How to enjoy Disneyland as a 'Single Rider'

February 13, 2017, 11:44 AM · Is it okay to visit a theme park alone? Is flying solo at a place like Disneyland as much fun when you are not sharing those moments with a friend of loved one?

That's one of the classic debates among theme park fans. At least, it's a debate among people who haven't yet gone it alone to a park. I visit Disneyland and other theme parks solo all the time, and I actually find it way more convenient to visit on my own: it's faster and easier to walk through crowds, there's no debate over what to do next, and those single rider lines help me skip a lot of wait time.

But this is a discovery that each theme park must make on his or her own. And that's the topic of a new short film I just watched — Single Rider.

Create by college film student Kace Colwell, Single Rider lured me with a clever set-up that actually made me laugh at a couple's break-up. (You'll understand when you watch it.) From there, the film lays out a blend of fictional narrative and video travel blog that plays like a love letter to Disneyland.

"I went through a rough breakup last year, had recently moved to California, and didn't know a ton of people here, so it was great to have Disneyland nearby to escape from reality," Kace told me in an email. As a film student, Kace shot the movie guerrilla-style between September an December of last year.

"I'm used to working on student films in a somewhat controlled environment, so this was kind of a different experience, but at the same time I've been making short dumb YouTube videos out in public for years, so making Single Rider was really just taking skills I picked up filming those and attempting to take them to the next level," Kace said.

The video says it's "Episode 1," and Kace is waiting to gauge reaction before committing to episode 2.

"If there's enough interest, I would love to make more episodes of the show. Now that I know more people interested in filmmaking I think I have the potential to make something more cinematic; I'm just not sure if I want to go to the trouble of filming a narrative short at a theme park again unless a fair amount of people will watch it," Kace said. "Otherwise, I have my sights set on a surreal sci-fi short about social media."

Replies (14)

February 13, 2017 at 12:33 PM · "All the single riders, aaaalll the single riders." - Beyonce
February 13, 2017 at 1:15 PM · I had a solo trip last year. Loved it. Talked to a lot of nice people, great cast members, lovely table mates at the WOC dessert party... I thought it would be weird, but it really wasn't.
February 13, 2017 at 1:49 PM · Being a single rider made me appreciate that I barely ride anything with a family in tow. Seriously, bathroom breaks, snack breaks, meal breaks, smoothie breaks, character meet and greets, shows, princesses, no scary rides, and always do Winnie the Pooh and Pinocchio. Of course, I had fond memories of doing Tower of Terror multiple times when it first opened in the early 2000s. I had only one ride last year before it closed and I was a single rider.
February 13, 2017 at 2:24 PM · My company has a corporate office in Brea, near Disneyland. I can't always take them along, but I often make sure to tack on an extra day to my business trips so I can spend some time in Disneyland. (My company has a lenient travel policy, so I only have to pay the difference in lodging and car rental. No funny business here.)
February 13, 2017 at 4:01 PM · Went to Universal Hollywood solo and it was fun. Would prefer the family, but it was still a blast. Later was at Orlando with family. Family decided to go back to hotel to swim. Too cold for me. I decided to remain at the park and discovered the Forbidden Journey's single rider at closing time. Rode it five times in just over 30 minutes. The next morning the operators remembered me with the family. Been to Magic Mountain as a single rider. Awful experience. Another trip the family was in line for Gringotts. Noticed a man solo in line with us. Told him, "you know there is a single rider line?" That made his day. Some parks do it great, and some do not. I will say there is definitely an economies of scale. At some point if you try to do a park with too big a group, you will never accomplish anything. You should always have a rule that it is OK for people to branch out to do what they want, especially if there is a person that does not enjoy certain attractions.
February 13, 2017 at 4:42 PM · What a fabulous post and video! My first visit to Disneyland was in December 2014, I flew out there, stayed in a nearby hotel, and went to the parks 4 days straight - completely solo. It was also my 1st visit to the west coast (live in Florida) and it was truly a magical experience. I have always done things alone, other that nobody would do. I am comfortable and confident enough to go shopping alone, to the movie theatre alone, theme parks alone, the beach, alone, and event to (some) restaurants. My first visit to Disneyland was so incredible. The crowds were very light, the single rider lines were extremely helpful, and I was able to go to the parks from 8am - 11pm everyday with nobody to drag me down or stop me. I got to eat at all the restaurants I wanted, ride some things 20+ times, and simply do whatever I wanted. Doing theme parks alone allows you to set your own pace and do whatever you want, whenever you want. I am a total fan of being a single rider.
February 13, 2017 at 10:05 PM · I love going alone. No one to check with about eating or bathroom breaks. I ride what I like and people are so nice.

