Home » The 7 Most Common (and Irritating) Bad Behaviors by Guests at Disney Theme Parks

    The 7 Most Common (and Irritating) Bad Behaviors by Guests at Disney Theme Parks

    Show venues promote excellent views all around

    It’s the “Happiest Place on Earth”, but believe it or not, it is possible to have a bad experience within the bubble of the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s not quite as simplistic as commercials depict – your happy family will not have Cinderella Castle unobstructed for your roaming while Mickey Mouse anxiously awaits your arrival on the other side for a group ride on Dumbo. The entire resort is magical indeed, but realistic expectations are still wise to hold onto. Your princess may drop a freshly-purchased ice cream cone at her feet, you will probably stand in longer lines than you anticipated, and at the end of a Disney day, your feet will hurt. These are all par for the course at the parks, but when taken in stride, they don’t have to ruin your vacation.

    A great deal of the daily annoyances encountered at Walt Disney World are avoidable. I’ve been guilty of an offense or two myself – let’s blame it on the awe of Disney surroundings casting a temporary spell over the area of the brain that controls common sense. How many of these bad behaviors have you witnessed or been guilty of?

    1. Leaving your manners in the parking lot

    Show venues promote excellent views all around

    Most of us have a basic set of manners and etiquette instilled from birth, and reiterated throughout childhood. Somehow, it seems that a startling number of guests leave these ideals behind once they pass the entry gates of the theme parks. The primary offense boils down to a simple lack of consideration.

    Park guests line Main Street USA awaiting the parade

    Parades and shows are among the highlights of a Disney visit. While show venues tend to promote good views from all angles, it’s inevitable that guests will trample each other for a center seat in the front row. Every show gives instruction to move to the last available seat in a row, with a large number of guests completely disregarding the direction. The push to attain what is believed to be prime seating often only results in chaos that makes cattle herding look much more civilized. Parade viewing poses a greater challenge, and many guests anticipate this – staking out and “claiming” viewing spots well in advance of the scheduled start time.

    For guests who choose to select and remain in a spot for a length of time, it’s safe to assume that the parade is a priority to them, and they often have small children in tow. It’s also safe to assume that just as the parade music begins, an entire team of basketball stars will somehow materialize directly in front of them – and they’ll probably all be wearing colossal hats that increase their obstructive powers ten-fold. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid this pitfall, plan on the person in front of you producing an iPad at start time, to record the entire parade directly in your line of sight.

    Everyone in the parks paid to be there, and everyone deserves to make their experience their own. Believe it or not, whether you’re first into an attraction, or the last to arrive – everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy the experience with a little consideration and cooperation.

    2. Becoming a stroller/ scooter commando

    Strollers and scooters

    While Walt Disney World is not limited in its appeal to only children, they do make up a large percentage of the park guests. Even with all of that youthful energy, walking the parks can be exhausting. Some tiny guests don’t even have the option, of course. For those visiting with youngsters, strollers are often an absolute necessity. Single and double strollers are available to rent at the parks. They are functional and sufficient, but as a mother, I understand the comfort of using your own.

    Whichever option you choose, view it as a helpful mode of transportation, not a weapon. Far too often, large children are strolled through the parks in strollers the size of small tanks, with navigators proudly viewing them as steamrollers. It isn’t uncommon to hear parents announcing that this is their means to plow through crowds, and this often results in injuries to fellow guests in their path.

    The same can be said about mobility scooters. While these are wonderful options that have made the parks more welcoming and accessible to many, there are a cluster of guests who view them as a means to aggressive behaviors. On the flip side of the coin, it’s worth noting the number of guests choosing to race through the strollers and scooters in an abrupt, Frogger-style fashion. This end of the traffic-flow spectrum results in its fair share of bumps, bruises, and frustrations as well.

    3. Zombie walking/ forming a takeover brigade

    Parade crowd dispersing

    While we’re on the topic of traffic-flow, pedestrians have their own shameful habits to cop to. Let’s face it – Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming place, on many levels. Just deciphering the map takes navigational skills that Columbus would envy! But, why is it that so many of us stop absent-mindedly, in the middle of a narrow pathway, to consult the map, with our entire family, for ten minutes? From the other end, we have the family of eight, spanning across an entire walkway on a marching mission to take over the castle Red Rover-style, so to speak.

    First-class park navigation

    Think of the park pathways as a pedestrian highway where you are the vehicle. The rules of the road should essentially be the same – two-way traffic, and veer off to the side if you have an issue preventing forward movement. While driving in the Orlando area may not be a stellar example to pattern after, hopefully we can all walk better than we can drive. The only real difference here, is trying to remain observant of the photographers in the “roadway”.

    4. “Flashing”

    No-flash yields better photos in dark shows and rides

    This offense isn’t quite as scandalous as it sounds, but it may be one of the most frequently occuring bad behaviors by park guests. Everyone seems to adhere to the no eating, drinking, and smoking rules of all park attractions, but somehow many seem to completely forget that pesky little “no flash photography” line thrown into most welcome spiels. As if seeing a parade through someone else’s screen wasn’t bad enough – now, you’re seeing spots to infinity and beyond!

