The worst people you meet in a theme park
As park fans, it's only natural to talk about likes and dislikes. Theme Park Insider and sites like it are full of countless discussions and debates
about rides, management, companies, service, and horror stories. For all our talk about how parks design their atmosphere, there isn't a lot of talk about how the people inside affect that atmosphere. The truth is that parks only have a certain amount of control over their environment. They can design it in a way that encourages happiness and facilitates fun and they can staff it with the best employees in the world. They cannot however, always control the behavior and/or attitude of the customers. At any given moment, the ambience is subject to change by the behavior of a single person or a group of people. In other words, it only takes one to irritate many and ruin the illusion. Since it is assumed that we are all here to have fun and enjoy a little escape from reality, we all should be bound by the laws of decency, common sense, and regard for one another to act like good theme park citizens and not annoy the bejeezus out of each other in public. Of course not everyone follows the rules.
With that in mind, I present a greatest hits compilation of theme park pet peeves and the perpetrators behind them. This list was compiled through public observation, personal experience, and a little Q/A with some of Theme Park Insider's finest. Some are bigger transgressions than others, but all actions on this list are guaranteed to generate contempt or worse from at least twelve other people.
The Line Cutter — Have you ever been standing in a two-hour slow moving line in the hot sun and seen somebody - or worse a handful of people with stupid little smiles on their faces - jump in line a little farther ahead, out of your reach and range of voice? Do you ever wish you had a hand grenade in your pocket for these occasions...ok maybe a little harsh, but sometimes it's the little things that bother me the most. The young ones might get a free pass. It's the ones who know better…the college age children, wannabe gangsters, mouthy teenagers, and 30-year-old adolescents that need loaded into a cannon and shot out into the parking lot…park ejection in the most literal sense. If you are a line cutter over the age of 12, congratulations…nobody likes you.
The Seat Nazi — Park employees probably shouldn't be on this list, but until park management learns that assigned seating policies are just lame, these poor ride ops will be on the list. To give credit, many are gracious and polite, trying to shed their status as "the man" as they order grown adults around like children in order to save five minutes of average hourly wait time. The guy's just doing his job, but as a paying customer, is it that unreasonable to let me sit wherever I want on the new roller coaster that I traveled three hours to ride? I'll answer that…it is not.
Wannabe Baller — This is the guy (and it's always a guy) who wins the basketball and dribbles it around the park for the rest of the day. The problem is that he can't dribble without losing the ball and sending it rolling or bouncing into a crowd of people. Amazing that he can somehow pull two free throws out of his rear end to win the prize, but can't make it 5 steps without booting the ball. Especially obnoxious are the ones who think they are Kevin Durant and try to crossover and spin around some old lady walking towards them (yes I've seen it happen more than once). Dude, you can't play, and if you can…we don't care.
The Backpacker — Question…what exactly does one need in there to walk around for a few hours and ride some rides? What resides in these fully stuffed backpacks with three water bottles clipped to the back - packs that literally double the size of the person carrying them? Despite packing everything else needed for a weeklong excursion, they always seem to forget the bottle of self-awareness. You know…the bottle that says not to stop suddenly in the middle of the walkway, reminds them that there is someone behind them in the queue, or that people don't really like being body checked by a massive bag of nothing in particular when you turn around. This isn't the Alps or the jungles of Vietnam, and unless you are a professional photographer or a parent of pre-toilet-trained children, you need only a few things on this mission, most of which can fit in your pocket. Free your minds, your backs, and our personal space.
The Soggy Bottom Boys — Don't you just love when you're next in line for the ride, and the person that gets out of your future seat looks like they just jumped in the lake? Inevitably, you walk upon a wet seat, something expected on a water ride…not so much on a dry ride. I'm fine with a seat freshly splashed by a wave or some other form of water cannon. I am not fine with a coaster seat containing somebody's 30 minute old warm, smelly, swamp-assy water sloshing around in the car. Who knows what's in that cocktail. I can only imagine what goes through the mind of the germaphobes in line. For the love of God, fellow man, public safety, and my pants…dry yourself off.
