Save Time When You Go Solo, with Single Rider Lines at Disney and Universal
These past 18 months, I have been fortunate enough to visit the theme parks in California on three different occasions and in the Orlando area once. And three of these times, I found myself in a situation most people frown upon in mostly any given moment in their lives — I was utterly by myself, spending my days alone while enjoying the theme parks.
If you are one of the many people that flinch at the thought of being by yourself, this is definitely not the experience for you. But if you are open to the idea, then being alone at a theme park could go to the top of your "To Do List." The freedom of choice in a place with so many options is an intoxicating feeling. You can choose your best route through the park, stop to eat or take a break whenever you want, and go over and over on the rides you like without compromising with anyone else. (Eight consecutive times at Men in Black Alien Attack is my personal record.)
Naturally, theme parks are well-aware of this and have created a concept that is not strictly for our use, but does serve us perfectly well — the Single Rider line, a resource so important for "loners" as a Fastpass or Universal Express.
The Single Rider line at Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure can save you a lot of time over waiting in the standby queue.
Life is definitely not the same when you are a Single Rider at Disney or at Universal, however. It might not seem so at a first glance, but it is shocking how much more we are respected and even appreciated at Universal theme parks when you chose the Single Rider option.
At Universal Orlando Resort, for example, there are nine official Single Rider lines, including most their top attractions. And other rides, such Jurassic Park River Adventure and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, sometimes accommodate Single Riders during their busiest times. In Walt Disney World's four theme parks, only three attractions offer Single Rider lines. (In California, Disney’s selection is a bit bigger, due to Disney California Adventure.) It’s a big difference, one that you can feel when being alone at the parks.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Single Rider options offered at Disney and Universal parks in the United States:
In Central Florida
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Universal Studios Florida
- Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit
- Men in Black: Alien Attack
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Islands of Adventure
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
- Doctor Doom's Fearfall
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Incredible Hulk Coaster
In Southern California
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Splash Mountain
Disney California Adventure
- California Screamin'
- Soarin' Over California
- Grizzly River Run
- Goofy's Sky School
- Radiator Springs Racers
Universal Studios Hollywood
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Jurassic Park: The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
I dare say that, after these recent trips, I’ve gotten the feeling that Universal treats the Single Riders in a slightly better way. No, Disney can never be rude to its guests. But when I’m using the Single Riders lines at Universal I feel like I am in a win-win situation. “Hey I’m all alone here. Why don’t you help me go through this line faster, since I’ve got no one to talk to while waiting, and I’ll help you out by filling in this empty seat that nobody was going to use anyway?”
It may sound silly at first, but this thinking leads to better and faster Single Rider lines. I’ve never seen a Universal employee think twice before loading one or even two people from these lines onto empty seats at, say, Revenge of the Mummy or Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. And I've definitely seen, over and over again, cast members at Disney desperate to find a couple anywhere in line at rides such as Matterhorn Bobsleds instead of choosing two Single Riders – even if it means getting someone from way, way down line, near Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage! There were at least two occasions in this attraction in which guests who entered the regular line at the same exact time as I did got into the roller coaster first, rode it and left waving goodbye to me while I was still there, waiting for my turn at the Single Rider line.
I do know there is a matter of how many seats the attraction has - people in theme parks tend to travel in group with even numbers, so rides with three seats per row usually need more Single Riders. And let's not forget the matter of physical space, since one has to open up space to provide for Single Rider lines. But why can't Disney provide better service in the rides where it already offers this option?
Disney is surely powerful enough in this business to create its own standards. So why follow a trend that they obviously do not care for? Even though I’m a hardcore Disney park fan, I’ve found myself on more than one occasion leaving Disneyland Park or Magic Kingdom feeling that I could have done so much more if they provided better Single Rider options. This is an area in which, for me, Universal definitely has gotten the upper hand. By far.
I have to completely agree with you on this one, Renata. Universal certainly treats its single rider guests better than Disney.
I'm just back from a solo trip to Orlando and I had an amazing time! Universal and IOA are on top of their single rider game. They were so efficient and the single rider was a huge positive for me.
Yeah, I myself have been planning to do a trip by myself to Disney and/or another theme park. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and traveling with others can be fun, but traveling alone has a multitude of benefits outside of Single Rider lines.
I've never understood people who cant go places alone. Although I love sharing my experience with loved ones, I also enjoy doing things alone. It's quite liberating doing only what you want and not checking with anybody else.
