Disneyworld Downer?

October 20th, 2007 | Posted in General

Another Disneyworld vacation in the books. Over ten years ago I did a big job for a software company that produced parody and comedic CD-ROM titles and we spent the money I earned on a 2 bedroom timeshare in Orlando. Number One Son Thomas was just born, and since he was to be our last we were looking at a decade of having young kids and needing a place to go every year. That ended up being a smart decision… we’ve now visited Orlando ten years running, and while the focus of our days has changed we still enjoy our week of Disney magic.

Of course not all of it is magical. Disney itself does an amazing job of keeping things easy and convenient for the guests, as well as creating an immersive fantasyland that is in a class by itself. Unfortunately we have to share that fantasyland with about forty to fifty thousand other people. I don’t mind that fact at all, except a fair amount of those people seem to think they are the only ones in the park that count, and the rest of us are just in their way.

Maybe the patient quota goes way down when it’s tested a bit by long lines and crowded walkways, or maybe the “me generation” hasn’t grown up yet and realized this isn’t their world despite what the t-shirts say. There seems to be a lot more examples of people acting like they are the only ones who paid money to get in to the parks than there used to be. I saw some terrible examples of rudeness, impatience and some very bad parenting that had me rolling my eyes not a few times. In one memorable instance, we were sitting in a theater with about 500 people to see “Voyage of the Little Mermaid”, a puppetry/musical/special effects stage show retelling the Little Mermaid story. Some idiot keep yelling “Look, it’s the Little Mermaid! YAY!” to his kid, and loudly pointed out every character in the same way as they appeared. Funny, his kid also pointed and talked throughout the show… I wonder where she learned that?

We push our autistic daughter Elizabeth around in a wheelchair in the parks, as without that she would never be able to handle more than a few hours. It was a good thing we paid attention when pushing her, as otherwise a lot of clueless people would have their vacations ruined by a broken ankle from walking heedless right in front of the wheelchair. I wanted to clip a few tourists under “the burned hand teaches best” philosophy but The Lovely Anna wouldn’t let me.

It’s not just Disney, of course. As a long time veteran of working theme parks I can safely say that you can’t get fifty thousand people together in one place and not have a fair share of jerks and idiots in the crowd. The trick is not to let them get you down, and as a parent they are actually beneficial to have about. It’s easy to be able to point them out to your kids and let them set an example of how not to act towards your fellow man. It’s just amazing to me how some people can go through life so self centered and angry that they can’t even escape it in a place like Disneyworld. You have to feel sorry for them…

… but I still think a good knock in the ankles might do them some good.


  1. Nelson says:

    You may already know, but just in case you don’t, if you have an autistic child, you can get a special pass that will let you get in a fast track line for many of the rides. We brought a letter from our son’s neurologist and presented it at guest services to get the pass. It makes our park trips much more manageable.

    As far as guest manners go, a big part of the Disney experience is exposure to new and different cultures (and I don’t just mean from other countries.)

  2. Tom says:

    Oh, yes… we know about the special assistance pass. We have been doing that for the last 6 or so years. That is really the only reason Elizabeth can tolerate a day at a theme park at all. If we spent hours waiting in line she’d never make it.

    Check out this post I did last year after our Disney visit, where I talk a lot about how well Disney handles special needs guests.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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