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Brian Emery

Alone in a theme park…

Published: January 7, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I was outside shoveling some snow on Friday night at 11:30 pm and I noticed how quiet it was, no one on the streets, no one walking a dog, not even one car passed. I took a moment to enjoy the serenity of the night. All was very calm, quiet and peaceful. I thought how nice it was to be outside and alone which does not happen often in this crowded world. It was truly an enjoyable moment.

Then I started to think about being in places usually flooded with thousands of people and what it would like to be alone. Just imagine walking down Main Street USA in Walt Disney World and you are by yourself. Or walking down the Las Vegas Strip by Caesar’s Palace and there are no cars anywhere. What would it be like?

Empty Main Street at Disneyland

Would you be intimidated, scared, overwhelmed? Would you enjoy the silence? Would it be almost like a religious experience and Only the Truth shall set you free?

I am sure some Maintenance folks have be close to alone on a few occasions, but I am talking about alone, just you…. I bet it would be nice…

Replies (24)

Karen Smeath

Published: January 7, 2014 at 5:32 PM

A few years ago, my husband and I took the tour at The Magic Kingdom- Behind the Steam Trains. We got to the park at 7 AM along with only 4 other people and the trains(the Cinderella's Round Table breakfast crowd hadn't even begun to arrive). It was amazing. The true beauty of the park was exposed. The streets on Main Street had that- "just hosed down" look in anticipation of the opening at 9 AM. Unfortunately, the conductor forgot to remind us to take a picture of the castle without people on the street. To see that castle from the train station without a soul on the street was almost surreal. I loved it! Yes, we were about as alone as we could get, BUT, it was something I would love to see again. One of these days, just to get to the park before it opens and get that "lost photo opportunity"!
Robert Niles
Editor

Published: January 7, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Here's my alone in a theme park story.
69.3.212.170

Published: January 7, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Eerie feeling being alone in Disneyland. Was working on the morning of 9/11 when the decision was made to keep the park closed, and took the walk from Main Street through the castle to help out with work in the Fantasyland offices. I've been there many times early morning prior to opening and after closing with maintenance out and about (vehicles where guests usually walk, but this was truly different realizing I was the only person walking around Disneland at the time.
M. Ryan Traylor

Published: January 7, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Since I've never been an employee for a Disney park, it's hard to really get that all alone feeling. However I took the EPCOT Segway tour a few years back and you are in the World Showcase prior to its official opening. Cast Members are working, but it's a small group of guests.

But the big one was May 24, 2013 for the Monstrous Summer 24 Hour Day. Covering the Mickey and the Magical Map premiere the night before got me media access for the morning. So I was inside the park as the guests streamed in. Of course I followed them in, looking that empty spot. As guests went to Space Mountain or Indy, I kept walking and just past pirates I was able to capture this

https://twitter.com/theADTraylor/status/337936397711335424/photo/1



TH Creative
Writer

Published: January 7, 2014 at 7:51 PM

I was fortunate enough to capture my moment alone in the Magic Kingdom on film. December 1982 on Main Street. Holiday decorations. It was pre-opening.

It's been posted on TPI previously.

N B

Published: January 7, 2014 at 6:14 PM

This will never happen to our family.... peak Summer right before school starts back up again? Sure, I'll make the itinerary...
Steve Feitl

Published: January 7, 2014 at 6:33 PM

As a six-year employee of the local Six Flags park in the mid-to-late-90s, there were many 3 a.m.'s in a deserted theme park. It was always so incredibly peaceful walking through that park solo in the wee hours of the morning -- especially after battling 50,000 guests just hours earlier.

It wasn't so much the silence because so many of the attractions had sound effects that rang out well into the night. But it was the calm.

70.198.129.217

Published: January 7, 2014 at 6:38 PM

We went to Universal Orlando's celebration of the release of the last Harry Potter film. Sunday night was a gala that ran until midnight. Walking out of IOA after midnight was so peaceful and quiet. We passed a couple of employees, but otherwise took in the beauty of the still lights. Oddly enough, it felt like home.
24.218.30.249

Published: January 7, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Never been alone in a theme park, but when my parents took us for the first to Disney World, there was practically nobody there. We went the second week of February (the week before our school break) in 1979. I remember getting to ride Space Mountain over and over again. It was great!

I was shoveling snow on Friday night too!

Anon Mouse

Published: January 7, 2014 at 8:04 PM

There's no joy in being alone in a place that's designed for large crowds. It makes you feel even more lonely. It isn't that difficult to have a somewhat alone experience. Just go in the morning in a unbusy day. You can enjoy it for awhile.
Kenny Vee

Published: January 8, 2014 at 1:58 AM

I worked many late night/early mornings at Disneyland where I really felt like I had the run of the place. Naturally, there were other cast members working all over the place, but it was not all that infrequent that I could be in the park and look around and not see a soul.

I absolutely loved it. It was one of my favorite perks of being a cast member. I love the park when it's full of people, because that's what it's there for, but there's something special about feeling, for a moment, like the King of Disneyland.

