EDITORIAL: Five Rules For Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World

PHOTO REPORT: The Magic Kingdom 10/13/17 (Alien Encounter, Passholder Lines, Splash Mountain Closure, Etc.)
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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.”

 

About the author

Nathan Hartman

A sunshine state resident, Nathan is an avid Disney parks wonk as well as a university film professor.

Twitter: @somestuffisaid

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Edmund
Guest
Edmund

Great article. Thanks for sharing an alternate point of view!

Dirk
Guest
Dirk

Had to reply- On the flip side… 5- Don’t Get Too Casual:: If a non regular great and welcome, but push that double or triple wide stroller off to the right and not the middle, no stroller the please walk or step to the side. 4. Don’t Photobomb: Photos are wonderful but please be quick about it. 3.- Give Tourists Grace- Same goes in return, please don’t make it a “Me or Us’ experience. 2.- Cast members: Always because they have the greatest jobs and deal with so much for us- leave the bad Yorker attitude north. 1.- Always Someone’s… Read more »

Evan
Guest
Evan

Nicely said! As a Jacksonville resident and FLAP-er, we try to make every visit worth it and special and not get complacent about being fortunate enough to go multiple times a year, or even many times a month. We should be kind and courteous to everyone’s magical experiences.

Randyland
Guest
Randyland

It all sums up to common decency… Manners… HOWEVER, Frequent Guests, (whether they are Annual Pass Holders of not), ARE Guests TOO! Indeed, their “Guest Experience” is different from that of the first time visitor… but the “Guest Experience” of the frequent Guest IS JUST AS IMPORTANT. Annual Pass Holder Guests are NOT second class citizens just because they have been to the Parks many times. They are in fact the BACKBONE of Disney Loyalty, and they are often revered by “first time Guests” BECAUSE they know all the words and details… Many ASPIRE to get to such a level… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

FORGOT BIGGEST ONE: Do NOT Expect much. DISNEY is in a stage the last 10 years of cutting back, not caring about how ‘good of time it is’. Bob Iger cares about movies and merchandise, not brand loyalty. They have cut back enough to create their own increased demand, by cutting back supply. Only recently are they adding new areas (yet have cut more to create these areas), and it’s a day late and dollar short. All attractions by mandate of above will be sales points for movie franchises, sales, etc. NOTHING is to be there for ‘the sheer enjoyment… Read more »

Eric
Guest
Eric

I chat with CM’s frequently about some of these issues. I agree with Nathan, we should set the example for others. The fact that so many AP’s often have a possessive or acrimonious attitude towards the parks and tourists or their perception of how/why/what Disney is choosing to do is exactly why articles like this need to be written. We are choosing to frequent an establishment that is known to be a tourist haven, yet so many Passholders demonstrate indignation towards someone not knowing how to get to “Insert-Ride-Here.”

Randyland
Guest
Randyland

I fail to see anything wrong with the way frequent visitors, and/or AP Holders act. I do NOT see any “widespread” indignation towards “newbie”Guests who don’t know how to get to “Insert-Ride-Here”… Actually, I mostly see long time Guests take PRICE in HELPING “Newbie” Guests, and assist them in directions, and/or advice on what to do next and “Must See” Attractions… Frequent Guests have a “sense of pride” as if they are a PART of things BECAUSE they are Frequent Guests/// It is like a second home to them… so What’s wrong with that?? This entire premise is painting a… Read more »

Kaptain Morgan
Guest
Kaptain Morgan

Yes Bob Iger has not dumped a lot of money into the parks. He’s spent a lot of money during his tenure to acquire new IP’s that will eventually be used in the parks themselves. Every company has sacrifices it must make to stay profitable and competitive in this day and age. Yes, I remember when things were glorious and pristine at Disney, but opinions and tastes of the modern (Millennial) consumers have changed. Disney is adapting and will constantly change. I am not trying to defend the state of the parks (Epcot is way over do!), but I’d rather… Read more »