Former Disney employees reveal 15 things you should never do in the parks
A lot of the magic at Disney parks comes from the hardworking cast members, which is what Disney calls its park employees.
After closing for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, some Disney parks have reopened with modifications and new safety regulations. As some guests prepare to return to the most magical place on Earth, Insider spoke with 11 former Disney cast members about things they wish guests would stop doing in the parks.
From asking for extra perks to failing to use the garbage cans, here are the things that you should never do in the Disney parks.
Editor’s Note: Insider has agreed to not refer to the former Disney cast members by their full names due to privacy concerns. Insider has verified that the employees have worked for Disney parks through official badges and IDs.
Cast members don’t like it when you compare Disney to other amusement parks during your visit.
At Walt Disney World in Florida, cast members don’t like it when guests make comparisons to other theme parks in the area.
“I wish guests would stop comparing it to Universal Studios or Busch Gardens,” said former Epcot cast member Amanda C.
“As a cast member, I always overheard guests talk about the lack of roller coasters and the overly happy cast,” she added. “I mean, it’s Disney. It’s all about the storytelling and the magic and less about the thrill rides.”
Asking for freebies isn’t the right way to create magic.
According to former cast member Tiffany D., plenty of guests take their frustrations out at guest services to try and get “free stuff” or “magical moments.”
“Cast members are trained to observe and listen to all the guests, and when they see an opportunity for a magical moment, [they] make it happen [for the guests],” she told Insider. “It really ruins the magic when it’s forced or asked for.”
Former Disney World guest-relations cast member Kirsi M. agreed, adding, “Do not simply ask for extra FastPasses to be cheeky.”
It’s important to follow parade etiquette.
Lara G., who worked as part of Disney’s International College Program (ICP) in 2008 and 2009 told Insider, “I wish guests knew that the 3 o’clock parade is at 3 o’clock. It is impressive how often this question is asked in a day. I think every cast member heard that question.”
Tiffany D. said it’s also helpful when parkgoers listen to signs and cast members before and during parades.
“During parades, guests take forever to listen to cast members trying to clear the road or they go under ropes and mess up the whole thing,” she said. “Often they will get upset when you ask to move a stroller, making it look like a large inconvenience when really it’s just for their safety.”
The cast members are only there to keep all the guests and performers safe, so make sure to listen to them during parades and be observant of safety indicators, like ropes.
Lines are unavoidable, but be patient and be respectful of the other guests.
A visit to a Disney park often means hours spent waiting in line for top rides and attractions — but no one should be trying to cut ahead.
“Lines are there for a reason,” Lara G. told Insider. “It would also be amazing if all guests just respected the lines. It’s mainly teenagers that try to cut the long lines and it is definitely not allowed.”
Tiffany D. agreed, adding that guests get mad about standing in line but “it’s something families just need to understand is going to happen and expect it.”
Lines will always be a hassle, but there are a bunch of ways that guests can make the most of their time, like by playing games on their phones.
Height and age requirements are there for a reason, and cast members can’t break the rules for any guests.
Natalie O., a two-time Disney College Program alumna who worked at Disneyland in 2010 and Epcot in 2011, told Insider she’s seen a lot of parents try to help their kids skirt the parks’ safety rules.
“This ranged from padding their shoes so they would be the right height for a ride, to lying about their age if a ride had an age requirement to ride solo,” she added.
But the safety guidelines are there for a reason, she said, and “height requirements can mean the difference between a fun experience and a very serious injury.”
“Cast members just want to keep everyone safe — don’t lie to them about things like this,” she added.
Wear your seatbelt and remain seated on every single ride, every single time.
It should be clear by now that safety is really important to the cast members working at the Disney parks, so do them a favor and follow the rules while boarding and riding the different attractions.
“Keep your seat belts fastened on rides,” said former entertainment cast member Emily. “Every time someone messes with their seatbelt, the ride has to stop. It’s inconsiderate and ruins the experience for everyone else.”
Refrain from making obscene gestures in your ride photos.
For many families, purchasing ride photos from Space Mountain or Tower of Terror often means taking home hilarious memories of their trip to Disney.
And so, former Disneyland cast member Jodie D. said, guests shouldn’t make obscene gestures in their photos to be funny or crude.
