What's your most embarrassing theme park mistake?

Edited: October 4, 2017, 10:59 AM

Riffing here off Russell's response in our front-page post asking When is my child old enough to go to Walt Disney World?, let's share our most embarrassing moments when we - despite being the Theme Park Insiders that we now are - screwed up and did something wrong in the parks.

Russell mentioned trying to discreetly take a crying child out of a WDW theater attraction... except that it was Carousel of Progress, which meant that when he tried to exit the theater, he e-stopped the ride. Whoops.

Of my many stories, my most recent one was during the opening night party for Pandora, when I got turned around in the exit for Flight of Passage, and ended up confidently leading a group of other riders back into the building, where we got good and lost for a solid 10 minutes, trying to find our way back out. Also, whoops.

What's your story?

Replies (10)

October 4, 2017, 11:22 AM

I made a mistake of thinking that an easy shortcut from EPCOT to Downtown Disney would be taking the boat to Swan and then a bus. As it happened, massive delays on both plus ended up on wrong bus that stopped at Caribbean Beach (which has about five stops) so took me about an hour when a simple bus from Epcot to Downtown would have gotten me there fast.

Edited: October 4, 2017, 12:29 PM

Robert asked for it, so here it is...

It was the fall of 2010, and we were in the Magic Kingdom with our 6-month old son. He had been a trooper all day, and was having a blast meeting characters and riding on some of the smaller rides. However, it was getting hot in a typical late afternoon Florida, swampy, not quite thunderstormy sort of way, and our son was getting cranky. So we thought he might be a little more comfortable in an air conditioned space. "Oooh, look, the Carousel of Progress is loading right now with no line!" I said to my wife. She added, "We haven't been on that in a while (it was usually shut down in October/November, our typical trip timing), and the A/C is always nice in there." So we walked in and sat down near the back of the theater so that if our son did make some noise, it wouldn't disturb everyone. The show starts, and my son is laying in my wife's lap whining a bit. His cries are growing in volume and into full-on screams as we get to the first version of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" and the theater moves to the next scene. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention when we started because I was focused on my son, but I don't recall any cast members providing instructions for guests needing to leave the theater during the show, and there were no CMs in our wedge of the attraction. So, as the volume of my son's screams began to intensify, I started to consider our options. Milk wasn't working, pacifiers weren't working, singing and rocking/bouncing wasn't working, so the only thing I could think of was "I don't want to be THAT parent that ruins an experience for everyone else because of their screaming child." There were about 15 guests in our wedge of the attraction, and some were beginning to give that glaring look back at us as we attempted to console our screaming boy. Before the next rotation, I decided we wouldn't subject our entire theater to the screams of a 6-month old drowning out John and Rover anymore, so we discretely headed towards the closest door marked "Exit". There was no indication that opening the door would cause an e-stop or that the door could not be used in a non-emergency situation (though at that time as a 1st time dad I probably would consider a screaming child an emergency). When we exited, we let out a sigh of relief that we had spared our fellow guests the torture of our child's screaming; that was until a cast member steamed up and yelled at us for leaving the attraction prematurely, stating that we had just "ruined the ride" not only for those in our wedge of the attraction, but for everyone on the Carousel (including those that were undoubtedly watching the finale number). Yes, a Disney CM actually said we "ruined the ride", and did so in a surprisingly mean way (I'd probably react the same way if some dumb guest caused an e-stop on a ride I was operating, even at the Happiest Place on Earth).

Boy we felt dumb, but now look back on the incident with a bit of a chuckle, and give our son a hard time about it. A little 6-month old is all it took to stop the wheels of Progress!

October 4, 2017, 12:40 PM

Two: The restrooms in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom, the long ones that bridge the path from the area from the riverboat to the Jungle Cruise, I walked all the way into the women's restroom and wondered where are the urinals until a woman screamed. The second was not paying attention on a bus and allowing my DSL camera to be stolen. I would have given the camera away to have been able to have kept the film inside. These are the things that happen when you are having such a good time and are in a rush to get back to doing exciting things. It can be so hard to remember to slow down and take in the small stuff.