    What makes this practice so illogical is that digital camera screens instantly show that the usage of flash on dark rides only results in washed out photos anyway. Instead of seeing this as a reason to try non-flash photos (which actually works wonderfully, by the way), the frustrated photographer takes photos in triplicate, hoping for a different result with each flash. Even we adults can be guilty of selective listening, but following all of the rules really does work out in everyone’s benefit.

    5. Narrating

    Tower of Terror pre-show

    We’ve all met this guest – some of us have even unwittingly brought them into the parks with us (the horror). This guest likes to show that they are not a first-time visitor, but in the process, they cheapen the first-time experience of others. They are the attraction narrator. You’ll almost always encounter this offender at The Haunted Mansion and The Tower of Terror, where pre-show spiels in holding rooms provide a tempting opportunity to the revisiting thespian. In the darkness of the rooms, they lurk, serving as the off-rhythm, karaoke-esque echo of the pre-recorded, Disney-created narration – and they often can’t resist the urge to throw in a shrill scream somewhere in their performance, for good measure.

    I understand this urge, but if you must act on it, audition for a role. This is the only appropriate way to be a part of the show, folks.

    6. Character domination

    Character greetings

    Walt Disney World is a favorite location for family reunions and group visits. Matching shirts and hats, color-coordinated bags, and high-rising flags often mark these packs, and most will include visitors from multiple generations and family arrangements. These guests enjoy the same park experiences as everyone else, but they sometimes split up due to different interests and tolerances at rides. One thing everyone in the group seems to enjoy is having some face time with the characters.

    Ride queue wait times are usually spot-on, but character greeting queues can be thrown completely off by one family alone. My wait time at a character greeting recently went from a posted 5 minutes to a reality of 20 when the family of 7 in front of me took over the encounter. Everyone should expect pleasant meet and greet opportunities at a character spot, but when a family so large breaks into individual photos, generational photos, all the ladies/men groupings, couples breakdowns, and then start hunting through their backpack for a working pen while their youngest tot slowly flips through their autograph book for a free page, it can really throw a Mickey wrench into the day of those still waiting.

    Characters are in no short supply throughout the parks. It’s worth considering your photo sessions a bit more carefully to avoid character domination. Have pens and autograph books open and ready. Know your planned photo groupings in advance, and consider spanning them out a bit. This also makes the photos more special and less repetitive – a win-win situation!

    7. Communication breakdown

    Topiary gardens on display

    This is the big one – the one that horrified guests report all over the Internet in forums and reviews – the communication (or lack thereof) between parents and children. This offense has two levels, and they couldn’t be more dissimilar, though equally mind-boggling. In most places, we don’t see children splashing in decorative public fountains, or digging up the deliberate designs within a landscaped display. But at Walt Disney World, this is sometimes considered acceptable behavior. While the parks are certainly wonderlands of fun and play, boundaries are clearly apparent.

    As a former Fantasyland Cast Member, I oversaw the colorful Ariel’s Grotto playplace. This area housed water features throughout rocky structures, which children could not seem to resist climbing on. Regardless of how many times Cast Members instructed children to avoid climbing the rocks, it fell on deaf ears, and rarely did a parent even emerge for back-up. Undoubtedly, the large number of falls from the rocks led to the short-lived nature of this attraction.


    Of course, children running amuck is a natural expectation at Walt Disney World, but safety and respect should still come into play. One of the best ways to teach these behaviors is to demonstrate them. Sometimes, the overwhelming nature of a Disney visit can wear on even the most mild-mannered guest. It’s easy to understand how anyone can lose their cool after a long hot day on a park-conquering mission – made even more difficult if you’ve encountered the aforementioned offenders, as well – but the most heartbreaking thing anyone can witness at a Disney park is the parent who unleashes on their child. All humor aside, we all know that a tired, discontent, hungry child can be a challenge of monumental proportions, but it’s not uncommon to find accounts of parents dragging or screaming in the faces of their children when frustration hits.

    One of the most frequent complaints from parents to children at the parks seems to center on the amount of money spent in the visit and the child’s lack of interest in maximizing the value of the visit. When a child breaks down, they break down, and they are often unable to comprehend a vacation budget enough to respect it. Before you snap, take advantage of the many areas available to rest, recharge, and calm down. Chances are, your child will do the same, and your visit will continue smoothly, with no emotional scars to mar the day.

    It’s often said that you need a vacation from your vacation after visiting Walt Disney World, and the resort certainly is jam-packed with opportunities to keep you busy throughout your stay. Just remember to expect the unexpected, take it in stride, consider your fellow guest, and keep your manners and common sense on hand. This will go a long way toward your quest for pleasant memories and a magical stay for all!