Theme parks are usually a place for unabashed, exhilarating fun, except for those who work there and have to deal with those guests who throw tantrums. Unlike the patrons, the theme park employees have to face these enraged patrons with a polite smile. Fortunately, they made it through each experience well enough to share it online. These stories have been edited for clarity.
"I was a kid at the theme park, I wasn't working there. But I was in a queue for a roller-coaster behind a 20-something guy in a wheelchair by himself. It was quite a long queue, maybe 20-30 minutes. All this time, the guy in the wheelchair 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. The 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 had been explained to the guy in the wheelchair when he 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 bananas, screaming abuse and death threats. Then the unbelievable happens. He STANDS UP AND PICKS UP HIS WHEELCHAIR, and he 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.
I have no clue what the thought process was that lead to this."
"I worked at a small amusement park in Northwest Georgia. I was a purveyor of a frozen treat called Dippin' Dots ('The Ice Cream of the Future™!'). Our most popular flavor was Rainbow Ice. It, unlike the other flavors, was non-dairy. Consequently, it thawed at a different rate than the other dairy-based flavors. We stored our Dippin' Dots in a storage room at the front of the park, and my stand was about a five minute walk from it. In the hot Georgia summers, especially if we had to re-stock midday, sometimes the product would thaw just a little prior to being re-frozen when we put it back into the freezers in the stand. Rainbow Ice thawed the most. The more thawed bags of Rainbow Ice took a LOT of time and effort to break up properly. When it re-froze, it wasn't all in little frozen balls, but more in 'clumps'. It could sometimes take a full minute just to break it up and pour enough for a single cup.
Enter angry, overheated parent, on the Fourth of July (our busiest day).
'Hello, we would like seven large Rainbow Ices, please.'
'Absolutely! Just so you know, it'll take a few extra minutes to pour. Would you mind stepping to the side?'
'No, we'll wait, we've been in this line forever! I never would have thought it would take this long just to pour some frozen dots in a cup.'
'Okay, that's fine!'
It takes a while to pour the first seven, probably closer to five minutes. I apologize a few times, try to make light of the situation, and she sees us just struggling to break up the chunks into nice little frozen sherbert pellets. After filling up six 8 oz. cups:
'Ma'am, we actually can only make you six cups, is there any other flavor you might be interested in?'
The woman explodes. She knocks the napkin dispenser on the ground, screams, pushes our drink cart towards the lake behind us.
'I WAITED IN THIS INSANELY LONG LINE FOREVER (it was probably only 5-6 minutes) SO MY FAMILY COULD ENJOY THE STUPID RAINBOW TREAT TOGETHER. ARE YOU GOING TO DENY MY FAMILY THEIR STUPID RAINBOW?!'
I'll never forget being accused of denying a family of their rainbow."
"I was working with our favorite friendly rodent, and I 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."
"This happened just the other week. We were waiting in line for a ride that requires people with bags or purses to leave them on the ground, or at least not in the ride car with you. This older lady, probably in her 50s or 60s, had purchased one of those giant turkey drumsticks and was refusing to put it down so the ride had to be put on hold until the situation resolved. The ride operator ran and grabbed a bunch of paper towels for her so she could wrap the drumstick and put it on the ground. She refused. She was NOT going to put that drumstick down. She was also refusing to get out of the ride car so everyone else could go. The ride operator had to call security to remove her."
"I used to work at an outdoor adventure park and have seen some funny and stupid things happen. This is the most memorable one.
I remember a guest was once upset their child could not ride the zip-line. It was very windy that day and normal procedure was to raise our minimum weight limit so kids wouldn't get stuck. This dad did not like that I refused to put his light child on the line just to have to climb out to rescue him after he got stuck. After a series of yelling and cursing, I called my manager/GM and he tried to calm this guy down by offering him vouchers for other attractions, etc.
None of this was good enough and apparently the 10 second ride was going to be better than close to $145 worth of free stuff. After 10 minutes of him getting very angry he insisted that I (the kid who refused to let his son go) meet him in the parking lot to 'settle this.' My boss responded by calling security. This enraged the guy so much he tried to jump over the rope to get to the deck (landing platform for the zip-line) where I was.
Little did this idiot know was that the rope was there to stop people from stepping into the gap between the deck and anchors that held the lines down. Well mister angry jumped over the rope fists up ready to swing at me. Only to jump right into the small hole in between the deck and anchors breaking one ankle and falling forward only to smash his face right on the railing of the deck I was standing on.
Best part of all of this. My actual position at this resort was a rescue guide. Being the only guide on the zip-line that day and the closest person to the guy when he got hurt, I immediately jumped up to help and administer any first aid if needed. Being half conscious from the blow to the head, he didn’t remember I was the kid who bandaged his cuts. About a week later, we received a letter from him thanking the guy who helped him but also asking for the firing of the kid who refused to let his kid go down the zip-line."
"I had a dad and his young (5-6 years old) daughter in line for a medium sized coaster. I went to measure her to see if she was tall enough to ride, and she was just barely the minimum height. While I was doing that, I noticed that she kept wincing every time she moved her feet and she was sort of standing at an uncomfortable angle, like she was leaning forward. Thinking she might have a blister, I offered her a band-aid. Her dad immediately grabbed her shoulder and insisted she was fine, but I could see she was on the verge of tears.
I squatted down next to her and very calmly asked her what was wrong. She started crying and told me she didn't want to ride the coaster. She was scared, but her dad was 'making her do it.' She then took off her shoes and showed me the two pieces of wood that her dad had placed in her shoes to make her taller. I was furious. I made it very clear to the dad that she was too small to ride and he lost it. He started yelling at me, a 19 year old, in front of his kid. At this point, she is HIDING BEHIND ME, a complete stranger. I called security on him, and he was taken out of the park. His daughter refused to leave my side until her mom had been called and was on her way to pick her up.
