A couple of weeks ago M had to go to Southern California for a conference near LA in Anaheim, home of Disneyland. Having a solid love of Disney films and scores for years but never having been to a Disney park before, I decided to tag along and see The Happiest Place on Earth for myself… solo.
I wouldn’t dream of going to Alton Towers or the like alone, but I was curious about that so-called Disney magic, having grown up watching school friends take trips to Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris. Fast forward several years and friends and fellow bloggers are getting engaged under the turrets of Sleeping Beauty’s castle and having Mickey Mouse officiate their wedding, piquing my interest in a place that adults seem to enjoy just as much as children.
Nevertheless, while I was ready to let the magic of Disney wash over me, I was dubious; the extreme commercialism, the overpriced snacks, little girls wearing princess dresses making me want to scream “you can be so much more than a princess!” It was a lot to take in. But… witnessing two marriage proposals before 9am can soften even the most skeptical of hearts.
I did have fun and went on around 15 rides (Indiana Jones being a highlight), even briefly being taken under the wing of two senior citizen sisters when I happened to mention I was there alone. The candy-coloured storefronts of Main Street USA reminded me of San Francisco’s painted ladies, Tomorrowland allowed me to nerd out on rides like Toy Story, and everyone I encountered was so friendly and polite. Weird as it sounds, I was even a little proud that I went solo – a few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing so – and even if it wasn’t The Happiest Place on Earth for me (Tulum, Mexico still holds that title) it was a fun and unique experience.
Tips for solo travelers
If you’re thinking about heading to a Disney park for the first time and you’re doing it solo like me, here are some handy hints:
♥ Take advantage of Single Rider passes – these can be obtained from staff outside some of the most popular rides, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. A pass will allow you to skip to the front and fill spaces on a ride, saving you anywhere upwards of 20+ minutes compared to queuing up in the regular line.
♥ Make friends with park photographers – these pros are there to take your photo and while strictly it’s for the park’s PhotoPass service, hand them your phone and they’ll happily take a couple of shots on that, too. On this note, offer to take a group’s photo if they’re struggling get that selfie – they can then repay the favour for you.
♥ Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious – sure, most guests were families, groups or couples, but they’re all to busy working out who wants to go on what ride and what time they should take a snack break to give you side eye.
♥ Go at your own pace – there’s no one holding you back from going on your favourite ride three times in a row, or taking time out for a second scoop of ice cream, so enjoy taking in the park in your own way.