Any real baseball fan knows about the unwritten rules of baseball. Don't steal a base when you have a big lead. Don't bunt to break up a no hitter (although when it happened to Curt Schilling, I wasn't too upset, and I'm a Phillies fan!). Don't loaf it out of the batter's box on a pop up (I'm looking at you, NL MVP hopeful Bryce Harper!). Just like baseball's unwritten rules, there are quite a few Unwritten Rules of the Disney Parks. As a former cast member and longtime and frequent visitor to WDW & Disneyland, I see these rules being broken all the time by guests who either have no prior Disney experience or simply don't really care too much about breaking them. I'm going to do my best here to help you guys out by telling you which rules not to break on your next (or first!) trip to the Disney theme parks. Hopefully, I can help you avoid getting brushed back by an up & in fastball from an upset fellow guest or cast member on your next vacation!
Thou Shalt Not Cut In Line –
Okay guys, here's the biggest one, right off the bat. Nothing is going to upset your fellow park-goers more than cutting in front of them in a queue. I've seen it WAY
too many times. A few members of a large party will wait in a long line, only to have the rest of their party join them when they get close to boarding the attraction or entering a show theater. It's disappointing and upsetting. As Disney park guests, “we're all in this together” (I'm singing now, thank you High School Musicial)
. Waiting in long lines is kind of a rite of passage among Disney fans and it's something you're just going to have to do. If you plan your trip well (and an experienced Disney Travel Agent will plan your trip for you for free…AHEM
), you'll already have Fastpass Plus reservations for some of your favorite attractions and shows – and that can eliminate some of those long waits. Of course, there are some exceptions to every rule. I'm a dad with three kids under five
. Sometimes, after we're in line for quite a while, one of my kids will need a potty break, and will need one “RIGHT NOW!” In this situation, you can simply ask the folks around you if they'd mind if you took your child to the restroom while someone else holds your place in line. People are normally very understanding of a child that just can't hold it!
Thou Shalt Be Mindful Of Ankles –
In the Disney theme parks, strollers and electric wheelchairs/scooters are everywhere. You really can't go more than a few feet without being next to one, or you may very well be one of the guests that will bring one or rent one for the parks. My wife and I travel with two strollers (one for our almost five-year-old, and one for our three-year-old twins). Disney requires A LOT
of walking, especially if you're trying to get the most out of your trip that you've saved and saved for. One thing we always try to be careful about is how close we are to the people in front of us while we are pushing our strollers. It's not a fun feeling when someone rams into you from behind with their stroller or scooter because they simply aren't paying attention or are rushing to get to the next attraction. I know that I've been on both sides of this issue, and neither side is a whole lot of fun! When our oldest was only a few months old, I tried pushing her stroller while looking at attraction wait times on my smartphone (obviously I was new to the baby/stroller protocol). I ended up smashing pretty hard into the back of the ankles of a woman who had stopped to take a picture of her children in front of Cinderella Castle. She was really nice about it, but judging from my speed, it had to hurt pretty badly! So when you're in the parks, I know you'll “want to go fast” like Ricky Bobby, but please be careful and don't make the same mistakes I've made!
Thou Shalt Not Ask The Time Of The 3 O'Clock Parade –
The all-time classic question that the Magic Kingdom's cast members get almost every day is, “What time is the 3 o'clock parade?” It's been asked forever and makes experienced Disney guests laugh every time, but to a new guest, it's a real concern and it doesn't always make a lot of sense. Here's the deal. The Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom starts at 3pm, almost every day. The thing is, the parade begins WAY over in Frontierland by Splash Mountain and doesn't get to Main Street, USA (where most guests would expect to see it) for quite a few minutes. I always feel bad for the big family with little, crying kids sweating it out in the sun at 3:15 and wondering what the darn holdup is! My best tip for you here is to find a spot with some shade between Splash Mountain and the Hub (in front of Cinderella Castle) and start waiting it out at about 2:15 to 2:30. The parade will start (for you, anyway!) close to 3pm and you won't have to fight all of the crowds on Main Street to get to your next destination once it's over!
Thou Shalt Not Use Flash Photography –
This one is kind of cheating (okay, blatantly ignoring my own blog title), because it's written all over the Disney parks, but some guests still tend to ignore it. Imagine you're in a dark movie theater, hanging on every word of Ryan Gosling's heartfelt speech to the latest “it girl”
or waiting for Ben Affleck's Batman character (anyone else worried about this casting choice?) to somehow put up a good fight against Superman, and someone in the middle of the row starts snapping away flash photos with their smartphone. I bet you'd be pretty upset and ask them to stop doing that. This is exactly what would happen if you started taking flash photos in the middle of one of Disney's famous “dark rides.” Instead of taking the pictures and interrupting someone's magical moment on an attraction, just wait until you get home and do a quick Google image search for that attraction. I guarantee
you that you'll find better pictures there than you'd ever be able to take on your own in the dark with a smartphone! Plus, you'll experience the attraction in the way it was meant to be experienced and not through the video screen of your smartphone or camera.
Thou Shalt Not Ride Thrill Rides Right After A Big Meal –
Alright, maybe this one goes without saying, but I feel like I still have to mention it! When I worked in WDW I was a Custodial Host for a while (for those of you that don't know, I was the guy with the dust pan and broom sweeping up all of the popcorn and park maps that you dropped!) It was a really fun, always entertaining position because I had a ton of time to interact with guests and try to make magical moments for them. But let me tell you one moment that isn't quite magical as a Disney cast member: cleaning up what they call a “protein spill.” If you haven't read about them, a protein spill is exactly what can happen to a guest after they eat a big meal if they ride an attraction that goes really fast, spins, goes upside down or bumps around a lot. Do yourself a favor: eat a big meal at Be Our Guest or Cinderella's Royal Table, and instead of running straight to Space or Splash Mountain, take a leisurely ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad or fly over London for a bit on Peter Pan's flight. The cast members (and your stomach)
will thank you!
While there are LOTS of Disney parks rules posted everywhere on property (like no smoking except in designated areas, keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times, wear a shirt), these Unwritten Rules
are good ones to go by and be aware of. Like baseball, there might be “consequences and repercussions” (Eddie Murphy quote snuck in! Anyone know what movie?)
when a player or guest breaks these rules. So please, wait in line with a smile, watch where you're going with those strollers, scout out a spot for the parade, keep the smartphone in your pocket, and wait until after you ride Expedition Everest to eat that Turkey Leg!
Thank you for reading my list of the Unwritten Rules of the Disney Parks! Did I miss any rules that you are constantly seeing broken on your WDW trips? If so, please comment here on this page, write on my wall or send me a Facebook message HERE, a Tweet HERE, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share the blog post on whatever Social Media platform you'd like by clicking the buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) on the bottom and top of each blog post.
Please also stop by the Facebook Page to play this week's Trivia Contest for a chance to win a great prize! Thank you again, and please enjoy the rest of your stay here at Ear To There Travel.