The Trouble with “Disney Etiquette”

Everyone loves a good “the trouble with…” post right? Recently I have noticed a lot of complaints from Disney fans about other guests not observing and participating in “Disney Etiquette.” Maybe it’s just the time of year when people like to complain about stuff, or maybe we’re all getting a little bit pickier with the parks being so crowded these last few years. If you haven’t heard of Disney Etiquette before it is the idealist behavior to exhibit while in a Disney park, to allow for the most enjoyment to all guests. It sounds great, right? What a world it would be if no one cut in line, and everyone walked on the right side of the paths! I feel like the concept was started by park regulars and based on how they act and behave in the parks. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not really fair to hold someone who is visiting for 3 days to the same standards as someone that is visiting once a week.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, this is just mine.  But I think it’s really easy to forget that some people travel form the other side of the world, and save for years, to be able to visit. It’s easy to expect everyone take one photo with Mickey Mouse and move on with their day, when you have the opportunity at least once a year if not more. Unfortunately though, Disney is a once in a lifetime trip for most.

*I’m sure I’ll get some grief for this post, just please be sure to read it before leaving comments.*

So, here’s my top complaints about “Disney Etiquette.”

10. Don’t Take Too Long with the Characters

Careful! One hug per group, use it wisely.

Okay, so it’s not a secret that the lines to meet with characters can be long. Sometimes longer than rider lines, especially for the princesses. The expectation I’ve seen from a lot of people is take your picture, get your signature, and keep moving. The biggest complaint I’ve noticed is that groups will take individual pictures or maybe have multiple autograph books. Lord forbid! Sometimes large families travel together, and that  may include cousins, uncles, aunts, moms, grandmas, just tons of family. Each one of those people paid for their ticket (and autograph book), and each deserves the same equal experience. I get it, I really do, because I’ve waited for an hour to meet Mickey Mouse. But I made that choice, and if you get in a long line you are making that choice as well. Remember, this might be a family from Asia or Italy that’s never coming back and they want the cousins to have a picture together, and they want their daughter to have her own picture with Snow White. And yes, there will probably be (1) autograph book per kid or maybe even per guest. I always have the assumption that everyone in line will want an individual picture, and truthfully they all have the right to that picture.

9. Don’t Take Pictures or Videos of Everything

I took this picture. During the fireworks show. So sue me.

Speaking of pictures, let’s talk about this one. A growing number of people are speaking out that you shouldn’t take pictures or videos of everything. I’m a ‘live in the moment’ kind of girl, I don’t really take pictures at concerts or on vacation. I’ve been backstage watching Reba McEntire and didn’t reach for my phone. I get it, and yes I get irritated when I’m out places and someone’s phone or camera is in the way. This really drives me crazy at concerts or plays, because I’ll probably never get the chance to see it again. But at Disney? I’ve been to Disney, I’ve seen the parades and the shows, and I feel like most of the people I’ve seen complain about this have been a few times themselves. I wonder if those folks even remember the first time they saw a fireworks show at Disney, I’d bet they took a few pictures. Now, I’m not saying that it’s okay for someone to block your view the entire show and you can’t see anything. What I am saying is, ask politely if they could change their angle a bit or you could always scoot over as well.

8. Don’t Take Up Cast Members Time

Every moment is precious!

I will say that what I have heard from folks is not that you shouldn’t ask a question of a cast member, but that you should ask your question and go on your way. Before I go any further let me be really clear about something: IT IS NEVER OKAY TO BE MEAN, RUDE, OR CRUEL TO A CAST MEMBER. IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT THE SHIRT SOLD OUT, IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT YOU MISSED YOUR FASTPASS, IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT SOMEONE MADE YOU MADE. THEY’RE JUST DOING THEIR JOBS, SO BE NICE! End of rant.

My grief with this expectation is that people are social creatures, we get excited about stuff. We want to share that excitement. So what if a guest takes 3 extra minutes talking to a cast member about how they brought their mom who just entered remission, or brought their kids for his birthday. In the grand scheme of things, how much did it really hurt you? Honestly, if I was a cast member this is kind of thing that would make my day. I love to hear people talking about their stories at Disney, I talk with people in line about it. It’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth, stop grumbling and be happy.

7. Don’t Scream on the Rides

Yup. I scream on this ride. Every. Time.

