Disney has been getting quite a bit of media attention this week for its decision earlier this month to add a "Courtesy" notice to its Walt Disney World and Disneyland websites. The week between Christmas and New Year's is usually the busiest of the year at the parks, but it's Death Valley for news publications, so anything that can be interpreted as the latest sign of the apocalypse from a big draw like Disney is going to get extra attention from reporters this week.
I did an interview yesterday with a radio station here in Los Angeles about Disney's new "Courtesy" information, so I figured I probably ought to address it here on my home turf, too.
You can find the new "Courtesy" notice on the Top Things You Should Know and Preparing for Your Visit pages on Disneyland.com and DisneyWorld.com, respectively. It's utterly basic stuff that should go without saying to anyone who has successfully completed kindergarten. On Disneyland's website, the statement reads:
"We ask all who come to this happy place to treat others with respect, kindness and compassion. To help Guests have a safe and enjoyable experience, we regularly update our Disneyland Resort rules."
Walt Disney World visitors get:
"Be the magic you want to see in the world. You must always remember to treat others with respect, kindness and compassion. Those who can't live up to this simple wish may be asked to leave Walt Disney World Resort."
It's mildly interesting to me, at least, that Walt Disney World holds the threat of expulsion over wayward visitors via its message, while Disneyland just directed them to the fine print. You can find Disney's theme park resort rules here and here. They're the same on each coast, with some extra rules at Disney World for Disney's Animal Kingdom park (no balloons or plastic straws).
Disney - along with every other destination in the vacation business - sells would-be guests on the fun times they'll have while visiting. But vacations can be stressful, especially when you're spending big bucks to be there. Even people who understand and try to live by the kind spirit expressed in Disney's statements can break from time to time. While we all aspire to live a stress-free life, no one I know has gotten there. And few people I've met have mastered the magic of hiding their stress from every person they encounter.
But how do you blow up when you can't hold it in any longer? One popular response is to melt down while hurling expletives into the space around you. (I shall pause here for a moment to cringe over some bad memories. I apologize - again - to anyone who may have been there to witness them.) I look at those moments more as a cry for help than an attack on anyone. Great customer service pros know how to recognize those moments brewing and jump in with relief before the tantrums start. If they're too late, compassionate bystanders simply look away and move along.
Some guests don't just embarrass themselves with an inelegant cry for help when things go south, however. These are the people who think it's somehow justified to actually attack another human being over a problem in a theme park. These are the people to whom Disney's new "Courtesy" reminders are directed, though I don't know that any such reminder will help deter guests who have so little respect for other people that their immediate, gut reaction to a problem includes battery.
In addition to those who are just plain selfish, it seems that there are a lot of people out there - an increasing number over the past generation, perhaps - who see themselves as martyrs. Whether it's for a personal, political or religious cause, they believe that the "others" are out to get them. No one is out to get them, of course, so these would-be martyrs on occasion decide that they need to provoke some "others" to elicit the fight for which they've long dreamt.
Whatever their motivation, these people deserve nothing more than to be shown the door. Don't give them the fight they want. Let those running the place throw them out.
Which they should do, and quickly. As a theme park fan and guest, I am happy to ignore, forget, and forgive others' non-violent meltdowns in the parks, but I always will give my thanks for the park employees who step in to kick out anyone who even begins to throw hands at another theme park guest or worker.
I suspect that the vast majority of Disney fans feel the same way.
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