Spring is coming. It means more opportunity for outdoor activities. It means spring holidays. It is also means possible trips to Disney (Paris or WDW). If you have kids, there are multiple good reasons to do this. Both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World have their pros and cons, but done correctly, a Disney trip with kids is a great vacation. But there will always be certain things you have to plan for and put up with. Case in point, there are lots of wonderful characters at Disney….Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and a whole host of others, but there are also other, less genial, types of characters. These are the characters that ordinary people can turn into when finding themselves at “the Happiest Place on Earth”. So take a look at the list. Hopefully, you won’t recognise yourself but, if you do, consider yourself duly warned.
10) The Shopaholic: This is the person who comes to Disney to buy things…and that is all. I am not saying buying is bad. Given the state of the economy, buying is good. Shopping is a lovely past time. Mickey would approve. Chip and Dale applaud your efforts. However, the fact that you have come to the park to support Disney’s bottom line does not grant you the freedom to “let it all hang out” in terms of behavior. Complaining that a toddler has wandered in front of you at the register is just not on. I actually had a woman bitch at me in a store because my 2-year-old “touched” her foot. OK, you are at DISNEY. If you don’t want a kid touching you, go shop at Dolce & Gabbana. Nor should these people be allowed to use things for other than their intended purpose simply to make their shopping more convenient. Tables are not storage areas. The Disney strollers are not for carrying your packages around. There are limited strollers in Disneyland, so if you are using one to haul your 14 t-shirts, matching set Mickey bowls and Minnie saucers, and your Tinkerbell bread maker, then you are possibly depriving a family of using one for their child. If you drop your bags all over your table or chairs, as well as cluttering adjacent tables and chairs, you are preventing others from sitting down to eat. Blocking the walkways with your stuff constricts the flow of traffic and annoys everyone. Besides being annoying, it is unnecessary. Disney has a service that allows you to buy as much as you want, and then collect it on your way out. So, if you plan on spending the equivalent of a year of medical school tuition on knick knacks…please use this service. Really. Please.
9) The Sex Kitten: It’s your business whether you choose to dress like a 50’s throwback, the whore of Babylon or a less than successful transvestite. Really, it’s your choice and / or your problem….until you make it someone else’s problem. Wearing any clothing item that keeps you from walking, turning or executing any other sort of normal body movement starts to make your fashion choice a problem for everyone around you. Bottlenecks should not form because you chose to wear four-inch stilettos to a theme park. Nor do you have a right to glare at people who are passing you as you hobble along. Actually, if you wear four-inch stilettos to Disneyland, you righteously deserve to end up flat on your ass. And, as that body part is probably the closest thing you have to a brain, maybe it will knock some sense into you. The problem is that you are likely to take innocent bystanders down with you. So, don’t expect others to swerve out of your way simply because you can’t turn around in your pumps without twisting your ankle.
8) The Nature Child: Often raised by parents who shun real parenting in favor of a Rousseau-ian “natural” attitude toward childhood. News flash folks; even Rousseau changed his mind on that whole “noble savage” thing. This caused him to write the “Social Contract”….which you probably need to read if you are one of the aforementioned parents. At any rate, the nature child is the kid who cuts in line, pushes other kids, climbs on structures that are not meant to be climbed on and then falls on unsuspecting victims. Generally they behave like brats. OK, all kids do these things from time to time.It’s a kid thing. But it is the JOB of parents to reign that in and teach children to be able to survive and thrive in a society. Disneyland is microcosm of the world. It attracts people from all cultures, backgrounds, races and socioeconomic levels. As such, it is a place where said cultures can easily clash if everyone is not playing by the same rules and on their best behavior. And it is for this reason that Disney does a pretty decent job of setting up clear cut rules. Announcements are made in multiple languages. Signs are easy to follow even without language. The lines for rides are clearly delineated. And so on, and so on ad infinitum. So, the family who lets their 8 year old vault over the barricades in order to push their way to the front of the “It’s a small world” ride without imposing a serious discipline moment is teaching that child that it is OK to ignore the rules of a given society. This is a hard lesson to undo. Children like this may be simply irritating now, but they are likely to end up troubled and outcast. And I feel sorry for them…after I have left the park.
