When wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt to Universal Islands of Adventure (apparently this shouldn't be done)

Universal Orlando: Our trip report

From Scott B
Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:40 AM
We recently went on a 10 day trip to Orlando. (It was a great trip by the way).

On one of the days, my wife and I went off to the Islands of Adventure with our four year old daughter in tow (our 20-month old daughter was off with her grandparents for the day for some relaxing by the pool). The weather was hot. It IS Orlando after all. It is a hot area. I am a New Englander and I don't do well in the heat. So when I saw it is going to be in the 90's, I wore a nice white t-shirt (one that my 4 year old picked out for me). It was a Mickey t-shirt that was all distressed and made to look totally vintage though it had been purchased a few days prior at Downtown Disney.

After purchasing our tickets at ‘Islands’, we went through the entrance line and the lady at the line says, "Sir, I have to ask you to remove that horrible shirt." I looked at her with confusion, then realized she was kidding (hoped she was kidding) and went on through. Moments later I purchased a coffee (yes it was hot but when caffeine addiction strikes, you need to get your fix). The cashier said, "I don't think I can serve you because of your shirt." I forced out a polite "Ha ha ha ha" and then grabbed my coffee and gulped away (the coffee was horrible by the way).

Fast forward 20 minutes later, my daughter and I are in line for the Flying Unicorn (oops, I mean Flight of the Hippogriff). Before we boarded the lady letting us on said maybe I should put my t-shirt inside out. "Maybe not", I responded.

30 minutes later, in the Jurassic Park Island, an employee said my t-shirt was awful and then he sort of just walked away. "Did that just happen?" I asked my wife.

Later in Seuss Landing, an employee jokingly refused to accept my wife's Disney Visa (the one with Buzz and Woody on it). Not t-shirt related mind you, but.....you know, kind of on topic. I am sure they would have preferred her whipping out the "2 Fast 2 Furious" Universal Visa that exists only in my mind.

Later in line at Spider-Man, an employee said I can't go on the ride because of my shirt. My daughter seemed panicked that daddy wouldn’t be going on with her, but I explained to her the man was attempting humor (I didn’t say he was succeeding at it, merely he was attempting it). "Would a Marvel shirt be better?" I asked. "Absolutely" he said. "Oh wait, doesn’t Disney own Marvel?" I asked. "Fair enough," he replied.

My daughter looked at me and asked why people don't like my new Mickey shirt. I turned to her and said, "Some people are stupid sweetie." My wife then looked at me sternly and then I said, "Sorry, silly. Some people are silly sweetie".

Anyway, consider this a cautionary tale. Wearing a Mickey shirt to the Islands of Adventure is akin to wearing a scarlet letter in ye olde Colonial days. Truth be told, I found the whole thing slightly amusing at first, but as the day dragged on, I got annoyed by the whole thing. Of course I still had an awesome time and this in no way affected the enjoyment I got of spending the day with my wife and my oldest daughter, but still. I mean, there was a dude walking around with a t-shirt showing Calvin and Hobbs ripping bong hits that was standing right in front of me in line for Spiderman. I didn’t notice anyone commenting on that shinning jewel of park attire.

From Carrie Hood
Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:43 AM
Sometime employees tend to be rather loyal and territorial about their parks. It's also suppose to give guests a good laugh, perhaps in your case it was overdone but that's not a reason to call an employee stupid. How are they suppose to know someone already got you?

Every theme park in Florida does it. Seaworld and Universal will rag on Disney, Disney will rag on Seaworld and Universal. Busch Gardens rags on everyone including Seaworld. It's just how the Theme Park rivalry works, sorry you couldn't get into the spirit of it.

From Andrew Mooney
Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:47 AM
Thats a pretty bad attitude from the Cast Members. I would have thought they would be thanking you for taking time away from WDW to visit. The only reason IOA exists is because of Walt's punt on the area and the primary reason most tourists visit Orlando. However, I love your retort on the Spiderman cast member - that must of shut him up quickly :D

From Scott B
Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Thanks Carrie. Like I said, it was amusing at first but as the day (and the heat) wore on, it got to me. I didn't call the guy stupid to his face, if it makes it all seem any better (I realize now that it probably doesn't, LOL). Now, had I not been sweating for 7-8 hours straight with a pre-schooler in tow, I probably would have had a better reaction than the one I had.

Don't worry, I am prepared for my next Universal trip. I am going to wear my Back to the Future shirt. I have learned my lesson. Of course, they may ask why I'm not wearing a Simpsons shirt.

