Parental Etiquette at a Theme Park

Monday, August 25, 2008 11:17 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar That's because there are no men seeking men there. :)
Monday, August 25, 2008 11:20 PM
There are a lot more male coaster enthusiasts than female coaster enthusiasts. It's no big mystery why there are hardly any women around here. Let's not kid ourselves and pretend there are other reasons.
Monday, August 25, 2008 11:23 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar Oh now! The heck you say Rob...
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:45 AM
And he had to coax his wife to ride the wood again and again until she was having the time of her life...ehehehehehehe....

And I'M female. LOL Guess I just am one of those chicks with a dirty mind. Hee hee...

You know, someone was talking about forcing their kids to ride so that they know they can handle it and will ride more. This CAN go the other way. I was forced to ride Thunderhawk when I was just big enough to ride, and I never rode another coaster until I was a senior in high school (except Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad). I also know a guy who was forced to ride coasters throughout his childhood and now won't even go to an amusement park, let alone try new coasters. A little push in that direction is okay, but forcing a kid to try a huge steel coaster or even a mid-sized woodie is not a good idea. You have to let them come to it on their own terms, or it could seriously lead to ride phobia. My terms came naturally when I started taking school trips to amusement parks and being bored to tears on the few flat rides the parks had to offer. I swore I'd ride one new ride each time I went to a park from that point on no matter how scared I was, and it eventually turned into coaster MANIA!!!

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 4:10 AM
I've seen this many times when I was a ride op. Forcing a child to go an something, especially if they are worked up to the point of tears, almost always turns out bad. If the kid is that upset, it's not just the ride that's got them going but the parent. By the time the ride is done, kid is usually misreble and doesn't trust the parent on a certain level. It sucks because what can be a lot of fun turns into a horrible experience for someone. Enjoyment of anything is situational, so if you're in a horrible mood going into something new, chances are you're not going to like it, or associate it with feeling horrible.

Anyone that's done ride ops time in kiddieland knows that the kids are usually pretty good, but the biggest challenge is the parents. Kids generally have a healthy respect for the rides but parents sometimes don't. They jump fences before ride has cycled down, scream "stop the damn ride now!!" in a voice that would indicate bodily injury is occuring but it's because junior has an odd look on his face or has stopped waving. They also like to jump fences or climb on bad things for picture ops.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 9:06 AM
I think it depends on the age of the child. One that's very small is likely going to be too upset over the idea of being "forced" to do something that it's not going to be able to enjoy the experience at all. However, an older child might be able to get over its frustration and realize it really is having a good time.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 10:03 AM
The Mole's avatar I worked guest relations at an amusement park aimed at kids, and what I saw could fill an entire book. My favorite was a repeat visitor to the park who'd try and get her kids to sneak into the park (either as part of another group or through the exit or stealing the hand stamp). I can remember at least 5 occasions when this happened, each crazier and weirder than the other.

Parents put a lot of money into the "trip" and "experience", and they themselves are stressed into the whole "we must do this or our child will not grow up alright" argument. I was working front gate once for opening of the character breakfast, and the parent's forgot their tickets in the car. They were needed because once the breakfast was over the park was open. So instead of going back quickly to get the tickets, they bitched and moaned like none other, realized they were "those kind of parents", and got my manager ASAP over there (within 10 seconds of explaining to them the problem). What I love too is that they also complained about making their kids wait outside the gate to get in (we suggest showing up 15 minutes before gate opening) and anything else they can think of.

One lady had a character "taken" from her child right before the kid could see "it". She stormed to GR as I was stationed, and came up to me and said immediatley "I want to talk to your supervisor" in that agressive manner. I go "Yes ma'm!" I listen with a few others in the hall, classic conversation including vocal pitch changes to describe the rude handler, how her child is traumatized now, etc. I agree with her that the handler was probably in the wrong, but still, classic.

One lady was told she could bring her small dog into the park and proceeded to walk her small pooch to me and yell as I was standing as greeter at the front of the park. Another family tried to pack their whole meal and bring it into the park; including about 10 glass Snapple bottels. One grandparent tried to sneak the glass past security but was shot down by her son (hilarious).

Kids usually have an instinct and intuition as to what to do and how to get along with people. Parents are crazy 99% of the time and risk traumatizing their kids. For the poster about forcing kids on rides, there's a difference between dancing on the line of going and not going on something like Blue Streak and forcing a kid who's just the right height onto TTD.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:02 PM
^I dont disagree with the whole Blue Streak / TTD thing. I wouldnt suggest starting someone off with the biggest baddest thing one could find. I didnt know I had to make that clear in my post. However, if a kid was used to riding and re-riding Gemini, I could see "forcing" them to ride Magnum. I have nothing against 'baby steps', I'm just saying that sometimes it might be okay with "forcing" that first step.

