Apr 3, 2014
06:00 AMMK Memo
Don't Be a Beast in Disney World
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When it comes to visiting Walt Disney World, I'm spoiled. My family's been down to see the Mouse six times over the past seven years, most recently for a whirlwind 36 hours before a terrific three-day Caribbean cruise on the Disney Dream (about which much more next week). It didn't take long after brandishing our shiny new Magic Bands at the front gate to realize that Spring Break had brought an insane number of people, both locals and tourists, to the parks — and not all of them were behaving in a "magical" way.
We witnessed mass comportment of the sort we'd never seen over our dozens of days happily hopping among the resort's four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom). A group of local high schoolers embarrassingly shut down one of the parks' premier attractions (read on for the detes).
As my family and I have come to look at WDW as a true home away from home, we strangely took quite personally the many breaches of conduct exhibited by adults and kids alike. It all inspired me to humbly offer the following guest etiquette tips on how to behave in order to enhance the Disney experience for everyone who comes to this (usually) very happy place.
On our past trips to WDW, we saw exactly zero instances of line-cutting, a distinct Disney no-no. Last week, in a single day, we saw it happen a full four times — once on the queue of Toy Story Midway Mania (right as we passed Mr. Potato Head, pictured here), once on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and twice on the new(ish) Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. In two of these instances, the perpetrators were moms with young kids, shouldering their way along the serpentine queue, loudly exclaiming, "Sorry, Grandma's holding our spot."
Sorry, not a good excuse. Guaranteed, if one kid has to go to the bathroom, a quarter of the other kids on that packed line also have to go. The difference is, their parents wouldn't dream of ticking off the hundreds of people waiting patiently behind them for the better part of an hour by leaving, then returning to push everyone aside as a designated place-holder got them that much closer to boarding the attraction. As Anna Skamarakas, a local mom and alum of the Disney Parks Moms vacation-planning panel, told us in our Preschool Parents' Travel Guide, “Always hit the restroom before you get into line. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to get out of line with a potty emergency on my hands!” And every time she got out of line, guaranteed she got back on at its end. As should everyone else.
The WDW parks are usually pristine, tended by amiable and meticulous custodial cast members (the Disney term for "staff"). So it was quite shocking to see discarded water bottles and snack packaging strewn on the bottom of three separate ride vehicles we boarded — Buzz and Mermaid again, as well as the railroad round the Magic Kingdom. It's disconcerting to get onto an attraction you've been eagerly anticipating only to find someone else's trash got there first. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the thrill and storytelling of a ride, but when it's over, I always check to make sure I take whatever I've brought on off again, including water bottles. There are garbage and recycling cans — attractive ones, themed to the land they're located in — a stone's throw from just about anywhere you can walk. Use them!
Keep your hands and feet inside the ride vehicle
This exact warning is frequently broadcast on ride queues, and it's no joke. Waiting near the front of the line for Space Mountain last week, we watched in dismay as a group of teens wearing Shawnee High School shirts high-fived each other over the gap between loading dock and ride vehicle, promptly causing the attraction to go into shutdown mode. It's great to know that Disney's ride-safety redundancies work as expected. And I'm sure these kids from Medford meant no harm. But by disregarding the broadcast warning, they caused one of the most popular theme park rides in the world to halt for five minutes, and in turn negatively affected the schedule of everyone waiting behind them. When Disney tells you to keep your extremities inside the ride, do it. The Shawnee kids were lucky they got only a stern talking-to by the cast member at the loading dock and weren't instead escorted out of the park (or to the stockades in Liberty Square).