Home » How To Avoid Being ‘That Guy’ at a Theme Park

How To Avoid Being ‘That Guy’ at a Theme Park

15541164_10155704205892575_2633599055769726656_nLissa and I just got back from Orlando where we did the Universal and Disney Parks during their Christmas celebrations, and I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile. I just needed to find some time so I could do it right.

While we loved our time in the parks, we were sad to notice how uncommon common courtesy has become these days. Rude behavior has become the hallmark of patrons in theme parks these days. There’s a very real sense of entitlement coming from many of the folks in the parks, and it can really detract from the experience.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised; while I was raised in and still live in the South, where manners are still widely taught and practiced, most of the rest of the country seems to have tossed common courtesy into the trashcan along with morals, public decency and charity. So many people are so self absorbed that they don’t notice when their actions create a negative impact on those around them, and if, by some chance that impact is pointed out to them, they become even more rude and offensive.

So, at the risk of offending those with delicate sensibilities, a trigger warning:

I am about to discuss public behavior in a way that may make you uncomfortable. I will point out activities that you may have engaged in, and will do so in a way to demonstrate exactly how much like an asshole those activities make you look. If you feel that the following depictions may make you hurt, angry, confused or sad, you have two choices. First, you can stop reading, retreat to a safe space, and write an angry comment to me about how hurtful and oppresive I am.

Or you can grow the hell up and start acting like a decent human being.

Your choice.

Now, with that out of the way, here we go with

10 Ways to Not Be ‘That Guy” at a Theme Park! (A friend told me that posts with numbered lists pull more traffic)

(TL;DR version…Don’t be a dick.)

1. When walking down the sidewalk, street, path, square, or other areas, do not stop short, pull out a map, and try to figure out where you are and where you are going. There are several thousand other people in the park all trying to get where you aren’t, and you’re blocking them. Step to the side, out of the flow, and then hold your conversation, look at a map, take your selfie, etc.

2. You have a fast pass that expires in 5 minutes and you have to cross the entire park. Your life will end if you don’t get to ride the Storm Force Acceleratron for the 5th time today. We get it; it is important that you move quickly. However, poor planning on your part does not necessitate emergency response by the 4,000 people between you and your destination. (The Acceleratron? Really? It’s the spinning tea cups ride you can go on at any county fair in the country!) Move through the crowd safely, and more importantly, politely. Screaming, yelling, and cursing at people in your way will not endear you to the crowd, park security, or the four year old girl you just trampled. Plan ahead.

3. I walk faster than most people, so I understand that at times, you may need to move faster than the rest of the crowd. It is possible to do so without being rude, but it takes good vision, an ability to predict how the people in front of you are going to move, and a willingness to endure slow walkers from time to time, particularly if your predictive abilities are trumped by the random motion of a 45 year old in a scooter. Learn the rules of right of way and use them. I personally adapt the rules for right of way from boating as they take into account passing, coming in at an angle, crossing traffic, etc without relying on traffic signals, stop signs or other aids. If these rules seem overly complex to you, I can boil it down simply; the party with the better view must yield to the party with the obstructed view. If you are behind a slow walker and you want to pass them, it is your responsibility to do so in a way that doesn’t cause a collision, near miss, or a short stop.

4. Lines are inevitable. You wait in line for the bus, or the parking trolley. You wait in line for the ‘security check.’ You wait in line to get your ticket scanned. You wait in line to get food and drink. You wait in line to ride the ride. You wait in line to get out of the park. You can minimize your time in lines by research and planning. Disney offers the FastPass system free of charge. Learn the rules and use them. You’ll do more and wait less. Universal sells an express pass that gets you to the short line everywhere except in the Wizarding World. Disney’s plan is egalitarian; everybody gets the same access to the FastPass system. Universal’s plan is capitalist; if you want increased access, you buy it. Either way works.

While waiting in line, don’t be a jerk. Instead of complaining, entertain yourself, and/or others. Talk to strangers. Meet people. Take a selfie or 12. Be social. Whip out your phone and play a game. “Heads Up” and other quiz games are a fun way to keep your group amused and provide amusement for the rest of the people in line.

As far as line don’ts, I know how tempting it is, but don’t leave one person to hold a space in the line and then have thirty people join them just as the wait is nearly over. People will cut you. Try to pay attention to the movement of the line. If you get overly distracted on your phone and hear roars of rage, take a quick peek at the line; it could be that you’ve allowed a 30 foot gap to open up. Sure, I know, it makes no difference; we’ll all get there at the same time, but the optics are frustrating, particularly as the heat rises.

Speaking of heat, it’s Florida. You will sweat. A lot. Bathe. Please, for the love of god. And no, dousing yourself in Old Spice is not an acceptable substitute.