Again, I go back to swimming. It's possible that dunking a kid who's scared to put their face in the water, could be all that the child needs. But it is a case-by-case basis.

BTW: A child as, I use the term, could be anywhere up to a teenager. I certainly would be less inclined to "forcing" a five yr old than a 10 y.o..
PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:05 PM
Rob, you said:

There are a lot more male coaster enthusiasts than female coaster enthusiasts. It's no big mystery why there are hardly any women around here. Let's not kid ourselves and pretend there are other reasons.

--- Well, to tell you the truth, there are more female coaster enthusiasts in my group of friends than male enthusiasts. Case in point - I coordinate annual park trips amongst the "extended family" and this year there were six girls and one guy. Also most of my girlfriends will be the ones taking their little ones onto rides while the dads take pictures. Maybe it's regional? Or maybe female coaster enthusiasts, by large, spend their internet time doing things other than discussing coasters and parks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:45 PM
"I coordinate annual park trips amongst the "extended family" and this year there were six girls and one guy."

I think I had that dream! I was the one in the middle. ;)

My author website:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:01 PM
^^ I wasn't trying to suggest there are no female coaster enthusiasts, or that their number is insignificant. It's just been my experience that there are a lot more men involved in this hobby. I've been a member of ACE since 1990 and all it takes is a quick glance at any published group photo to see what I'm talking about. I've also been to plenty of events and noticed this. Please don't think I'm ignoring the female population of this hobby, my statement was simply drawing on what I've witnessed for much of the last 18 years.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 9:46 PM
I'll speak up as another female here.

I'd agree with the assessment that, at least on the boards and at events, the guys outnumber us, by a lot. IMO, I think that there are an equal number who *like* coasters, but for whatever reason more guys turn it into a hobby. Maybe it's because of alternate (acceptable) hobby "choices," I dunno. But that's another discussion for another thread, LOL.

I think I've "been" every parent mentioned in this thread. For the record, I'm not a parent, but I have a parent-like relationship with a handful of children, whom I have in my day care for 45-50 hrs per week, usually beginning in infancy, for years on end. So, I often speak as if they are mine.

It's funny, becasue ICAM with Emiroo. I am VERY strict with my kids; I like to do lots of stuff with them, but, because I'm usually with six kids (give or take,) they have to stay on the straight and narrow or we can't go out in public, LOL. They know the expectations, and they tow the line, or I literally can't take them out in public. (FTR, I'm not talking about a line of silent zombies... I just expect to be able to walk through the grocery store without having them run through the aisles or pull things off of shelves. LOL.)

But -- that's day-to-day life. When we do our now-annual theme park trip (which has been to KI the last couple of years,) I'm a lot more chill. There are rules they have to follow, and we go over these exhaustively before we go -- but they're things like walk, stay close to the grownups, sit down on rides, etc. They're allowed to eat crap, be a little more boisterous than normal, etc. (I bring extra sets of hands so that I can loosen up the rules.)

Even when we go to the zoo, and it's just me (having to cycle that damned Safari Stampede three times so my under-sized kids can ride it... ugh!), I'm more chill than at home. I guess it seems to me that if you're that strict, generally, your kids will be be well-maintained enough to not go completely off the deep end in one laid-back day. Why on earth would you spend all that money to take your kids to the park to yell at them all day? I can do that at home! (LOL!!)

I do have to speak up, though, about forcing kids on rides. In my experience, it's about knowing your kid. Out of the five that I took to the park -- three six year olds and two four year olds -- I have every possible type, I think. I've got a six year old who is exactly age-appropriate brave -- he'll try some of the big stuff (Racer,) but he'll also let you know if he's not ready for it. His 4yo brother is exactly the same way; he'll ride most -- but not all -- of what he's tall enough for, and ask to ride a bit he can't ride yet. A second six year old is timid about stuff, her favorite ride is the carousel, but you can trust her word-- she'll tell you if she doesn't want to ride it, and if you make her, she'll hate it. Every so often she pulls out a random one, though, like the Flowrider -- ??? Her 4yo brother is my daredevil... but just hit 40" this year. Sigh. (He's almost five, too. Teeny guy.)

Then there's my final six year old. Bless her heart, she's a piece of work. She is the original meltdown child. Anything that's new -- anything -- she will not ride without crying. Sometimes it's at home, before we go; she gets over it and rides. Sometimes it's in line. Occasionally it's on the ride.