From Scott B
Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Andrew, I wasn't really trying to shut him up. Just sort of throwing it back at him in a nice ribbing way. I had only been peeved because my daughter was nervous about the ride and she got scared that I wasn't going to be able to go on with her because of my shirt.

By the way, my 4 year old daughter goes on Spider-Man and when it is over, she turns to me and says, "Daddy, can we go on this again??" Such a proud father moment!!

From James Rao
Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Never had that problem when wearing a Universal t-shirt (or a shirt from any other theme park chain) at Disney... but I guess the little dog always wants to yip and yap at the big dog on the block.

Someone needs to wear a Millennium Farce, Fabio's Chariot, Kracken (up), or X2 (electric boogaloo), T-shirt, and see if anyone at Universal even notices.

My guess is they will not.

From Sylvain Comeau
Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:23 AM
I wore a WDW tee shirt with Mickey on it when we went to both Universal parks in one day last May. One employee made a comment like that, and I laughed it off. What happened to Scott was really excessive, though.

Pretty ridiculous. Most people who come to Orlando will go to multiple theme parks, not just the Universal ones. And these people who are making these tired jokes wouldn't have a job if it wasn't for tourists. Yes there is competition between all the parks, but at the same time, tourists tend to go to most or all of them, so it's really more of a symbiotic relationship rather than a competitive one. It's time for the employees to quit with this b.s. After a while, it's not funny anymore.

From Carrie Hood
Posted October 3, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Theme park employees are people too, under paid, hard working people. We/They are prone to good and bad days too, be it the most magical place on earth or while you ride the movies. Commenting on someones T-shirt or hat is a way of interaction with customers, the same way asking "How is your day going?" is. A little honest teasing never killed anyone that I can recall.

I can understand, if your not good with the heat Orlando can make anyone go a little short in the temper! Adding in kids can only make things more of a test I'd imagine, probably why I don't have kids! Well with a Back to the Future shirt, I'd guess the old timers who've been around a while may comment that is was a better ride! ;)

From Andy Milito
Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:56 PM
I should do that just to make them mad.

From James Rao
Posted October 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM
The other thing is that it is totally uncool to wear a shirt that matches the park you are visiting. Everyone knows you've been there...since you are there! Gotta show off your Theme Park Insider-ness!

From Sylvain Comeau
Posted October 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM
Carrie, all these allegedly clever employees making this extremely tired joke must know by now that someone wearing a Mickey shirt must have heard this "joke" a dozen times already...

James, if you're worried about what's "cool" in a theme park, you're missing the point entirely.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:03 PM
James, your reply brings to mind a comedian I once saw. His riff was on how uncool it was to wear a t-shirt to a rock concert with the logo of a band you were seeing. I'm kind of the same way at amusement parks..i.e, I wouldn't wear my El Toro t-shirt to Great Adventure, but I've worn my other non GA amusement park/roller coaster shirts there.

From N B
Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:14 PM
Wow.... I think next time we go to Universal, I will purposely wear a Mickey shirt to see what people say. If I catch any grief from the park employees, I will complain to the hotel manager and email customer relations.

If they were clearly joking around, that is one thing... but it it still kind of classless.

From Amy Smith
Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:24 PM
My friend and I went as Hogwarts students to Mickey's Halloween Party last week - pretty much all the cast members had a comment about how we were in the wrong park. I didn't care because we do the same thing to people wearing mouse ears at Universal, but one guy was kind of rude about it so I just told him I came from the better park and he shut up. Actually the number of harry potter costumes surprised me - the ghost lady at haunted mansion actually told us "You're whole school is here!" I wear my HP stuff to MK all the time - and Epcot sells the harry potter books in England which always makes me laugh.

My friend works at Magic Kingdom and she calls Universal Orlando ponchos "illegal ponchos" and jokingly tells off people wearing Thing 1 and 2 shirts.

Fun Fact: It is acceptable themeing at Shrek 4D to tell a child with a Mickey that Shrek loves rat stew - most of the time it goes over the kid's head but the parents get it.

It's just a fun way to joke with guests but I do agree that sometimes you can hear it too many times in a day. Unfortunately the team member or cast member has no way of knowing this and we are supposed to try and interact with every guest. The Disney/Universal comments are just a lot more fun than asking every single guest "are you having fun?" or saying "have a great/magical day/adventure!"

From chris cona
Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:33 PM
I would wear a whole disney outfit to universal just to hear all the non smiling unviersal staff

From James Rao
Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM
I'm a 43 year old father of three, Sylvain, do you really think I am worried about being cool anymore?

But, honestly, like Mike said, you never wear garb that matches the theme park/rock band you are visiting. Never. It is an unwritten law, but backed by the full authority of the Galactic Council and Captain Kirk lookalikes everywhere.

