Park Peeves 2013by Steve Russo, staff writer
Well, folks, here we are again. I've sometimes thought that if I were to spay and neuter my pet peeves it might keep them from reproducing—if only. Never one to be deterred, I bring you this year's edition of Park Peeves, also known as the lengthy list of things that just tick me off.
This annual whine of mine began back in 2008 when my wife and I were hurrying through Epcot's Future World attempting make our way to Le Cellier for a dining reservation. We were running late (I'll blame the bus service for that) and it seemed that every manner of guest in the park did their level best to get in our way, block our path, or just slow us down. I came up with what I thought were some clever names for these folks (there were Dead Stoppers, Center Talkers, and Wide Walkers to name just a few) and titled that article Park Peeves.
There was a robust reader response to that article so I added to it with Park Peeves 2009 where I discussed Turnst-oppers, Scusemes and the now-famous Touristo Obliviouso.
A series was born and we followed that up with:
- Park Peeves 2010, which offered the Air Diner and FastPassinator;
- Park Peeves 2011 featuring the "Who Me?s" and the Darla;
- and last year's Park Peeves 2012, which introduced the Technologist and included a rant about Hyperion Wharf.
That brings us current and I have to say I'm beginning to run out of gripes. I'm not mellowing by any stretch of the imagination—it's just that I'm not finding many new things to whine about. But fear not, I do have a few, beginning with…
The Premature Evacuators
These folks are present in several of the shows around the parks but it seems they are most prevalent at Fantasmic! I've queued up early and spent 30-45 minutes waiting patiently in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater while attempting to enjoy whatever is passing as a pre-show these days. Fantasmic! begins and I am, once again, enthralled by the show. After 25 minutes, we've begun the buildup to the big finale; the paddle wheeler comes steaming around the bend with Steamboat Willie at the helm and every Disney character imaginable standing on deck and waving, and… scores of people take that as a signal to stand up and leave. They stand up in front of me blocking my view, exit the row—forcing everyone seated to twist, turn or stand up to give them room to egress. Distracting? You betcha!
I don't get it. It's a safe bet that they're all trying to beat the crowd out of the theater, but… is it worth it? At full capacity (which most shows are), it's never taken me more than 15-20 minutes to waddle out with the crowd—and that's when we were seated all the way down in the leftmost seating section.
The worst example of this is when I was seated in the rightmost section, having secured seats using the Fantasmic! Dinner Package. Apparently, many people will queue up for seating in these sections without buying the Package. The cast members will allow guests into these two sections approximately 10 minutes before the show to fill up any unused space. On the night I was there, we went from half full to capacity in about 60 seconds.
What I wasn't prepared for was about 80% of those late arrivals used the paddle wheel cue to make a mass exodus. It was very disruptive— and I ask again, "Is it worth it?"
The Anti-Busing Crowd
Unfortunately, this is something I now see almost every trip. A group will have a meal in a counter service restaurant, and when finished, get up and leave their trays and trash on the table. This is—by far—a minority of the guests who dine at Walt Disney World every day but it has been happening often enough for me to notice.
I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt and believe at least a few of the folks mistakenly thought cast members were there to bus their tables. However, in reality I believe the entitlement principle is at work. We've paid a lot of money for this vacation so we'll let Disney clean up our mess while we head to the next attraction.
Just a few trips back, we overheard a woman ask a passing cast member, "Do you clean up my table or should I?" The cast member replied, "Well, I could do it but…" To that, the woman stood up, said "OK. I have to meet someone so you can do it," and left. Sheesh!
Pleasure Island / Hyperion Wharf / Disney Springs
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Do you know that old saying? I once wrote 1725 words on Hyperion Wharf and what did it get me? Earlier this year, Disney scrapped all plans in favor of a newly "re-imagined" Pleasure Island, now called Disney Springs. Well, this writer is through speculating and will wait to see some actual construction progress before venturing forth again with an opinion.
Kids in the Hot Tub
Parents, please read the signs. Some of us old folks like to use the hot tubs and spas as therapy after long days of park touring. The children that take them over don't really need them but tend to see them as a fun wading pool... with bubbles. The signs nearby have them off-limits to those under 15 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
I admit to being amazed at the sheer chutzpah (gotta love that word) of some of my fellow guests at Walt Disney World. I've been railing against line cutters and crowd pushers for some time but each year brings a new wrinkle… or two.
