Tip of the week: Focus on kindness to get the most enjoyment from your vacation

November 7, 2012, 10:09 AM · I believe that most of us believe that we are kind people. Or, at the very least, we aspire to be nice to others. Yet too many theme park visitors forget about kindness toward others while they're racing from ride to ride, trying to squeeze every last dollar of value from the several hundred bucks they've spent on their family's theme park tickets.

But what are really buying when you pay for a theme park ticket? It's not just the opportunity to bag as many attractions in one day as you can. Or the chance to meet a bunch of cartoon characters. You're buying enjoyment - a good time with the people you've brought with you. If you're sacrificing enjoyment in order to maximize your ride time or fatten your kids' autograph books, you're doing it wrong.

Having fun at Dollywood
Having fun at Dollywood

So focus on kindness whenever you visit a theme park, and notice how that affects your enjoyment level throughout the day. Hey, once you've spent the money - it's gone. Let it go, then. From that moment on, focus only on the enjoyment that admission can buy for you.

Sure, get to the park before it opens. Go first on the rides which will have the longest mid-day waits. Either get dining reservations, or eat before or after traditional meal times to avoid restaurant waits. If anyone's getting too hot, take a break. Don't set aside any of these tips that help you get the most from your day in the park. But don't try so hard to squeeze so much into your day that you become a barking field general instead of a happy family member.

When you step inside a theme park, you've surrounded yourself with many of the nicest people you'll ever encounter in your life. 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's 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.

If you've bought a one-day base ticket to an Orlando theme park, it's likely that the average park employee you encounter is making less money that day than you spent on your single ticket. So if you get frustrated, don't take it out on them. In fact, if you change your attitude, and focus on kindness instead, it's possible that park employee can show you the way around your frustration and toward an even better option instead.

But they don't always do that for the jerks.

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're 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 - whatever we're doing there.

For more tips on getting the most from a family vacation, please visit our 100 Travel Tips for Visiting Theme Parks page.

Replies (10)

November 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Bravo... and a wonderful attitude to take back to the rest of your life as well.
November 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Indeed Bravo. You will always get a better result by making the other person want to go go the extra mile for you through kindness and happiness; rather than by bulling and berating them.
November 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM · It's Miss Lillian! She is always a highlight of our trips to Dollywood.
November 7, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Great topic & article, you never know how much a thank you or a smile goes for an theme park employee who may have been dealing with unhappy tourists all day.

As far as dealing with other guest who may be rude. It's true you can't control another person's behavior or attitude, but you can control your own & how you choose to deal with the situation.

Kindness is Kool!

November 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM · "If a ride's 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."

YES! Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you! This is by far the best post I've ever read. :) Smiles and manners get you the best service, always.

November 7, 2012 at 6:07 PM · When you walk to Africa in Animal Kingdom, and just befor the bridge you turn right (facing the waterfall) you can sit down and relax and watch the birds that are on display.
I sat there for half an hour and only a few people walked there. All of these times the kids where exited and fasinated by the birds and wanted to stop but their parrents pulled them away to run to the next ride or show.
Amazingingly sad for the kids.
ALso, what is up with those mobile phones?!
It's costing you a arm and a leg to get into the park and then you don't watch all the beautifull stuf but you are texting you god knows who?! The thing has a off button.
And please behave as human beeings. You are on vacation, have fun!
November 8, 2012 at 5:33 AM · My wife and I are very fortunate to live in Orlando. We are sad to see so many people pushing to get every last dime of value from their ticket price. Many feel as if they are entitled to be rude and obnoxious because it is their vacation. Pretty sad.

One of the things we like to do the most is just go to a park and people watch. Take in an attraction, grab a treat, a bench, and just watch. It's also a great time to get a wide angle view of your surroundings and just enjoy the beautiful architecture.

November 9, 2012 at 3:39 AM · Yep. My late wife and I used to love to people watch, too. And I figure, what better place than Disneyland? Guess it works on both coasts (as if there were any doubt).
November 9, 2012 at 6:06 AM · "When you step inside a theme park, you've surrounded yourself with many of the nicest people you'll ever encounter in your life."

I can get with this at the Disney and Orlando parks. I would agree with this for Busch Gardens VA also. But this is definitely not the experience at the Six Flags in suburban DC. Not in the least happy or friendly - either the employees or most people attending.

November 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM · thanks for pic of Miss Lillian.missed a few days of visiting the site,a couple of daughters moving in the same week. if you can not have fun with Miss Lillian, it is your loss.

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