Park Peeves 2009

by Steve Russo, staff writer

Has it really been over a year since I addressed my Park Peeves (if you need a refresher, you can view that original article here)? Park Peeves is the term I use to describe my unofficial list of the people, their actions, and the various walking styles at Walt Disney World that make me scratch my head and go, “Huh?” The more severe items could even take me out of my Disney Zone—if only for a moment.

First, let’s get something straight: this article is not directed at you. If you’re reading this (and you must be, right?), you’re excluded. I’m talking about the other people at the parks that are guilty of sometimes being overwhelmed and committing some of the blunders mentioned below. It’s not you and it’s not me. Are we square on that? OK. Also… no animals or small children were injured in the writing of this article, your mileage may vary, and this column is smaller than actual size. That should about cover everything.

Let me take a minute to thank the many thousands of you that wrote in with your suggestions for the list. What? OK, the many dozens of you that wrote in. I thank you all for your submissions – some of which you’ll find below. Others… well you knew I couldn’t print that on a family oriented site; didn’t you?

So… without further ado, here’s the 2009 version of Park Peeves.

The FastPass Blockade: These people seem to be most prevalent at Test Track and Soarin’ but they’re certainly to be found elsewhere. They stand in front of the FastPass queue entrance waiting for their FastPass time to arrive, completely blocking anyone else from entering. Please step to the side, folks.

The Photo Blockade is related to the FastPass Blockade—sort of a not-so-distant cousin. It’s seen everywhere but seems to be most apparent at Epcot’s World Showcase. You’re walking around the promenade when, suddenly, bodies begin piling up as traffic comes to a complete standstill. There’s a young girl leaning against the lagoon-side railing, smiling sweetly for her boyfriend, who is approximately a quarter-mile away focusing a camera. You just know the resulting shot will be focused on a seagull in flight in front of the Mexico pavilion while the young girl will be microscopic and unidentifiable in the foreground—but 261 people will stop and wait patiently for this guy to push the shutter button.

The Scooter-rorists: I won’t go near the issue of who should or shouldn’t be renting a motorized scooter. I know everyone has their reasons and they’re not always visible. What I will say is that at least some of these drivers need to be checked out on the vehicle before being released on an unsuspecting public. I’ve seen these things accelerate into walls, pylons and, unfortunately, neighboring ankles by drivers that really had no clue on how to maneuver these chariots. Oh, the humanity!

The Turnst-oppers (See what I did there? I combined “turnstile” and “stopper” into a single word. Clever, huh? What? OK, you come up with a better one). As you enter the waiting area for Mickey’s Philharmagic, you pass through a turnstile and immediately come to the bins that contain the 3D glasses. There is always a person or two there that linger, apparently looking for just the right fit and style of frames, leaving you with absolutely nowhere to go. A second later, you’re bumped by the next person through the turnstile; then he or she is bumped; and so on.

The Scusemes are an oldie but a goldie and one I can’t leave out of any Park Peeves column. You’re in line at (insert attraction name here) when, from behind, you hear the repetitive chant, “Scuseme. Scuseme.” It’s often followed by, “Just joining my party.” I’ve often said I have some tolerance for a single person, or parent/child, that required a restroom break (although I would prefer if the entire party waited). What I have no tolerance for is when one or two people enter a queue while the other two, three, four or more are getting FastPasses or on another attraction.

I'm betting there are a few "Scusemes" in this queue. Photo by Steve Russo.

The Conga Line is a slight variation of the Scusemes and one I saw up close on my most recent trip. We were standing in the Soarin’ queue when four women (yes, four!) sauntered through the line, single file, in snake-like fashion. They never said a word and just kept on moving. They might well have been trying to join a party further up but we peons were left guessing… and shouting “Hey!” to no avail.

The Pace Car: You know how a Pace Car leads the pack and no one passes? I’m still not certain how this is done… and I’ve seen it first hand. It may just be an optical illusion. We were walking through the Soarin’ exit; you know the hallway that’s about 10-12 feet wide? A single woman, and a petite one at that, was in front of us walking ever… so… slowly. We attempted to pass her but, somehow, someway, this sprite of a person managed to veer slightly, speed up, slow down, whatever it took – to prevent the pass. I’m still not sure how she did it.

OK. So she wasn't that petite. Photo by Steve Russo.

