Today, we have something a little special. Our good friend Kyle Burbank who writes THE E-TICKET LIFE at Laughing Place, has written a book all about his life of being a Disney nerd. Everyone who is a fan of MouseInfo can relate to that! In preparation for the book’s release later this summer he’s partnered with different Disney fan sites to share an exclusive preview each day this week.
As part of E-Ticket Week,we bring you an exclusive sneak peek at one of the essays from “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels”
For more information on the book and how you can preorder, be sure to head over to www.TheETicketLife.com
My visits to Disneyland vary greatly depending on the company I’m with. If I’m going with my friend Charlotte, nighttime entertainment and all E-Tickets are a must… including the ride she refuses to call by its real name, opting instead to call it “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.” When I visit with Chris and Josh, we will be checking out any recent refurbs and, if it’s May 4th, May 16, May 19, May 21, May 25, or any Lucas related date, we will definitely be visiting Star Tours… and taking a photo with the Cast Members out front. Then, if I’m with Luke, we will be meandering around looking for changes, visiting people… and not waiting more than 15 minutes for anything.
Considering how much of your Disney day is guided by your choice of company, going to a Disney Park solo can be a jarring change. Suddenly, instead of ride selections and meal breaks being a democratic process, such things are left to whim and impulse. In a society that so values individual expression in the face of any dissenting opinions, I find it surprising that more people don’t explore the theme parks on their own. Does it carry the same stigma of the table-for-one or seeing a film sans date?
The first time I went to Disneyland alone was when I got my first annual pass. Believe it or not, I actually researched the topic online before I considered making my trek out to California by myself. What I found was that, while not entirely common, people did in fact visit the parks alone.
Most of what makes these solo-outings feel strange is based on perception. Not just what we think of ourselves, but what we think others are thinking about us (did you get all that?). For this reason, the rides I had the hardest time bringing myself to do alone were in Fantasyland. This meant that even my favorite attraction, Peter Pan’s Flight, was off limits under my self-imposed rule. Eventually, Pan and neighboring attractions made their way onto my list of acceptable single rider attractions, although Dumbo and Casey Junior were still a no-go.
You’re not a true single rider until you’ve been sworn in as one. How exactly does one pledge such an allegiance? When you get to the front of the queue and the Cast Member asks, “How many here?” and you are forced to reply, “One” or, “Just me,” congratulations — you’ve made it. The first couple of times, your inflection might be a bit on the sheepish side, but have no fear. With some practice, you’ll be The Wolf of Main Street in no time… if there were rides on Main Street.
Of course, being a single rider actually has a lot of benefits. I doubt most people realize that on several E-Ticket attractions utilizing the single rider line can often trump having a FastPass. Plus, the feeling of entering through the exit of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain and getting to climb over the bridge that transports you to the proper side of the queue never gets old.
Maybe it does take a certain type of person to enjoy venturing to a theme park alone. I’d like to think it takes someone who’s secure enough with themselves to look past the sometimes-judgmental looks. While some might think that single riders are anti-social, I’d argue that my experiences as one reflect some of my most extroverted moments.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few hiccups in the plan. There’s always sure to be that party whom, upon you taking the third seat in their Radiator Springs Racer vehicle, gives you a look that screams, “I think you’re supposed to wait behind the gate.” Then there’s the family of five on Splash Mountain that will forever have a photo on their refrigerator of all of them plus the one weirdo in the hoodie they wish could have been airbrushed out.
Perhaps us hoodie-wearing weirdos should start a support group. But instead of bemoaning our Disney addictions, we can stand boldly and affirm each other’s dedication to following no man’s itinerary other than our own. For we are the few, the proud: the single riders.