Many different types of people go to theme parks daily looking forward to a fun-filled, drama-free day of fun. However, these workers have seen some crazy shenanigans go down at theme parks and took to Reddit to share their stories. Stories have been edited for clarity.
"When I was in high school I was a face painter at a weekend festival involving a blue colored train who has adventures.
Obviously we were just doing little trains on the kid's cheeks. However one child threw a huge fit that he wanted his face to look just like Thomas the Tank Engine. Which frankly looks really creepy. However his dad insisted and paid extra.
Cue to five minutes after I spend 15 minutes carefully painting this kid's face to have his psychotic mom go ballistic on me that I've ruined her family's day and now her child looks like a demon.
I was 16 and just sort of stared at her in shock and horror while the guy running the tent came over and escorted her out.
The kid loved it though."
"Was working one of the kiddie rides one day, and this stupid kid in line stuck his head between the bars in the gate. It took me and 2 other adults to pull the bars enough for the kid to get his head back out. Afterwards the kids mom comes running over and starts yelling at me for letting him get his head stuck. I told her that she should have been with the kid in line. She did not like that response. She stood there yelling at me for a good 5 minutes, claiming that I'm irresponsible and should not be allowed to work the kid rides. I called a manager over on the radio and he took a 'formal complaint' from her writing down what she was saying in his notebook. After the lady left he showed me his notebook, and there was a drawing of a dragon eating her and her kid."
"Worked Disneyland on New Years Eve 1997. I was a busboy at Riverbelle Terrace. The place was packed. Not a seat to be had. There were, however, some open seats at The Golden Horseshoe, which was maybe 100 yards away. We were told to direct people over there.
This woman towing 3 kids and an elderly man comes up, holds out a $20 and says 'Find me a seat.' I let her know that we can't take tips and even if I could, there were simply no seats to be had. However, there are seats at the Golden Horseshoe and I showed her where that was. She screams 'Oh come on! No seats. That's ridiculous! You want me to walk a mile just to sit down?' I told her that I was sorry but I would keep an eye out for seats and let her know when a table opened up
Fast forward 20 minutes. I find her and her party of basically squatted on the edge of one of the planters to eat. Whatever, I don't care. I see their trays next to them with empty plates. I ask if I can take them. 'Yah,' she says, 'Glad to see you can do something! Take it away, trash man.' I smile and take them away. Five minutes later, she's complaining to my manager that I took their trays without asking and that they were still eating. He refunded their money. I went to him after to pleas my case. He just laughed and said 'Don't even sweat it. New Years sucks. Just survive the night. It was cheaper to refund her than to have her waste more cast member time. Shake it off. It's not you who is the problem.'
Last NYE I ever worked there."
"I was a lead at a large rollercoaster. I got called out to the loading platform to help with what I was initially told was a 'loose article' issue. So I head up, expecting to have to tell someone to put, like, a bag or camera in a free locker at the entrance.
So I arrive to a fully loaded train, and my team members point me up to the front row, where I find a very upset woman holding her harness in place- the team clearly hasn't latched the harnesses yet because they know there is an issue.
So as I approach her, I don't see any bags or anything. If she has a camera or a cell phone, it's in her pocket, which is fine. But that can't be it, the pockets on her shorts aren't bulging....oh. That's when I see what's sticking out of the bottom of her shorts. One tan leg. And one bright blue, metal prosthetic. Oh no.
So I failed to mention that this coaster is inverted, which means the track is above your head, and your feet dangle. And prosthetics are a huge no-no. If it's not permanently affixed to your body, there is a very VERY high probability that it's going to go flying. In fact, over the years since that coaster opened, I know of two instances where that very thing happened.
On top of being a massive safety issue (I'm super confident a bulky metal leg hurtling at 60 mph would definitely kill someone on impact), the majority of the coaster sits over a man made lake...and if the (very expensive) leg falls in that, it's not being recovered.
I very calmly explained to the guest that unfortunately she wouldn't be able to ride with her prosthetic, for the above reasons. I also told her she could definitely ride if she was able/comfortable removing it, and that I would be happy to watch it for her personally while she rode.
She did not take this well. She starts ranting and raving about discrimination. And all I can do is apologize, and assure her that it's a safety rule that is in place for valid, non-discriminatory reasons, and that it also goes waaaaay above my head. She wants me to bring out the person who can override it. I tell her even the manager in charge of the entire park for the day can't override a safety rule like this.
I again emphasize that she can definitely ride if she removed the prosthetic. She screams at me that the way it's attached would require her to undress. I offer to accompany her to the restroom with a wheelchair and bring her straight back once the leg is removed and let her ride as many times as she likes before returning to the restroom. She keeps screaming at me.