“If you make an offensive gesture in the photo, we can’t sell it to you, because [that behavior] is against Disney’s ethos,” she told Insider. “It also means anyone else in the photo can’t buy their ride photo either, so it can affect other guests.”
Don’t camp out right in front of Cinderella Castle to watch the fireworks.
Lots of guests try to get the best spot for the Magic Kingdom fireworks by camping in front of Cinderella Castle, but the crowds often make it difficult for cast members and other guests to get around the park safely.
“I skip watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the front of the castle (like everyone else),” said former cast member Whitney C., who instead suggests heading behind the castle near Fantasyland.
“The view is better — hardly any guests watch from the back — and the cast members come out and enjoy the show with you,” she told Insider. “They even interacted with my daughter last time and made her a princess during the show.”
Be mindful of holding up your devices, especially during fireworks, shows, and parades.
Everyone wants the perfect picture, but holding up your electronic devices to record the entire show or parade can be very distracting.
“Please leave the iPad at home,” said Kirsi M. “You are there to experience the magic in person, not from behind your screen. I always get annoyed when watching a nighttime show like Happily Ever After, for example, but my view is blocked by a scene of screens.”
Don’t deface, climb on, or vandalize Disney property.
The Disney parks require tons of upkeep, so don’t make cast members’ jobs harder by vandalizing anything at the parks.
“Please do not climb or damage the attractions and set pieces. It was heartbreaking to see that as soon as Toy Story Land opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios that guests had already begun to deface the walls and sets in queue lines,” Kirsi M. told Insider.
Please throw away your trash in the provided cans — you’ll never be too far from one.
It’s a well-known bit of Disney trivia that Walt Disney himself designed the parks so that guests would not have to walk more than about 30 steps before seeing a trash can, in the hopes of reducing the amount of litter.
That still doesn’t stop some guests from tossing their trash on the ground.
“I wish people would stop throwing trash in the themed queue areas,” said former cast member Brittany R. “Disney puts so much thought, time, and effort into theming their queues to make them engaging for guests, and nothing ruins the magic like seeing a discarded soda cup or other pieces of trash out of place before a cast member has had time to remove it.”
Try not to overdo it on alcoholic beverages, especially since doing so can get you kicked out of the parks.
Guests who are of legal drinking age can enjoy unique cocktail offerings at the Disney parks, but remember that you’re in an environment geared toward families.
“This is definitely not a problem that happens to everyone, but don’t get drunk in the parks,” suggested Rachel W., a former cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “The combination of being on vacation, being in the heat, and being in places with delicious cocktails (the rum Dole Whip in Animal Kingdom is ridiculously good) can make some feel like having a few drinks, which is fine.”
Ultimately, she said, sometimes people overdo it and then try to board rides while drunk or act disorderly, which can them kicked out of the park.
“I’m totally in favor of enjoying an alcoholic beverage when you’re on vacation or at Disney, but drink responsibly and try to limit it to times that you’re not in the parks themselves,” Rachel W. added.
There are bathrooms all around the parks, so use them.
Whether you’re changing your baby’s diaper or really need to go yourself, you should always find an actual bathroom.
“[The] worst thing I ever saw — and it happened more than once — was witnessing a parent have their child use the bushes/ride-queue area as a bathroom,” Natalie O. said. “I get it, when you’ve been in line forever and your kiddo suddenly has to go, it’s super frustrating. But this is a serious health hazard, gross, rude, and completely inconsiderate.”
“Disney is still the real world, and general society guidelines don’t go out the window,” she added.
Never get physical with cast members or other guests.
“I think this should go without saying, but never get physical with another guest or cast member,” former DCP alumna Brittany B. told Insider. “That is a one-way ticket to getting kicked out of the park.”
In general, try to limit your profanity and mind your manners while in the parks.
Disney is ultimately a family establishment, so be mindful of your language and actions while you’re at the parks.
“I wish guests didn’t walk around the park drunk [and] swear, complain, or talk badly about the characters,” said Amanda C. “Everyone is there to have an amazing and magical time, and these things can ruin it.”
“Many guests have waited their whole life and dug into their savings to get to the Disney parks,” she added. “My hope is that more people realize that and let every guest enjoy their visit.”
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