Growing up in the early aughts, weekends were peppered with a phrase ubiquitous to modern American leisure – “Wanna go to the mall?” It was how one passed the time and all related actions, including shopping, were secondary to hanging out. For many, Walt Disney World is a far off destination – a once in a lifetime opportunity. To Annual Passholders, especially the Tamplando locals, it’s “the mall”.
While the world meticulously plans multi-day experiences, sucking up as much Disney as their dollars allow, FLAPers (Florida Annual Passholders) tend to go on a whim – strolling around at times with little to no agenda. It’s an odd feeling to realize our casual Tuesday may also be someone’s greatest day of vacation ever and it’s easy to forget our part in that experience. With that in mind, a few guidelines for the Annual Passholder may be in order.
5. Don’t Get Too Casual
There is a relaxation that sets in once you grow accustomed to an environment. Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg discusses in his book “The Great Good Place” the concept of “a third place,” away from work or home, where playful conversation with others is a main activity. FLAPers do this in the streets of World Showcase and the queues for rides, but while the parks have become their place for casual chat, the majority of park-goers are there for distraction.
A moment several months back found several FLAPers discussing an acquaintance’s miscarriage in the standby line for Soarin. Eventually the group looked up to realize just how many people were stuck within earshot of the depressing tale. There’s nothing wrong with deep conversations of all types in the parks, but be aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re not imposing on those who have paid top dollar for a day away from the real world.
4. Don’t Photobomb
It’s tempting and Lord knows you have the opportunity, but don’t photobomb. Nobody wants to travel back home to find their favorite photo ruined by some dope with a goofy grin in the background (unless that person is either Dopey or Goofy). This goes for on-ride photos as well. Sure, you’ve rode Everest twenty-five times so a “looking bored photo” is in order, but what about everyone else? Have fun and get creative, but make sure it doesn’t overtake the photo and ruins someone else’s future living room photo.
3. Give Tourists Grace
A sure sign of a FLAP is their under-the-breath bickering about tourists. We become “get off my carefully manicured and appropriately themed lawn” at the drop of a hat and, while sometimes guest ignorance is dangerous for all, most of the time it’s innocent in nature. There is a reason maps are given out at the front. People will stop to gawk. They will never fill all available space in a queue. Sometimes they just need a smile and a nod that the line has started to move again. Give 90% of tourists the benefit of the doubt and save your disdain for the truly terrible ten percent.
2. Cast Member’s Best Friend
Nobody works harder than a Disney cast member on a hot July day. It’s not the actual labor – it’s the smiling. Can you imagine holding such a disposition while a sweaty tourist degrades you for something you can’t actually control? Not for that much per-hour. So be nice, say thank you and help them out. See barf in the queue of Space Ranger Spin? Tell them there’s a code V. It’s amazing how many people will just walk over it and not say a word.
Just one caveat – if you see a guest yelling at a CM don’t intervene. You’ll just make more paperwork for them if something goes down. Let them take care of the problem and, if you make eye contact later, give them that smile that says, “Yeah…that guy was grade-A garbage” and thank them for their work.
1. It’s Always Someone’s First Ride
For those who go constantly, rides become like a dance – we know it beat by beat and half the fun is hitting the marks, but, for others, it’s a brand new experience. When AP’s quote lines or talk casually during pre-shows, it’s not just rude, it kills “the magic” others have come for. Our Pavlovian response to our phones also leads to a glaring dose of annoyance while on dark rides. Take a recent experience where a guest spent the entirety of Splash Mountain on his phone – not filming it, but browsing Facebook. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah indeed.
With few exceptions, reading these rules is easier than abiding by them. FLAPers have the constant allure of making Disney their “third place” and frankly, for some of us, it is. That doesn’t have to be problematic as long as we remember that we’re the lucky residents of a tourist’s world. We’ll see you at “the mall.”