Home » Disney Don’ts: 8 Things We BEG You Not to Do at Disney Parks

Disney Don’ts: 8 Things We BEG You Not to Do at Disney Parks

Think back to when you were in Kindergarten and first grade… In those early, early years, your “grades” for math and reading and science were just “checks” and “check-plusses,” and the real things that mattered on your report card were things like “citizenship,” “character,” and “attitude.” But all that sharing, turn-taking, and emotional growth you were supposed to practice in Kindergarten is put to the test the moment you step into a Disney Park.

Somewhere between being five years old and today, most of us have lost some of the skills our Kindergarten teachers tried so hard to instill. For better or worse, part of it is simply Western culture that prioritizes “my” experience over “our” experience. (Quite different from Disney’s resort in Japan, where orderly queues, continuous waving between guests, and cameras that never rise above shoulder level denote a culture that prioritizes the groups’ experience over any individual’s). But we can win it back.

Below, we’ve noted eight irritations that can really put a damper on a Disney day for those around you. If you try your best to avoid these common pitfalls, you’ll be contributing to a better experience for everyone! Which of these eight are you guilty of?

8. STOP on a path

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

Irritation level: 2/10

Though this may seem like a trivial irritation, we’ve all been caught in the gridlock of traversing a Disney Park only to have a group ahead decide they’d like to stop and tie a shoe, re-pack a stroller, or just discuss where to go next. While perhaps describing it this way saps some of the “magic” from our collective dreamlike scenarios of Disney days, stopping in the middle of a path is like braking on the highway. Traffic is flowing, and you need to keep moving or ‘pull off’ to the side.

Add in strollers nipping at heels, families that spread five people wide, and people trying to make left turns into a continuous stream of people and these tiny interruptions can add up over the course of a day, throwing the flow of traffic out-of-whack. Thankfully, Disney has crowd control down to a science, even dispatching Cast Members with “KEEP RIGHT” signs and lighted traffic controller wands during peak times. But if you notice people sighing discontentedly at your group as they pass, glaring, or having to alter their path to get around you, you may be part of the problem! 

7. FEED the birds

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

Irritation level: 3/10

No one wants to be a killjoy on a Disney vacation, but you know those signs that kindly ask you not to feed the birds? There’s a reason. You know how you and I aren’t supposed to eat too much high-calorie, low-nutrient food? The same goes for birds. Ducks aren’t meant to eat white bread; robins shouldn’t eat salted potatoes; and seagulls aren’t able to digest beignets. Feeding this food to birds can be dangerous or deadly, and for people who know that, it can feel frustrating and helpless to see it happen.

And of course, feeding birds only makes them more aggressive in their search for more unhealthy food, which is why so many Disney restaurant patios feel overrun with birds looking for scraps or divebombing for a bite of a churro.

6. FORCE your child onto a ride

Image: Disney

Irritation level: 4/10

Johnny has finally squeaked by The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s 40-inch height requirement. There’s just one problem: Johnny isn’t just paralyzed in fear by the decaying remains of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, he’s shrieking at the top of his lungs while dad yanks his arm to pull him into the queue. This isn’t a situation anyone wants to be around. Even if a child is scared of an innoccuous ride like the Haunted Mansion or Jungle Cruise, watching them sob and shake out of fear while waiting is outrageous, spoiling the experience not only for other guests, but for the child!

And yes, we know the line – “Well, once he rides it, he’ll love it and he’ll want to go again!” Unfortunately, kids aren’t so great at things like “logic” and “reasoning,” so kicking your child through the queue with promises that it’ll be fun don’t help. And we know the other excuse, too: “We won’t be back for years and he’ll regret it if he doesn’t ride.” Wrong. At most, you’re setting your child up to have dark clouds cast over their memories of this trip, and creating a really depressing scene for everyone around you who will also not be able to separate this experience from their own memories. If your child’s not ready for a ride, please try to come up with a strategy other than “make them ride it anyway.”

5. TALK and TEXT during a ride

Image: Disney

Irritation level: 6/10

Especially common at Disneyland where most visitors are locals, attractions go from being awe-inspiring things to mere backdrops for simple, everyday conversations. As you’re cruising through “it’s a small world,” it may seem a great time to pop out your phone and send a few texts or post that family photo to Facebook; the the first ambling scenes of The Many Adventures of Winnie Pooh might appear to be a great time to talk about where you should get lunch; sailing through the placid grottos and bayous of Pirates of the Caribbean seems like a perfect chance to finish up that story you were telling in the queue…

But for the sake of those around you – many of whom may be experiencing a ride for the first time – please… save it. You – and the people around you – waited in a line to get to this experience, so let yourself (and others) actually be present in the experience! If it’s something you could do, talk about, or text sitting on a park bench, don’t do it, talk about it, or text it on a ride! It can wait. Help contribute to the enjoyment of everyone on the ride (including your own) by being in the experience and keeping phones put away.

4. BOOST your kid

Image: Disney

Irritation level: 7/10

Like almost every consideration on this list, the problem with this really boils down to prioiriting “my” experience over “our” experience. Parents who prop their children on their shoulders during shows and fireworks aren’t trying to ruin anyone else’s experience; they’re just trying to make their own family’s better, and in a way that would look postcard-ready on Disney’s own marketing material (see above)!

