Adrenaline-pumping rides and cool attractions make amusement parks a summertime staple.
But sometimes, park goers are a little too eager to make the most of their experience and get a little out of hand. And, unfortunately, it's easier than you think to get kicked out of a theme park.
We're not just talking about the obvious no-nos like bringing hand guns and booze onto park property--or wearing t-shirts with offensive language.
Want to dress up like your favorite Disney princess? That's a major don't. And before you grab that straw for your Coca-Cola at some parks, you better think twice.
Before heading to your favorite theme park, it might be a good idea to check out the website for a list of prohibited items.
For now, here are some things that could get you kicked out a theme park.
1. Wearing a kilt
We know parks don’t take kindly to guests wearing costumes that may distract from the approved attractions. But what qualifies as a costume? A Norfolk, Va. man was recently denied entry to Busch Gardens because he was wearing a traditional Scottish kilt. Park employees told Hex Nottingham-- who is of British, Irish, and Scottish descent-- that his outfit violated their no costume policy during a Howl-O-Scream event. Nottingham issued a formal complaint with the theme park and called the incident a “terrible stain on the honour of my culture as well as my ethnic pride.” Busch Gardens says that while they do not want alienate anyone from different backgrounds, they have a policy in place to prevent confusion among guests who may think the wearer of a particular outfit was actually part of the park sanctioned event.
2. Big coolers
Drinking plenty of water between rides is important on hot summer days. But that doesn’t mean you should be carting around your own personal hydration station. Hard sided coolers are prohibited at Universal, SeaWorld and Disney. Universal also prohibits soft coolers larger than 8.5 in wide x 6 in high x 6 in deep.
3. Dressing up as your favorite Disney character
This one may have a few people scratching their heads as Disney World and its associated parks seem to push movie-themed merchandise around every corner. But did you know that, in accordance with park policy, adults who dress in attire that looks too similar to a real Disney character may be asked to leave? In June of 2012,15-year-old April Spielman was denied entry into Disney’s Animal Kingdom for dressing like Tinkerbell. Better save that full princess get-up for Halloween.
4. Markers and paint
Trying to become the next Banksy? Think again before unleashing your street art skills during your next visit to a theme park. Parks spend millions of dollars each year to maintain their facilities and keep grounds clean. Wannabe graffiti taggers are certainly not welcome at Six Flags parks where magic markers and spray paints of any kind are expressly prohibited.
It’s no surprise that most parks have restrictions on outside food and beverages but SeaWorld doesn't permit glass bottles, cans and even plastic straws inside its park for the safety of animals... and guests. If you’re trying to sneak in a few straws, keep in mind that all bags and backparks entering the park are subject to inspection-- so it's probably best just to leave your favorite straw in the car.
6. Packing a picnic
While small snack items are permitted at Universal Orlando, packing a full meal is prohibited. Per park policy, there is a ban on “picnic lunches” and “food that requires heating or refrigeration.” So if you want some really fancy food, plan to drop some dough at one of the park’s several eateries. For parents with very young children, baby food and formula is permitted at most amusement parks.
7. Obscene tattoos
Rocking a distasteful t-shirt may be enough to get you out kicked out of many amusement parks but what if you’re wearing something you can’t take off? If you have a tattoo that may be considered offensive, consider bringing a long sleeve shirt or you may be kicked out of a Disney park. They prohibit “obscene tattoos” but do not define those parameters. Better safe than sorry-- invest in some heavy duty concealer makeup.
Segways are prohibited at many major parks including SeaWorld, Disney parks, and Busch Gardens. With winding paths, costumed characters and hundreds of kids running loose, theme park terrain is difficult enough to navigate on your own two feet, let alone trying to balance on a shaky, two-wheeled vehicle. A general Segway ban in theme parks is probably for the best.
9. Cutting in line
Unruly guest behavior can certainly ruin a great day at the park. Six Flags defines several prohibited behaviors – including line jumpers. While it's not uncommon to have to wait hours for some of the most popular park attractions, there's no excuse for cutting other guests. So be patient-- or face immediate eviction.
10. Wearing emergency personnel-style clothing
It's fine if your dream is to be a New York City cop, but leave your NYPD shirt at home. Universal Orlando won't let you in if you're wearing an item of clothing that says Police, Paramedic or any gear that looks similar to a uniform designed for an emergency staff member. Why? Parks want to cut down on any confusion in case of a real emergency.
11. Being young and alone
While most theme parks are designed for children, that doesn’t mean parents can just drop off the kids and wave bye-bye. Disney World prohibits unaccompanied minors under 14. SeaWorld suggests that visitors 13 and younger be accompanied by an adult but does not specifically state that young kids will actually be turned away at the gate.
12. Feeding the animals
Live animal exhibits offer a taste of wildlife amid tons of artificial attractions but don’t get too cozy with that whale. These animals are kept under close watch so don't try feeding them your cotton candy or hot dog and think you can get away with it. While Disney’s Animal Kingdom and SeaWorld offer visitors the opportunity to pet and feed certain animals under attendant supervision, feeding one of these animals on your own time can result in swift eviction from Disney, SeaWorld and Six Flags.
And the same rules apply for visits to the zoo. One woman was recently banned from the Memphis Zoo after sneaking into a lion enclosure to feed the big cats some cookies.