Parental Malpractice — As a parent of three young kids, I hereby claim complete and full license to say the following. What is it with parents yelling and screaming at their kids in the middle of the kiddieland walkway? Isn't this supposed to be a fun family time…a time to let off some steam and have fun with your kids? Which part of that fun involves exploding in the middle of a captive audience, making your sleep deprived, sugar overloaded six-year-old cry and throw a fit, casting legions of awkward vibes upon the immediate vicinity and making our well behaved children and everyone else around uncomfortable and/or annoyed? Of course they are tired, hot, and thirsty…they've walked a few miles today and it's 90 outside. Of course they don't want to go home...what kid ever wants to leave the park and go home? And maybe, just maybe, that six-year-old is crying because they scared of the 300ft/90mph coaster with six loops and the mega-wedgie slide. They aren't brats, they are kids, and kids learn behavior from their parents…that's you, remember?
Fashion Fail — Anyone who has had a look at People of Walmart knows exactly what I'm talking about. Look, I'm all for self confidence and things, and people have the freedom to express themselves and wear what they like in this great country, but why…why…why? There are many questions one can ask, such as…What makes a guy wear a t-shirt in the kid's area that looks like a Mountain Dew logo, but says "mount and do me" or …Is there something in the air that makes undergarments disappear and clothing shrink to three sizes too small? Should butt cracks have to buy a ticket of their own? After all, there are so many hanging out in the park. Did the red-light district close for the day and all the hookers came to the park? All very valid questions, considering some of the mighty interesting visuals we see on the midway. You know, the ones that go way beyond the realm of mere self-expression and fall into the category of either "Good Lord, my eyes!" or "What the hell was that?" And at the water park……I'll just stop now. It seems that in most public places people choose to dress normally, but for some reason the amusement park and Walmart seem to grant some sort of invisible license for people to wear things that let's be honest… nobody wants to see. There ought to be a website…
The Stapler aka Man's Worst Nightmare — Ride safety is really important to this passionate ride op, and there are smashed nuts rolling around in the coaster car to prove it. These airtime-killing masters of vasectomy use the lap bar as a lethal weapon, crushing legs and the family jewels in their relentless pursuit to make us a permanent part of the seat. What's bad is that they seem to work at the coasters with the most airtime, and even worse and more puzzling…some of them are guys themselves. Can they not sympathize? Maybe they need a shot to the pills as a friendly reminder. Ride op 101: Airtime is intentionally designed and the lap bar is a restraint, not a torture device.
General Douchebaggery — This is behavior that may be a little more ambiguous, but everyone watching is thinking exactly the same thing (see title). It could be any number of things like wearing shoes with the skates built in and weaving through crowds or wearing saggy pants and walking very slowly down the middle of the path…holding up the 25 people directly behind them. Line smokers fall into this category, and also those who can't seem to locate one of the 5,000 trash cans in the park. Employees aren't exempt here. A few are found in the food stands, serving ancient fries and smashed burgers with a smirk. Others inexplicably reside in guest services. Yes dude, a customer asked you a question. Put your phone down and do your job.
Spoiledus Braticus — First-world problems really are the end of the world aren't they…at least to these people. This category is reserved specifically for adults who behave like children when they are mildly inconvenienced or unsatisfied with their situation. Normal human beings would take this in stride and maintain some dignity, but not here. There is a subtle art to complaining and getting what you want, and these people are about as subtle as a linebacker, and they give street demonstrations too, usually followed by a security escort. Yelling about closed rides, yelling about rigged games, yelling about lines, yelling because the ATM machine is down and they have to walk to another one to withdraw $200. Many of us have witnessed such meltdowns…like throwing a fit because the computer controlled lockers won't open. This guy had to wait 15 minutes (gasp) for I.T. to come, and the whole time he was literally yelling at the ride manager, loudly demanding that his entire 6 person party be reimbursed for their day (tickets, food, gifts, everything). His reasoning…They were late for a dinner reservation. After 10 minutes or so, some of the people in the crowd, all waiting patiently for I.T. just the same, began to grow tired of this middle-aged child, and one almost fed him his teeth for dinner. I personally was hoping that the security office had handed out tasers to the guards that morning. Unfortunately they didn't.