The Infiltrator ("She told me to")
Last December, the missus and I were accompanied to Walt Disney World by our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons. We ventured to the Magic Kingdom one evening, hoping to take in the Main Street Electrical Parade, the castle show, and Wishes. We arrived early and took up a spot in Liberty Square to await the parade.
Our viewing location was already crowded but we managed to snag an open space right on the end, just inside an area defined by tape applied on the ground. Just to our right is a thoroughfare from the hub that the cast members are desperately trying to keep open. As people stop there, the cast members shoo them away to keep an open route.
Naturally, as the Main Street Electrical Parade time nears, more and more people stop and sit and the cast members repeatedly clear this area. As the parade nears our location and we can see the first float, a woman with a stroller stopped on our right and parked, clearly outside the taped markings on the pavement. A cast member asked her to move and she simply pushed to her left against us. She was now 1/3 of the way inside the tape so I guess she thought she was legal. She had also positioned her stroller so it was now blocking our grandson's view so we had to adjust. When we objected, she motioned toward the cast member and said, "She told me to."
Unfortunately, the choices here aren't good. While I would have liked to engage her in a discussion of what the cast member actually said and meant, one quickly realizes it would do no good and probably ruin the parade for all of us (and most of those around us). We sighed, repositioned as best we could and I made a mental note for another Park Peeve.
The Blanche DuBois – "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
Not long after the above incident the wife and I were at Epcot awaiting Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. We had arrived a bit late and took up a spot on the bridge between the UK and France. It's not my favorite viewing location but it offers a reasonable view, and as I mentioned, we were a bit late and didn't want to risk looking for a better area only to be shut out.
The front row of the bridge, at the railing, was almost full but we found a spot for two at the very end, all the way toward the UK side and just inside of a tree that would block your view. This was at 8:40pm.
At 8:58pm, a woman touched my arm to get my attention and asked if I could move over a foot to let her mother, who's in a wheelchair, see the fireworks. My initial reaction was to ask her if the fireworks were so important to her, why did she wait until two minutes before performance to go to look for a viewing spot? I also thought about recommending the wheelchair viewing areas but realized it was probably too late for either solution to work.
If anything, I'm sympathetic. I glance to my right and realize we can't move more than a few inches – the people are packed in that tight. I tell her that and she replies, "Oh, I thought you were all together."
I do move behind my wife. That's not a big deal for me; I can see fine over her (it pays to be tall) but I now have to make sure I'm not going to block anyone behind us who have also been there for 15-20 minutes waiting. At any rate, she did slide her mother in and (I think) everyone enjoyed Illuminations.
Lastly, I'm nominating a previous Peeve for entry into the Park Peeves Hall of Fame. The Flasher is not what you think: this is the person who, despite many admonitions for "no flash photography," will continue to take scores of photos with a flash on every dark ride, thoroughly ruining the experience for everyone nearby. This Hall of Fame nomination is primarily because I believe this crime has reached epidemic proportions. It seems I can no longer ride Spaceship Earth, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Haunted Mansion without a few dozen flashes during my ride.
It's easy to blame the proliferation of digital cameras but it would really help if the owners spent a few minutes with the manual. Most cameras have adjustments for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that will provide reasonable exposures in low-light settings without using the flash. Some might even offer an easy-to-use setting for low-light photos that will do it all for you. Here are a few reasons the camera's flash is not a good idea:
- In most dark rides (think Haunted Mansion), the Imagineers have designed each scene for maximum benefit of the viewer… and they've also lit it appropriately. The use of a flash will only expose things you weren't supposed to see and will effectively destroy what the Imagineer was going for. In other words, your photos will not be very good.
- The use of a flash is distracting and ruins the experience for all those around you.
- Most camera's flash is enough to illuminate objects within 15' of the camera. Shooting Mickey atop the mountain at the end of Fantasmic!, while using a flash, only serves to illuminate the four or five bald pates in the three rows in front of you. It does nothing for Mickey. I'm just sayin'.
Well, that concludes my whine for 2013. Let me know if you agree, disagree, or have a few more of your own. It's probable that I'll have another list for you this time next year.
As always, thanks for reading.