First of all, that is some seriously bad parenting. If your kid doesn't want to ride a ride, you shouldn't force them. Second of all, there are height restrictions for a reason: the safety of the riders. Third, if you and your dumb friends want to go to a theme park with rides too big for most kids, then get a babysitter. Fourth, you should never, ever force a child to do something they shouldn't.
Hanging out with that cutie while waiting for her mom was the highlight of my entire summer. She helped me measure kids and held my hand when there was no one to measure. She gave me the biggest hug when her mom got there. I haven't seen her since, but I hope that horrible father of hers realized what a terrible person he was."
"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 the heck 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 and wondering what's causing the hold up.
The loader calls a manager, who is 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, the ride begins, and 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 on a ride that had a height requirement, which was 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, but the child was too short. We explained this, and we gave the kid a pass to jump to the front of the line when he would be tall enough. He was fine, but Mother was not. She was freaking out at us immediately. I wasn't really listening to what she said, but she wouldn't go away and was causing a huge disturbance. We called the manager on duty. She did the same thing to him. It was 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 looked 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."
"As a character performer at Disneyland, I've witnessed too many adult tantrums to count. They are HANDS DOWN worse than the kids.
One story that sticks out in my mind is the day I was working near Splash Mountain in Critter Country. There was a family of three, a mother, father, and their son, who was probably about 10 to12 years old, having a very loud argument. The son wanted to ride Splash Mountain, and the parents didn't. The the father was screaming at him because the 'line was too long' and they 'weren't waiting in the effing sun all day for him to go on a stupid ride.' He was reaming this poor child until he seemed to be on the brink of tears.
My attendant heard the commotion and tried to tell the father he'd need to settle down, but the parents were having none of that. The mother started shrieking and ranting about how the attendant couldn't talk to her husband that way and that he's their son, they can do what they want, ruining their vacation, etc. Security had to be called to talk to the parents, and only when they were threatened to be removed from the park did they actually cool their jets.
I think the attendant and I both took pity on the son. He looked utterly crushed and humiliated. So my attendant knelt down and asked if he wanted to ride Splash Mountain. A big smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up. We moved him to the front of the line.
I hope the parents were just in a bad mood or something (not that it's an excuse) but my god. I can't imagine what that kid is dealing with is living if that's a daily occurrence."
"I worked at a local amusement park as front gate security, where my job was to primarily check bags and make sure no one was bringing items in that weren't allowed. One of the things we didn't allow was open beverage containers, especially coffee. Most coffee-loving soccer moms were not happy to be told their drink couldn't enter the park with them, but this woman took the cake.
When my coworker, the youngest one at the gate, explained that he couldn't allow her to take her coffee past the gate, she immediately assumed that this kid obviously doesn't know what he's talking about and began to argue with him, clearly flustered. When he doesn't give in, she starts to argue with the ticket taker behind him, who agreed with my coworker that no open drinks was in fact park policy. Finally, she exclaims, 'THIS is RIDICULOUS!' to which the ticket taker calmly replied, 'Ma'am, I think YOU'RE being a little ridiculous.'
This was the last straw for her, as she tipped her coffee over and dumped the entire cup onto my coworker's shoes. Needless to say, she didn't enter the park that day, with OR without a beverage."
"A college student got upset when I told him he was too big to ride the 25 cent helicopter outside the arcade. There wasn't much I could do to stop him since it didn't require a ticket, so being unable to fit inside the actual helicopter, he climbed on top and held on to the fake propeller. Moments later I hear an epic bang against the side of the ticket booth. The hydraulic spring on the bottom of the helicopter had broken, swaying him back and forth like a mechanical bull before flinging him off, right into the side of the ticket booth."
"I worked at an amusement park in rides for about 5 years. Every once in a while, a company would buy out the park after hours for employees and their families. One year, I was working a ride that you boarded while it was moving (slowly). The park had been bought out by a large chain store and we were in the process of closing down to the public. I'm loading the ride and these three girls around 10 years old come up the line. I board them and they are all set.
Not 60 seconds later, Dad comes barreling up the line and started yelling about boarding his kids while the ride is moving. He's inches from my face, screaming while I try to explain its how the ride functions. He's not having it. I switch with a coworker to call security and our operations office to send a supervisor but since we are clearing out the public, it is going to take a while.
In the meantime, this guy is screaming at all the employees, while continuing to let his kids stay on the ride as it cycles. I finally called security again and they and a supervisor sprint across the park. The supervisor tries to talk him down but it wasn't doing any good so security took him away.
Later, I was called to the security office to write a witness statement and found out the man had squared up to start a fist fight with the security full time supervisor. He was taken from the park and security called his company. Last I heard, the company was going to fire the guy."
"Last week, the ride I was working at was down for about 45 minutes due to a mechanical problem, and we had a guest in line that was irrationally angry about the downtime. He started yelling out, 'I could build a better amusement park than this! I'm going to buy up all the farmland in the area and build my own park! Make amusement parks great again!' I wish I could say he was joking, but he looked serious. Unless he's a billionaire, I don't think that park is going to get very far."
"I worked food services at a water park. A customer didn't like his chicken sandwiches so he pulled off his swim trunks and took a dump in the middle of the walkway while staring me down. Fun fact: code green means someone pooped in the pool. They don't want people to know and panic so that's the code they use."