Pick Your Camp

The Internet Is Divided Over Raising Your Hands On Roller Coasters

Is it actually bad etiquette to raise your hands on a ride? We investigate.

Guests at Disney World ride the Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster, some of them raising their hands in e...
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

If you're a tried-and-true Disney adult (guilty), you've likely witnessed your fair share of debates within the community. Ask any Disney fan what the best coaster is or whether Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion is the best ride, and you should settle in for a few hours of good old-fashioned debate on the subject. But along with these good-natured disagreements, there are also those with strong opinions on basic theme park etiquette. Recently, Disney World passholders on Facebook got heated on one specific topic: Is it bad etiquette to hold your arms up on rides?

While not necessarily a new topic of conversation, this particular thread brought up some truly impassioned viewpoints. Some commenters felt that it was rude to hold your hands up because it means you'll block the person behind you in an on-ride picture, while others felt that holding your hands up is just basic roller coaster behavior. So, which is it?

The Great Hands-Up Debate

I started off my investigation by reaching out on my own social media to zero in on some more specific responses. I ended up getting dozens of responses from an array of people, including both frequent and infrequent theme park visitors. The vast majority of those who wrote in didn't think it was rude to hold your hands up and that it's something they naturally do while they're having fun on rides.

I spoke with Molly McCormack of Mammoth Club, who agreed with the majority of responses I got. "I am all for good ride etiquette, but this feels extreme," she shares. "The point of riding a ride is to have FUN!"

Now, while the majority seemed to fall into the camp of pro-hands up, I did get some responses that fell on the opposite side. Several people wrote in sharing that, while they understand the impulse to put their hands up, it can have a major impact on their trip if they or their kids get blocked in the on-ride photo. After all, for many, this expensive trip can be a once-in-a-lifetime one, making the on-ride photo an important souvenir to have and keep.

In that camp, there were a few who believed putting your hands up was fine on certain rides but not others. For example, several people mentioned that on a roller coaster, they see no problem with having your hands up — even if it's during the pivotal photo. However, for a slower-moving ride that isn't quite as adrenaline-pumping (like the family-friendly Frozen Ever After), they understood the frustration of someone putting their hands up during a photo.

Where you're sitting can also be important. A few comments felt that hands up in the back was fine, but it is a hard pass in the front where you're blocking others.

How to Ensure a Good On-Ride Photo

However, if a good photo is one of your top priorities, getting seated in a certain spot can be your solution. McCormack shared a helpful tip for the next time you're on a ride: "If getting a good photo is important to you, you can always kindly ask the Cast Members to be seated in the front row of a car. They can't always accommodate, but if you ask politely, they'll usually try their best."

Other Theme Park Etiquette to Consider

While the Internet may be divided on whether it's actually bad etiquette to raise your hands on a ride, there are a few more settled rules the majority agrees with when it comes to theme park civility.

For one, using flash on a dark ride is hugely disruptive for other riders. "Please do not use flash on dark rides," Molly shares. "Your photos won't even come out well — the Imagineers designed the rides to be dark on purpose, meticulously choosing what you see (and what you don't see.) You're also ruining the experience for those around you. Take all the photos and videos you want; just turn the flash off and the screen brightness down."

As for the hands-up or down debate, the Internet remains divided on whether this can officially go in the books as lousy theme park behavior. One quick Google search will show you this is not the first time this has come up amongst theme park fans, and we highly doubt it will be the last.