Disney is supposed to be an escape from reality — a place where wonder and magic are a part of every day. A place where nothing can go wrong and where dreams come true. Sadly, those days seem to be a thing of the past, and we are constantly hearing about Guests who have forgotten how to behave. We have seen fights at places like the Magic Kingdom and Toy Story Land. We have also seen a number of Guests dress in a completely inappropriate manner, sometimes even being asked to leave the Parks. And most recently, Guests visiting Disneyland heard a grown man shout obscenities at numerous Cast Members, all because of a stroller.
So, what in the heck is going on? Why does it seem like people have all of a sudden forgotten how to act in public? When did a theme park full of children become an appropriate place to yell, scream, swear, and fight?
The big question is: Is the COVID-19 pandemic to blame for this uptick?
Look, we get it. You’ve been locked in the house for almost two years. You’ve barely seen friends and family. You’ve lost loved ones, and maybe even lost your job. These past couple of years have been more trying than anyone could have foreseen. Most of us have been in a constant state of stress and worry. Add in the extremely politicized environment we live in, this time has been one for the ages, and not in a good way.
Psychology professor Thomas Plante spoke to CNBC about the increase in terrible behavior and how today’s stressors are making things worse than ever:
People are juggling multiple stressors, he said. Among them: the pandemic, death, illness, job loss, homeschooling kids, isolation and other challenges. That frustration can lead to aggression.
There’s also “observational learning,” Plante said, explaining that when people see bad behavior all around them, even by so-called role models, they are more likely to repeat it.
“People model behavior of others, especially highly valued models, like … well-known politicians,” Plante said. “People look at how they behave, which has been pretty bad, and they go and do likewise.”
“People have kind of gotten out of practice about how to behave in public, and how to behave in a polite, civil society,” Plante said.
Plante’s suggestion about how we can make things better? It’s very simple — the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. While that may be easier said than done, when something bad happens, don’t automatically react. Take a breath. Those few seconds of just breathing could help you realize that the situation isn’t worth a fight.
When it comes to visiting a Disney Park, we know that long days, long lines, and the hot sun can fray your nerves. However, is it worth ruining your whole day and possibly getting kicked out of the Park because you can’t control your temper? Even if you feel you are in the right and the other Guest is in the wrong, just move on. Your kids, your friends, your family, they will all thank you. So will Disney Cast Members, who do not have to call security.
Do you think the pandemic has contributed to bad Guest behavior?