And there you have it. I wish I could say that you won't see hear or otherwise fall victim to one of these party fouls, but if you visit enough places it's inevitable. Best to just take it in stride and tell a story someday…perhaps in the comments below. The floor is open for additions to the list, tales of woe, or just plain ranting.
Earlier: How to have a horrible theme park vacation
Great Article loved every joke and truth.
Most of this is spot on. I hate the families / couples that fight and scream in public. There is always a family with some roided up testosterone fuled father who just loves to yell about everything and act like a tough guy.
Just wanted to mention, some of the backpackers really get me going. There was a big huge guy wearing a T-Shirt with cartoon people doing a lewd act.
The wheelchair folks who run you down. I have no problem with individuals who have to use wheelchairs whatsoever, however use common courtesy. Just because you are in a wheelchair you do not have the right to run over everyone else. These folks really bother me because I have personally been hit several different occasions. Please people be more courteous.
My husband and I believe that middle-stoppers deserve their own category. Those people who just stop - maybe because they're lost, or they suddenly discovered the cure for cancer... Whatever - and don't pull over to the side to let others pass. This is especially bad when they stop in the middle to get something out of their bag. Do these people stop their cars in the middle of the road to get something out of the trunk?
Great article. Her are a few I missed:
One thing that bothers me is just like at the skating rink, I always seem to get behind one person, usually a kid, who suddenly either STOPS dead in their tracks which causes me to run into them (or nearly run into) or they'll suddenly do a "180" and go back the other direction...nearly running over me. I realize kids can be like that but it'd be nice if the parent quickly corrected their kid(s) and tell them to step out of the way when they do that.
I'm guilty of the Backpacker. I never go to a theme park without one. If your going to buy souvenirs and carry water and snacks its the best way to go.
My biggest pet peeve is the touring groups from other countries who yell, chant, and line cut. Every now and then we have run across a respectful teen in the group, but most of the are running wild without adults (or worse with rude adults) for the first time. And they think that the park is there only for them.
Years ago I broke my leg and was dragged by my family to Disneyland so we could cut in all the lines using the handicapped entrances (this was before fastpass or single rider). I have to tell you, it is very hard to get through crowds in a wheelchair without hitting people, there is no uniform speed and people don't respect the space a wheelchair needs. I felt so bad and really wanted to go home. Plus I really really don't like roller coasters (yes I'm a freak) and was dragged on every one of them with my broken leg so they could all cut in line. First and last time riding all the "mountains". I love Disneyland but that time on the wheelchair is a bad memory for me.
Let's not forget some of the stroller people. I've seen two types.
OMG... We had a family in front us in line at E.T. They dad was about 6-4 and smelled like he hadn't showered in a month. Then my daughter points to the fruit flies around his ummmm.... backside.
A big one not mentioned...how about the people that insist on Stepping on the ride seat when entering the ride vehicle? The average adult can easily step all the way inside but many lazily use the seat as a"step" to get in. Then you have to sit right where they put their filthy shoes! Really inconsiderate and annoying. Unless you're a child or elderly watch where you step and be courteous to those behind you!
Girl playing one of the games at Busch Gardens, she had on extremely short shorts. She stood on her tippy toes and you could see half her butt cheeks hanging out. Almost walked up to her and told her to quit mooning the children.
This article is spot on, and I've ran into everyone you've listed.
The Diaper Changer: The parent who thinks it's OK to just plop a kid down wherever they might happen to be to take care of this chore....no matter how nasty the business at hand.
The Human Wall: People who decide that it is better to walk in a horizontal single file row, blocking out all who attempt to pass them or walk by. It's as if huddling in a group isn't good enough, so just walk along with the person next to you and pretend like you can hear everyone else. Admittedly, I've never dealt with this at a park, but considering how many ulcers I've nearly formed trying to deal with this at school, I decided it was worth mentioning. I'm sure someone else has at least seen this once.