This one drives me absolutely crazy. How in the world can you expect people to not exude excitement at Disney? Again, we are social people when we are happy and excited we want to express it! I don’t think this one is geared specifically at the big rollercoaster type rides, I think we can agree it’s fairly warranted. But I have seen mention of things like the Haunted Mansion, you know the ride that literally has the word ‘Haunted’ in the title. Haunted. Like Scary. So what if it’s not actually scary! That doesn’t mean people can’t joke along with the ride and pretend to scream (or actually scream even) in terror. Live and let live.

6. Don’t Save Parade Spots

The floats are so small!

Okay this is a legitimate question to anyone who thinks saving spots for parades is rude; do you use FastPasses? Because I feel like it’s basically the same thing. In both instances guests have a placeholder and if you are joining the ride or the curb for a parade you are equally in the dark about how many people have these placeholders. Actually I think saving a spot for a parade is better, as long as you stake out the area with a blanket. People visit Disney with their families, and nobody wants to pay over $100 to sit on a curb for 3 hours. Let alone with a bored 3 year old. I honestly think this one is really unreasonable. I understand that if you are by yourself or a small group that yes, it sucks to be the one on the curb. But someone from that big group of 16 people had to sit there as well.

5. Don’t Pose for Ride Photos

Oh no!! Not photo posing!!!

Or have fun at any of the parks ever. Maybe this is just because I absolutely love looking at all the funny Splash Mountain pictures there are online, I fully support the creation of more funny photos. If you don’t like the photo that you’re in, then don’t buy it. If you are worried someone may block you or your child, ask if you can ride towards the front or ask the people in front if they mind posing outward. Most people are going to pose on a ride photo, it’s become fairly customary at any theme park. Don’t expect to move mountains because you disagree with it.

4. Don’t Let Your Children Blow Bubbles

The dreaded nemesis of all adults.

Oh no! Children! Here in this place built for…children? Wait a minute. How dare they act their age! Disney, while fun for many adults, was built for kids. The rides are based on kid’s movies. There are lots of kids there. Don’t get me wrong, there are those pestering few who insistently blow bubbles right in your face and their parents don’t even ask them to stop. It’s happened to me, it did annoy me, and then I moved over and the problem was solved. If for some reason there’s a kid that’s just targeting you out of sure spite, even after you’ve stepped out of their way sure say something – NICELY. Personally I like to try and start a game; ask them if they can hit the tree next to you or if they can make the shot to the ride sign. Just name random targets to get them interested in shooting anything but you. Now everyone’s happy.

3. Don’t Walk on the Wrong Side of the Street

Only one way, the RIGHT way.

Did I mention that people come from all over the world to visit Disney? Did you know that other parts of the world do not walk or drive on the right side of the street? Some walk/drive on the left, some walk wherever they want. It’s pretty culture, and differs from each country. If you were visiting Disneyland Paris, don’t you think you’d forget a few times? The pathways are pretty wide in these parks, there is plenty of room for people to walk wherever they want. it’s vacation, slow down, walk in a wavy line.

2. Don’t Drink at Disney

In case your wondering the pin says "celebrating! Our last drink at epcot" and a Cast Member wrote it.

Okay first of all: Don’t get day drunk at Disney. Again, this place is meant for kids. That being said, it is 2018. People drink, sometimes with meals sometimes because Margaritas are yummy, sometimes because they’ve been chasing around 4 kids who finally went down for a nap. I like drinking, I like drinking at Disney – but I do know my limits. I’ll admit, I don’t want to see people passed out on park benches or vomiting into the seven seas lagoon, but that’s a far cry away from having a drink or two.

1. Don’t Cut in Line

Okay, but for real here.

I’m going to tell you a story, about how I lost my mind and temper at Disneyland when someone cut in line. My boyfriend and I were entering the line from the start of a rope maze cast members had set up to extend the queue. Just ahead of us two little girls ducked under the rope and basically cut us, it was only two people and they were kids so I let it go. We got halfway through the line and 10 adults cut through the line to join these girls. So I said something to the nearest cast member, the family said they’d been there the whole time. A few other people in line backed me up, so they said they had just been in the bathroom. All 10 of them. The cast member did nothing. I made a complete ass out of myself making comments about them for the duration of the line. I then was so upset about the experience that we left the park and went to our hotel room. The family went on with their day, and ultimately their cutting in line had very little effect on my getting on the ride. The difference was maybe 30 seconds. But my day was ruined, because I felt utterly ashamed of how I acted and how the situation escalated.

