People typically associate theme parks with family vacations. But should you visit a theme park on your own?
Of course! Theme parks can accommodate groups from one up to, well, however many were in that small army that I saw blocking about half of Main Street at Disneyland yesterday. Going solo does not diminish the experience at all. In fact, visiting alone might make your theme park visit even better than going with a group.
Almost all of my theme park trips these days are solo visits, so I know what it's like to be in the parks alone... except that I am never alone, being surrounded by thousands of other theme park fans. Because of those crowds, though, visiting solo offers some real advantages. Such as...
Single rider lines
Almost every major park offers single rider lines on select attractions, allowing you to bypass most of the wait before riding. Parks use single rider queues to fill in the empty seats between other parties on roller coasters and other rides, so that they can send every ride vehicle out to maximum capacity.
That reduces overall wait times, but it really cuts the wait for people who go through the single rider line. Always ask about a single rider option when visiting alone and entering a queue with a long wait time. Here is a list of rides with single rider lines at America's most popular theme parks.
Navigating a crowded park
Cutting through the crowds is much easier when you are moving by yourself instead of in a group. How many times have you found your way blocked by a family that has decided to walk through the parks hand-in-hand and side-by-side? It's like walking into a rugby scrum. But as a solo visitor, you can cut around those roadblocks without having to coordinate with anyone else. You're a motorcycle on the 405, cutting through the traffic jam.
Want to blitz to the other side of the park? Or would you rather meander across a path you've never taken before and enjoy the sights alone the way? You don't need to put that up for a debate or a vote. Just do what you want. Will you cut to the right or the left around the army on Main Street? It's your call. There's no one else in your group to fight with over what to do next, or how to get there.
You almost never have to wait for the next show
When I worked attractions at the Magic Kingdom, part of my job was cutting off the line and making people wait for the next show, raft, etc. When I was asking people near the cut-off point how many people were in their party, I never cut the line in front of someone who answered, "one." In fact, even on rides without official single rider queues, operators often call for parties of one or two to skip ahead in the line so that they can fill a ride vehicle. Visiting solo just gets you on rides faster, all around.
You can go pretty far away when you're paying for just one airfare
It's not just inside the park that visiting solo offers advantages. If you are the one paying for the family vacation, just wait until the kids are grown and you don't have to pay for them to fly to Orlando anymore. Then you can use that money you would have spent on their airline tickets to visit Disney in Paris or Tokyo, instead. Or maybe you can afford to visit Disneyland and Disney World in the same year.
Granted, what you save by buying only one airline ticket, you might give back in value by staying by yourself in a hotel. The good news there is that traveling alone gives you more flexibility in booking rooms, as you only need the one bed. Go for the cheapest acceptable option and rest easy knowing that you've got the whole room to yourself. Which, more importantly, means you have the whole hotel bathroom to yourself, too. No more sharing!
You blend right into that crowd
Theme parks are typically crowded destinations, filled with thousands of separate families, groups, and solo visitors. If you have any level of social anxiety, you can visit a theme park alone in comfort because you'll won't stand out as a solo traveler there.
No one cares if you are visiting a park by yourself. Heck, even if you're waiting in a single rider line or picking up lunch by yourself at a restaurant window, many people will probably assume that you're just part of some other group anyway. People rolling solo are all over the place at any given moment in a park. If you want to blend into the crowd and be anonymous, you can. If you want to be social and try to chat up people around you in line, you can. You can visit a theme park however you want, and no one else will notice or care.
Far from being an inappropriate place to visit alone, theme parks are the perfect destination for solo travel.
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