Now, that's cool! ;)

From Orrin Carstarphen
Posted October 3, 2011 at 7:14 PM
I have been to Universal numerous times wearing Disney related t-shirts and have never had any problems or comments from CM's. Maybe this is something that has recently started as I have not been since the end of May. It really wouldn't shock me if they did as their customer service is nowhere near Disney's.

From Robert Niles
Posted October 3, 2011 at 7:24 PM
I never could bring myself to wear a shirt from a competing park when visiting a theme park. At the same time, I feel like a tool wearing a shirt from that park. So I rarely wear theme park shirts inside theme parks.

With one exception: I get a kick out of wearing Disneyland shirts at Disney World, and vice versa.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:58 PM
I bet they comment on those shirts all day. You are probably not the only ones. It could be a bit excessive though!

So what? Wear it with pride and tell them to buzz off!

From Scott B
Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:42 AM
First off, it is 100% true that you never wear a band's shirt to their show. Especially if the band has been around awhile and you are wearing a shirt from their tour from 20 years ago (I saw a few people with Joshua Tree tour shirts on at the latest U2 show.....how are those shirts still in one piece?)

As for my original post, everybody who said something to me in the park said it with a smile. So they were all joking. I think my original post made it seem like they were being jerks, they weren't. I think the problem was for me when you hear the same joke over and over again, you start to think, "alright already! I get it, Mickey isn't cool at Universal" haha.
Next time, I will just wear a blank t-shirt.

By the way, this was the offending T-shirt in question


It was new. My daughter wanted me to buy it at Downtown Disney a few days prior. And I wore it to Universal because it was last clean shirt before I could do some laundry (we were staying at my in-laws place in Kissimmee). I had literally sweated through every last shirt I had (it was HOT!) so it was either wear the Mickey shirt to Universal or go shirtless. I went with the Mickey shirt.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted October 4, 2011 at 5:03 AM
I remember one year my dad wore a Mighty Mouse tshirt to WDW...we were told a few times that he had the wrong mouse on his shirt. And there were a few double takes as well - they weren't expecting that mouse! It was his inner rebel I think. :-)

From Albino Pygmy
Posted October 4, 2011 at 5:21 AM
I've had the same thing happen to me when I went to WDW during the Not So Scary Party, I dressed up as the "tacky tourist" with my former gf. Just like how some tacky tourists visit Universal carrying gift bags from Disney with the ears, and a t shirt, and maybe one of those oversized gloves, while walking through the parks of Universal. I wanted to see how Disney would react if we turned the tables, and I went trick or treating with a Thing 1 t shirt, wearing Shrek ears (or antennae?) and a big bag from the Universal store to go through the treat stations with, to which I have received a LOT of snide remarks how they wouldn't be able to give me candy in that bag because of the logo on the side, or that I'm too old for this. I knew my visit wasn't going to be a pleasant one, however I was proving a point on one forum I used to be active on that the theme parks are competitive, and don't be upset if Universal rags on you for wearing something with a rat on it, or vice versa (even though that RARELY happens on a Disney forum, lol)

From Michael Owen
Posted October 4, 2011 at 9:25 AM
I'd say the park employee's weren't trying to be intentionally rude, most probably thought it was the first time you'd heard the joke and were wanting to share a laugh with you.

Maybe the gag should be restricted to those working the front gate, though, just to stop it getting old.

From Adam Dodds
Posted October 4, 2011 at 10:11 AM
Universal makes Disney to be mush more of an enemy than Disney tends to to Universal. There's some myth that Disney and Universal are enemies, that they fight for tourist etc.. Its not exactly true. What is true is that a lot of Universal employees are ex-Disney Castmembers. It's pretty easy to get fired from Disney, and it's pretty easy not to want to conform to the "Disney Look," so rebellious theme park workers go to Universal, make jokes about the mouse and call WDW overrated. Disney employees are encouraged to compliment all kinds of shirts. One example to better demonstrate this is pin trading. At Disney, if someone wants to trade a Universal pin, we take it gladly. But if you ever catch someone trading pins at Universal, they'll laugh at you for trying to trade a Disney pin.

Just remember that a lot of Universal people feel that Disney fired them wrongly or that they were too controlling or felt the mouse was evil because they were required to shave their beard and remove a piercing. Then the other Universal crew who hasn't worked at Disney hears all this and grow a loyalty in the hate of Disney.

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted October 4, 2011 at 2:56 PM
I agree with Michael Owen (any relation to the 'soccer' player?! haha!)

