Children aren't the ones to cause a scene in these amusement park stories. Park workers reveal the absurd times adults had melt downs and hissy fits at a theme park.
"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. To be honest, 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 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 the catapult with a mallet, try to get it in a bucket 10 or 15 feet away, get a cheap stuffed animal if you do.
Well, the catapults were on swivels for aiming and this game is right at the front beside the walkway so once an errant rubber frog breaches the 3-foot stick fence and slaps middle aged mom with a 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 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 coaxes 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 far off 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 worked at a theme park several years ago. One job I had was working with the various characters, and let me tell you what, people lost their minds over the characters. I was threatened, screamed at, followed, called names, spat at, all manner of rude things for either taking the character away or not letting people cut the line.
But the one that always comes to mind is one mother. We did allow Make-a-Wish kids to cut the line and meet the characters first (for obvious reasons). One time when I did this, the mother got very angry and said 'I wish my kids had cancer so they could cut the line!'
I had no response except to pray the poor Make-a-Wish family hadn't heard her."
"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 unattended in a stroller or give them a refund. Eventually they just left, but it was just one of those moments where afterward you sit and ask yourself if it really just happened."
"I was a lead at a large roller coaster. 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 angry 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. Crap.
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 those 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 at 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 line 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 the 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 roller coaster with her friends. But because she got dealt a crappy 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 vacationm at a destination where reality should have been the last thing on her mind."
"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. 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 eff 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 rushes 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.'"
"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."
"I was at a local amusement park with my kids. There was a duck pond game where you pay $5, pick 2 ducks and if either of the ducks has a star at the bottom, you win a stuffed animal, if not you get a little plastic piece of crap. My daughters were playing and there was another little girl playing at the same time. The little girl picked 2 ducks and neither of them had a star. The girl's dad immediately starts saying the game was rigged and there wasn't one with a star and he demanded the poor game operator give his daughter a stuffed animal. He tried to get me to agree because my daughters didn't win either. I said, 'Actually, I've seen kids win before so it's not rigged.' Then he changed his tune and gave the girl running the game another 5 and picked up all the ducks and looked at them until he found the one with a star. He cheated at a game for small children. He got his stuffed animal and left. I was amazed how petty the guy was being but the game operator said things like that happen all the time."
"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, 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.
Anyway, people hated it when they were grouped with strangers and then I would have to explain why this is done: 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 they 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 have 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 awful because the elephant trainers/management will be mad, and everyone in line will want to go alone/only with their family.
She then points to a couple that are riding the elephant alone. This couple is overweight (together, probably about 500-550 lbs.) 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 overweight 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. 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."
"Former ride operator here, 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 in 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 my fellow operator 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 anyway 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."
"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 freaking 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.
By the way, the kid loved it."
"A guy got angry I wouldn't let his INFANT son down the raft ride in the water park. He fought with me, I tried to explain how dangerous it was, there was a height limit for a reason, yadda, yadda. The guy just wasn't having it. He said 'he'd show me' and went to the parking lot. I told security about it and said he's up to something. The dude comes back into the park. Security guys have him go through the metal detector and it turns out he had a gun. Cops came and arrested him."
"I was in the guest service area and witnessed a woman screaming at the workers because she had gotten crapped on by a bird. They were trying to steer her towards a gift shop where she could purchase a new shirt, which angered her even more. She really believed that the park was at fault, and was yelling 'What are you going to do about this!?' at these poor kids working their summer jobs. I'm glad she got pooped on."
"Whenever I worked on our most popular roller coaster, every couple of ride cycles there would be a kid crying and saying they didn't want to ride. We were not allowed to send a coaster if a kid was screaming about not wanting to ride. We would either have to talk to them and try to calm them down or just let them out and have them wait at the exit for their parents. I've witnessed countless parents try to tell me that their kid was just being a baby and to just start the coaster down the tracks anyway. Not only is it policy, but it's just a crappy thing to do to a child. This coaster was a huge wooden coaster that was pretty rough and intense in some parts and if a kid is super scared it might even traumatized them. I've had parents tell me to shut up, not to talk to their kids, that I can't let them out of the seat, basically they just wanted to force their crying child to endure an intense coaster when they clearly didn't want to. It was really upsetting honestly."