What’s Up With All The Brazilian Tour Groups At Disney & In Orlando? (& Some Advice About Them)

A daily part of tourism in ANY tourist area is tour groups. Whether the groups are from another state, another country or the church in the next town over, they arrive by the busload and give lots of money to the hotel and restaurant industries and, in the case of Central Florida, the theme park industry.

Although tour groups come to Orlando from a lot of places (Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Asian countries, etc), the group that tends to gather the most reactions are the ones from Brazil. Those groups tend to be kids (girls more often than boys) in their mid-teens, they travel in groups of 25  or more, and tend to have the the same shirts, knapsacks, etc. They speak Portuguese, which sounds a bit like Spanish, but is not exactly the same.

A lot of the groups are girls celebrating their quinceañera, the Latinx coming-of-age-at-15 party; it’s the equivalent of a sweet 16 in the U.S. or a bar/bat mitzvah for Jewish kids. Years ago the all-important birthday was celebrated with a big party at home. But in the past couple of decades, trips to Walt Disney World have become all the rage for these young ladies who are turning “the big one-five,” and some families spend years saving for their girls to go on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

These groups are huge, with tour groups bringing a few hundred to a thousand or more girls to Central Florida at one time. Fortunately,  the groups are broken into smaller sub-groups of a few dozen, and each sub-group usually has at least one tour guide with them who carries a flag so their charges can see and recognize them.

brazol03Brazilians are generally optimistic, happy and fun-loving people but some of the social and cultural norms of Brazilians are different from those of other countries such as the U.S., and the resulting behavior of these 15-year-old girls can sometimes make non-Brazilians bristle while in a theme park:

  • Chanting in a group to pass the time
  • Singing in a group because it’s fun
  • Personal space is not super important (so they may put their hand on your should or back as they pass by you)

These are on top of what happens when there is a “group” mentality, not a whole lot of adult supervision at any given time (one or two adults in his/her early-mid 20s supervising maybe 25-35 15y/o kids?), and, let’s face it, the self-centered mentality of a bunch of girls who are 15 years old ;-). So the resulting issues wind up being:

  • Singing in the queues
  • Chanting on the rides
  • A group of 5 kids wanting to be with their friends, so the 5 kids in front of you in the queue, or sitting next to you at the parade are now 50 kids in front of or surrounding you.

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These situations can sometimes be, I know from my own experience, a little (or sometimes more than a little) frustrating. And it’s worsened because many of the kids don’t appear to speak English so most of us can’t really communicate with them. But to be honest, many the same kind of behaviors and “group mentality” are seen when groups of teenage American cheerleaders or dancers, school trip kids or even church trip kids are in the parks with what may or may not be not enough adult supervision.

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So What Can You Do About Them?

At Walt Disney World, at least, the groups from Latin America are supposed to have a Cast Member from Disney’s Cultural Representative Program on hand. These bilingual Disney representatives have responsibilities that may include:

  • Brazil02Proactively seeking out guest contact
  • Acting as a translator for leaders and cast
  • Being able to work under pressure and overcoming guest objections
  • Assisting with audience control including parades

I’ve seen these representatives at work at parades, restaurants, etc. and they do help diffuse potential problems before they happen. But they’re a little less effective when you’re queued for the Haunted Mansion, you’ve got 25 kids in front of you, 25 kids who are 10 people behind you, they’re trying to get together into one big group, and they’re all chanting as they enter the stretching room. So I’m well aware that sometimes you feel like you need to take matters into your own hands.

The most important thing to remember is your ability to “fix” the situation will be limited. It would be nice if these groups, usually comprised of kids, would act like what we would consider to be responsible adults, but reality is that they’re not adults, their level of responsibility reflects that, and their social/cultural norms may not be the same as ours (which, quite honestly, isn’t right or wrong – it just “is”). So frankly, the thought it, “it is what it is” is probably a good thing to keep in your head.