I think it was just a bit of 'banter'. Scooby Doo once stole my headband because it had Mickey heads on it - how dare he! Things like that are a way of creating conversations with guests, if it was done really hostile (think: could the TM have been sarcastic? Maybe you were in a bad mood that day and took it the wrong way? Are you one of "those" Disney fans?) then maybe you should complain about individual TMs to customer services. However, I really don't think this is a problem that needs to be taken up with Universal. I presume that when they are trained, they are not instructed to be rude to any guests wearing Disney trademarks.

I did this at work all the time... I worked in a supermarket for a while, and if someone would give me the wrong loyalty card or mention a different supermarket's prices, I'd pretend to get all upset and annoyed by their disloyalty. It was a complete joke and just a way of making conversation at the check-out. Could have been the same kinda thing!

From Bob Liebe
Posted October 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM
I'm sure all of this is in good fun! I've heard a few Universal staff members comment on Disney stuff in the past few years. I've also had a Disney cast member comment on my T-shirt last spring. I was wearing my Popeye shirt that says' "I Yam What I Yam 100% American! Universal Studios" to the Magic Kingdom. The castmember told me that the shirt was cool except for the place I bought it. So it happens at both places.

I completely undertand the joking getting old though. I'm a Police Officer and I constantly here comments of, "I didn't do it!" or have a group of people selling out one of there friends saying, "Take them! They did it! Take the cuffs out!" The first few months it was new and fun, but after you here the comments over and over, the fun stops. I just always try to laugh and go along with it.

From TH Creative
Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:03 PM
I know for a FACT that J-Rao is "cool."

And (more on topic) I once got thrown off of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' for wearing a 'Jungle Cruise' t-shirt.

From Bob Liebe
Posted October 4, 2011 at 3:50 PM
I was just thinking that I've heard a lot more comments from cast members when it comes to sports merchandise. I've had over a dozen comments made to me about my Packer hat. Some comments good and some not so much, but the worst has been on MIB Alien Attack. 3 times I've had people say something to me on that ride. The worst part is that I can never defend myself because they've all been right as they are sending me off to start the ride! But this past year I'll I've had to do is say, "Super Bowl Champs!" and most people change the topic! Has anyone else had this problem about their sports apparel?

From Bob Liebe
Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM
Hey TH are you and Rao in cahoots!? You've been very "buddy buddy" recently. Or have you always been like this?

From Sylvain Comeau
Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM
I do wear garb matching the park I'm in, and not matching...and couldn't care less who thinks it's cool or uncool. Again, being "cool" in a theme park is completely beside the point.
In general, these so-called unwritten rules are moronic. You can't wear a tee shirt with your favorite band on it, at their concert? Who says? I never heard this crap before. More dumb arbitrary rules. If you have your own functioning brain, you make your own decisions.

From Robert Niles
Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM
Agreed on sports shirts. Anyone wearing a Northwestern shirt immediately got the very best non-SOP VIP experience I could provide (moved to front of the line, choice of seats, etc.)

Of course, in my entire time at Disney, I only saw one person wearing a Northwestern shirt while I on duty. A guy in his late 20s was wearing a Kellogg Graduate School of Management shirt when he got on my raft at Tom Sawyer's Island. I complimented him on the shirt and told him that I'd taken a class in Kellogg when I was at NU.

He asked what management training cross-program I was in at Disney, and I replied I wasn't in one. After graduating, I'd just gotten a job driving rafts. He looked like I'd just shanked him in the gut. Definitely not a "Disney magical moment."

From travis traymoore
Posted October 4, 2011 at 7:07 PM
same thing happened to me when i wore a WDW shirt to Six Flags! Then again ive worn Yankee jerseys, hats, and sweatpants in Boston.....

From Carrie Hood
Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM
I don't know.. my normal theme park attire is in the realm of "Tank tops and Flip flops". Although I've worn a few of my more "Interesting" Disney themed but non-licensed shirts to the parks before. My two favorites are "Dr. Channing murdered the Dreamfinder" and "Old School" with the original Epcot pavilion logo's on it. I just wear whatever is clean and comfortable, I'm there to have fun not win an award for best-dressed.

You know how your school's sports time always had a rival? Same thing. Be it employees or guests, some of you are serious Disney and others aren't. Some like thrill rides and other don't. We've all got our own opinions, it's just becoming funny to watch some of you have a complete fit about it!