Now, it wasn’t right of the family to cut (or teach their kids to act in that way) and it wasn’t right that the cast member did nothing. But it really would have made no difference if I hadn’t over reacted. I’m not saying go ahead and cut people, because it is rude. But I have seen people complain that someone stepped out of line to take their child to the bathroom and cut back in, I’ve seen them say you just don’t get to ride at that point. And that’s not right either. We are dealing with a lot of little kids and little bladders, so we need to be a little bit more flexible.

The All and All

Can't we all just get along?

Maybe it’s just me. I ignore things in the parks that bother me, people are on vacation and many of them a long way from their comfort zone. I try not to let other people around me have a negative effect on my day or vacation, or life in general. It does take some effort, sometimes I have just close my eyes and count to 10. But I’ve learned from experience that getting angry isn’t going to change what happened, it isn’t going to ruin the day of the offender, it’s just going to ruin mine. You cannot change the way people act, you can only change how you react to the situation. So, yes be polite when you are in the parks (or life in general) but also remember that not everyone is coming from the same place in their lives as you are.

Let’s all show a bit more compassion, consideration, and happiness on our next trip out.

Differing opinions? Be sure to check out this guide to Disney Etiquette.

Alright, I’m asking for it. Tell me what people do in the parks that drives you crazy.

5 thoughts on “The Trouble with “Disney Etiquette””

  1. I love Disney and I agree with you people save and save and save to go. And it gets hot on the asphalt and little kids are tired and just can’t go anymore but again parents have saved and want the most out of their experience. I try to always remember my first visit with my kids because we truly didn’t think we would ever be back. However line cutting I really can’t stand it it’s just so rude however instead of getting mad my family and I have made a joke out of it. When we see someone cutting we just shout “Larry! Larry!” As if we are with someone named Larry in front of the line. It just relieves the tension and stress of being hot and tired and in line. The one thing you didn’t mention and I feel this is an important one is STROLLER ETIQUETTE. Yes I said stroller etiquette I’ve been to Disney with little kids and strollers. Strollers are like driving a car it’s crazy sauce at Disney however your stroller is a deadly weapon pleas don’t drive it as if you are Moses parting the Red Sea. You have to be careful with anything with wheels. I was actually taken out from the side by a lady with a double Disney stroller she just didn’t look she just took off and she broke all the blood vessels in the top of my foot sprained my ankle and he hit me so hard her child flew forward and clocked his poor little head on the side of my knee. I don’t know whose bruise was bigger the one on his forehead or the one spreading rapidly down the side of my leg. She did apologize but it did ruin the rest of the day and the next. I know everyone wants to get where they want to go but you have to draw a line at maiming! I also agree with the seat thing . However there are families out there that still teach chivalry and manners. Should you ever be in that position and my kids are present they would give you the seat without being asked.

    Disney is fantastic but it is far more enjoyable if you relax enjoy the ambiance have fun with your group and those people you meet and be kind. Even if others aren’t. And remember to watch out for your relative Larry in the line queue!!

  2. I am a 30 -something mother of two, and it drives me crazy when riding Disney transport (buses or monorails) that perfectly able-bodied young men and women don’t offer their seat to young children or older adults who are standing on the bus/monorail. We just returned from WDW and I more than once I had to try to hold on to a bus handle above my head, keep my balance, and hold on to my 7 year-old daughter (who was exhausted AND too short to reach a handle above my head). Seriously we are all tired and you did get that seat fair and square, but be kind. Please.


      I agree Amber! I’ve seen and experienced that as well. When we’re stuck standing leaving the Magic Kingdom after fireworks 1 night when ny niece was 3. It was definitely frustrating to see no one give up there seat even for her!

  3. I agree with most of your article, except the line cutting. We spent 5 days in Disneyland. There was constant line cutting, which was completely ignored by cast members. We are frequent visitors to WDW, and while line cutting does occur it seems much more rare. In Disneyland it was frequent, and by listening to such line cutters chatter the majority I observed were actually local regular visitors. They epitomize the concept of rude American to the point where my family refuses to visit Disneyland again for a very long time.


      Hi Vicki! I’m sorry you encountered so much poor behavior on your visit! I agree with you, that cutting in line is not okay! My sentiment in this article was that I don’t consider taking a child to the restroom and returning back to the line as cutting.

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