5. Last movement and transportation tip. I know, it’s passe to be a gentleman these days. Women are strong and we can hear them roar all the time. Doesn’t matter. If you are male, over the age of 10, and sitting on a bus while a woman is standing, you are a disgrace to civilized behavior. Stand and offer the woman your seat. She may decline; don’t press. Make the offer and if it is declined, return to your seat, having done the right thing. Your momma will be proud.

6. Parades are for kids. The kids are there to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and the princesses, all 37 of them. The parades are a chance for them to see the characters fairly closely and get a wave, high five, or a handshake. But if you’re 6 foot frame is standing between the kid and the parade, the only thing they get to interact with is your butt.

Step back and let the little kids see. I promise you’ll be able to see over them.

Once the kids are situated, look for any short people in the crowd near you and make sure they can see. Again, letting a 5’2″ woman in front of you will not impact your ability to see the parade.

On a related note, as the time for the parade gets closer, do not step into the three inches of space between the line on the pavement and the person who has been standing there for 45 minutes, and then look back at them and ask them to step back. If you want to be up front for a parade, get there 30 minutes before hand.

Also, when a cast member strings a rope across the street, that means “Stop and go around” and yes it means you too. Don’t harass the cast member. Don’t get ugly and say “I just want to…” Stop and go around. There is always a way around.

7. We all want to take pictures to commemorate our visit, but videoing an entire show or parade?  Really? How about watching it so you can remember it as it happened instead? Here’s a tip. This is what your face looks like while watching a parade:

Watching the parade!

Watching the parade!

You are smiling, excited, and having a blast. You’re into it; you see and interact with the characters and the people around you. You get into the emotion of the moment and allow it to carry you away. You are making a memory. When you look back at this moment in time, your memories will be of the characters, the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the parade. It will be a happy memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Videoing the parade…..blech

And here is what your face looks like as you video a parade:

See the difference? Taping a parade, you are not getting into it. You are busy trying to frame the shot, to get the right parts of the parade, to avoid the idiot in front of you who is ruining your shot because they are videoing the parade. You are working instead of playing. And your memories will be poorer because of it.

You have a choice; You can either make a memory of watching the parade and enjoying it, or a memory of videoing the parade. I strongly recommend the former. Take a picture or two, then put the camera down and enjoy yourself.

8. If you absolutely must video the show/parade/fireworks, remember one special tip. Your wrists bend. Why is this important? Because it means you don’t have to hold your camera above your head in order to video something in front of you! I have pictures from Fantasmic where the light of phone screens held high blanks out the show lights, pyrotechnics, and the wall of flame! For goodness sakes, keep your cameras low, in front of your face. Pro Tip, if you can see the event, then hold your camera in front of your eyes and guess what? It can capture the event!

It’s like freaking magic! You don’t need to hold your camera in the air like you’re signalling a 747 to come in for a landing.

The last tips are for people with kids.

9. Look, I know you spent a bajillion dollars to bring your precious little varmints to Disney and that prices are sky high. I know you want to squeeze every bit of value you can out of the money you spent. But for the love of all that’s good and decent in the universe, when your kids have had enough, take a freakin’ break! Go back to your overpriced hotel room, and let the kids swim for an hour or two in the pool. Then eat a snack, take a nap for another hour or two and then go back to the park for fireworks, parades, and meeting Mickey, Belle, or Ella. If your kids are tired, cranky, or just totally overwhelmed and overstimulated, getting angry with them will not help. You’ll wind up tired, cranky, and overstimulated.

Take a break; it’s a vacation, not a death march. Get to the park at 8am, stay till noon, go back to the hotel and come back to the park at 6. You’ll have plenty of time to do everything and will have a much nicer time.

10.  Keep your kids under control. Theme parks are no different from any other public space. It’s a shared experience with 20,000 of your newest friends so let’s make it a pleasant one. Allowing your spawn to run wild through the parks, including restaurants, gift shops, rest rooms, rides, etc will do nothing to endear you to those around you. And remember, while the park guarantees that the rides are safe, they make no such promises regarding the other patrons. A small child playing peek a boo over the restaurant booth is cute. The same child throwing a full diaper over the booth is not.

Bonus tip: Be nice to the cast members you come into contact with, from the characters through the food service personnel to the cleanup crew. They are all working hard to give you the best experience possible so return the favor by acknowledging their efforts. A simple “Thank You” goes a long way towards enhancing your experience.

So, there you have it. A few ways to avoid being “That Guy” in the theme parks. Like I said above, just don’t be a dick. Pay attention to the people around you and do your best to make sure they are having as much fun as you are. After all, you don’t want to be the guy that other park visitors are talking about in the car on the way home, as in, “Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Who did he think he was? He was so rude!”

There’s only one time you want to be “That Guy!”

I was "That Guy!  And I rocked it!

I was “That Guy! And I rocked it!

 

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