Do You Own the Space Above You in a Theme Park?

| January 26, 2015 | 34 Replies

A while back we took a look at parade viewing etiquette.  At the time it seemed to be a topic which needed to be discussed and critiqued.  Even today there are still common-sense rules which are broken by guests who view a parade or even a show.   During a recent visit to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando I witnessed the latest trend by theme park guests who are either viewing a show or watching a parade.  Not only is it a trend, but it’s a growing trend by guests who see other guests doing the same.  Placing a child on your shoulders just as a show starts may seem harmless, but it does little to amuse guests behind you who are trying to watch the show or parade you are watching.  The same guests who thought they had a clear view of the stage or street 30 minutes before the show or parade started all of a sudden don’t.


There are plenty of arguments both ways with this type of situation.  First off, you could make the case Disney World is for children.  They want to see pirates and princesses way more than maybe the adult population behind you.  But, keep in mind adults behind you want to experience the show or parade with their children who are not on a parent’s shoulders or just standing like most everyone else.

You could also make the case if you didn’t want to be blocked by a child on an adult’s shoulders you should have arrived earlier and gotten closer to the front.  But, what if this situation occurred in the first couple of rows?  Basically, whoever is behind the adult and child your view is obstructed.


It should also be mentioned that having your child on your shoulders can be unsafe.  With a crowd around you, a simple bump or trip could cause quite a disaster.  Keep that in mind when you hoist your child in the air, on your shoulders, and perform a minor balancing act.

What about those cameras, iPads, and iPhones?   When you hold up your video recorder above the crowd you are blocking the view of the guests behind you.  Suddenly, everyone is moving their head and neck in a different direction.   This is another last minute decision by guests that can affect the viewing pleasure of guests behind you who didn’t expect it up until show time.  It can be somewhat discouraging and frustrating to see your unobstructed view go to the wayside.


As I’ve visited the theme parks over the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve noticed this issue growing and growing.  More and more children are getting lifted onto their parents’ shoulders.   I won’t get into my opinion about it, but I will tell you I’ve sighed a few times near the Cinderella Castle forecourt stage.


Do you feel guests own the space above them in a theme park?  Is it proper etiquette to obstruct another guest’s view of a show or parade by setting a child on their shoulders or holding up a video camera?  Do you feel the guests who do this have no sensitivity to people behind them?  Tell us your view or story in the comments section below or on our official Facebook page.


If you are a guest in a theme park and wish to put your child on your shoulders or record a video from above, please remember the guests behind you who have been waiting in their spot for some time.  A last second change of view is never enjoyable and can be frustrating.  A good rule of thumb when visiting a theme park, you are never “above” the guests behind you.  You are only in front of them.

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Category: Disney World

  • Chris

    If I see a child is behind me, I will ask their parents if they would like the child to be in front of me. After all, I am taller than the child, the child will still be in their line of sight and then the child, myself and those behind the parents can all see without any problems.

    If we all followed simple common courtesy like this, we wouldn’t need to ask this kind of question.

    • yankeesusa

      That is a great point. I have done that several times. I am only at those shows for my kids. The only shows I like myself are the fireworks shows which everyone loves. This is one reason why for 5 years I had the annual pass to disney. We would learn the best times to go to avoid the crowds and if it was too much we would just move on and come back another time.

    • Tom

      I agree and do the same. I let a child get in front of me but then sometimes the parent wants to get there too as well as the rest of their adult family….thats when I draw a line. We have no children so when we are there for the parade it is for us.. The real problem is the parents. My wife and I were sitting outside Casey’s when a “child”, more like an overgrown 10 yr old, climbed the metal fence (pre construction) and started chasing the ducks trying to kick them. The parents just sat there ignoring so my wife asked the child to stop at which time he cursed her out. Being a retired police officer I knew I would get in trouble if I were to do anything so I got a security guard and he went and grabbed the kid. It was only then that the parents paid attention and decided to curse me out! So it is good to be courteous when it comes to children since we do tower over them, but the parents need to be courteous too, and not only keep the children under control for other guests but also teach that courtesy is something which most people pay forward.

    • Karen

      Any good mom would by proud of you for being so generously kind!

  • M

    There is nothing more irritating than having my view blocked by children on parents shoulders. Everyone should have the opportunity for a good view and children should not be raised any higher than their parents heads, not 2 ft above. For the enjoyment of all guests disney should not allow children on shoulders of parents. Disney polices everything else in shows and parades-where we can and cannot stand or sit, where we walk, which direction we move in, etc. Surely they could stop the view blocking. It is very disrespectful of other guests. The cameras are almost as bad, but smaller. The worst is the go pro cameras on a stick.