At this point, my ride hasn't been running in 10+ minutes, which is a huge problem. I have guests stuck waiting to get off the attraction, but since we aren't moving vehicles, we can't bring them into the unload platform. I also have antsy guests waiting to get on the attraction 5 feet away from us, and they have started to shout at and heckle this woman. Which did not help things at ALL, it put her more on the spot and made her shout ay me even more. I can only imagine that she was trying to deflect the blame of everyone's extended wait
So I emphasize one last time that I understand why she is upset, that I am terribly sorry that I have to enforce this rule, but there is absolutely zero chance I am going to let her ride with her leg and lose my job. I told her she HAD to exit, and if this went on much longer, she was going to force me to call security.
So she finally gets up to leave, and the queue starts cheering. I shoot them a glare, because they were NOT HELPING.
When they started cheering, the woman flushed redder than she already was. Humiliated and intent on having the last word, she shrieks at me (a heavy set female) 'Well maybe I can't ride because I am disabled, but at least I'm not TOO FAT TO FIT ON A RIDE LIKE YOU.'
I just kind of looked at her. The crowd hushed and stared at her too. And then she left. I had planned to follow her and try to convince her to take her leg off. But I was done. I told my attendants to start the ride back up, and then I locked myself in my office and cried for like 10 minutes. Partially because of what she said to me- I wasn't very confident back then, and even though I could fit on every ride on property, it was humiliating to have that said to me in front of hundreds of guests and my entire team. But also because I kind of understood why that woman lashed out and was so upset and frustrated. She just wanted to live a normal life. Ride a stupid rollercoaster with her friends. But because she got dealt a terrible hand, she couldn't have that. And while I didn't make the rule, I had to be the figurative slap in the face of reality. In front of hundreds of people. While she was on vacation.
At a destination where reality should have been the last thing on her mind."
"I was working with our favorite friendly rodent, and was directing traffic during a popular fireworks show starring our friends from a galaxy rather far away. When the park gets that packed, you need to keep 'aisles' clear in case of emergency. Medical teams are called on the regular during the hot weather; tourists aren't the best at staying hydrated. However, one gentleman didn't think he had to follow the rules. He planted his feet firmly in my walkway. I politely asked him to step over about 15 feet into my neatly taped fireworks viewing zones. He said no, he will be watching the fireworks from where he was. Meanwhile, his wife is begging him to move along. I was tired. It was nearing the end of my 17 hour shift. I was worn down. I took my light wand and braced myself for what I thought was the perfect petty revenge.
I changed the setting on my light wand to flashing, and proceeded to stand in front of this man and wave my wand in front of his face, projecting my voice politely asking everyone in the walkway to continue on or move to a viewing zone. It only took him about 15 seconds to snap. Next thing I know, his hands are wrapped around my throat and he's choking me. I'm not really sure what happened except that all of a sudden I'm surrounded by security and he is being walked away. What followed was a lot of boring paperwork and interviews with police. He now is the proud owner of a lifetime ban from all property owned by that company. I just know that a 6' man choking a 5'2" girl over a couple minutes of fireworks is to this day the biggest overreaction I've ever experienced."
"I worked at the guest service office in a theme park for a little while, which basically meant we either answered basic questions or had to listen to complaints. Well this one day this couple came in with their baby in a stroller. They were complaining that our employees were not allowing them to leave their baby in stroller parking while they rode the rides. Keep in mind that wait times for some rides can be several hours and it was pretty hot that day. So we calmly described to them that it was a safety issue for their child, that someone could take their child, and that in general the stroller parking area was not monitored. We then let them know that we had a child pass system, which would allow one parent to ride, while the other waited with the child and then allow the next parent front of line access, while the other parent waited with the child. They said that was not good enough for them as they came to the park because they wanted to ride together, and that if they were not able to ride together then they wanted a refund. So, we look up their ticket, and saw that they had been in the park for six hours at that point. Our answer was no. Then more back and forth about how we could not allow them to leave their child in a unattended in a stroller or give them a refund. Eventually they just left. They didn't really yell or anything, but it was just one of those moments where afterwards you sit and ask yourself if it really just happened."
"My family and my friends visited the Grand Canyon when I was around 12. My parents stopped to use the restroom and while they were doing that we found this squirrel and started feeding it our Cheez-Its. We're doing this when a parent rushes up to us and screams at us that it is her daughters turn to play with the squirrel, luckily for her our parents weren't in sight. We move to the side and this girl, who couldn't have been older than 5, sticks her open palm out and the squirrel leans in and bites one of her fingers. Mom yanks her daughter by the arm and starts to scream bloody murder trying to find her husband/boyfriend. She doesn't find him but she finds some who works there. She proceeds to call this guy every insult in the book. Says she's gonna sue and is holding her daughters bloody hand in the guy's face. 'See! Do you see this! This place is gonna be done when I'm through with you!' She storms off just as our parents were making their way back to us and we tell them what happened."
