Image - Flickr, the-consortium

No one wants to wait in line at a theme park. It doesn’t matter whether the queue is as intricately themed as Hogwarts Castle or as haphazard as Magic Carpets of Aladdin — lines just aren’t fun.

But there are some things that make even a modest wait time become an excruciating ordeal. Some are the fault of attractions designers, while others are simply the behaviors of less considerate park guests.

Let’s break down a few of the things that will slowly drive you insane while you wait in line for an attraction.

Spot savers

 kenlund, Flickr (license)

Image: kenlund, Flickr (license)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with saving a spot in line. After all, who among us has never had to get out of line to use the restroom or find a water fountain? It’s normal behavior, and Disney won’t kick guests out for it at all.

But, just because it’s accepted and universal, doesn’t mean it won’t drive you nuts.

The lines at theme parks are places of order and common purpose. We’re all waiting in the same queue, and we all abide by the same rules therein. And so, when someone gets out of line, it subconsciously reminds you that you’re choosing to stay and wait. You may want to go to the bathroom too. You may want a drink of water as well. You may simply want to sit down for a while on your own. But, as custom dictates, you don’t — you wait in line.

And yet, there are people who will ignore that common purpose and, instead, deploy one of their party to wait in line while the others take care of business. When they arrive, usually stopping just in front of you, you have to bite your tongue, too.

It’s acceptable, but definitely annoying.

The passive-cutter

 elisfkc, Flickr (license)

Image: elisfkc, Flickr (license)

Some attractions, however, don’t have such rigid definitions of queue lines.

Take Soarin’ Around the World for example. That queue isn’t the single-file maze most of us are familiar with, but rather, it is a wide concourse somewhat resembling that of an airport. Guests don’t line up so much as gather, slowly inching toward the theaters together.

This, of course, creates an opportunity for a rare kind of selfish person: the passive-aggressive line cutter.

This individual wouldn’t directly cut in line, of course. They understand that cutting in line will get you kicked out of the park, and they would never risk such a major punishment for such a small gain. But, on attractions with somewhat self-policing wider queues, they’re always looking for an edge.

Maybe they push past you as the doors for a 3D movie open. Or, maybe they make their way to the front of the pre-show theater, knowing just where the doors will open to the next part of the queue. Or, maybe in the Soarin’ queue, they’ll just calmly and methodically attempt to pass you to the side before you close up the gap between you and the group ahead of you.

Again, this behavior isn’t enough to get you thrown out of the park, but it will certainly make you question your sanity.

Endless switchbacks

 cdharrison, Flickr (license)

Image: cdharrison, Flickr (license)

One of the most mind-numbing wait time nuisances, however, is the humble switchback queue. With the purpose of housing a long line in a relatively small space, the switchback queue never lets you forget just how many people are ahead of you in line. The only view you are given is that of your fellow park guests, and you’re far less likely to ever get some shade or something fun to look at.

The major Orlando theme parks have begun to phase the standard switchback queue out, but it still remains on older attractions like the Jungle Cruise. More importantly, though, the switchback remains a staple of regional parks, providing ample opportunity to feel claustrophobic without the same Disney charm.

But perhaps their biggest crime is how misleading they can make a queue. “Just one more room until we board,” you might shout. Then, when you enter the room only to find a 10-row-deep switchback, you’ll realize just how wrong you were.

The personal space violator

 rollercoasterphilosophy, Flickr (license)

Image: rollercoasterphilosophy, Flickr (license)

Look, we all get it. You want to ride the ride, and you’re feeling impatient about the hour-plus wait for it. But no amount of time spent in line excuses the gross violations of personal space that can occur while cooped up in a queue.

Some people, perhaps unaware of the importance of personal space, will stand directly behind you and essentially shove their way through the line. Others will stand far too close, usually to try and stay in the shade or steal a comfortable spot to lean.

No matter what the reasons, personal space violates are enough to make anyone fly off the rail — particularly in hour two of an attraction’s line. 

The blasé

 nick99nack, Flickr (license)

Image: nick99nack, Flickr (license)

On the other end of the pushiness spectrum, you have the blasé — guests so unaware of their location in three dimensional space that it can be hard to understand just how they came to arrive at the park that day.

While the line is steadily moving forward, bringing you ever closer to the attraction waiting at its end, these people don’t pay attention to the line’s advancement. Instead, they turn their back to the extending queue, making sure their conversation with their party is far more engrossing than potentially moving forward in the line.

In total, they likely aren’t adding any actual time to your wait, but it can sure feel that way after a day out in the sun behind someone who has to continually be reminded to close up the gap. 

The rope/chain leaner

 lorenjavier, Flickr (license)

Image: lorenjavier, Flickr (license)

Sometimes, it’s kids. Sometimes, it’s adults. Most times, it’s teens. But rest assured, if you’re waiting in a queue line with rope or chain barriers, someone will sit on them.

As this happens, the nearest cast member will likely demonstrate clearly that ropes are not in fact meant to be sat upon. But, nonetheless, these instructions will be ignored.

It’s easy to forgive children and teens who misbehave with the rope queue dividers, but it’s the adults that will drive you the absolute craziest. Getting whacked in the thigh by a guy absentmindedly waving the rope around is enough to make even the biggest theme park vet go a bit bonkers. 

The mirage

 the-consortium, Flickr (license)

Image: the-consortium, Flickr (license)

On some attractions, you might enter the station before encountering a massive switchback. On others, like Test Track or Tower of Terror, you’ll go through a pre-show only to discover a lengthy line on the other end of the theater door. On other rides, like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, you’ll see the ramp down to the station first, before realizing you have to go through several other rooms before descending it.

Ultimately, waiting in a queue is a mental challenge, one which can be exacerbated by intentional design choices and the behavior of your fellow queuers. This misleading queue endings, which seem to signal that the ride is close, are perhaps the most frustrating part of waiting in a line.

You see, it’s easy to wait an hour for something when we know we’ll have to wait the full hour. But being given a false sign of hope — that’s enough to drive you mad.


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