What is the best way to visit a theme park?

August 11, 2019, 2:11 PM · When you visit a theme park, who goes with you?

Do you roll up in a big group or just with a few select friends? Do you visit with your immediate family or just a significant other? Or are you one of those theme park fans who lives by the single rider line and likes to visit solo?

If you go to parks often, as most Theme Park Insider readers do, you probably mix it up — visiting with different groups and occasionally by yourself. But I would like to know which way you prefer. In your experience, what is the best way to experience a theme park?

Now I also suspect that this answer might vary upon which park you are visiting and if you've ever been there before. Disney might be different from Universal which might be different from Six Flags. Yet some of you might instead prefer the comfort of routine and always visit with the same crew. I would love to hear your thoughts about visiting companions, in the comments.

But I also want to put this to a vote. So for that, select the option that best describes your ideal way to visit a park.

For me, the nature of this job dictates that I typically visit parks on my own. And I have come to love experiencing parks that way. In addition to using all those single riders lines, I can cut through crowds faster without companions and don't have to spend time deliberating on what to do next. I just go.

That said, I also can see how visiting solo can get lonely. I'm always thinking about what to write for you when I am in the parks, so I don't get bothered by loneliness, though I do get concerned from time to time that I need some companions so that I can give better advice about visiting in a group. I used to visit frequently with my family, but I fear that so many visits over the years have left them burned out on theme parks, so I have quit asking them to go. (Plus, my kids have long since grown up, too, which changes the dynamic.)

So how is it for you? Let's hear your analysis on what makes the perfect line-up for visiting a park.

Replies (10)

August 11, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Disney is completely wasted on children.

There. I said it!

My wife and I find that the two of us are the perfect combination for any theme park. No whining, no grizzling, no arguing, no complaining. We just enjoy our time there....

August 11, 2019 at 3:53 PM

I do tend to be off on my own more yet being there with family adds to the magic. Really felt great seeing my young niece and nephews experiencing it all and loved their reactions at character dinners and the rides.

August 12, 2019 at 6:49 AM

For many years I have gone with family. I have gone with a few extra "extended" family members in the past, and I can say that just immediate family is the best.

Last year I happened to meet up with a friend in Orlando, as we were both down there on business. We both love theme parks, so we spent a couple of days at Universal. Had an amazing time, as it was the first time I had been at a theme park and not been directly responsible for anybody other than myself, in nearly twenty years. We just used the single rider lines, I only had to worry about the menu for me at restaurants, hung out in pubs for "just one more" regularly, and only went on the rides I wanted to go on, and went on the ones I did as many times as I wanted. It was great.

But, for all the fun I was having, I couldn't help repeatedly thinking, "Aw...The kids would love seeing/doing this" over and over.

August 12, 2019 at 10:02 AM

While it's sometimes fun to go with someone - I met up with a friend in Orlando and we had a blast - on the whole I prefer visiting a theme park by myself because this enables me to follow my own agenda. No hassles, no compromises.

August 12, 2019 at 10:48 AM

I voted for a small group of friends, but in my heart, I wanted to vote for alone. Not because I am in any way antisocial. It's just that I enjoy photography and there are so many times I want to stop and really spend some time watching the scene and trying to find the perfect shot. That's extremely difficult with other people are involved.

August 12, 2019 at 11:14 AM

I can say this without any doubt, WDW is best without grumpy teenagers as FP+ is absolutely antagonist to that age group. FP+ is also antagonist to larger groups since people trail off, use restrooms, are late, etc. Universal and DL can be managed with multiple type groups, but WDW cannot. My sincere hope is the big announcement is that Disney is scrapping this system for something else.

August 12, 2019 at 11:57 AM

It really depends on the park. For Disney, I tend to visit with my wife, children, and grandchildren simply because it has a greater appeal to my wife and grandchildren. For Universal, I've been there about half of the time by myself and about half of the time with family. The grandkids are getting older, so they'll soon be more into Universal than Disney. With the coaster parks like Six Flags and Cedar Fair and the Busch Gardens/Sea World parks, I visit largely by myself since I catch them while I'm on a business trip.

August 12, 2019 at 7:37 PM

I have always traveled with family, usually a group of 4-6, with at least one of them being a child 8 or older. It’s great having child because you can see the twinkle in their eyes as the magic is completely real to them. It can add to the experience big time! But this past June I did multiple visits to Universal Hollywood solo and that was a very nice experience as well. The freedom by yourself doing what you want to do when you want to do it is great and cutting through people on the walking paths is a breeze without a group trailing behind! For me both experiences have pros and cons and ultimately just being in a theme park makes me happy which ever way I can get it! Lol

August 12, 2019 at 10:28 PM

With family, it largely depends on which members are there. If I'm with people who enjoy riding or at least enjoy the park experience, it's a great time. If I'm with people who don't particularly care about the visit or would rather be elsewhere, it's miserable. My preference is usually visiting with a small group of friends (no more than six total), particularly those who are also enthusiasts or friends who have not visited before. I also don't mind visiting solo when a park isn't crowded, but waiting in lines longer than 15-20 minutes gets incredibly boring when you're alone.

August 13, 2019 at 11:21 AM

@ Rob McCullough - good point about the photography. I didn't even take that into consideration but it certainly factors in. Over the weekend I was at a park with a new coaster and because I intended to write about it I felt obligated to take a large number of photographs from a number of different angles so that I'd have an adequate inventory from which to choose. Waiting for me to accomplish this would undoubtedly be a drag for anyone who happened to be with me.

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