My fellow APs,
We are an interesting breed, aren’t we? No matter which property we belong to–be it Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, or any of the parks abroad–we are all alike. We can never get enough of our favorite parks, and we are fortunate to have such magical places as our playgrounds. We know the parks like the back of our hands. We know what “MK,” “DAK,” “DCA,” “DLP,” “EMH,” and “MNSSHP” mean.
We are friends to at least two Cast Members, or we’ve been Cast Members ourselves. And we can work through the My Disney Experience app blindfolded.
But, let’s be honest, we can be as annoying as every first-time mom pulling a “Karen” when we’re in the parks. We can gain a false sense of entitlement in the parks.
Also, with the amount of access we have to our parks, we have the opportunity to help make or break other guests’ experiences. We need to do better and should do better.
So, here is a list of rules that every Annual Passholder should consider holding themselves to.
1. Stop expecting special treatment!
Let’s get this one out of the way. I know this is going to trigger a lot of people and spark a cacophony of “Not Me!”s, but we must remember this. Even though we visit our parks the most, we have year-round access, and we’re friends with the Cast Members (CMs), we are not entitled to special treatment. All we get–at least at Walt Disney World–is a special entrance, a discount, exclusive gear, and the ability to schedule fastpasses 30 days in advance. And that’s okay.
CMs have to deal with guests from all over the world with a variety of different itineraries from a weekend at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort at Walt Disney World, to a two-week non-DVC stay in Disney’s Grand Californian.
Yes, we are getting more and more perks but it is giving us a rather inflated ego. At the end of the day, we’re no different than any other guest. In fact, we spend less in the parks than the other guests on many occasions.
So, rather than being upset at CMs for treating you like an ignorant first-time guest, use your knowledge of the parks to make things happen without ever needing CMs, but everyone you’re with feel as if they are getting special treatment. I’m not saying we can’t ask for things we’ve gotten in the past. I’m saying don’t get upset if they say “no” this time.
2. Stop reciting ride monologues out loud!
We get it. We all know the Ghost Host’s monologue to The Haunted Mansion, but the other guests don’t. And we do not add to the ride’s level of immersion. In fact, we make it even more of a gimmick. So this year, try to act like you haven’t been there before. Or, try one of these ways that is actually beneficial:
- For Haunted Mansion: time your scream to the one actually in the intro. If done at the right time with the right crowd, it will start a chain reaction and it’s hilarious.
- For Jungle Cruise: Throw some lines back at your Skipper. Make him/her demonstrate that legendary improv.
But seriously, as an AP, you are enjoying these attractions on a different level than the other guests. What may be sentimental playtime for us is a one-time experience people have been waiting a long time to experience. Remember what it was like your first time. Be courteous.
Oh, also we don’t need to correct everybody when they misname something in the parks. We all know what they are talking about. Go with it.
3. Give up your fireworks/parade spot once in a while to some other guests.
We are in the parks all the time. We have our primo spots for fireworks, parades, and our other favorite shows. We secure the best angles and the least obstructed views. Help spread the magic by giving your spot to the pirates or princesses in the stroller behind you.
I guarantee your offer will be received with smiling faces and more than grateful parents. Also, kids are short, and if you pick the right family, you will also most likely still have a somewhat unobstructed view. But what do you care? It’s not like you’re never going to see this show again.
Other alternatives in the same category:
- At Disneyland, give another group the chance to ride in the back.
- Point out which seats in shows like The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor has the best chance to be picked to participate.
4. Learn how to “pay it forward.”
Like I said in the first point, we are in the parks so much that we can figure out all of the ins and outs of the parks. Why not figure out how to “pay it forward” every once in a while? See if the CM will apply your discount to the group’s tab behind you. Leave an extra $10 to give some lucky guest a free Dole Whip. Pay for one of those massive lollypops but leave it with gift shop cashier to give to the pair of little hands behind.
Disney Parks are expensive, but even if APs were to do this each only once, it would give guests a little extra magic.
5. Make Yourself “Family Friendly” and Fix the Disney Guest Image
Remember to smile and appear approachable in the parks. Answer even the stupidest questions. Take a picture for that family. Point out something cool in the queues most guests don’t notice. Help kids play those in-queue games. Wear some pins you are willing to trade with the little kids. Pretend to confuse the kids who went through Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or the Pirate Equivalent with the real Princes, Princesses, or Pirates. Give that extra fast pass you got from being stuck on a ride to someone.
Disney parks are supposed to be safe places where we can talk to strangers and make friends. With all the bad press coming out about guests acting inappropriately, we need to use our access to the parks to fix that tainted image.
Annual Passholders are more than just guests. We are the extras on-stage. We are one of the three groups that can be expected to always be at the parks, along with Characters and CMs. Let’s play that actively passive role in making guests’ experiences as magical as possible.
We are the standard of a Disney Parks guest. Let’s set the bar higher.