  • bmp

    My family and I have had the same conversation re. How common
    it now seems for kids, phones, etc. to be held up in a way that blocks sightlines.

    We have 2 young girls and our rule is that our girls are
    held at our level (no shoulders). This
    can be very difficult; especially with a 6 year old, and can become very
    tiring, but we feel it is he only fair way.

    Kids should not be on shoulders. It shows a lack of respect for everyone and
    shows a sense of entitlement.

    But cameras, iPad, phones (now with selfie
    poles) are worse. There is no reason to
    video tape the fireworks. Why not try to enjoy them at the moment, and if you
    want to watch the show when you get home, I guarantee it is on YouTube (most
    likely professionally taped in HD). I one
    time had to confront someone who was face timing the fireworks for a friend
    back home (…politely reminding the guy that everyone he is blocking paid $100
    to gain access to the park and seen the show)

    • MrNico

      While I do use a camera to take the pictures I want, I love to photobomb people with their snooty selfie poles. So much fun! And those huge dorky ipads are the worst…

  • yankeesusa

    Well, I definitely agree. It is not only rude but it teaches kids to continue the never ending cycle of rudeness. But the sad state of affairs is that this will continue to happen and get worse. First, their will always be people that will hoist their child over their shoulder and not give a second thought to people behind them because they simply do not care. You can change that. 2nd, it’s easier and easier to buy a huge ipad and use it as a camcorder which is actually a horrible device to record as the camera on it isn’t that good. The only solution to this is for employees or disney to enforce the rule of safety when it comes to hoisting kids on shoulders and obstructing the view of other guests. I am not going to get into a fight or an argument with someone who obviously doesn’t care for anyone but themselves.

  • Jiminy1940

    My husband uses a scooter and we go to the handicapped section. I am always amazed at the number of people who show up at the last minute and stand in front of the handicapped section. The Disney parade staff are excellent about tactfully telling them that they must move (they are also in front of the ropes) and most comply. There are always several who will argue about their “right” to see the parade. When did we decide that we are entitled to everything at the expense of others who are following the rules? What is this teaching our children? I don’t think that Disney can (or should) try to control everything, but perhaps it could be noted in the daily schedule for parades that children should not be placed on a parent’s shoulders. Then the staff could “suggest” that it not be done.

  • Scotty P

    I’m 6’4″, and unless I’m seated, I typically stand back as I know I can see over the crowd. That works for me putting my kids up on my shoulders as well. I do let the kids move up front with other kids (not blocking other kids view but seated or standing with other kids) in front of adults. I’ve never had an issue with letting them ‘worm’ up front nor do I have a problem if your child does the same.

  • Karen

    Have a blocked off specific area for ” kids on parents shoulders”.
    Someone should design a Velcro waist belt with adjustable stirrups that hang down. Kids stand in the stirrups, leaning against the parents back so their head is looking over one of the parents shoulders. Maybe I could start a new business!!!!

    • harmeyer

      that’s a really neat idea. I have a new nephew due April 1st. we are already planning his first trip. so you have about 2 years or so to design this or we may have to do it ourselves. It really does sound like it might work.

      • Karen

        Ok, I’m thinking on it

  • Scott

    When my family gets a space for parade viewing, we spread out a little bit (a few extra inches per person, I don’t mean we are taking up a whole block!) for the sole reason of having extra space to allow other small children to get in front of my wife and I when the parade starts. Other parents are always very thankful for this and we usually end up meeting some very nice folks that we otherwise would not get to meet! We try to spread a little Disney magic when we can!

    • Marie Brown

      Us too Scott. Always meet nice folks. Too bad there are always rude ones who only care about themselves. Hate those ridiculous IPads held up in the air like the lady sitting in front of us at the Candlelight.

    • Ghost Man

      Wow! I just posted a comment saying the same thing, then I read your comment. It’s nice to hear how others are doing this.

  • Dino

    I have a feeling the only ones reading this article are the ones who agree with you, Aaron–those that feel manners and common courtesy have disappeared from our society. I most definitely agree . . . NO kids on shoulders! And, no standing up on items to tower above others (I like your final rule of thumb; I’ll try to remember that to quote to others!) We are getting ready to take a Disney Cruise, and I know from experience, the same thing happens there. Let kids move to the front. Sit or squat down when you are able so that others may see too. I have no idea how to get this across to those who have an entitlement attitude, nor how to get through to the multitude of non-English speaking guests . . . I can only do what I did as a teacher for 25+ years: Lead by Example!

