Have you ever seen “Stupid Pet Tricks?" It’s a long running skit on the Late Show with David Letterman. If you’re not familiar with it, guests bring their pets on the show to demonstrate a trick that is out of the ordinary— something like answering a phone. As you can probably guess, this is done primarily for laughs. The success of this segment gave birth to “Stupid Human Tricks”, a similar premise with humans wiggling their ears and such (have I ever told you I could play music on my teeth?).
So what does all this have to do with Disney? There’s a Web site, a forum really, called Stupid Guest Tricks. As you can probably surmise, this forum is frequented predominantly by Disney’s cast members. It presents an opportunity for them to discuss some of the more… er, interesting guest experiences from the Disney parks. As the introduction to the site suggests, it’s a “website devoted to those special guests we get every now and then, the ones who seem to leave their IQ at home when visiting a theme park." My personal phrasing preference is to state that some of us are simply overwhelmed by our surroundings at Disney parks; but “leaving the IQ at home” says it well.
Nevertheless, there seems to be no shortage of Stupid Guest Tricks and I’m certain we’ve all seen more than a few—or maybe you’ve even participated in one or two, innocently, of course.
So… what, exactly, is a Stupid Guest Trick? I think it’s best symbolized by what I believe to be an urban legend; a guest approaches a cast member in the Magic Kingdom and asks, “What time does the 3:00 parade start?”
You’ve probably heard that one before and we all snicker at it, but I’m betting if this truly happened, that the guest’s only sin was poor phrasing. My suggestion is he or she meant to ask, “What time does the 3:00 parade arrive at my specific viewing area?” If one is positioned on Main Street and the parade begins in Frontierland, or vice versa, it’s a legitimate question.
We can be relatively certain that these little faux pas occur all the time. Like many of the Park Peeves I often discuss, most are innocent but a few, I’m sorry to say, are the result of malicious intent. We’ll begin with a couple of the more malevolent variety.
What? Me wait in line?
I was witness to an attempt at a very selfish ruse on my most recent trip. In the minutes following Epcot’s opening for the day, we made our way, with many others, to the Land pavilion for a trip on Soarin’. This particular day, the cast members held all guests on the upper level for a brief wait before releasing them in a steady stream down the right side to the down escalator and stairs.
One guest asked a cast member if there was an alternate way to the first level. He indicated he wasn’t there for Soarin’ but just wanted some food from the Sunshine Seasons food court. The cast member consulted another and then apologetically informed that guest that he would have to wait in that line. We, of course, went directly to the Soarin’ standby queue after stopping quickly to secure FastPasses for later in the day. While in the Soarin’ line, just prior to the pre-show area, I glanced back and saw that same guest a mere four people behind us. Apparently, he had changed his mind about the food.
To be fair, this guest could have been heading downstairs for food, and seeing the large number of people queuing for Soarin’ decided to ride before having his breakfast. It’s possible. This next one is less ambiguous and also in the line-cutting category.
We were at the Magic Kingdom bus stops just after park closing. We were in line, waiting to board a Boardwalk bus. As it sometimes does at park closing, the line completely filled the queue (the area with the railings) and extended back further. There were approximately 30-40 people out side the railings, but I expected multiple buses would be brought in to handle the crowd.
A bus pulled in and the folks inside the railings began loading. At this time, two couples were strolling alongside the extended queue. As they reached the area where the railings began, the fellow in front motioned to the couple behind him and all four people cut into the queue. There were a few shouts from the back but, really, is there anything anyone could do to discourage this behavior—short of a nasty confrontation? These folks obviously knew exactly what they were doing and were selfish enough not to care about those behind them. For most of us, waiting on a second bus means only an additional 5-10 minutes but… that doesn’t make what they did OK.
The Miss Informers
These are certainly of the more innocent variety but they always make me smile. It’s just amazing how many people will offer erroneous information about Disney World; however, they do it with such authority they’re often believed.
We were once traveling, by Disney bus, from Downtown Disney to our resort. We were riding by Old Key West, and if you’ve ever done this, you’ll notice that from the nearby roads Old Key West is partially hidden by some trees. What you can see are outdoor stairs, doors, windows, and balconies. To me, it more resembles an apartment complex than a resort hotel.
At about this time, a young girl behind me asks, “What’s that?”
One of her traveling companions explained that it was “where Disney houses its workers. It’s a nice place to live but they only pay them, like, $1.50 an hour.” I chuckled at that one. If it’s true, I think I’m looking for a part-time job at Disney World when I retire.
I met another Miss Informer while seated outside, enjoying dinner with my wife at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works on the Boardwalk. I overheard a conversation at the next table where a young woman was offering her tablemates insight into touring Walt Disney World. Among her suggestions was this tidbit: “You can do the Magic Kingdom in half a day.” Really? I’d love to see the touring plan for that.
She did have my attention now and I continued eavesdropping and caught this gem, my personal favorite for misinformation: “Universal is totally separate. I don’t know why, but Disney makes you buy a separate ticket for it." The nerve of those people at Disney.
The Captain Obvious Award
On our most recent trip, we were in the Magic Kingdom and just about to enter the Country Bears Jamboree when I overheard this exchange between a couple and a cast member:
Woman: “Where’s the Hall of Presidents?”
Cast member: (pointing) “Right over there.”
Woman: “What is it?”
Cast member: “It’s a show… about presidents.”
I don't know why I find that funny... but I do.
I know what it says, but… here’s your sign
We were once waiting for a Downtown Disney bus at the Contemporary Resort. A bus clearly labeled “Downtown Disney”, on both the front and side, pulls in. We boarded with six or eight other guests. We took our seats toward the front and watched as a woman boarded and asked the driver, “Will this bus take me to Epcot?” Somewhere, comedian Bill Engvall was heard uttering, “Here’s your sign.”
Want another? We were waiting for members of our party to exit Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. We decided to wait inside, at the ride’s exit, to take advantage of the air-conditioning. There’s an area in back where you can wait for your party and can see the ride vehicles as they pull in and the riders disembark.
In this area, there are six monitors where those exiting the ride can view their on-ride photos. Above those monitors is a large screen, which plays a video loop of the end of an Aerosmith concert. It’s very loud, runs for about two minutes and features band members high-fiving the audience and doing the things they would normally do at the end of a concert. After seeing, and hearing, this clip multiple times, a woman next to us commented, “Great. We get to stand here and listen to how loud the Rolling Stones are.” Rolling Stones? Here’s your sign.
Where am I?
I’ll leave you with what is probably my favorite experience with an “overwhelmed” guest at Walt Disney World. We were riding a bus from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Saratoga Springs Resort. Because there had been some earlier problems, our bus also contained two couples that were returning to Old Key West. Our driver had informed us he’d be stopping there first but only at the Old Key West bus stop that these folks needed, then continuing on to Saratoga Springs.
We pulled up to that bus stop and our two couples exited the bus. I could see a small group of people there waiting and a woman with a particularly perplexed expression. After a moment, she hurried to the front of our bus, climbed the stairs and asked the driver, “Does this bus go to Disney World?”
Well, as you can see, I’ve spotted a few Stupid Guest Tricks on my visits to the World. I will also point out that, with just a couple of exceptions, they’re purely innocent. It’s just a few examples of vacationers, like you and me, sending our brains off on a vacation while we head to Disney World. I’d like to say I’ve never messed up while there but my family would immediately correct that.
How about you? I’d love to hear about things you’ve seen or, better yet, things you’ve done that would qualify as a Stupid Guest Trick. Let me know and, as always, thanks for reading and... Happy Thanksgiving everyone.