Vote of the week: Stand or sit at theme park shows?

September 21, 2012, 10:33 AM · You've shown up early and claimed your space in front of the castle for the night's big fireworks show. The area lights have gone off, the music's begun to play, and the first shell's about to launch into the sky.

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom

But here's the big question: Are you, and everyone around you, standing or sitting? Few questions cause more conflict in theme parks than this collective nightly decision: Is everyone going to stand up to watch the show, or sit down?

Standing allows more people to crowd into the space, giving more people the chance to see the show from its optimum viewing point. But standing leaves shorter visitors, including all those kids, straining to see anything above the taller adults in the crowds. Sure, you could put your kid on your shoulders, but that's just going to block the view even worse for the people behind you. And have fun with that sore back tomorrow.

Sitting allows people to enjoy the show without having to worry about the people in front you. Little kids can see and enjoy the show. But people sitting take up more room than people standing, leaving fewer able to get into those prime viewing spots. And sitting on the hard concrete for an hour or more? Have fun with that sore back tomorrow.

So which is it? Sure, this is a collective decision, but which way will you try to sway the crowd? Sometimes, you don't have a choice. Every time I've watched World of Color, Disney California Adventure cast members have enforced a "no sitting" policy, forcing everyone in the crowd to stand to see the show. But over at Disneyland, crowds at Fantasmic! almost always sit, at least whenever I've watched the show. At the fireworks in front of the castle I've seen the crowd go either way - some nights everyone sits; some nights everyone stands.

And some nights, a few people get into nasty shouting fights with those around them who want to do the other, instead.

I'd love to hear your thought about standing vs. sitting for theme park street shows. The comments await you!

Replies (24)

September 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM · At Fantasmic there are both standing and sitting sections, as well as a couple "stand or sit" sections.

I believe it's a similar setup for the fireworks, but I worked there less frequently than out at Fantasmic.

Asking guests to stand up was always one of the worst parts of the night, but I feel like it's the fair thing to do in many sections so as many guests can see the show as possible - and since there are sitting sections available to those who arrive early enough, there's an option for those with kids that would be negatively impacted by a standing section.

Of course that means you have to get to the water's edge at 7 p.m. for a 9 p.m. show...but so it goes.

September 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM · Standing. I don't know why, I just like it.
September 21, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Sitting, I love theme parks…but at the end of the day when your feet are tired…I'd rather sit down and watch it.
September 21, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Sitting, I love theme parks…but at the end of the day when your feet are tired…I'd rather sit down and watch it.
September 21, 2012 at 1:29 PM · "Standing allows more people to crowd into the space, giving more people the chance to see the show from its optimum viewing point. But standing leaves shorter visitors, including all those kids, straining to see anything above the taller adults in the crowds."

The second sentence disqualifies the first sentence. Even at 5 feet 11 inches, I can still have a head to block my view when standing up. I feel badly for those shorter than me.

The best viewing arrangement is seats that are highly raked with the show occurring in the middle, not at stage level. This is more likely at Disney's shows that has a multi-media experience.

I prefer seats since standing is just exhausting.

September 21, 2012 at 1:54 PM · I would love to sit but, at least at Magic Kingdom, you aren't allowed to sit for fireworks on the hub. Every time we've tried and gotten a majority of the crowd to sit PAC came around and made everyone stand up. :(

I've sat on the curb for parades before and that was great, but involved camping out for an hour for the exact spot I wanted for Boo to You. (could care less about the rest of the parades that haven't changed in years).

I think that half of main street should be sitting and half standing so everyone can have their preferred way of viewing and still see. I don't think it will ever actually happen, but that's what I would like to see.

September 21, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Robert, don't forget people in wheelchairs. I missed the entire World of Color show because everyone was standing and the images are too low; I was on the handicap section, and still couldn't see a thing. Had I known this situation, I would have gone to Fantasmic instead.

I voted "sit" since my family can sit down and I can have full view; Fantasmic at DHS is a good example.

September 21, 2012 at 2:32 PM · Sit for parades. Stand for fireworks. At 5'8" I always get the six foot bloke with his kid on his shoulders stood right in front of me. That's not a problem for fireworks but I usually miss most of the parades unless I camp out 3 hours before hand for a kerbside view
September 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM · I have a better reason why I prefer standing: YOU HAVE TO GET SPOTS EARLY.
September 21, 2012 at 3:14 PM · After a day of walking and standing on lines, I'd prefer to sit. But what I actually do is take advantage of shorter ride time waits around the park.
September 21, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Depends on the show. For parades, sit. For fireworks, stand. For nighttime spectaculars like Fantasmic, either. Of course, I don't watch parades and rarely camp out for a show, so I usually just go with what's left ten to fifteen minutes before (almost always standing room only). I like what Disneyland does with Fantasmic where the front sections are sitting and the back are standing, and hopefully this will be brought to World of Color once it stops getting capacity crowds daily.

One other random comment about parents putting kids on their shoulders...I don't mind it, but please be considerate. Last time I saw World of Color, there was a dad at the front of our section with his daughter on his shoulders (if you're gonna do it, stand toward the back of your section), who let his daughter keep her conical princess hat on (remove anything that makes your child taller), and was dancing around to the music the entire time (it's distracting to have something bouncing around right in front of you the entire show).

