South American Tour Groups at Walt Disney World

Boardwalk Times Glenn Briggs gives his insight on the South American Tour Groups.

My first time experiencing a South American Tour Group was back in the mid 90s. There was a bus at Epcot called the Junkanoo Bus which had a Caribbean Band performing on the top level and cast members leading dances for guests. Tour groups would add their 40 member groups to the dozen or so people already dancing. The tour groups were lively and festive. Even if they didn’t know the dance, they wanted to learn. No one minded the groups at the Junkanoo Bus. Everyone had a good time.

Most of tour groups come from Brazil but not all. There are quite a few groups from Argentina. I’ve seen some from Mexico and Venezuela too. Summer tour groups start visiting in mid June and through the month of July. Winter tour groups start mid January and all through February. These tour groups are teenagers between the ages of 13–17. There are some groups dedicated to 15 year old girls for their quinceañera.

Many people think these kids are just on some wild vacation while escaping their country. I’ve heard people say how disrespectful the kids can be. They also expect teens from a foreign country to act like adults. My experience has be different from most. These kids save thousands of dollars for their trip. They have countdown calendars to their departure day just like other Disney fans. Actually, these kids are real fans of everything Disney. They have the Disney Channel in their language that they watch. They watch all the latest movies and know all the lyrics to every animated film.

I’ve learned some Brazilian Portugese in the past couple of years so I can communicate with tour groups. Since the 90’s, the tour groups English has improved. Most of the kids speak some English and some speak it fluently. Our culture is spreading to Brazil just like it spread throughout the world.

Maybe people expect too much from other cultures visiting Disney World. Brazilians know very little about personal space. I find my personal bubble being invaded by Brazilians all the time. They are not trying to be rude, it’s just normal to them. Moving through a crowd they may even touch your shoulder or back as you walk through a crowded space. This is perfectly normal to them and not meant to bother you.

The number one complaint I hear is the tour groups chant and dance. This is acceptable in their country. I find the kids are not to blame but their leaders are the culprit. The leaders usual start the chant or dance. Disney has stopped a lot of the chanting and dancing by adding Supergreeters to the parks. Supergreeters speak Portugeuese and/or Spanish and remind the groups not to do these things.

The last time I saw a tour group at a Disney park was last week at the Magic Kingdom. They were mostly interesting in getting the perfect selfie on Main Street. After the fireworks, most of the girls were crying tears of joy. Most of these kids absolutely love Disney and Walt Disney World.

Glenn Briggs is a Columnist for the Boardwalk Times.