Most people, when they visit Disney World, love the character interaction. Who can blame them? Mickey, Donald, Goofy. Say cheese! But there are other characters in the parks, at the resorts, on the buses, everywhere, who won’t say cheese and who may turn your trip into one of terror.
Meet the Disney Dreadfuls!
#10: Bus Beast: The Rigid Riser Another harmless type of Bus Beast is the Rigid Riser. On a full bus, these male miscreants rise the moment they see a woman board the bus. Chivalry dictates relinquishing one’s seat for the elderly and for others in need, but the Rigid Riser takes chivalry to the extreme and offers his seat to women in far better physical shape who are often offended at the continued insistence of the Riser that they take his seat. In extreme cases, the seat will remain empty during the bus ride since the Riser will not sit back down and his intended damsel-in-distress will continue to stand with the rest of her family.
#9: Line Leper: The Lounger I haven’t done the medical research, but I’m sure that the adrenaline of most park guests increases while standing in line for popular attractions. Folks pack together closely, taking advantage of any slight forward movement of the line to inch closer, closer to the fun. Except, of course, for the Line Lounger, an annoying, ‘slackerly’ beast who seems not to realize his purpose in life – for the next few minutes, at least – is to pay attention to the people in front of him and move when they move. Instead, the Line Lounger busies himself with his park paperwork, or his cell phone, or with the pretty pictures playing on the movie screen in his mind. Often, Loungers engage in conversations with fellow Loungers, creating a Lounger log-jam. It’s fun to watch the Lounger when he finally notices the wide span of empty space between himself and the front part of the line: the Lounger jumps slightly, then sprightly advances – only to lounge once more.
#8: Line Leper: The Lunger Related to the Lounger, the Lunger is its polar opposite. This hyper-active horror permits no space whatsoever beneath himself and the next person in line. As soon as the line moves, he moves with it. If you happen to be standing in front of him, the Lunger’s wide-open eyes will fixate on your back and you can almost hear the chant he mentally repeats to himself: move, move, [drumbeat], move, move. You feel his turkey leg breath on your neck. You sense (and smell!) his uncomfortable closeness. You pray others don’t think he’s with you. Absent leaving the line yourself, the best defense against this nasty is to wear a backpack and use it as a buffer. In this situation, and only in this situation, it’s acceptable to ‘stop-short’ when the line begins to move and hope that the Lunger gets a faceful of backpack. Sadly, though, Lungers never learn.
#7: Buffet Buffoon: The Slopper Of the many different Buffet Buffoons, Sloppers are the ones who most deserve our pity. They often know not what they do – nor how not to do it. What they do, of course, is slop. Soup, mostly, but also sauce, juice, and any other liquid or solid that requires ladling, spooning, or even grasping. If it were just a drip or two, a speck or three, the Slopper would not even be a Dreadful. But more often they leave in their wake a puddle or a pile. And the worst Sloppers don’t just slop: they synthesize. These graceless gibbons integrate foods never meant to meet such as Au Jus over salad, barbecue sauce on bananas, peanut butter on pate. The Slopper is not a true danger and its creations can be expunged quickly by a well-trained buffet crew.
#6: Park Pariah: The Stop Shorter Imagine yourself walking briskly toward a busy attraction, making good time despite the crowds, when suddenly right in front of you looms a boulder in your stream, a stalled semi in your path. The Stop Shorter! Often found in groups of two or three, Stop Shorters look and behave just like regular people until, for reasons known only to their primal selves, they screech to a sudden halt, forcing those behind them either to halt as well or else perform a nimble ballet to avoid collision. Stop Shorters have usually stopped to consult a map, to take a picture, or to provide dubious care to their stroller-bound offspring. They have neither the sense nor the manners to pull off the ‘road’. They may, in fact, not even notice the disruption they’ve caused to the normal ebb and flow of park traffic. More likely, though, they don’t care. And the ironic thing is that Stop Shorters rarely benefit from their brief time in stasis: if they’ve halted to consult a park map, for example, they resume their march equally unsure of their destination, not to mention their overall purpose in the park that day.