September 21, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Despite my severe flatfeet, I pick standing solely due to the annoying hassle of trying to walk past sitting people.
September 21, 2012 at 10:28 PM · Being quite the theme park nut, standing isn't at all a problem, and also lets me get better camera work. Sitting is great though whenever available, but that never happens.
September 22, 2012 at 4:09 AM · Sitting. Because I can't stand anymore because of my terrible healt. I also hate it when (in the past) I was standing at MK for quite some time to see the firework and the guy in front of me puts his kid on his shoulders. I get it that the kid kan't see a thing but now my view is killed. Keep kids on head leavel when you pick them up but not hire, it's anti social!
Whith seats kids can stand in front of their parents and watch it both and no one gets a obstructed view, like at Fantasmic at WDS. Please Disney install back rests to the banches for comfort and kids that don't corrected and keep kicking you in the back. It also prevents guests from walking on the banches when they exit.

I also think Disney is stupid. At Epcot and Magic kingdom second level viewing areas could be build and intergrated in the design of the viewing area. Mainstreet could have a second level with restaurants with outside dining options and baywindows inside so guests can dine and watch the fireworks and castle projection show. How wonderfull is that? And at Epcot the upstairs restaurants in Japan, France, Norway and the ones I forgot should include the view of the show in their restaurants and the rest of the countries should build them. And please make the stage of the American gardens thingie (don't know the name) so that it can sink into the floor. More multi level walkways around the lagoon would also help.
I love how you can sit at the Christmas skating show and firework at Sea World and I love that you kow can sit at When The Grinch Stole Christmas at IOA (awesome show!!). Sitting it the way to go.

September 22, 2012 at 4:16 AM · Of course it's nice to sit, but unless there are actual seats to sit in, then I prefer to stand. The reason is simply because more people can fit into the viewing area if we all stand. It's selfish to choose to sit when that will preclude others from getting a good view.

Disney and other parks should not allow children on parents' shoulders. Parents who do this are being rude to the guests behind them who end up with an obstructed view. This is especially so when a guest staked out that view early, and then finds out when the show starts a kid is going up on a parent's shoulders. I always carried my kids so their eye level was the same as mine, and therefore did not block the people behind me. People need to have more consideration and stop being so selfish.

In addition, the liability issue for the parks in allowing precariously positioned youngsters on a parent's shaky shoulders is outrageous. I can't believe Disney hasn't forbid the practice for that reason alone. Disney and all the guests around a child who fell off a parent's shoulders would be liable for a big lawsuit. Disney needs to ban this practice now.

September 22, 2012 at 11:24 AM · If you put your child on your shoulders at the time the show starts and it blocks my view I'm going to get in your face and make you move. I don't care if parents do this, but your child needs to be on your shoulders from the time you stake out the spot and remain there the entire time. That tells me and others to pick another spot for viewing.

I'm very aggressive about this and while my aggression angers those who I go after I think the parent who does this is just as rude to those positioned behind them.

September 22, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Kneel....before the Great and Powerful Disney.
September 22, 2012 at 4:23 PM · And Mike wins comment of the day. :^)

FWIW, in Japan, everyone sits. In the US, even when some people sit, there's a point in the crowd where everyone else behind them stands. (There's a math paper begging to be written on that, BTW.) But when I visited Tokyo Disney, I noticed that everyone sat if they were not going to be moving while they waited: parades, fireworks, Fantasmic, even the waiting for the park open in the morning.

September 23, 2012 at 5:55 AM · Yeah in Japan everyone sits, they also never cut. They sit down, the next person comes and sits down behind them and so on and so on. EVERYONE can see the show this way and its so much nicer to have people actually respect your space and acknowledge you were there first. At WDW you get to the show early, stake out your place ( sitting or standing ) and even though you do this about an hour before the show about 30 seconds before the show starts some freaking rude American, cuts right in front of you and then when the show starts, puts their child on their shoulders so that you are staring at some kids butt.

I hate watching the shows/ parades in America, in Japan I love it

September 23, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Because any theme park experience means a long day of walking and standing in line (at least if you're doing it right!), I prefer these "end of the day" shows to be a more relaxing affair, so I like to sit down and watch.

I feel the exact opposite about rock concerts! If you plan on sitting down during a Rolling Stones show, you should just go home and watch them on DVD! I've actually had people ask me to sit down at rock concerts so they could see!

September 24, 2012 at 5:36 AM · For me it really depends on what time of the day it is. I don't mind standing during the daytime parades. I think everybody sitting down really clogs up the flow of traffic and you really don't see any better.

The evening light parade is best viewed near the Liberty Tree Tavern or the shooting gallery. There are plenty of seats built into the landscape.

I usually like to at least lean up against something for the evening fireworks because by that time my back is wrecked and I truly need a seat. Man, does the bucket seat of my car feel luxurious after a long day at MK!

September 24, 2012 at 7:39 AM · I like to sit down if you get a decent spot,but i'm happy to stand. I'm just happy to be there at Disney or where ever.
September 24, 2012 at 2:16 PM · My pet peeve is when you are sitting behind someone, at any event anywhere, and they decide to stand through the entire event, despite having a seat, forcing every single freakin' person behind them to do the same in order to see. And if you ask them to sit down they simply ignore you. This has happened at concerts, parades, shows of every variety. Just because you can't see someone because they are behind you doesn't mean they don't exist. You should have learned about object permanence at a year old or less, people!
September 24, 2012 at 9:20 PM · I'd prefer sitting in a chair. That is rarely an option...... and if I have to sit on hard concrete or grass..... may as well just go ahead and stand.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive