by Aaron DelPrince (ADP on the DISboards)
Uh Oh! Now I've done it. I've decided to discuss a controversial topic. A topic of much debate where opinions and emotions go back and forth like a rocking chair. I didn't come to this decision lightly. I gnashed my teeth, tossed and turned at night, and even contemplated walking the plank, but in the end I came to the conclusion that discussing it would be in our best interest. Now, this topic isn't as controversial as the resort mug debate, but for some frequent visitors to Disney's theme parks, it's right up there with it. So forgive me as your emotions go up and down like a ride on Tower of Terror and we delve into the topic of parade viewing etiquette. As you continue through the page break don't forget to bring your punching bag and gloves in order to relieve the stress and frustration.
Ok, phew! Now that we got that out of our system let's take a look at one of the best activities at a Disney theme park. Everyone who visits a Disney park expects an afternoon or evening parade. It completes your day of fun like a cherry on top of a sundae (ok, maybe the whipped cream too). However, the 60 minutes leading up to the start of the parade can be rather stressful for many reasons. As guests look at their times guide they quickly realize the parade is fast approaching. It's time to decide where to view the parade, or if we can squeeze another attraction in before the parade starts, etc, etc. Some guests choose to ignore their times guide all together. Even worse, other guests don't even know a parade exists. Yikes! This is the beginning of potential problems. It's where the planners and non-planners strike a chord of discourse. Typically, guests who plan and don't plan in the same theme park can go about their day without a problem until an hour or so before the start of a parade. It's where worlds collide (no pun intended). The planners and non-planners meet along Main St. USA, Discovery Island, or Hollywood Blvd and then suddenly...Kabooom! Worlds collide.
In an attempt to ease some of the stress prior to a parade let's take a look at some do's and don'ts before the parade starts. Again, you may strongly agree or disagree. Remember the punching bag and gloves you brought with you. Feel free to use them as we proceed.
Do - Arrive at your parade viewing spot at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the parade. It's a simple concept. Do you want an optimal viewing spot to see Mickey, Minnie and their pals? Arrive early and increase your chances of getting that front row seat. You'll typically have a great shot of getting the spot you want by arriving 30 minutes early, or 45 minutes early during peak season. You can pass the time before the parade by discussing your evening plans or looking at some of the park details around you.
Don't - Arrive just before the parade starts and expect to find a good viewing location. "Excuse me, pardon me. Ouch! Look out, would ya!" Nobody likes a party crasher. You can expect these kinds of reactions if you get to the parade route when it starts and try to improve your view. The guests who arrived early won't appreciate it and may have a choice word or two for you. Save yourself the embarrassment and plan accordingly.
Do - Hold spots for your party who had to leave your viewing location. It's inevitable, but when you slow down, sit down, or relax Mother Nature will call. Somebody's gonna have to go to the bathroom, especially after eating and drinking throughout the day. Simply stepping away for a bathroom break, or to grab a snack, or purchase a parade souvenir is bound to pull you away from your spot. Just don't take advantage of this and hold spots for 4 or 5 guests or be gone for 30 minutes.
Don't - Hold spots for your party who've never arrived at your viewing location. "Hmmm? So, you're saying I can't claim space along the parade route for my family and friends?" Nope. The proper parade etiquette would be to arrive at your preferred viewing location with your entire party and claim your space. If you need to step away after you've arrived to use the bathroom or purchase a snack, that's understandable. Just remember other guests will trust your party was already there after they've arrived. Keep a halo over your head and be honest.
Do - allow your child or members of your party to move in front of you to get a better view of the parade. You've claimed your spot so why not let your child or friend's children get in front of you so they can get a better view of the parade. After all, you arrived early, planned ahead, and have a right to the space you've claimed. You can use it how you see fit. As long as you don't invade anyone else's space you have every right to switch spots with your children.
Don't - Ask another adult or stranger if your child can stand in front of them so they can see the parade. This is a tough situation. I know, I know, the parade should be for all children to enjoy. Most adults who are asked will say "It's okay, go ahead. "But deep down inside they may feel obligated to oblige in order to not look like a selfish individual. If possible, don't put an adult in the uneasy situation of making a choice for your child's benefit. Get to your spot early so you can enjoy the parade next to your child.
Do - Sit or stand in the space you claimed to view the parade. Depending on your height or where you are adjacent to the curb you may decide to sit or stand to view the parade. Inevitably, you are going to do what is most comfortable for you and your companions. The choice should be yours. If another adult behind you asks you to please sit down so they can see it should ultimately be your decision based on you and your family's comfort. Just remember, the parade floats and their passengers are elevated for a reason.
Don't - Put your child on your shoulders so they have the ultimate view of the parade. Although the space where you are standing is yours for the parade, adding another 3 or 4 feet above you with a child really isn't fair to the people behind you. Their expectation when they arrived was they'd only have to see above or around you. Adding a child onto your shoulders wasn't supposed to be part of the equation. Also keep in mind this is a very dangerous practice, especially with other guests around you and at your feet. You wouldn't want to trip and fall with your child on your shoulders.
Do - Listen to Cast Members and be aware of your surroundings. A Cast Member's number 1 priority is your safety. If they ask you to move back, view the parade from inside the ropes or barriers, or even move to a different location make sure you cooperate. They are asking you to do this for safety reasons and traffic flow. Prohibited viewing areas are typically well defined with tape, rope, and poles so guests know where to stand and walk. If you have a front row spot make sure you are sitting on the curb and not on the street. Parade floats and characters do not have 360 degree vision.
Don't - Use the viewing boundaries as a way to get a great spot for the parade. I've seen it and you probably have too. Guests who walk by parade viewing locations and see the tiniest bit of space just inside a roped or taped area and think they can tip toe inside of it. Let me grab my buzzer... . EHHHHHH! If you can't fit inside of the space comfortably or you are straddling the line you won't be able to pull off the Houdini act of the century. A Cast Member will probably come by and ask you to move, or the guest you pushed aside with your hips or shoulders may take issue with your maneuver.
As you can see there's a lot to consider when preparing to view a parade. Some of it may seem like common sense, but what I've learned over time is what you consider to be common sense may not be common sense to someone else. You may be left to tell another guest the obvious, but disappointing news, "You can't stand there. Excuse me that's our spot, or Sir... You just stepped on my FOOT!!" Parade viewing etiquette is a simple equation of courtesy and common sense. These are life long lessons and should apply to your parade viewing experience.
Do you have a parade viewing story to share or a "do and don't" to pass along to other readers? Feel free to add yours in the comments section below or on DISboards.com. We'd love to hear your stories and tips.
Okay... Let's recap. Let's see; "arrive early, don't stand in front of other guests, listen to Cast Members, check, check, check. "That about covers it. Parade viewing etiquette can vary greatly between guests. Just try and keep these do's and don'ts in mind. Hey! You made it through this article and controversial topic without breaking your computer. Great job! Now, what about your gloves and punching bag? Did they survive?Friend Aaron on Facebook: I accept reader friend request.