I later worked at Universal Studios Hollywood, and I can say that it feels completely different than Disneyland when it's empty. I never got that same magical feeling there, and when it's late at night with nobody around. In Universal's case I'd agree with Anon Mouse -- it just feels lonely.

Annette Forrest

Published: January 8, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Has anyone read the stories of people who stayed in the Cinderella Suite in WDW? There are a bunch of those online. Apparently, the people who won the chance to stay in the suite got to wander around the park at night a little, with an escort. They did it in their bathrobes and slippers that were in the suite!

They could not go on rides, but they could look around and take pictures and do silly dances and things. It sure looked magical in the pictures I saw. Not creepy at all...just like this wonderfully safe, cozy, place that seemed so charming at night.

108.39.86.11

Published: January 8, 2014 at 12:23 PM

I've worked at a couple of parks over the years, and it comes down to two things:

Working at Water Country USA when the capacity was around 13k, and laughing at those "Low-Daily" (Weekday operations before schools let out) where it would rain and we would count less than 50 people in park.

HOS install at Busch, driving around the park at 3:00AM making sure all of your crews were gone, knowing you were the only soul in the entire park. Peaceful :)

Tyler Stover
Writer

Published: January 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

I've been close to alone in Disneyland a few times. Back when I worked for Disney I participated in the Canoe Races, and some early morning row times had me walking back to my office when the overnight maintenance was just wrapping up and the sun was low in the sky. I'd walk through Frontierland to take Big Thunder Trail to the gates that separate the Big Thunder area from Fantasyland and the backstage entrance there. Most of the time that area isn't very busy even when the park is open, but to have it completely empty, maybe the sounds of Big Thunder beginning the start-up cycle, but otherwise just birds, and the light from the sunrise made for a pretty beautiful and relaxing walk.
Albino Pygmy

Published: January 8, 2014 at 7:09 PM

I used to work HHN at Universal and IOA. For HHN 15 at IOA, the first night we were shown our scarezone, I found out I was working in JP which was turned into the Cemetery Mines. That area of the park at night with the lights out in dead silence, minus the rustling of all the various plants, was unnerving. I felt chills down my spine, and I was supposed to be the scary one here! I knew right away that we were going to be the best scarezone of the event. Unfortunately, we came in close second with the POE scarezone only because the random people polled for their favorite house and zone thought POE also included the awesome entrance show. All POE was just a few random plywood props to hide behind, and extra characters from each of the other islands. Surely, that is superior to 13 creepy mineshafts concealing knuckle-grunts and half mauled miners, and a guy in a ghillie suit or two, but I digress.
Wok Creative

Published: January 8, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Working in the dish room in the early 80's, our machine had broken down in the Plaza Inn. We had to take our dishes back and forth to the Plaza Pavilion on the other side of Main Street. Following company policy, we had to drive it all around in the little pick-up that was available, to not show dirty dishes "on-stage" during operating hours. This took us until wee hours of the morning to get caught up (servicing the Inn Between also). After finishing, walking back across Main Street I was alone for a few minutes. All of the lights were on. I just stopped and soaked it in for a few minutes. Great feeling.
Anytime after operating hours, with the music tracks all turned off, we could always hear the sound of the Small World clock ticking across the park.
James Koehl
Writer

Published: January 9, 2014 at 9:47 PM

This wasn't at a theme park, but it was at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, an outdoor village created by Henry Ford. He collected historic structures from across the country- actually the world, and brought them to Greenfield Village, restored them and created a village that shows how the Industrial Revolution changed the world. Here you can visit the Wright Brothers home and shop, where they built the first airplane; the Noah Webster House, where he wrote the first American dictionary; Menlo Park, where Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb, the phonograph and just about everything else; and dozens of other homes, factories, farms and structures from all over American and the world.
Enough of the history lesson. One evening in December about twenty years ago my wife and I went to a Christmas celebration there, where we had candlelit tours of many of the restored historic homes. After the tour we had a candlelight dinner served in the Eagle Tavern, a restored stagecoach stop from the mid-1800's. Dinner was delicious and the entertainment was top-notch, but we were tired from spending all day exploring the village and the massive Henry Ford Museum next door. We decided to skip the final activity, a concert and carol sing in the Town Hall, and decided to head back to the car. We found ourselves walking alone through the village, with the buildings lit by nothing but candles in the windows and torches lining the streets. The night sky was crystal clear, and the cold winter air made the stars brighter than I ever remember seeing them. The distant sounds of the early American band in the Town Hall was the only sound of other humans we could hear. We walked down the street with the Heinz House (of ketchup fame) on the right and the restored Henry Ford Birthplace on the left- a few sheep in the field beside the farmhouse where he was born made a few bleating noises. There were no other people in sight. It was peaceful. It was perfect. We stopped for a few minutes, just soaking in the peaceful perfection of the spot, the sights, sounds and- yes- the smells of the animals, the wood smoke from the chimneys, and the lingering cooking aromas from a home where we watched period meals being prepared by the historic reenactors earlier that day. The cold winter evening's air regretefully encouraged us to move on, arm-in-arm, to the front gate of the village and back to the modern world.
We've been to Greenfield Village many times before and since, and to many other historic villages and sites, but nothing has ever quite matched those few minutes when we imagined that we were the only people in Greenfield Village, and we felt for those few minutes that we weren't in the 20th Century, but were in a village in the 1850's, on a cold winter night just before Christmas.
76.16.252.98