  • Cactus19

    I think everyone at Disney (or wherever) should follow the old drive-in rules. Park in the back if you’re going to have something above “average” height.

    • Amber Woolsey

      As an almost Little, I agree. As the parent of an actual Little, I will get rude to anyone who dares step in front of us.

  • Catherine

    I agree that it is rude and appreciate the person who recommended holding the child on my hip so that her head is where mine is.

    It really is a tough thing. Last year we secured FP+ reservations for MSEP hoping to stay put for the remainder of the evening. While we arrived early enough to get the front row for MSEP, once it was over the street opened and throngs of people stood directly in front of us. That was still fine until the castle show started and these new people who were just feet in front of us hoisted their children on their shoulders. My DD could no longer see a thing. I’m sorry to say I followed suit for a few minutes so that she could see too.

    Next time I’ll change that and move her to my hip rather than my shoulders and maneuver so that she can see. If I miss parts that’s not ideal but okay. I understand how things work easier than a child does.

    I too wish Disney could instill a policy (for safety sake if nothing else) that shoulder sitting is no longer allowed. Hold them on your hip but that is far safer and allows more people to enjoy the show.

  • allyse

    During the lighting of the castle with Elsa this year everyone was seated it was perfect viewing then it took one person who was 3 rows from the front to stand, everyone hollered… They didnt sit so the people behind thm had to stand an so on and so forth. The man in front of us hoisted his child on his sholders blocking my sons view and the man ext to him did too so my husband hd no choice but but to follow suit. Its a shame they don’t have a sittig polixcy like the disney Jr show at hollywood studios.

  • Ghost Man

    People nowadays are all about themselves. They think because they paid for their vacation they can do whatever they want regardless. When we’re watching a castle show, I always look behind me to see if a small one is trying to see. My family of four (we’re all adults) has this routine we’ve been doing for years when we watch the nighttime parade. We’ll get our spots on the curb leaving a little space between us. When the parade is about to start, we allow as many little ones to come up and sit between us. Soon, more youngsters will follow squeezing in behind those little ones. It’s tight, but for 20 minutes or so we live with it. This allows several children to see the parade close up. The look in their eyes as Snow White walks past them is priceless. We love it, the kids love it, and the parents always thank us when the parade is over. It’s one of the highlights of our vacation. The only issue we have is with the Brazilians. They have a tendency to push any and everyone out of their way.

    • Shazzie B

      We do this too, let as many children in as possible and don’t mind doing so, it’s some of the adults that think they have a right to see and push into your space, even though you’ve been there for 30 mins already that anger me.

  • Katie

    I completely agree. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m an adult who is a disney fanatic…don’t have kids, go to the parks with adult friends, and I still enjoy the magic of every Disney spectacle. I was recently there for the Merry Christmas party with my sister and we thought we had a great view for the Frozen Holiday Wish. As soon as the music started. The 6 foot Dad front of us put his kid in his shoulders…my 5’4″ sister had no chance. It really is quite rude!

  • shaggy77

    I totally agree about the kids on shoulders; it is very disheartening to stand in place for a parade or show for (sometimes) hours, only to have this happen. My new “pet peeve” is those “selfie-sticks.” You know the poles with cameras mounted on the ends so people can take “selfies.” They are obnoxious, pretentious and dangerous. On our last trip to WDW, I was poked in the face four times by them. (“you’ll shoot your eye out”) People walk around watching the camera and not paying any attention where they are going.

  • Noreen Walsh

    BTW – Disney is not just for children. Many of us adults without children really enjoy the parade as well.

  • Niksgrammy

    On a trip to WDS a few years ago, we made the mistake of going to the Magic Kingdom on July 4. Not only were they granting citizenship to a group of people but the
    castle show and fireworks were like something you have never seen. My husband and 2 grandsons arrived about an hour and a half early. We placed ourselves right on the edge of a walkway with the kids in front of us. We had a nice family next to us so we tried to make sure we both had enough space for our families. One woman came by and tried to push us out of the way. My husband stood up and guarded us and our seats and this woman actually took his arm and pinched it. We finally got her out of our way, but how rude! I always get to the parades early and grab a seat at the edge of the walkway even at age 61. Getting up isn’t fun but it’s the only way to get a good, unobstructed view.

  • Ehockley

    I have found that to be a problem in the past too. My wife has to use a scooter in the park to get around. Then when you find a place, it seems that people get agravated at you for taking up such space. Hey, we camped here for a long time to get this and they want to step in front. Just pisses you off and ruins your experience.