I agree...too many people is like herding cats. You never get anything done.

February 14, 2017 at 12:15 PM · The sense of freedom in visiting a theme park solo is unparalleled. Although I've had some good visits when in someone's company - most notably that of someone who tragically passed away in October - for the most part I prefer to be on my own for some of the aforementioned reasons. The last time I visited a park with someone there were so many complications that I could write a story about it.
February 14, 2017 at 1:14 PM · I had a great solo day in Disney World during a Dutch group tour (Houston - Miami) back in 2008. Since the tour included only one full day in Orlando/Kissimmee and the other people on the trip opted for Magic Kingdom, I chose to combine Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on my own. I had a great day, explored all the animal trails and rode all the rides in AK several times (incl. Kilimanjaro Safaris) and hopped over to Hollywood Studios for several rides on Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster plus Star Tours, the Great Movie Ride. Even managed to see the Indiana Jones Stunt Show en Finding Nemo musical at AK, even though I'm not that into shows. As you can see, I still remember that single rider day vividly. :-)
February 14, 2017 at 3:13 PM · There are definitely pros and cons to visiting a park solo, and depending on what you're looking to do it is absolutely worth considering. For me, if it is a park that I've visited in the past and I just want to ride rides as quickly as possible, visiting solo is absolutely the way to go. However, I always prefer visiting with others if either it is a new park to me or a new park to them, as it is fun to compare reactions and see how everyone's opinions differ. This leads to a caveat: It is more important who you are visiting with than whether you are visiting with others or how many you're with. I can go to Six Flags Magic Mountain with a large group of people who all have similar interests and have a way better time than I ever would solo, but if I were to visit Disneyland with a single friend who wasn't that into it I'd probably prefer to be alone. My preferred way to visit is in a small to medium sized group (2-6...more than that tends to complicate things) who all have similar priorities for how to approach the park, but when that's not possible I'd rather go solo than go with others who may enhance certain parts of the day (particularly waiting in lines) but overall could decrease enjoyment.
February 14, 2017 at 5:01 PM · My major issue with single rider lines is when a large group, family, or couple use them to avoid the wait time of the regular line. When they reach the ride vehicles they inevitably complain about being split up and how they can't possibly ride by themselves with "strangers". Then the cast members succumb to their pleas and allow them to ride together therefore reinforcing the negative behavior.

In a perfect themepark world you would have to sign a waiver and wear a wristband that indicates that you understand the purpose of the single rider line and will abide by the rules for it. I'm not sure if it would completely eliminate this behavior, but providing extra steps that a person would have to do in order to become a single rider might negate the extreme scenarios of it.

It sounds ridiculous, but for anyone like me that has tried to ride Gringotts or Hannah Montana's Rock'n Roller Coaster by themselves in the single rider line becomes frustrated when they see the line consists mainly of groups and families all attempting to one-up the regular line wait time. Instead they have only accomplished driving up the wait in the single rider line and have made the wait longer for themselves as well.

I appreciate having the option to use the single rider line when I'm traveling alone. When it is being used the right way it's great. Seats that would normally be empty are filled. I've noticed the last couple of years in Orlando that both Universal and Disney's single lines are being populated more by folks trying to game the system (and complain and get their way to ride together) rather than people that are truly on their own.

February 14, 2017 at 7:24 PM · Family vacations are too much together time. We routinely do single rider for both the speed and ability to meet other people. Then compare notes after the ride
February 15, 2017 at 12:06 PM · I've always leaned toward being on my own more as it's just so much more freeing. I mean, I love my family and great doing Disney with them but just feel better out there on my own, able to go where I want and either pick it up to get to rides or just take my time and enjoy the sights.

In fact, that's a great thing when you're on your own, more time to really enjoy the park around you, the details, the environment and such. I notice things on my own I don't when around a group and makes me admire the detail Disney or Universal puts in. Plus, the sheer convenience of being able to slip into a line much easier.

So yeah, love going with family but really, being on your own does help you appreciate the parks even more.

February 20, 2017 at 10:51 AM · I love going to the parks with family and friends, but I also love going solo every once in a while. You have the opportunity to see and do more, and just relax. Not having to worry about where everyone wants to eat, what rides they want to go on, etc., is a nice relief a few times a year. :)

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