#5: Bus Beast: The Driver Dad A more nefarious off-shoot of the traditional Bus Beast is the Driver Dad. These harmless but annoying little monkeys choose a seat close to the bus driver and attempt to strike up a conversation. During the conversation, the Driver Dad will attempt to become the real driver’s BFF by asking questions about Disney, about driving buses, about where the driver came from, about the driver’s military service, and lots more, often in an attempt to impress the Driver Dad’s young male children who typically roll their eyes at this behavior and look at their mother whose catatonic stare indicates that it’s not an isolated occurrence. If you’re near a Driver Dad, ignore him – and pray that the bus driver is also ignoring him enough to keep his attention on the road.
#4: Buffet Buffoon: The Head-on Heavy One of the most aggressive, formidible Buffet Buffoons is the Head-on Heavy. These hungry locomotives either don’t care or are unaware of where a line starts. They begin at the opposite end, forcing their way against the stream of buffet traffic, stubbornly refusing to yield. Heavies often wear bulky purses over their shoulders, adding yet more heft to their sturdy frames. When confronted with a Heavy, you have two choices: cede your place in line or treat the Heavy as your opponent in an absurd game of chicken. When you’re finally shoulder to shoulder, the slight core of courtesy that dimly twinkles inside most Heavies will at this point flare in a momentary show of manners and compel the Heavy to move around you – a most delicious victory and one for which you should be proud.
#3: Meal Monster: The Turned-Around Tot This mini-Dreadful may be short in stature but his power to turn your meal into mush is great, indeed. You can spot this pint-sized pain easily enough: he’s the kid who kneels on his seat – it’s usually a booth – and faces backwards, toward you. He often needs a nose wipe. If he’s eating, he’s doing so with his mouth open. And he never stops staring. It’s a perplexed stare, at first, but soon the kid gains courage and that’s when your dreadful Disney moment begins. The monster speaks! Often, it’s gibberish. Sometimes, however, real words come out, and you’re then forced either to respond or to ignore the terrible tot – whereupon other members of his brood may mumble about your impoliteness. While the best course of action would be a small creme pie in the tot’s face, it’s better to smile vacantly and hope the tot will lose interest – as they always do.
#2: Bus Beast: The Door Rusher The most common form taken by the Bus Beast is the Door Rusher. This fierce foe rushes to board the bus before it has even stopped and stakes its territory directly in front of the still-closed door. Particularly nasty specimens will even attempt to step into the bus as soon as the door has opened despite the presence of many people attempting to step off. Fortunately, bus drivers are skilled in taming most Door Rushers with a simple ‘step back, please, sir’ (which in the bus driver’s mind sounds like ‘another freakin’ idiot gettin’ up close to my bus’), but if the driver isn’t up to the task, the Rusher is always cowed by the sheer mass of tired, sweaty humanity about to walk into him.
#1: Buffet Buffoon: The Food Fondler The Food Fondler, contrary to popular belief, is a delicate creature; its touch is gentle, and it often appears to caress items, especially rolls or cookies, before gently replacing them. But too late! The spoor of the Fondler now crawls microscopically on that roll, ready for transfer to the palate of whomever selects it next. Children, technically, can be food fondlers, though they lack the requisite grace of the real deal – some scholars term them Grub Grabbers, a more accurate description of their antics. When faced with a Food Fondler, the important thing is to keep your wits about you and your eyes on the fondled food. Do not touch it yourself. For added safety, do not touch any of the food touched by the fondled food. Your best bet is to select items from far in the back as Fondlers are inherently lazy and tend to finger only the food closest to themselves.
Frightened? Relax. Even if you meet every Disney Dreadful in existence, you’re still at Disney where the magic will render them powerless. Just close your eyes and think of Mickey.
Big thanks to Bob McLain of Disney Dispatch for writing this great article. For more information on Disney Dreadfuls, be sure to visit Disney Dispatch! You can also follow Bob on Twitter @DisneyDispatch.