They may not even realize or compute that placing a child on their shoulders essentially makes the crowd behind them have to part all the way to the back. And if one adult does it, “group think” kicks in and parents across the crowd suddenly realize they should do it, too, which in turn makes everyone behind them have to part or put kids on their shoulders, ad infinitum.

Still, the worst of the worst await on the next page…

3. RECITE the ride

Image: Disney

Irritation level: 8/10

This is another Disneyland-specific problem for the most part, and you had to know it would end up on this list. Recently, a Disney Parks fan on Twitter incited some anger after suggesting that he and other guests should be aloud to recite the Ghost Host’s famous Stretching Room spiel on the ride if he wants to; after all, Disney Parks are about happiness, and if the way he expresses his happiness is by shouting along to the Ghost Host’s narration, he and any others should be welcome to do it and anyone who says otherwise is just humorless.

Naturally, that’s pretty objectively wrong. Yes, Disney Parks should be happy places, but for everyone. Your “right” to show off that you know the Ghost Host’s spiel doesn’t supercede the group’s “right” to experience the attraction unimpeded.

This is another place where “group think” comes in. If one person in the Stretching Room begins speaking along, others feel that they, too, need to “show off” that they’re frequent visitors by joining in, thus leaving everyone in the room with the impression that they should do it first next time, and perpetuating a horrible cycle. Instead of joining in, locals should actually feel empowered to shush the person on behalf of first-timers. It’s the reason that the Haunted Mansion’s intro act in California has lost its emotional grip. First-timers (and even returners) want to feel the tense and harrowing sensation of the stretching room, not listen to a bunch of locals prove how often they visit. 

2. BE RUDE to Cast Members

Image: Disney

Irritation level: 10/10

There’s no one more dedicated to making your day pleasant than Disney’s front-line team. We all can imagine how, when mom and dad’s dreamy ideals of a perfect family trip meets the realities of huge crowds, ungrateful kids, long lines, scalding temperatures, 100% humidity, and high prices, they’re likely to be irritable. For those already predisposed to look down on service workers, Cast Members are an easy target to take out the frustrations of a day. Of course, despite how dad may feel in that moment, it’s not a Cast Member’s fault that your bright idea to visit during spring break turned out to be a lot of people’s bright idea. 

None of this is news to most of us. What we may be guilty of is of forgetting that Disney’s exceptionally high standards are just that. Sometimes, we may take for granted that Cast Members are doing above and beyond what we’d normally expect in the service industry. Maybe we’re guilty of leaving a spilled popcorn on the ground because “Disney” will clean it up, or taking for granted that “Disney” won’t let us cross the street during a parade when we know we can make it between those floats. 

So even those of us who would never be rude to service workers may find ourselves forgetting a “thank you so much!” or an “excuse me!” to Disney Parks Cast Members as they control traffic, take tickets, sell from vending carts, and clean up our messes. It’s important that we all consider not just the active ways people are rude to Cast Members, but the dismissive or passive ways they’re (sometimes literally) stepped all over. 

1. FLASH photos on rides

Irritation level: 10/10

Please… please… don’t take flash photos. Like, ever. Don’t take flash photos of people. Don’t take flash photos of buildings. Don’t take flash photos on dark rides. And since the purpose of a flash is to release a bright burst of light that bounces off of the subject then returns to the camera’s lens, why are you taking a flash photo of fireworks? Unless you are a photographer who knows how flash works, don’t use it; it’s 2019, and you don’t need it.

But since we’re talking about Disney rides, there is, bar none, nothing more distracting or irritating than continuous double-flashes of an iPhone’s LED camera bursting out of the Doom Buggy four down from you for the entire length of the ride; nothing worse than a flash glowing against the mist of Pirates’ battle scene from the row behind you.

And yes, we could make the recurring and sound argument that many others use to try to dissuade you from using flash: that Disney’s dark rides are already lit by theatrical lighting; that modern cameras are more than equipped to take pleasant photos under Disney’s show lighting, and that using a flash actually results in worse photos (see above), because they inherently distort the careful lighting and scenic work Imagineers designed. But since that advice is often repeated and doesn’t stop people from taking flash photos, how about this: just don’t take photographs – flash or otherwise – on rides at Disney Parks.

We guarantee you that every square inch of every single ride has already been captured by professional photographers and is available to you online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Flash or no flash, you are never going to go back through the washed-out, blurry photographs you took on Peter Pan’s Flight or the shaky, hand-held video you took of fireworks, so just don’t take them! See the ride through your own experiences, not through your phone screen. Take family “selfies” out on the park’s paths if you must, but don’t try to photograph Disney’s rides. You know how, in a theater, when someone a few rows ahead suddenly lights up because they NEED to check their phone? That bright screen suddenly turning on in a dark ride is just as awful. Don’t do it. 

And if your friend or relative takes out their phone to take a photo on a ride, please, for the rest of us: be a hero and kindly ask that they put it away.