Bangle bracelets

Should you go to Disneyland alone? Yes, and here’s why.

It’s a problem that’s all too common among Disneyland superfans, especially those who live close enough to go there frequently: we want to go to the parks more often than our friends.

This brings up a question I see posted in online fangroups almost every day: go to Disneyland on your own or stay home?

People love judging park fans who go to Disneyland without kids, especially those they stigmatize as “Disney adults” – so I’ve gotten used to the funny looks I get when I say I go to the parks by myself. Personally, I don’t think it’s that weird. These days, a trip to Disneyland for me almost always involves story reporting – so at least part of my day will be spoken. But also, my friends who like to go to Disneyland like to go normally, which is a few times a year. I’m definitely not going to find someone to shell out $150 for a ticket once a week.

But the thing is, I learned to love a solo day at Disneyland. I can go at my own pace, do only what I feel like doing, and spend a lot more time soaking up the vibe than if I was with another person.

Want to ride Haunted Mansion three times in one day and skip almost every other ride? Ended. Want to skip the rides and go on a churro tasting expedition? Done and done. Think about how much of a given park day you spend waiting in line for rides you don’t really want to do, then think about how you’d rather spend that time. It’s the secret ingredient to spending a day alone at the park.

To be honest, I haven’t always felt that way. I started taking solo trips to Disneyland long before it was my job. I was new to California, alone and scared to start a new life and was looking for a way to feel better. The first few times I went there, I had to consciously overcome my fears and anxieties just to get in the car. I was afraid that people would judge me, feel sorry for me, look at me like something was wrong with me if they knew I was alone.

I see people expressing these same fears all the time in Disneyland groups on social media, and I’m here to say, get in the car and go.

In the midst of all this anxiety, I thought about how many times I’m alone, even when I go to Disneyland with people. We split up frequently, with one person queuing for a long ride and another picking up snacks to help us through the wait. I could easily be alone for half an hour at times like this. There are times when we don’t want to go on the same rides, or times when one of us needs to go to the bathroom and the others don’t. Even when I’m there with friends, there are many times when I’m alone.

So that’s what I thought to myself when I felt vulnerable in those early days: “I might just be separated from my friends right now. Nobody watching me knows anything other than that.”

It didn’t take long for me to stop needing that kind of comfort. Why? Because I realized that I had just as much fun alone. Sometimes, like when the group isn’t quite clicking on how we want to spend our time, I have more fun alone than with other people.

It’s because at Disneyland, you’re never really alone.

I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly talkative person, especially when it comes to strangers, but something changes inside the doors. Maybe it’s because everyone feels the energy in the air, or because we’re all here to intentionally create and experience joy. It becomes so easy for me to strike up a conversation with someone close to me. Recently, while waiting to board Tom Sawyer’s Island raft, a woman asked me about the Mickey bracelets I was wearing and we ended up talking during the 10 minute wait.

But I don’t always feel so sociable and I don’t always like going to Disneyland alone. On days like this, I treat myself to a sit-down meal. Even on busy days, it’s usually easy enough to sit at the bar in the Lamplight Lounge, with its gorgeous views of the lagoon, Incredicoaster launching into the sky and Pixar Pal-A-Round spinning at away, or at the always fun and festive Trader Sam’s. Even if I don’t want a cocktail, I still sit at the bar to eat, where the bartenders are friendly and there’s a friendly vibe in the air.

On the day Disneyland dropped its mask requirement, I felt particularly festive and sat down at the bar at Napa Rose for a glass of champagne and fancy dessert. I ended up talking to the restaurant manager for quite a while as I sipped, discussing the Disney family of wines, which is a full-fledged menu of selections from wineries owned by “Disney family” members like George Lucas, Kurt Russell and Fess Parker’s children.

I love moments like this. I may be lonely, but I still have interesting conversations with people all day.

That same day, I spoke to a family as we waited what seemed like forever in the Monsters, Inc. line. We all stood still as the cast members held the line, waiting for 10 Genie Plus users hang around Lightning Lane for about 20 minutes when no one in the queue could get in. (What that means is that they were rolling empty cars inside rather than letting in waiting guests.) You can guess what we might have been talking about.

If you’re nervous about taking the plunge on your own, there are meetup groups on Facebook for Disneyland fans who want to go alone but would love to be able to say hello to a friend while they’re there. But really, don’t worry. Just focus on all the single-driver lanes you can use and all the moments you can enjoy on your own.