If the behavior of these larger groups of kids bother you that much, my first suggestion is to try to avoid them as much as you can:

  • Brazilian schools are out of session in the summer and in January, cheer and dance competitions have their own schedules and U.S. schools tend to have their trips at the end of the school year. You might not want to visit Central FL during those times, if possible.
  • Tour groups tend to stay at the less expensive Disney-owned hotels. Moderate-or-above level Disney resort hotels or staying off property might be alternate options.
  • If you see a tour group heading into an attraction or restaurant, go to a different one.
  • Plan to eat at “off” times, when there are less crowds and, most likely, less tour groups trying to eat at the same time.

If there’s a group of kids all wearing the same shirt/knapsack/etc. in front of you in a queue and a group behind you and they want to all stand on line together in the front group, hold your ground if their trying to get in front of you bothers you that much. Tell them no. Tell them that the group in front can go back to be with their friends, if they want – and if they don’t appear to speak English, pointing and hand gestures can work just as well as talking. So does making a barrier of your party and perhaps the parties around you (if they’re of the same mindset).

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Telling their group leader or Disney’s Cultural Representative, if possible, may have some effectiveness. If you can’t locate him/her/them, telling the cast member/team member/employee who works at the attraction/restaurant/etc. about the problem may be able to help to a point, but I would think their hands are tied to an extent – their job is to keep everybody happy, not just you.

The bottom line is these tour groups have as much right to be there as we do and as much as we might like to see them change their behavior, the only peoples’ behaviors we can really change is our own. Whether that means visiting at a different time, or opening your heart to a “it is what it is and I’ll just make the best of it” point of view,  it’s up to us to ensure these tour groups don’t ruin our vacation.

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5 thoughts on “What’s Up With All The Brazilian Tour Groups At Disney & In Orlando? (& Some Advice About Them)”

  1. I’ve had personal experience with them at Kidcot stations. They tend to swoop in in large groups, shoving their Duffies at you to stamp and decorate, and sometimes pushing past families with small kids. They don’t intentionally, I hope, mean to be rude, but it’s sometimes hard to get them to form somewhat of a line and wait their turn. Most remember to say thank you, but not all. I do have problems with them moving in large clumps, blocking the pathways for other guests, and being quite loud. However, American cheer and dance teams do the same. So it’s not totally cultural. I do wish that the leaders of all these groups would be given some guidelines for park conduct, impart them to their groups, do daily reminders before they go off, and try to keep things under control.

    1. That being said, I want them to have a good time, but not at the expense of other guests who have paid great sums of money to enjoy the parks too.

      1. It’s a fine line and really, there’s no clear answer. Everyone who is there has paid to get in and has the right to enjoy the parks (and the restaurants. and the stores. and the…). Unfortunately, some cultures’ sense of enjoyment is different from others. The same goes for peoples’ ages, backgrounds, interests, etc. So who’s right and who’s wrong?

        I remember becoming aware of the large tourist groups from Latin America back in the 90s. There were more and more every year and I vaguely remember hearing sometime in the early 2000s that because of the various complaints, the tour operators were limited in how many kids could be in each sub group (50 is better than 100?) and were taught about U.S. customs and culture…but I don’t know if that’s still done (although the groups are indeed smaller) or if what I “heard” was fact or fiction (because really, how much can you trust from what you read on the internets LOL)

  2. I was at Disney recently and in fact there were large groups of African Americans all dressed with the same shirt, singing very loud and cutting lines . I was with two small children and 4 of them got in front of me and my family while we were in the line for 45 minutes. Then all of sudden, when we were about to go in, 15 more appreared and I didn’t let them pass anymore. There was also large groups of American teenagers singing loundly and dancing in the middle of the Park making very hard to walk , specially with a stroller. Off course this is not a “Brazilian” thing and much less cultural . Regardless I am certain that the parks are extremetely happy with all the large groups and the income they generate .

    1. I’m sure they are, Candy – that’s why they have a whole division devoted to groups ;-). Their goal is to get as many people as possible to go to WDW. Our goal is to enjoy ourselves despite people who we find annoying. I hope some of the suggestions for the latter were helpful.

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