I don't want to repeat the above (I have seen each one) so here's different ones. But I do loathe all the backpackers who are oblivious to the fact that they take up twice the room of unadorned people.
Awesome article. I don't know exactly what you would call my pet peeve, but on this last trip people continued to crash into me when walking in opposite directions. I told my husband that he should have remarked that my invisibility powers had kicked in without my knowledge. That had to be the only explanation for people walking towards me to not help move and avoid head-on collisions.
One time these two kids just walked past us in a line. They seemed rather smug about it. So the next time the line moved, I just walked past them, essentially cutting back in front of them.
I think my most hated of all theme park goers, are the ones who destroy the magic and illusion for everyone else. I.E. The people who spit on the glass that helps create the illusions, or throw trash inside the rides, so there's a nice empty Mountain Dew bottle among all the pirates. It's just plain sickening. Why destroy the experience for others just because you don't care? Also, the people who sit there and loudly make fun of everything going on in the queue lines and rides. Why did you pay so much money just to come here and trash talk everything? I also can't stand the people who keep talking LOUDLY right through the "story" of a ride. You know, when they have someone on a screen or what not explaining the back story to the ride. Please shut up, so we can hear what the ride is about. And, last but not least, the ones that overreact to the rides. I took my 5 year old daughter on the Haunted Mansion. She was a little wary but was still having fun and looking around, until a group of 16 year old girls decided halfway through, to start screaming continuously at the top of their lungs at everything. Really guys? Not only was it really annoying to hear, just the fact that they were reacting that way, terrified my daughter into not opening her eyes anymore and had her shaking like a leaf. Thanks a lot. Believe me, after the ride I grabbed them and showed them the tears in her eyes and her trembling and said "Girls, all the screaming sufficiently terrified a little girl who was enjoying the ride, up until you did that." They didn't even try and comfort her, tell her they were only pretending or apologize. I was fuming. After that, it was such a struggle to get her on any other Dark Rides for the rest of the vacation (even Nemo). Even when I could get her on something, she would cover eyes or bury her face in my side the whole ride. Basically ruined the whole reason we were there.
I have seen people with wheeled suitcases in the parks, and I can never understand why. This isn't an airport people! Leave it in the rental car or get a locker for the day.
The people who stop in the middle of the empty queue to talk or get something out of their bag and then get mad at you when you pass them.
I love the "Map Checkers" People who walk out of an attraction and stop dead in the exit to check the map a see where they are going next. They Make my blood boil... Especially when exiting a big show where hundreds of people are leaving at the time. Not gonna lie sometimes I intentionally walk right into them and Body Check them like in my old Hockey days. But of course I say excuse me...
I certainly cosign the Tour Group one and also the Kid Too Big To Be In A Stroller/Rollerderby Parents one.
The dreaded rude stroller people that use it as a battering ram to move through the crowds with strollers containing kids that are old enough to walk through a park.
Carrie ...I really feel for you that is by far the worst thing! I call it "adding to the show". Best examples are annual pass morons who insist on saying the intro to haunted mansion during the elevator scene "Is this room actually stretching..." and people who decide to talk and gossip outloud during the entire intro to Pirates of the Caribbean. The slow ride through the bayou. Really annoying if you're so uninterested in the ride and more interested about your girlfriends gossip stay outside and talk all you want! Don't add to the show!
Wow, Derek, great summary of the secret underbelly of our favorite pastime. The inappropriate clothes one bothers me the most, especially when it is an overly large person in an overly small swimsuit. And closing your eyes does not remove the scars from your memory.