I couldn't agree more with this article. I am constantly traveling solo (by choice!) Andy love it, so when I am in the theme parks, i feel as if I am getting on rides much more efficiently at Universal than at Disney My record on HP and the forbidden Journey is 9 times within 90 minutes!!!!
I agree with the writer on single riders. We don't use it at Universal much since we usually have hotel express, but we do it on Gringott's, which doesn't have express lines, and we're usually on the ride in a few minutes. It's great for repeat rides. We used the single lines at WDW during the past two weeks since they have their wacky tiered fast pass system that limits fp's for most of the good attractions at Epcot & DHS. We rode Test Track (which I like "way" better than the former version) six times, and Aerosmith three times. While it helped shorten the crazy long lines at those attractions, it still was a fairly long 30 minute wait. Even fastpass lines were usually pretty long on most attractions during the past two weeks. For those who may think that October is a slow month at WDW, rethink it. Lines were comparable to summer & Christmas season. Touring Plans recorded the first series of Level 10 crowds outside of Christmas/Easter/Summer since they've been doing the crowd levels. Magic Kingdom & DHS (front area since the back area is nearly empty of people)were almost impossible to walk through between the crowds, strollers and electric vehicles. Looks like there are no more slow seasons.
Yes, Universal is great on this. Rode Forbidden Journey five times in 45 minutes during a busy time, but please stop telling people. Actually, forget what I just said. Please look at this watch...you are getting drowsy...there is no single rider line...there is no single rider line...
One time I saw the single rider line for Jurassic Park, and it was longer than the regular line, The best line is probably the studio tour's two person line
I couldn't agree more with matterhorn. I waited probably a half an hour when I was only 3 people bach in line. I was annoyed for sure. The other single rider lines where no problem though.
In Anaheim, the Matterhorn and Soarin' single rider queues are notorious for being slow, sometimes even slower than the standby line. Cast Members would definitely choose a party of two over single riders, even if it means pulling them from somewhere far from the end of the line.
Single rider works great for couples also, I mean once you get on the ride how much time are you going to have for talking?
Good article! I usually go to parks alone for some of the reasons you mention, such as the freedom to follow my own agenda; not many people would want to ride El Toro 10 times in a row, which I have done. I think that single rider lanes are great but find that they vary considerably in terms of the wait time and do not always guarantee being able to get on a ride quickly. The quickest I've experienced were those for Impulse at Knoebels and Maverick at Cedar Point. The slowest thus far has been the single rider lane for Wicked at Lagoon. Most of those waiting in the regular queue were in groups of 2 or 4 so that there weren't a lot of seats to fill in. I didn't have to use the single rider lane for Cannibal b/c the park extended me every possible courtesy for this ride but b/c Lagoon's policy for all rides is that single riders may not ride in the first or last row of any ride, a single rider would have to wait until there was an empty seat in the 2nd row. (Cannibal's trains have 3 rows.) While the single rider lane does expedite access to Zumanjaro at Six Flags Great Adventure, I have on occasion had to wait for half a dozen rides to be completed before boarding b/c the ride ops tend to load from the main queue and will usually pick only one person - more if there's an empty seat to be filled - from the single rider lane.
Every theme park in the world should utilize single rider lines on any attraction that has the ability to facilitate it. As noted above, the single rider line for Men in Black is one of the best, and those "in the know" can expedite their way back to the loading area even faster without having to walk back through the full line (assuming the crew are cool with it - I've run across some crew members that get upset and will deliberately make you wait before going down the stairs if they know you're taking the "short-cut"). For me, the Gringott's line was one of the worst. Part of that might have been technical issues with the attraction when I was visiting last fall, but much of it is that many many people know about that particular line (more than any other one) to avoid the 75+ minute standby line. I waited over 45 minutes in the single rider line once for Gringotts last October. On the other hand, the Forbidden Journey single rider line is great (and a bit of a secret because you go up an unmarked stairway that many don't know even exist. Best of all, if you don't want to miss all the amazing stuff in the standby queue, you can ask a crew member to give you the "tour of Hogwarts", which is a queue next to the standby queue that goes through all of the rooms for you to see without having to stand in the standby line (great way to pass the time on a hot day too, btw).
As a frequent solo visitor, I tend to use Single Rider lines a lot (particularly at my local So Cal parks). While they are a great benefit in 9 out of 10 cases, it is really interesting to see how different implementation can be. As stated in the post, USH seems to do the best job with them in my experience, and even on days where regular lines are over an hour I've never waited more than 20 minutes in single rider at this park (and it's usually under 10). They are definitely very liberal about pulling from the single rider line and it is rare to not have at least one in each ride vehicle.
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