Published: January 10, 2014 at 4:27 PM

I was at Epcot for the Segway tour a few years back. Left the family at AKL (they would take the bus later) and parked my rental car in the front row! There were a few families waiting to get in for the character breakfast at Norway but their turnstyle had yet to open. Mine was open and I was the first one through. The futuristic music was already turned on and it was just me all the way to guest relations. Couldn't help but feel like a movie character. Also got to explore World Showcase later on with just the other ten or so tourgoers. This time no music. Still an awesome experience,Segwaying through the empty shops in Morocco. Racing the others outside Italy. Lots of fun!
Michael Hudson

Published: January 10, 2014 at 7:38 PM

I worked as a ride operator, a janitor, and as a Hanna Barbera walk-around character (Hong Kong Fooey and Astro mostly) for Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia during the early 90s. I remember often getting chances to walk that park "alone"... either in the early morning or late late at night (depending on my shift). As a previous poster noted, its not the silence as much as the calm that makes the impression. Either way, it is a VERY cool experience. As an employee, you really got to appreciate all the nooks and crannies of the park. I'd find myself finding these places during these walks and sitting and just enjoying the alone time. Great experience!
24.0.107.191

Published: January 11, 2014 at 5:17 AM

I was fortunate to be in several private parties at work where the park was closed for special events.

However when my wife and I went to the Magic Kingdom, for the first time without our kids; We waited near Casey's on a bench until everyone left the park.

My wife was antsy as the crowds rushed out but I kept telling her to be patient and not to worry....we should not get into trouble. She fought the urge to leave while I laughed at what was to come.

Finally, the last few guests trickled out and we were able to walk down Main Street together looking back at the castle and enjoying the splendor.

We were parked at Epcot so we ended up riding the Monorail alone and when we got to the parking lot found that our car was the only one there.

It was a special night that she and I will always remember.

Roy A

Published: January 11, 2014 at 5:32 AM

I have been fortunate to be a guest, through work, at a few events where the park was closed for our group.

However, when my wife and I went to the Magic Kingdom for the first time, without out kids, at closing; we sat on a bench near Casey's and just waited for the crowd to go home.

My wife was antsy and kept saying 'shouldn't we go now' but I kept telling her to be patient and not to worry...we would not get in trouble.

After a while the last of the crowd trickled out and we were able to walk down Main Street almost alone, looking back at the castle and take in all of the park's splendor.

We were parked at Epcot and so we rode the Monorail alone.
When we got to the Epcot parking lot; we were the last car there.

It was a very special night that we will remember forever!

Eric Fisher

Published: January 11, 2014 at 9:33 AM

I was alone with a friend in an amusement park in 1978. We had gone to celebrate my birthday. I had visited this park with friends in May 1975 and had enjoyed it immensely. The Octopus ride operator had taken a liking to us, so he made sure that when he stopped the ride to let on new passengers we were at the top of the ride. This lasted for a good 20 minutes. "Ready to get off?" "Yes." "Bummer!" I rode my first Wild Mouse at this park. And the rollercoaster, one of only two (I found out later) remaining California coasters made by Prior and Church. But Belmont Amusement Park, in San Diego, CA, had closed (I lived over 100 miles away and (way before internet) had no idea.). You know the rest of the story. Thanks to A.C.E. and the City of San Diego, in 1997 the resurrected Giant Dipper became my wife's 1st major rollercoaster ride. God willing and the sea don't rise - what happened to me in 1978 will not happen again.
166.205.55.31

Published: January 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

My friend and I actually just went to Universal Orlando and IOA a couple days after Christmas. The place was flooded like wizarding world of Harry Potter opened up for the first time. Most rides were 80 minutes plus. We got so sick of people we hung out in city walk and people watched for an hour. That got boring so I tricked my friend into seeing grinchmas. Which was pretty good and killed an hour and a half. By then the park settled down to a regular busy day. But we stayed until closing time. We went on the Hogwarts ride right at 11 o'clock. That was scary in itself to walk through Hogwarts with no one else in there. The audio is ten times louder because no one else is there. And seeing the endless line of seats with no one on them was also weird. We got off and goofed off in the shop for a couple minutes. When we finally got out. It was baron. Nobody left except the occasional worker. And after seeing more people there than ever before that day, (I'm an annual pass holder and frequent visitor) that was by far the coolest thing I've ever seen in all my times going. It was just amazing having everything lit up and no one there. I recommend everyone stay till your park closes at least once. You'll be tires but you won't regret it.
Michelle Morgan

Published: January 11, 2014 at 8:51 PM

I used to love getting to DHS before opening when I worked there. So peaceful, clean, sparkling.... still dark outside and the lights were on down Hollywood Blvd. Best time of day, ever!

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