My issue with folks at big theme parks basically puts me in the minority, so I don't expect anyone here to understand, but I think people taking photos of themselves and their families doing EVERYTHING has gotten way out of hand. These parks are crowded and there is much hustle bustle going on. I'm usually just trying to get from one place to another, but I'm always in the way of someone taking a photo of their kids doing something. There's five hundred people going both ways down the street, but dad expects the Red Sea to part long enough to get of a photo of his kids by (fill in the blank). There are so many folks taking so many photos per square foot that I can barely make my way down the street without being in someone's way. I do understand that these photos are "memories to last a lifetime," but it seems to me that too many folks spend more time photographing themselves doing EVERYTHING than actually living in the moment and enjoying it.
As often as I am in the parks, I have never really been annoyed by any of the other guests. But NB is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT when it comes to t-shirt content. And what's heartbreaking about that circumstance is that the person wearing the shirt is TRYING to be obnoxious. Bad form and unfair in every way.
Spot Smokers: People who walk through theme parks smoking in non-smoking areas...and also the theme park employees who turn a blind eye
One more "worst' person- the obviously ill, sick, contagious germ infected adult or parent of such ill child (I blame the parent) who goes to the park no matter what their near fatal disease will do to others. They then commence to spew germs, coughs, sneeze spray everyone nearby and coat railings, seats, counter tops and tables with their vile bile. As you may have guessed, I have become ill a few times after being at a park where these people sickened me. Also, these parks were mostly at Disney World so I probably got exotic ailments from around the world.
People that annoy me are people that stand to close to you in the queue for a ride. If you turn around to look at anything you bump into them, they give you a dirty look for this. Why do they feel the need to stand that close to you. The wait time isn't going to be shorter, there are still the same number of people in the queue. It just makes the whole waiting experience uncomfortable.
Robert Morris, your poncho remark reminded me of the same thing. I don't understand those who ride on a ride where you are supposed to get wet and wear a poncho. If you don't want to get wet, then don't ride the ride! It is that simple. The one thing that I thought of is not in the park itself. When we were at WDW years ago, we stayed at Fort Wilderness campground. Every night when we were back at our campsite, there was a family in a site next to ours that would scream and yell at their kids using profanity constantly. It was extremely annoying, to say the least.
ON the queue-stoppers -- if the queue isn't really empty, but just mostly empty, then people might well run into the queue line to reserve their place, and then stop to look for something in their bag. Technically, passing people in a queue line is cutting and is grounds for dismissal, although generally you shouldn't stop way back because how do you know there is a line ahead? But I've also seen people who scream at you if you let more than a 3-person space open up in front of you. If you see there is a line ahead, what difference does it make if some people are busy talking and haven't noticed to move up? They'll move up eventually.
I know I'm in the minority here, but a variation on the walkway stoppers. I need an ECV in a theme park though I don't own one - and couldn't transport it if I did. When you rent one, you are at the mercy of the renting company. Guess what, people - they don't stop on a dime anymore than your car does. Don't give me a dirty look if you suddenly do a 180 and get slashed across your shins. By the same token, if somebody is in a (manual) wheelchair, they may not need one under normal...no, let's say other...circumstances. The person pushing probably isn't a professional pusher (no, no, don't go there). If you stop walking suddenly and find a person on your back, there's a good chance it's *your* fault and not there's.
By the way, the dirtiest seats of any theme park ride I have found is JPRA at IOA.....
Ok...my theme park pet peeves more or less line up with the ones mentioned in the article. I think i've unfortunantly come across each one of these examples at least ONCE in the 24 years i've attended theme parks around SoCal...
We were at Disneyland/California Adventure last week and there was a woman (mid-20s) in line behind us at Tower of Terror carrying a handbag that said - in large letters - F**K YOU (but there weren't any asterisks on her purse). I would have expected that park personnel would tell her that it was inappropriate. But even worse than that is the fact that she thought it WAS appropriate for such a family-oriented venue.
Lots of comments about strollers and wheelchairs being used as battering rams...but also, there are people who are oblvious to the effort it takes to navigate someone in a wheelchair, especially an older special needs child, and will never give the right away, or simply pause a second for the wheelchair to pass. Most times it is a lot easier for an able bodied person to redirect their path, than someone pushing a 150 lb child in a wheelchair to do so.
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