  • Goofy_Guy

    Sorry, I just can’t feel sorry for any of you. Although I’ve never hoisted my child up onto my shoulders, the fact is, in a crowd, unless they are in the front row a child has NO view but adult butts and shoulder blades with NO option to swing back and forth to look around the people in front. I’ve used various techniques to be sure my below average height darling daughter (who even now at 21 and a foot shorter than me, under 5′) can’t see unless she can manage to “break through” the crowd. You all should consider yourselves lucky that you can at least see above the shoulder blades of the adults in front of you. What fracks me off is when you have a group SITTING in front of the castle for 30m-1hr for a show only to have some adult(s) stand up completely blocking the view and forcing everyone behind them to stand, when if everyone simply sits down then everyone is at the same height and everyone can see. A late night just before New Years we were leaving the park and I was astounded to see EVERYONE sitting from the castle back to the photographer in the circle. Realizing that the castle picture show was starting we quickly found a seat and FOR THE FIRST time enjoyed the entire castle show from an excellent spot unobstructed with legs resting…it was marvelous.

  • mickey fan

    Disney friends, just be considerate! Would you want someone to pop up in front of you or your child? Don’t say, “I wouldn’t care,” because you would! If you plan to put your child in an unsafe position on your shoulders, or plan to stand up during the parade with your camera, just let the person behind you know so they have a chance to move on! As an adult who does usually sit on the walkway an hour or more before the parades because I enjoy them so much, I have often had a new “little friend” sit in front of me so they could see. Think about the other guy, spread some Disney magic.

  • MrNico

    Parents should hold their kids at or below their head level. Basically, hold them in front of you. Not higher. A single camera held up just high enough is not bad, but a dorky ipad is obscene!

    For my March trip, I need to find a device to hold my Sony phone up to get nice 4K video of the fireworks while I use the camera to take still shots. Any ideas?

  • Becky

    I can speak to the safety issue – we were there last week and a little girl almost took out a light bulb on the Main Street hub when her dad put her up on his shoulders – it was dark and he was walking and trying to watch the fireworks at the same time – she was lucky, my husband said he missed nailing her head on that bulb by less than an inch. And yes, people are rude and more and more every year have that sense of entitlement.. Even at rope drop!! Trying to “walk” to a ride, my kids, husband, and I were stepped on and had strollers rolled up on the backs of our heels several times. When you turn around an look, people give you a “What??” look – can’t even say “I’m sorry” anymore… almost makes you not want to go back and deal with it anymore…

  • bigblu

    You all or missing the point… Been to Disney 2 times every time I had to put my kids on my shoulder. I have 3 kids under 5. I have to put one on the shoulder and hold the other two to see. I cant spend an hour or more on a curb with my kids waiting. I try to keep them down but when the ones on the curb start standing then there is nothing I can do. Unfortunately we live in a world of entitlement. I dont like it but I am not going to just stand there and make a point by not letting my kids see. Most of the time there is a reason. I would love a sitting policy in the front. Standing only in the back section. Wishes should always be sitting only. Do you think I want to hold my kids on my shoulders after a full day at Disney.

  • DISPrincessMom

    Oh, man, I could go on and on and on about the lack of edicate in the parks. One of our favorite pet ‘peeves’ are what we call ‘stoppers’. You are moving at a good clip in traffic on a fairly narrow park path and BOOM! the huge family in front of you decides to stop short and whip out their park map right in the middle of the path!!! No need to step aside so as not to impede traffic, DUH. I aim for toes on my way by…
    As far as parades and the rude people, OMG!!! One year, my family and I got a spot for Spectromagic in front of Hall of Presidents. We had just enough room for my husband and I to sit on the wall with a double stroller for the kids in front of us that basically went up to the rope. We got our spot 90 minutes before the parade was set to start. One of my daughters needed to visit the restroom so my husband took her. While he was gone, this woman just strolled right up and plopped her butt right next to me in my husband’s spot 15 minutes before the parade is due to start. OK, thinking she just really believed there would be this open space just SAVED for her I politely told her that she had taken my husband’s seat and she looks around and says ‘what husband?’. Again, I politely explained that he had taken my daughter to the restroom and was due back any minute and that we had been waiting for 90 minutes to get a good spot. Still, she wouldn’t move! Eventually, my husband came back and kicked her out and she managed to force some people down the wall to basically sit on top of each other to make a spot for her and then continued to talk very loudly about how NICE they were and how I was completely rude and wouldn’t let her have a spot to watch. I have never, never been so angry on Disney property! I’ll admit it, I let her RUIN my evening and, even now thinking about it, I would love to smack that woman right upside the head. I am always willing to make room for people, especially with small children, and I am NOT rude. I probably would have found room for her if she hadn’t been so goddamn rude and entitled.