6) The Theme Park Commando: This is what happens when control freaks go to Disneyland. This is the “we have exactly 8 hours and 52 minutes at Disneyland to accomplish everything we want to do” crowd. They have limited time at the Mouse and so they have mapped out their agenda with all the precision of a military coup. The problem is that kids are not usually willing participants in a military coup. So no matter how perfectly you map things out, it’s not going to work out the way you planned. It’s just not. You have to be able and willing to modify plans based on changing circumstances. What makes this group annoying is not simply the fact that have over planned, because that’s their problem. The problem is that inevitably the adults in the party melt down when one of the kids breaks ranks. When this happens, I have seen parents at their very very worst. Of course, I have seen the parents screaming at their kids. But I have also seen a Dad throw food in his son’s face, and a Mom who tossed a beloved Mickey Doll in the nearest trashcan. Like I said, parents at their worst. This means that the rest of us are forced to watch you…..at your very worst. Which then puts us in the uncomfortable predicament of trying to decide whether or not we should call a Cast Member. Or Social Services. Or both.
5) The Misanthrope: After 8 or 10 hours at Disneyland, even the most die-hard “people” people start becoming misanthropic. A misanthrope becomes murderous. If your spouse is misanthropic, don’t force him or her to go to Disney. To do so is reasonable grounds for divorce. And if one of these folks gets behind the wheels of a stroller, God help us all.
4) The Rogue Missile: These are the people you tend to find standing right in the middle of any thoroughfare, map in hand, annoyed expression on face. OK, most people need to refer to the map now and again, but not for 10 minutes smack in the middle of Main Street U.S.A. Most people also pay at least a modicum of attention to where they are…but not these folks. The best of them are simply befuddled and clueless to their environment. The worst ones seem to think that their inability to navigate themselves is everyone else’s fault but their own. After they pull their noses out of whatever they are looking at, they will move quickly in the direction most likely to inconvenience the optimal number of people. They step on kids, run into strollers and stumble over people who are waiting in lines. They rarely, if ever, excuse themselves. And don’t be surprised if they explode at you after they have knocked you over. But they will likely be off and at another target before you can get your wind back to respond.
3) The Momzilla: We all know this type. She is the one who pushes her kid to the front of the line at all rides. Who tramples your toddler to get her sullen 13-year-old their 365th picture with Goofy, whether he wants it or not. She differs from the parents of the Nature Child in that she actually pays attention when her child misbehaves, and is just as likely to fly off the handle at him as she is to snarl at you. She differs from the Theme Park Commando, in that she usually DOESN’T have well thought plans. Her only real plan is to make sure that her offspring are not deprived of any Disney experience, and that they are treated with the “respect” that is owed to her. You see, this person is living vicariously through her kids. Once again, most of us are guilty of this from time to time. And there is nothing wrong with enjoying your kid’s childhood with them. The problem is when you are trying to live it for them. And let’s face it, toddler behavior looks really ugly on a 40-year-old, which brings us to…
2) The “Arrested in Development” : These are the otherwise normal adults who come to Disney…. without the kids. They wear the Mouse ears. They pose with all the characters. They eat at the character meals. OK, these things in and of themselves are fine and can even be charming. I will prove that in a later post when I describe how to have a date night at Disney. But when it results in preventing the actual children in the park from having fun, there is a problem. If you have ever been to any Disney, you have seen this person. He or she will hog characters time, even if it means that a pack of preschoolers will lose their opportunity to see Mickey. I have actually seen some of these people knock over toddlers in order to secure their position near the front of the floor for Disney Junior Live on Stage and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…which resulted in crying toddlers, pissed off parents and obstructed views. The offenders in question completely ignored all of the above as the clapped and sang along with the show. And no, they were not disabled in any way. I have one word for these people…therapy. Go get some. And finally…
1) The Entitled: This one could have also been called “the Queue Jumper”, as that is often their most defining characteristic. But they are capable of so much more. Unlike the Momzilla or the Arrested in Development, this person premeditates their obnoxious behavior. It’s like the difference between manslaughter and murder (is violence becoming a theme with me or what?). They lurk, waiting for exactly the right moment to break in the queue for a ride or character encounter. So, when someone has to grab a child or pick up a bag, they slide right in…ignoring nasty comments and looks. Or they send one person to wait in line for them and then, a few minutes before the ride begins, the other 12 people in their party show up and push their way to the front. They leave their trash everywhere, at restaurants , on outdoor benches, on tables and even in rides. They come at the last-minute for parades, and hover in the street until a cast member asks them to back up on to the sidewalk, thereby putting them in the front of everyone. They are above the rules of social conduct, because for some reason it doesn’t apply to them. This is the “let them eat cake”crowd. But take heed, those of you who belong to this category….that attitude can be dangerous. I mean, we all know how well that attitude worked out for Marie. So, as we all head back to the theme parks with the spring, keep an eye out for the characters mentioned above…so you can avoid them and/ or not be drafted into their ranks.