Last year, she and I had an agreement that she was going to ride Runaway Reptar. We talked about it a ton before we left, looked at pictures, watched YouTube, no big deal, no problem. We got there and rode a few rides -- then, after the log flume, I told her it was time to ride Reptar. Major, hysterical meltdown ensues... for like twenty minutes. In the end, we re-rode the log flume, at her request, and then got on Reptar.

Guess which ride I heard about, as she begged to ride again, for the entire 11 1/2 months between our trips?

This is her personality, and I know that about her. She freaks out, has a meltdown, but yet, after I talk her onto the ride -- she loves it. She tried a good half-dozen new things this past trip, and the two she's talked about most are the ones that she wigged out about the most.

It's worth a distinction that I've never FORCED her onto a ride -- I've told her that I wouldn't and I've never put a kid onto a ride who hasn't walked there themself. That doesn't mean I haven't used every trick in the book to get her there, LOL, but I haven't physically forced her to do it.

Just to put that into everyone's mind; I know that crosses my mind now when I go to mentally condemn a parent who is trying to make their crying child ride.

(Oh, and FTR... my daredevil finally met his match on the pirate ship, of all things. He clung so tightly to me he was IN my side, and the mom across us must have thought me evil for putting him on it. The look on her face said it all; as the ride stopped I explained that this was the first ride he'd ever been scared of and she was more understanding, ha ha.)

All right, end novel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:20 AM
Carrie, what's up with the pirate ship??!! I have tons of friends who will ride just about anything, but even mention the pirate ship and they turn green! LOL

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 6:43 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar

bunky666 said:

And I'M female. LOL Guess I just am one of those chicks with a dirty mind. Hee hee...

You go, girlfriend! :) We need to hang sometime! You and I would get along great! Don't get me started on how I compare men/sex to coasters. ;)

As far as parental etiquette, I have seen parents act ten times worse than the kids. I have seen parents argue with ride ops about height restrictions. I have seen parents FORCE their kids to ride something that they obviously didn't want to ride. I have seen them ridicule them over the smallest things. Sometimes I want to punch the parents as well. ;)

You go to an amusement park to have FUN, period. If you have kids it should be THEIR day. I am not saying you should let them get out of line or do what they want, but you should make their experience as comfortable and fun as possible. I shake my head everytime I see a parent making an ass out of themselves in front of their kids.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008 9:16 AM
I've been several different kinds of "bad" parent from time to time in parks too, just with my own two kids.

Any parent who tells you differently is lying---possibly just to you, but probably to themselves, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:23 AM
Carrie - Outstanding post! I especially love the point about not physically forcing them. The kid will have a much larger sense of achievement if they walked up and got on the ride by themselves...even if you had to use Jedi mind tricks to get them to do so. And for the record, the Pirate Ship is the only ride that has ever made me throw far. (It was when I was little though.) LOL!

Brian - Amen! At least once a day I catch myself being the kind of parent I try so desperately not to be. I think the difference is that I make a huge effort to not be "that Dad". However with kids, sometimes it just can't be helped. It goes with the territory. And as you said, any parent who claims otherwise is a complete liar. The more they claim to never "lose it" with their kids, the more they probably do it. Kind of like people who claim they don't...well, you know. ;-)

*** Edited 8/27/2008 3:25:38 PM UTC by Emiroo***


Friday, August 29, 2008 4:14 AM
Emiroo, yeah, I think we see way too many of "my child is an angel and never does wrong" and too many of "I amthe best parent in the world", and people are deluding themselves. I've said it a million times, but it all comes down to people unwilling to be honest with themselves and take personal responsibility for their actions annd the actions of their offspring. And we all take ourselves way too seriously. There needs to be a balance: safe fun, flexible but not lax guidelines for kids, and good judgment calls.

Tina, yes we do have to hang sometime! :) Coasters to men: Kingda Ka...hrrrmmm...gigantic phallus, talks a big game, is somewhat of a letdown, even when it does succeed in getting its little passengers up and shot over the top. Bwahahahahahaha! Toro: The ride's so good but way too short...LOL Okay, ima stop now! Wait, wait! Fahrenheit: So much vibration, so little payoff...okay, now I'm done. I'm a little punch drunk. Going to bed now.

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

Friday, August 29, 2008 5:46 AM
If look at the right spot on the CP midway, Power Tower, Corckscrew & TDD line up to look like a shlong, balls, and condem.

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

Friday, August 29, 2008 3:31 PM
^ And they haven't marketed a postcard of that view yet?
Friday, August 29, 2008 3:41 PM
^^ I swear I have seen that exact shot somewhere before, but at the moment this is the best I can come up with.

*** Edited 8/29/2008 7:43:19 PM UTC by Emiroo***



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