We’ve all saved, skimped, pondered and planned in the lead in to our big Disney vacations and we all want them to be as enjoyable as possible. That being said, whether you’re a Disney regular or planning your first getaway, its important to go into the experience being as level headed, co-operative and conscientious as possible. For those of us that are regular visitors, we’ve all seen them, those Disney meltdowns or those moments where the unapologetic behavior of other guests can really put a damper on the Disney magic. But regardless of whether you’re stressed, hungry, or tired, following some basic Disney etiquette tips are pretty important. Here’s 10 areas where you’ll want to try to keep things “nice” during your vacation. Trust me, you’ll be happier and so will the people around you.
1) Don’t come to a complete stop in high-traffic areas. With the advent of Advanced Dining Reservations, Fastpasses, and premium ticketed events, a lot of Disney guests are rushing to their next event. Be conscientious when it comes to standing in walkways. If you need to look at a map, adjust your stroller or have a family pow-wow, move to the side so as not to disrupt the flow of traffic.
2) Watch the language. Remember that Disney is a family focused theme park. There will be small children at every turn, whether its sitting at the next table at dinner or behind you in line for an attraction. Please take a moment to think about the impact harsh adult language may have on them. Most of us expect Disney to be a place to make magical memories, not a crash course in swearing.
3) Don’t cut in line. If you were to quiz a lot of regular Disney visitors about the lack of etiquette that frustrates them the most, I guarantee this one tops the list. There’s nothing more frustrating then waiting in a long line to enjoy your favorite attraction, reaching that moment where you are just starting to feel like you are inching a bit closer and then discovering that the person in front of you is actually a placeholder for a large group of twenty who are now crowding their way in front of you in line. Its just unpleasant for all of those people waiting in line around you. Instead, wait till everyone in your group is together and then get in line. Family members and chaperones lead by example and teach your kids that it isn’t okay to crowd in front of a large group of people, It just makes for a nicer experience. For little ones that need to leave to go to the bathroom that’s different, but for large groups trying to take advantage of the system, no thank you!
4) Don’t crowd someone at the last minute during parades and shows. For many visitors, getting a coveted parade or fireworks viewing spot is really important. Families will stake out their favorite location at least an hour in advance and wait patiently for their favorite part of the day to begin. Then just as the parade is about to start, out of nowhere comes guests trying to push in front, steal your spot, or move their group of children in front of you to get the best view. Again, it just makes for an unpleasant experience. If seeing these events is important to you then start looking for a spot in advance, or if you don’t want to wait around try one of Disney’s premium experiences offering VIP viewing areas from which to get those great views without the wait.
5) Be Nice to Cast Members – Every Disney Cast Member you encounter is working tirelessly to make sure your Disney experience is as magical as possible. However, not everything can operate flawlessly all the time. But please remember that if a ride is down, an order at a quick service restaurant is not right or you didn’t get the resort room you wanted, it’s not the Cast Member’s fault. Nothing makes me feel worse at Disney than seeing guests giving a Cast Member a hard time. The heat, wait times and walking can get to the best off us but be respectful. Better yet, if you have an amazing interaction with a Cast Member, let them know, say “Thank You” or do something nice for them in return. Disney is a much more magical place when everyone is happy to be there and paying it forward.
6) Keep it clean. Disney lore tells us that a guest need only walk 30 steps before finding a trash bin. Use them. Throw your garbage away. When you’re dining at a quick service restaurant take a minute and dispose of your trash. If you’ve finished your bottle of water hang onto it until you find a bin, don’t just set it down. No, it’s not our job to keep the parks squeaky clean but you can play a part in making the theme parks look as magical as they do each and every day and its another good lesson for the little ones.
7) Look out for guests when using a stroller or an ECV. Renting a stroller or an ECV does not give you carte blanche to speed through the crowds without being mindful of people shins. Yes gridlock can be frustrating and we all want to get to the next place just that little bit faster. But, please I beg you don’t take out your frustration on people’s legs.
8) Don’t spoil someone else’s view with your camera or smart phone. We all want to preserve those magical memories and most of us will be snapping away, taking videos and posting on social media throughout the day. However, that doesn’t mean it has to disrupt the viewing experience of other guests. I’m sure the family sitting behind you would much rather be watching that amazing stage show or fireworks viewing without being distracted by you holding up your cell phone inches away. At night or in dark theaters this can be especially distracting so think twice before ruining another family’s experience to capture yours.
9) Find an alternative to putting kids on your shoulders. For guests that have lined up early for that perfect parade or fireworks view, nothing can be more frustrating then when the parent in front of you puts their child on their shoulders. Of course you want your little one to see but think for a moment about the impact this might be having on those around you who waited just as long as you have for that perfect view. I’ve traveled with a toddler myself and I’ve found that just holding my child in my arms was enough to give her a good view without sacrificing the sight-lines of those around me.
10) Offer up seats on the buses. If you see a mother on the bus struggling with a baby in her arms balancing herself precariously because there isn’t a seat, then offer yours to her if you can. If child is on the verge of sleep and in risk of falling over, let him snuggle up on the bus and go to sleep. That level of courtesy was one of my favorite things about being a New Yorker on the busy subway trains and its nice to see it happen at Disney as well. However, with sore feet and exhaustion after long park days, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. Remember those pixie dust moments you’ve had a Disney and pass one on to someone else.
Keep our little Disney etiquette crash course in mind next time you head to the parks and remember a little kindness goes a long way. Happy planning!
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