBLE for me to go on other TPR Tours as on that one I atended in 2014. And also exept cutting Lines.

I ALWAYS think out of the Box and sometimes with sucess: At Busch Tampa and Magic Kingdom I been able to store my Luggage a day without money been involved (beside a Deposite). At Disney it was easy but at Busch Tampa it was a hugh Task to find the right Person to talk to, too make it possible...

May 3, 2015 at 7:30 AM · Why NOT leaving the BagPacks in one big pile and walking away? Why every time you close your eyes a Hotel earns a minimum as 30 USD (sometimes twice as getting Cash AND sharging the credit Card - BEWARE of the "WOW" Resort) in Orlando and Police put you in Jail if you not like to participate?
May 3, 2015 at 8:54 PM · Very good article!

I think the biggest problem with these tour groups is that they are full of snot nosed teenagers.Teenagers can be the worst no matter what culture or language you speak. Having that many teens in one place can be a pain!

As for not speaking English, I found that very interesting. I would have thought due to business throughout the hemisphere would need English speakers. It could be argued that Europeans speak English better.....interesting!


I would love to see these tour groups in DLP. If they thought us Americans were nuts.....:)

May 5, 2015 at 6:24 AM · Olá Renata, gostei muito do seu artigo, acredito que ele retrata a realidade sem tirar nem por, e como bacharelando em Turismo aqui no Brasil, pretendo trabalhar esse texto com meus professores em minhas aulas.

Em minha opiniao, acredito que uma boa solução de imediato seria diminuir a quantidade de pessoas por grupo, para se ter um pouco mais de controle. Adolescentes (no geral) acabam pensando que por estarem longe de seus pais, tudo é permitido, e acabam agindo de forma rude e incorreta, como pular linhas. Agora, como brasileiro, eu acho bonito nossa forma de mostrar energia, cantando, dançando...

Um exemplo de como essas maneiras podem variar é que na véspera do ano novo, Epcot e Magic Kingdom ficam cheios de barulho, ao contrário de aqui no Brasil, o que seria bem estranho.

É nossa maneira de mostrar felicidade. E acima de tudo, acho bonito isso acontecer em outros países, para o estabelecimento do contato com outras culturas.

Parabens! :)

---

Hi Renata, loved your article! This shows the exactly reality, and as Tourism student, I intend to bring up the context in classes together with my classmates and teachers.

In my personal opinion, I believe that a immediate good solution would be taking a few less people per group to the parks, for a better control. Teenagers (in general) do rude things, like cutting lines, because they are too far away of their parents. But, as a Brazillian, I think it is beautiful the way we show energy, singing and dancing. It's our way to show happiness. An example of how different this ways can be: in NYE, Epcot and Magic Kingdom are full with noise, and here in Brazil, this would be VERY strange.

Above all, it is marvellous these types of things happening in other countries, to bring up the opportunity to make contact with other cultures.

Congratulations!

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