The Columbo: Do you remember the Peter Falk television character of the same name? He was a smarter-than-he-looked detective that always seemed to hit the suspect with “just one more question”. You’re in line at a check-in desk, Lobby Concierge or rental car counter. It’s all the same. The person in front of you turns and begins to exit the counter so you take that half-step forward when… not so fast! They stop abruptly and return to ask that one… more… question. What else could they possible need to know? This is particularly annoying when it occurs at a park entry turnstile or a parking lot booth. I always assume the additional question must involve quantum physics because it always takes quite a bit of time to ask and answer.

"So, tell me again. Which bus do I get on?" Photo by Steve Russo.

The Blender is another category of line cutter, mostly visible at park opening. While there’s a long line of people waiting to get through the turnstiles, the Blender strolls up to the front. They act like they're with a group just in front of you or they want to cut across your line, but then just stay where they are and, somehow, become part of your line.

The Artful Dodger: I liken the Dodger to the driver that always seems to slip into that single car-length you’ve left between you and the car in front of you. While walking through a park, you maintain a certain safe distance behind the person in front of you. The Artful Dodger sees that space as their next move to advance through the crowd. The Dodger is notorious for scowling when hit by a stroller. You might even come across his relative, the Wedge. You’ll see them at a parade or fireworks show as they slip quietly into that 6” of space between you and the person in front of you.

Touristo Oblivioso: Is a guest who has the utter inability to see what is directly in front of him or her (usually you or a Main Street vehicle) and then gets mad when they run into it. (I have to give credit to reader David Stinson for that very clever name and description).

The Mickey-jacker: (Several of you wrote in with variations on this theme.) You’re standing in a line to meet one of the characters for autographs and photos. When it’s your turn, someone who is not in line feigns ignorance and steps in front of you and your children.

"I swear I was next, when this kid came out of nowhere..." Photo by Steve Russo.

The SlowPassers wait until they get to the turnstile before they even begin to look for their park pass. "You mean we need tickets?” Then it’s the all-out search through backpacks, purses, fanny packs, etc.

The Digitally Challenged just can’t quite get the hang of placing a finger on that little glass thingamajig atop the turnstile.

The Not With Both Hands and a Flashlight Brigade: How about those folks (bless their hearts) who just can't figure out how to get their pass into the ticket reader? They try sticking that ticket into every seam and crease at the turnstile except the one that counts.

The Chimney: I’m an ex-smoker (I know, worst kind, right?) and, once the parks went non-smoking, I never had an issue finding and using the smoking areas. They’re well marked on the maps and are actually in some nice areas. I know that the vast majority of smokers play by the rules and use these areas but there are a few with the “I’ll smoke anywhere I’d like” mentality. Let them know it’s not acceptable.

The Stroller Stragglers are the people who wait for the bus to arrive before they begin the process of collapsing their stroller. They’ll fumble, drop things and watch assorted milk bottles, pacifiers, Cheerios and the occasional small child roll under the bus, all while blocking the door on a 100-degree day.

The Fireworks Stilts: You’ve staked out your spot to watch Illuminations or Wishes and anxiously await the show to start. Just as the first salvo is fired, the guy in front of you reaches down and plops a child on his shoulders. I’m 6’ 3” so this rarely bothers me but I’ve seen it completely block the view of shorter folks, children, people in wheelchairs, etc… It’s fine to provide a better view for your child; just try to be aware of those behind you.

The Flasher: No, it’s not what you think. Have you seen someone snapping away with their flash cameras while on a dark ride like Pirates of the Caribbean? This usually flies in the face of an announced or posted admonition of “No flash photography."  What usually happens later is the person discovers that the attraction is in the dark for a reason and all flash illumination does is completely destroy the look the Imagineers tried valiantly to convey; and, in the process, these flashes have ruined the ride for everyone around them.

The Line Singers: I've seen this a few times with groups who are usually in the area for a performance in the parks. For some unknown reason, they feel obligated to entertain everyone waiting in a line with them. Sometimes they’re very talented; sometimes, not so much. Have you ever been serenaded with a tremendously bad version of the Chicken Dance song? In any case, save it for the stage; it doesn’t belong where people are forced to listen.

Well, that’s it for now. The 2009 version of Park Peeves is complete. I’ll await your suggestions for additions to the list for 2010.

That’s my opinion. What’s yours?