"I was a kid at the theme park, not working there. But I was in a queue for a roller-coaster behind a 20-something guy in a wheel chair by himself.
It was quite a long queue- maybe 20-30 minutes. All this time, the guy in the wheel chair keeps shouting 'I'm going to go on the roller coaster' and 'why is this taking so long? this is taking too long!' more or less to himself.
We eventually get to the front. Guy in the wheelchair wheels himself up to the roller coaster. The man on roller-coaster duty very politely and apologetically explains that this particular roller coaster is unsuitable for people in wheelchairs (your legs sort of hang down, it wouldn't be very safe) and that this has been explained to him when guy in the wheelchair arrived at the park. He suggests a fast-track to the front of a queue for another, similar, roller coaster since this guy already waited.
Guy in the wheelchair goes absolutely crazy, screaming abuse and death threats. Then the unbelievable happens. He STANDS UP AND PICKS UP HIS WHEELCHAIR, and swings it at roller-coaster man as hard as he possibly can. A fight breaks out. It is obvious that wheelchair man is totally able bodied. Security show up. Wheelchair man runs away on foot.
So in other words, this guy who is completely able to walk got hold of a wheelchair he didn't need; bought a ticket to a theme park; and spent at least all day going around the theme park in a wheelchair so that he could be stopped from going on a ride that he was otherwise allowed to go on so that he could pick a fight with someone, and so that he would have a weapon (the wheelchair) ready to use."
"Worked on a ride that had a height requirement. One of only a few in the park. This ride had flight simulators that were no joke. They could go completely vertical and if the harness didn't hold you correctly, you could have a less-than-ideal riding experience.
There was a woman and her child who tried to come in- the child was too short. We explain this, give the kid a pass to jump to the front of the line when he's tall enough, and he's fine. Mother, however, was not. She's freaking out at us immediately. TBH I wasn't really listening to what she said, but she wouldn't go away and was causing a huge disturbance. We call the manager on duty. She does the same thing to him. It's at this point that she says the one thing I remember.
'Are you telling me you care more about my child's safety than if he has a good time or not?!'
My manager looks stunned, but responds quite calmly, 'Yes, and, quite frankly, it concerns me that you don't.'
After that she left. Adults are far, far worse than children in amusement parks."
"I used to work at the African Lion Safari (a zoo/ theme park in Ontario, Canada).
I worked at the elephant ride where we had 3 Asian elephants that would walk around in a circle and guests could ride them, pose for photographs, etc. It was a really popular thing for visitors to do and there was often a long line up especially on weekends or holidays.
Part of my job was to determine which groups of people would ride what elephant and to balance the weights. For example, if an elephant could carry 500-600lbs, that might mean 5-6 kids or 2-4 adults (depending on their size). Also to keep the line moving we would have to put groups of people who weren’t together like 2 couples together or 3 kids with a couple etc. We would then have to help people on and off the elephants as quickly as possible. Oh and we also had to catch the elephant poop and pee in a bucket so it wouldn’t ruin the grass.
Anyway, people hated it when they were grouped with strangers and then I would have to explain why this is done. Ie. to keep the line moving, to reduce how much the elephants work etc... People always wanted to ride alone for the photo ops, but management was very strict and if you let one person go alone, EVERYONE in line saw and would want the same treatment which would extend wait times by hours. Also we didn’t get go home till the line was finished.
So I had this couple come and ask to ride alone, I went through my usual reasons why that wasn’t going to happen, and suggested she come back later when the line is shorter. The woman starts throwing a fit and refuses to get on the elephant, so we put the next couple on instead, again got to keep that line moving. I then explain that she either gets on the next elephant or goes and gets a refund for her ticket. The next elephant comes and she again refuses to get on and starts blocking the platform saying how she came all the way from Italy to do this and wasn’t taking no for an answer. By this point she is 100% blocking the line and the elephants are backed up and people are waiting to get off. But I can’t cave and let her on or my life for the next few hours is going to be a living nightmare because the elephant trainers and management will be mad, and everyone in line will want to go alone or only with their family.
She then points to a couple that are riding the elephant alone. This couple is over-weight (together, probably about 500-550lbs) and now within earshot as the elephants are all close to the platform. And she’s yelling at me asking me to explain why the clearly over-weight and now embarrassed couple gets to go alone and her and her boyfriend don’t. At this point everyone is looking at us, the elephant trainers, people waiting in line and the people waiting to get off the elephant.
