Parental Etiquette at a Theme Park

You know, even before I had kids my #1 theme park pet peeve was overzealous parents. Now that I have kids, my feelings on the subject have only intensified. I’ve seen it at least once (if not more) per trip to every park I’ve ever been to. You know what I’m talking about; the kid(s) reduced to tears because in their excitement, they made the most minor infraction and Mom/Dad/Both decided to rip them a new one.

Admittedly, I’m a pretty “relaxed” Dad. Unless it’s a safety issue or could lead to bad habits/manners, I usually let my boys have their way. But even if I was a real hard ass, I don’t think I’d act as dictatory as some parents I’ve seen. Especially at a theme park. A day at the park is supposed to be relaxed. Yet I’ve seen screaming matches over a game of skeeball. On my last visit to HW, I became quite uncomfortable when I saw a father make his little girl cry because he disapproved of her mixing two flavors of soft drink in the same cup. And by uncomfortable, I really mean I wanted to punch the guy in the face.

Now that’s not to say you should let your kids run around like hooligans at the park, but certainly you can let the little things slide. Why spoil a wonderful day arguing with a 6 year old that he should get a small ice cream? Be your kid’s hero and spring for the large…with sprinkles!

Remember, a trip to the park is as much a “break from life” for your kids as it is for you. If you can’t let your kids (and yourself) off the leash at a theme park, where can you?

*** Edited 8/20/2008 8:47:02 PM UTC by Emiroo***

CPLady's avatar
I totally agree with you. So many times I've wanted to pull parents aside and give them the same kind of dressing down they give their kids for the stupidest things.

Parents also need to understand that children get hot and tired too. A full day at an amusement park can be just as exhausting for them. So give them a break when they get a little cranky instead of screaming at them.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

I hate seeing a kid get yelled at because they're too excited. It's a 200 foot roller coaster and if that lady tells me to calm down I'm punching her right in the throat. :)

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I don't see that as much at the parks as I see the opposite - parents who think once they enter the gate that no rules apply at all and their kids can do whatever the hell they want.

I don't just want to punch those parents in the face, I want to punch them and their kids. :)

Mamoosh's avatar
Please, please, please...someone open a "child-free" park!
matt.'s avatar

Emiroo said:
On my last visit to HW

Funny I was just at HW with my sister and her two littl'uns and at one point she looked over at me and said "Wow. People are really mean to their kids."

We had a pretty good chuckle about it but it is quite crazy how some people behave toward their children.

Sorry to drag the good folks of Holiday World into this, obviously this happens at all parks. :)

eightdotthree's avatar
Knoebels on the Sunday I went on was the same, people were just downright mean to their children. I see the parents Gonch describes too. It makes no sense to me, can't you just keep your kids out of trouble AND let them have fun?

rollergator's avatar
I just wish parents would stop sending their children into rides lines while getting food, taking potty breaks, etc., so they can "catch up to them" in mid-queue. Used to be the kids asking to catch up to the parents, more and more it's the other way around.

"If your family loves to be together so much, then stay together"... :)

There was a story I once read on a Disney board.

One of the posters was lined up for the MK Parade at the end of the day, and a woman near her who was just about at her wits end with her kids asked how she kept her kids so well behaved.

She said "Easy, we went back to the hotel for a little quiet time and to get away from the crowds for a little while."

The woman was incredulous that they would waste time like that when there is so much to do. Of course, she was also fighting her kids because they were just plain worn out.

I think this applies to more than just Disney though. Parents push their kids too much, especially in environments like parks where it is very easy for the kids to become over-stimulated. Just an hour or two break so the kid can unwind, maybe take a nap, can have an amazing effect on not only them but the parents as well.

And what's wrong with mixing two pops? I do it with Sprite and Coke all the time. (or a splash of Diet into regular to make it Diet ;))

janfrederick's avatar

Juggalotus said: She said "Easy, we went back to the hotel for a little quiet time and to get away from the crowds for a little while."

Absolutely. That's why we planned for a day and a half at Disneyland last week. We knew the middle of the day would be spent back at the room taking a break. So the next morning was spent going on stuff we missed the first day.

Our boy was so happy to get back to the room he actually perked up and then promptly fell asleep for a couple hours.

And although we REALLY wanted to get on Buzz Lightyear the next morning, by the time we got around to it, out boy was very much ready to go. And so we obliged. We had already done plenty.

It's tough though, keeping your cool with your children. You are hot, tired, stressed and little things get to you. Sometimes you have to remind yourself where you are and why you are there. (Man, I REALLY wanted to take a second trip on Pirates the second day, but the boy was having none of it.)

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
And don't get me started on basketballs...

Am I in the right place?

I find it funny the way some parents are at parks. I actually had a friend tell me a parent yelled at their children to not watch while I was on the Flyers at Knoebels because I was snapping. Then when I got off the ride she said something to me about "being reckless and a danger to her kids." *shrug*

The ride op had no issues until I got a snap as he slowed the ride at the end of the cycle. Then he politely asked me to be careful loud enough for others to hear.

Watch the tram car please....

Juggalotus said:

She said "Easy, we went back to the hotel for a little quiet time and to get away from the crowds for a little while."

