Yup, it’s time to blow off a little steam.
We are entering into one of the most exciting times ever to be a Walt Disney World fan. Here at Theme Park Tourist, we love celebrating all things Disney, like exploring the pioneers who made Walt Disney World possible, picking out the top bucket list meals to enjoy at the Most Magical Place on Earth, or identifying the best places at Walt Disney World to visit if you love animals. We love talking about Dole Whips, character encounters, butterfly gardens, and the Florida sunshine.
This is not one of those articles.
Our readers are passionate about Walt Disney World, and there are some things that really get a Disney fan’s mouse ears steaming. We’ve explored some of these cringeworthy behaviors and etiquette guidelines before. We have hit some so many times that there’s no need to revisit them: for example, we all know stroller and scooter courtesy is a huge issue, and most Disney fans share a common frustration with things like families blocking walkways by doddling along in a Follow-the-Yellow-Brick-Road formation. There are some other taboos, however, that many people may not even realize are WDW no-nos.
Disney is awesome, and it is about to get much, much busier as expansions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge roll in. With that in mind, we wanted to explore some of the top faux pas that drive Walt Disney World fans CRAZY, and most importantly, some easy steps you can take to avoid them.
1. “Disney World—you know, the one with the castle?”
Few things push a Walt Disney World fan’s buttons quicker than a conversation that goes like this:
Fan: “We love Walt Disney World!”
Casual Frenemy: “Been there, done that. It was lame.”
Fan: “Oh, sorry to hear that. Which park did you go to?”
Casual Frenemy: “Disney World, the one with the castle.”
Fan: “You mean Magic Kingdom? Did you visit any of the other parks?”
Casual Frenemy: “I just said we went to Disney World, the one with the castle.”
Things usually go south from there.
It never fails to surprise fans how many people—even locals to Florida—have no idea Walt Disney World has more to offer than just Magic Kingdom. I have had extensive conversations with people who passionately debated how they knew everything they needed to know about Disney World from one 4th of July visit to Magic Kingdom as a six-year-old or that friends told them Magic Kingdom was the only park worth visiting.
Before the advent of the internet, this sort of misunderstanding was understandable, but it is getting harder and harder not to be frustrated by this attitude. Families planning a Walt Disney World vacation have access to more information than ever before to plan a vacation, yet this common assumption still comes up.
It understandably drives Walt Disney World fans nuts. Walt Disney World is more than just Fantasyland and Big Thunder Mountain. Culture and diversity is celebrated in Epcot. Disney’s Hollywood Studio is a blast for teens and families looking to dive into their favorite films. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative animal parks into the entire world. Adults visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth can enjoy food, romance, shopping, and fun while kids get to be kids, dreaming and exploring and even having fun while learning.
We don’t want to just gripe about these issues. For each item on this list, we’re offering an easy remedy. The first one is simple—encourage your friends to read Theme Park Tourist (#shamelessplug)! The internet is full of excellent guides to help families see all that Walt Disney World has to offer, and TPT features and news are the best place to start if you have a friend interested in planning a trip. A little research remedies this issue fast!
2. Flash photography and texting on rides
Younger Walt Disney World fans may not realize that, back in the day (when we used to kill our own food and fend off dysentery on The Oregon Trail), Disney had very strict policies to prevent the use of flash photography on rides. Every dark ride included signage and warnings prohibiting flash photography, and they used to literally bring rides like Spaceship Earth to a full stop and broadcast a warning if a guest repeatedly violated the rules. It was generally understood the policy had to do both with preserving immersion as well as guarding technology secrets.
With the advent of the smartphone, the battle against ride photography has largely been lost. It’s just hard to police the issue when almost every guest in the park has a camera in their pocket. In most cases, photography isn’t a problem since most smartphones have decent quality in the dark. However, the issue hasn’t entirely died, and phones brought a whole new problem with them.
Flash photography on rides is annoying enough. Nothing has changed in that regard since the flashes completely mess up the atmosphere on rides. However, just as annoying is the bright glare of a phone screen beaming from a ride vehicle ahead of you. Like the flash photography issue, Disney seems to have given up policing guests on the issue with any official rules, but it’s still a huge etiquette taboo. Especially if a family waited a long, long time to get on a beloved ride, a bright phone screen throwing off the atmosphere can really sour the experience.
Think of dark rides as an immersive movie theater. Texting in a movie theater is an issue because films are meant to be a fully engaging experience. The light of a cell phone throws off the immersion. The same goes for Disney dark rides. If you really need to check your phone on a ride, throw the brightness all the way down or even use a blue light filter like Twilight in Bed Reading mode to keep from distracting other guests. Keep your phone low, dark, and out of sight. As for flash photography, it is still always a no-no on rides. It just isn’t needed anymore with technology advances. Turn it off!