From Jack Curley
Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:55 PM
The closest to this I've come is when I visited WDW in December of 2000, and I wore my Canada Dry jacket on a chilly day. the cast member manning the turnstiles at the entrance of Epcot told me that I'd have to remove it to enter, because Disney is Coke exclusive. I got a laugh out of it, but if I had heard it all day it would have gotten pretty annoying.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 4, 2011 at 9:51 PM
J-Rao and the TH are big buddies on the site! They enjoy Pirates and the Jungle Cruise. I love those sword fighting hippos!

From James Rao
Posted October 5, 2011 at 3:10 AM
Hmmmm... Pirates of the Jungle Cruise.... you just gave me an idea for a new T-Shirt, Anthony!

And, TH, thanks for the vote of incontinence...errr...I mean confidence!

From Albino Pygmy
Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:02 AM
Pirate training whatever is so close to the Amazon section, might as well put some salty sea dogs along with the butterflies, and maybe a barrel with a certain captain poking his head out: "But why's me ride gone?"

From Scott B
Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:27 AM
Pirates of the Jungle Cruise has to happen. Anyone have any Disney contacts? Get them to work on this right away!

I started thinking they should have a new Dole Whip themed ride. The err, Dole Whiper.

From Amanda Jenkins
Posted October 5, 2011 at 5:39 PM
I don't mind the ribbing, but I do mind it in front of my sons. One is preschool now, and the other is in second grade. I know that with my preschooler (especially), he takes everything literally. He would have been terrified if someone had even remotely teased that I couldn't ride with him. I do think that they should caution park employees to be careful with teasing families with young children. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than having a tearful child scared to death that his/her parent may be forced to leave him/her.

Now...I am all for a Pirate Jungle Cruise. I could see that coming about if they would bring back the Pirate and Princess Parties at the Magic Kingdom :) Hippos wondering where the rum has gone...

From Tyler Stover
Posted October 5, 2011 at 9:45 PM
On our first trip to Walt Disney World (which was our Honeymoon) my wife and I flew Southwest. When our connecting flight into Orlando settled into a Cruise, the flight attendant came on the PA to announce we were "flying to Orlando, home of Mickey Mouse". The lady in front of us freaked out, saying she was a Sea World employee and couldn't believe they would talk about Disney and not Sea World since Sea World and Southwest had a partnership and she was so offended and would complain to corporate and on and on. When she was done I spoke up, said I was a Disney employee (worked at TDA at the time) and said it was OK, they could mention Sea World, we were secure enough in the superiority of our parks that we wouldn't get worked up over it. That was a fun flight.

From Steve Ward
Posted October 6, 2011 at 4:39 AM
Now, coming from the UK we have slightly different sense of humor to the rest of the world.

I would LOVE to wear this tshirt to either WDW or Universal but i think i would be asked to leave WDW


I wore my Marvel tee to both Universal and WDW.. Got nothing but posotive comments from everyone lol. Some of the Epcot guys asked where i got it from. Answer : "Islands of Adventure"..

From Bryan Fear
Posted October 6, 2011 at 8:39 AM
I definitely feel for ya Scott B. I don't care how much they "intend" it as humor, it actually takes less effort for them to be quiet and/or just be polite than to open their mouth and be "funny." Whether or not the intentions of the individuals is a joke, the park management needs to see the overall picture of how a paying guest sees dozens of "individuals" representing the park's anti-anyone-but-us attitude as the park's collective demeanor. One guy is a joke, a collection of employees feels like harassment disguised as merely "a joke." It can stop and people could return to treating customers civil and that would be just fine, thanks IOA.

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted October 6, 2011 at 8:52 AM
I went to islands of adventure withe my dad and cast member had a Mickey wall paper on his phone and yes it was funny but who doesnt love Disney World

From Dan Babbitt
Posted October 6, 2011 at 1:55 PM
Sometimes but not all the time I do make comments when working at the Tower of Terror when guests are wearing Universal Studios shirts or sweatshirts or coats.

But I usually put it into my spiel. I ask them if they know that they are in the wrong park, that there not in Orlando but Hollywood California, (we are in Hollywood!) and then I will say especially loading them onto the elevators "goodluck in trying to get to your room" something in that nature.

From Stephanie Blackwell
Posted October 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM
I'm never concerned with looking cool. The insecurity of it is too transparent. I wear a Disney shirt every day at Disney parks, along with my pin lanyard, disney hat/ears, fannypack or other tacky bag, and tennis shoes (too bad I don't own crocs!). That's the point, ultimate fans are proud to look nerdy! Besides, where else can I wear all that? We did enjoy a good ribbing from CM's, though, when our entire group wore plastic ponchos on a water ride. Something like, "You've gotta be kidding, wimps! You think that's gonna keep you dry??" It was one of the highlights of the day.

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