October 4, 2017, 1:03 PM

My story is more a 'poor theme park etiquette' one, but still embarassing in hindsight. The very first time I went to Orlando, I was in awe of everything around me. At the time, my phone wasn't good enough to take decent video, so I was using a camcorder and my iPad. My mistake was that I wanted to record EVERYTHING. Rides, shows, queues, shops, restaurants, even just walking around. Hours and hours of footage, most of which I haven't even watched back since! I'm ashamed to say that this included the frowned upon holding up of an iPad to record MK's nightly fireworks. So, I'm pretty sure that I was a person who other guests would have been tutting and shooting annoyed looks at, and thinking about it, I'm very embarrassed at my lack of consideration. After that first visit, I did realise the error of my ways and my phone only comes out now, to record family moments. Please don't blacklist me :)

October 5, 2017, 12:34 AM

Our first visit to Disneyland in California in 1980. Had a brilliant day and completely blown away by the adventure. We were looking to find out where the fireworks display was, all other rides clearly mapped and we had successfully followed map directions all day. So we stopped at a kiosk to ask the cast member, "Where are the fireworks?" Not sure if it was the accent or the stupid question but they looked bemused and just pointed to the sky! Later when fireworks started we understood ??And loved every amazing minute but I always remember the stupid question!

October 6, 2017, 8:10 AM

We pretty much did what Russell did, back around 2008. Our older son was a year or two old, and we took him on COP. He loved the animatronic dog so much that he wanted to pet him. We too exited, not aware of the consequences, until a cast member met us on the other side. We just apologized and the cast member wasn't mad. We had assumed that it was like exiting the other theater type shows.

October 6, 2017, 10:48 AM

My sister lives in Indiana, in 2003 I paid for her and her husband and the kids to go to Disneyland (she had not been there since 1977). I drove and took my Dad with as an opportunity to spend time with the grand kids. He was 7 months removed from a double knee replacement. I made him work really hard on his therapy but I failed to build up the strength in his legs so he would tire quickly. My sister is always one for bending (and breaking) the rules. When he wore out on the 2nd day my sister took him to the near by Monorail station so that could shorten the trip back to the hotel. (We were staying on Disney property)

Here's where things went wrong, the Monorail elevator is for people with disabilities and apparently at the time, strollers weren't allowed in the elevator. You see where this is heading... Two problems, they entered the elevator with my dad and a couple with disabilities. The couple became enraged and complained to a cast member so they not only did not let my sister use the elevator, they would not let my dad use it either, so he had to labor up the steps. My sister gets in a shouting match with the disabled couple and yet another cast member denied them access to the monorail. Largely due in part to the ensuing argument. Here is the best part. No one, absolutely no one raised the point that my dad has artificial knees and needs to use the elevator. My sister was told to calm down or they would remove them from the park. (They were trying to leave said park). I tried to speak with the cast member not to defend my sister however to let them know, my dad does have a disability. I was told to be quite and "that I was not involved" by the cast member. All eyes were on us and I had to quietly explain the situation to Disneyland uniformed police whom after the fact sided with me but this was after the incident was over and they were on the monorail. I didn't like the attention it drew and it was embarrassing. I asked the Security guard if he would at least explain to the cast member who had shown my dad zero respect if he would let me explain the situation as a favor. They politely agreed but the cast member only stated that the elevator was for people with disabilities.. I asked if he understood that my Dad had artificial knees to which he turned an d walked away. Moral of the story.. keep your strollers off the elevator (and sister too).

October 6, 2017, 3:07 PM

I have to say this in response of leastintresting's comment. Physical disabilities are not all as obvious as being in a wheelchair. There are people who abuse things meant specifically for people with disabilities, but don't accuse anyone of taking advantage of something for people of disabilities. As for elevators, they should be for anyone to use. Disney and others just need to make sure there are enough of them; preferably more than what is required for when there is high demand or in case an elevator brakes.

October 7, 2017, 10:22 AM

That's when you get all the CMs names (from the nametag) and ask for a Guest Relations cast member.

October 10, 2017, 11:32 AM

To tell you what kind of person my Dad is, although we are well aware we can get some accommodations within the park and attractions due to his disability, My Dad refuses too. As he says, "there are people that have it tougher than me". He just needed to use that elevator because the stairs were too much for him to handle.

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