We came up with a way that does this without going back to the hotel and saves a chunk of change as well, bring your own food! :) When everyone is hungry we head back to whatever picnic facility, or parking lot, is available and spend at least an hour relaxing and eating our food. Once we are finished everyone is refreshed and ready to take on a few more hours of riding! :)

I have also been very fortunate in that my kids have NEVER cried or complained when it was time to leave either. Most times they are completely worn out and ready to leave, the other times they know that we'll be back again someday so what's to cry about? I count my blessings as we leave while weaving through multiple families with crying children saying "I don't wanna leave!!!"


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

janfrederick said:

Sometimes you have to remind yourself where you are and why you are there. (Man, I REALLY wanted to take a second trip on Pirates the second day, but the boy was having none of it.)

Incidentally, I believe the above situation is the hardest part (for me) of visiting parks with smaller kids. There has been more than one visit to HW with my family where due to kids/timing/lines/etc, I did not get ride what I wanted to. It's not a huge deal because we have season passes and are close to the park, but it still stings just a little to know that I could be riding the Voyage in less than 5 minutes but due to tired kids, we have to pack it in without me getting to ride that visit.

I suspect that "sting" would become a giant bite in the ass if we didn't have the passes and had to drive 4+ hours to get there. That's exactly why I'm holding off on planning a trip to CP or Disney until they are older...


ApolloAndy's avatar
My wife is not a very big rider and I have the same struggle with her sometimes! ;)

In terms of kids, I'm just glad that some parents are drawing some boundaries with kids. I'd much rather see a parent discipline a kid every now and then (in a consistant and constructive manner for the sake of the kids - not a random and abusive manner to get out the frustrations of the parent) and end up with a screaming kid at the park than see unruly kids who have no respect for authority - parental or otherwise.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

My wife and I have some of the same complaints about parents at amusement parks. Our biggest complaint is a parent trying to force a child to go on a ride the kid is scared of. We both worked at Kennywood for several years and have seen enough to know better. When you have worked in kiddieland you quickly learn the parents are the problems and not the kids. When we started taking our daughter to amusement parks we began teaching her the rules by pointing out and reading the safety signs at each ride to her. We let her lead us from ride to ride and do not force her to ride anything she is not interested in. When we visit the parks with our daughter the day is all about her and having fun as a family. Our only problem is she is now addicted to Idlewild and would do every day if we would let her.
Kick The Sky's avatar
My biggest problem is people who do not look where they are going when they are pushing a stroller around the park. I cannot count the number of times I have been hit by strollers, many times painfully so, to the point where I had to control my temper to not go off on them.

I have pushed strollers around parks many times and also pushed my wife in a wheelchair a few times and have never ever hit someone else with it.

There are times I wish I could take the f'ing stroller and wrap it around the person's neck.

Certain victory.

Kick the Sky, my girlfriend got hit in the back of the heels with a stroller not once, not twice, but five times at the Bloomsburg Fair. We were in the indoor part of the fair and there were thousands of people jammed in that one little building. This lady was just being impatient and pushing with her "weapon". So my friend, being the unladylike lady she is, said REALLY loudly: "If I get hit in the back of the legs with ONE MORE STROLLER, I'm gonna turn around and punch that person!" The lady with the stroller got all pale and RAN away. Hee hee...

IronHorse, there were parents at CP that were forcing their kid to ride on stuff they didn't want to ride. The kid chickened out, and the ride op said, "Parents, please don't force your kid to ride these rides." The whole crowd cracked up. Bet that parent felt a little crunchy.

Kids DO get cranky at amusement parks. Bribe them. If they want the ice cream, tell them NO more crying if you buy them ice cream/hot dogs/whatever they're jonesing for. Ehehehehehe...

Emiroo: Yeah, when I went to Knoebels with my girlfriend and her two kids, the kids kept riding and riding and riding, and I was getting really irritated because I originally wasn't even going to take anyone else. I almost didn't get to ride Phoenix and Twister (the ENTIRE reason I went to the park), and I only got to ride them once each. However, the little girl is now tall enough and brave enough to ride the Wild Mouse at Dorney, so I suspect that soon enough, Knoebels will be much more fun for EVERYONE involved. Still, at a place like Disney, I'm surprised that the boy wasn't having anymore riding. When I was a kid and went to Disney, I had to drag the parental units around until they forcefully pulled me out of the park. I didn't even WANT to go on breaks at the hotel, but in retrospect, I probably would have had a meltdown too.

Gonch, amusement parks aren't the only places where people just let their kids go nuts. I see the disrespect and disregard for rules EVERYWHERE. Half the stuff that kids do at amusement parks today would have earned me an a$$-whooping from my parents. People let their kids do whatever they want, and I want to slap them. There is not enough parental accountability in this day and age. If I remember correctly, you are about my age, so you know what I'm talking are not disciplined enough and are taught that it's okay to do whatever they want. Bet your parents were stricter too, right? You seem to GET it.

However, there is also no need for the embarrassing/humiliating dressing down that some of the kids get for minor infractions. I don't like seeing either ONE of those extremes not just in a park, but anywhere.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Unfortunitly, if you try to discaplin with ANY physical touch or any force, some people would have you arrested for child abuse.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

Jeff's avatar
Spell check, eh? Firefox has one built in.

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