I have zero patience left. So I tell her she no longer has the option of riding the elephant, and that she needs to go get a refund. She starts flipping out even more telling me I’m a terrible ambassador for this country, how I’m an embarrassment to the country and to the park, and how she’s going to get me fired. So I say, ‘okay, go get me fired, go tell management, just get off my platform.’ She STILL refused to leave so I told her I was going to call security (which I didn’t have the authority to do, but she didn’t know that). Only after that did she leave. BUT she came back a few hours later to yell at my co-worker and one of the elephant trainers."
"I worked at Busch Gardens when I was 16 - they had a little Renaissance Fair game area and I was a wench there. We had a game called Whack A Toad where a rubber toad the size of about 8 inches long & 3 inches wide was placed on a little catapult - whack catapult with mallet, try to get it in bucket 10 or 15 feet away, get cheap stuffed animal if do. Well the catapults were on swivels for aiming and this game is right at the front beside the walkway so.... errant rubber frog breaches the 3 foot stick fence and slaps middle aged mom with fannypack right upside her head.
We used to throw these things at each other for fun, it did not hurt to get pelted by one! This woman goes nuclear! Starts sobbing, then screams in horror 3 times while flailing her arms, then yells 'I can't do this! I can't do this! I can't take it anymore, I CAN'T TAKE IT!' Throws herself on the ground, sobbing in the middle of the walkway - other passersby barely looking down at her as they just walk to the side to get around her or step right on over her. Her husband eventually coxes her to a bench, her 2 boys just stand silently and unmoving against the fence, like they know the drill. The dad stood near her for 20 minutes with a faroff look on his face, not really looking at her or responding to her, while she sobbed and yelled about how he was a failure and the boys a disappointment, and she has to do everything, she planned the whole trip & isn't having any fun, why can't any of them help her with anything?! Then out of nowhere, she suddenly stops ranting, sniffles hard, just stands up and marches up the path without a further word. The dad and sons just automatically followed after, about 5 paces behind her, not looking at each other or saying a word. Poor guys."
"I'm a former ride operator. I've had many instances of adults having meltdowns over safety procedures being an inconvenience to their "best day ever" experience (I've been spat on, screamed at, threatened, you know the works). I have to say over the 3 years I worked at my coaster, the worst was during the first week of my second year. So the coaster that I worked at had the tallest height requirement in the park, meaning we had a lot of families coming through with "parent swap" cards that let one parent wait through the line while the other waits at the exit of the ride with the kid who's not tall enough to ride. Parent 1 rides, trades spots with parent 2 who rides the next cycle when parent 1 gets back. So I had two mothers standing with their strollers in the exit, while dads are waiting in line. They point out their husbands, and I tell them I'll save 2 seats for them on the next train, and then ask a fellow op that's separating people into rows to hold 2 seats on the next train. So the train pulls in, and fellow op has forgotten to save 2 seats for these moms. The people sitting in the seats meant to be saved are buckled in, and I ask them if they can step back into the queue and wait for the next train, as these two moms were waiting in line in front of them at the exit. People on train start screaming at me that they've been waiting in the sun for 2 hours and they aren't getting off, moms are standing next to me screaming that they've been waiting for longer and those are our seats get out. I ask the people on the train again to please step back into the queue and the next train will be here in 5 minutes and attempt to explain the parent swap process again, when one of them stands up and full on slaps me in the face. She yells something about me being a 16-year old on a power trip (I was 19 at the time), says she doesn't want to ride the ride anyways, and stalks off down the exit, friend in tow. Moms get on the ride, we sent the cycle, and my supervisor provided a bag of ice for my face."
"Back in the day, I worked at Universal Studios Hollywood for a summer as a ride operator/seasonal lead on the Jurassic Park River Adventure. We had a disabled guest waiting to ride, and because we needed to add a special boat to the queue, then get the guest loaded and situated, we'd have to stop the boats from moving. Basically, we'd stop the lifts, and let the boats queue up at those points until we were ready to cycle again. Some lunkhead wasn't happy about this, and pulled his kid out of the boat, set him on the platform next to the boat and sent him to use the emergency phone to ask how long it was going to take. At that point, we'd been stopped about 3 minutes, IIRC. I was working the master dispatch board inside the main control room when the phone rang. I remember hearing the lead who answered the phone saying 'Where are you?,' then 'Oh, NO!' She hit the emergency stop, and back then, the rule was that leads stayed at the post they were at if the ride went down until the ride came back up. We evacuated the ride, then sat for FIVE HOURS, waiting for everything to reset so that we could reopen. The idiot that caused the shutdown? Escorted to the front gate, his annual passes revoked, and a ban from the park that just might still be in effect to this day."
"I worked at a children's theme park, the kind of place you would expect 5 year olds to be having meltdowns. Instead, the adults were some of the worst humans I've ever encountered. One particular incident sticks out most in my mind. The ride was one where children drive little cars around a track, but the kid has to be over 6 years old. My friend was loading children in, asking them their age in the way we were trained. Frequently, you get a child who is younger than 6, and you have to tell them they can't go on the ride. The children, for the most part, are fine with this, they move on. Their parents, however, are livid.
So the kids are coming in, and the loader tells one he's too young for the ride. The child's dad takes this as a personal insult, and starts shouting at my friend, telling him this is absolutely unacceptable, he wants a refund, he wants to speak to a manager, 'what do you mean my kid can't go on this ride' sort of thing. The rest of us are out on the track hearing some blustering wondering what's causing the hold up.
The loader calls a manager, also security because this guy is making threats now. Manager arrives, tells my bud to swap positions with one of us out on the track so he's no longer in the line of fire. Manager seems to be dealing with it, ride begins, everything's fine.
Then, out of nowhere, we see this dude climbing the fence surrounding the ride, shouting that he's going to beat up the guy who wouldn't let his child on the ride. He jumps down onto the track, we emergency stop the ride, leaving loads of 6 year olds sitting in their cars just wanting to go for a drive. Security rush out, grab the guy, and pretty much have to drag him off the track.
Guy who was loading the children has to sit in the back for a while to calm down. The guy who jumped on the track ends up getting a refund for his park tickets and the manager gives him a couple of fast track passes for other rides for the 'inconvenience'."
"I worked in the parking lot and had to deal with where each car was designated to go. During the winter holidays, I was assigned to a roundabout drop off. Due to the high traffic, part of that area was closed and a new temporary drop off area was designated about 50 ft away in a much bigger lot where you can wait for longer without having to be sent away.
My job was just to keep traffic flowing and let people know that they can't drop off or pickup in the usual area but instead drive a little bit further to the new lot. One car pulls up about halfway through my shift and ignores my hand signals to keep moving. I go to the window and let them know where they need to go. She was not having it.
Dummie: 'I just need to drop my kids off and I'll be on my way'
Me: 'Sorry, but we currently can't let anyone stop here due to the high traffic and we just need you to go to this lot right here' (I point in the general direction of the lot)
D: 'I'm not going all the way back down the hill! My kids just want to go to [theme park]!'
M: 'I understand ma'am, but I'm not sending you all the way down, you just need to pull into the lot right here'
D: 'I told you I'm not gonna go back down the hill! Let me drop off my kids and stop trying to ruin their day!'
At this point there's about 5 or so cars behind her that are stopped and trying to keep going through.
M: 'Again, you don't need to go all the way down to the bottom. It's this lot that is literally just feet away; it will be maybe a minute of extra walking time.'
D: 'Eff you! You kids don't know how to do a friggin job right...'
At this point she just continued on her rant using every swear in the book. At this point I decided to just go on full cheery mode just to make her even more upset. M: 'Sorry, but there's nothing I can do. You could submit a complaint but you won't be able to stay here.'
D: 'Eff you. I'm going to talk to your manager!'
She then starts to get out of her car.
M: 'Ma'am if you leave your car unattended, it will be towed away.'
D: 'Eff [theme park]! I'm taking my kids to [other theme park at least 2 hours away]!'
M: 'Have a great day ma'am!'
She flipped me off as she drove off."
"Obligatory not my story but a friend of mine. She worked at Disney World. This particular day she was working at the little mermaid ride at peak time. She was at the entrance counting the people in line as they entered and was responsible for making sure the number was just right. This one family of 5 was the cut off to make it into the show and would have to wait for the next one. The father, there with his wife and three little girls, was not happy. There was nothing my friend could do about it, the theater was full. She tried to explain, but he was not having it.
There was a nearby station selling waters, sodas, etc on this very hot day. The dad left the line to go buy a ridiculously expensive bottle of water. When he returned to the front of the line he opened it, turned to my friend, read her name badge and said, 'You know Ashley, it's really hot out here waiting for this show, how 'bout I help you cool off a bit?' and proceeded to pour the entire bottle of water on my friend's head. Needless to say, they were escorted out of the line (and maybe out of the park?) and never got to see the little mermaid show. My friend pretty much loved it because it was hot that day, she got to leave, and now she has that great, ridiculous story."