Home > A Time In The Life > A Day In The Life: Single Rider at Animal kingdom

A Day In The Life: Single Rider at Animal kingdom

Expedition Everest's Single Rider Entrance

So I reused the frame. It was a good trick!

There are few places in the world that I personally find as enjoyable to share as Walt Disney World. It’s a resort that isn’t meant to be experienced alone, but then again, what great experience is? All things are made better by others after all, aren’t they? Well, no, not everything, but in this case I just couldn’t imagine doing Disney alone. Thankfully, at Walt Disney World, if nowhere else, I can make sure that I’m never quite alone. Even if I start my journey by myself passing through the turnstiles, I know and can expect to have spent a good time amongst friends and acquaintances by the end.

Not everyone comes to Disney with a full compliment, some people are always a bit odd. They have an empty seat that is left that way whether by chance, circumstance, or choice. At Disney, it doesn’t matter why it’s empty, just that it is. And so, for the duration of a ride, I fill that empty space whether they wanted it or not. I’m the one who rounds out the oddness and makes it something more.

This is a day in the life of a Single Rider at Animal Kingdom.

I’m not a fan of doing Disney by myself, as I stated above, it’s not that it’s a bad experience, it’s just so much of it works best with a group. It’s funny to get chosen to be on the stage during a comedy show, but it’s more fun when your friends and family are there to tease you afterwards. I find the better park to enjoy by yourself is Universal Studios, not the least of which is that a lot of Universal lacks the imagination and atmosphere that Disney pioneered. That’s a different post, and Universal has been getting better, while Disney has been slacking, but it’s hard to completely destroy 40 years of magic already in place, no matter who’s in charge.

Of course, that’s what makes it so easy to slip into the role of Single Rider at Disney as well. There are very few people I find, most of them in my own family, who cannot simply open up and feel a bit more friendly when surrounded by the atmosphere Disney puts out. Universal, even with a group, is really a solitary experience. It’s the ride for the ride’s sake. Disney is something more than that, it always has been, and hopefully alway will be.

I guess I should at least explain what Single Rider is though, in a bit less poetic detail. A Single Rider is essentially Disney’s way of filling up those empty seats that plague their turnover rate. It’s really not a very magical reality, but basically it lets Disney get more people on, as well as creating a nice short line for those willing to do it, and a lot of people are willing. There’s actually a few different types of people you’ll find in Single Riders, ranging from the lone figure, like myself this time around, to the group who has already done the Queue and just wants to ride again.

Regardless of the reasons though, it really is an experience unlike any other. For one brief moment I was their friend. There will always be those few cases where you’re basically waiting out the end of the ride in uncomfortable silence, I don’t deny that. Most of the time though, if one is willing to strike up a conversation or break the ice, they’ll be rewarded with a brief but engaging conversation with the friend almost eager to talk, joke, and laugh with their plus one that they never knew they needed.

Expedition Everest

I'm getting my money's worth on this frame!

Expedition Everest is one of the best examples of being a Single Rider, there’s a quick but pacing line, idle time once you’ve been slotted into a row, and a good build up towards the main event that offers lots of chances to converse. The fact it’s a thrill-ride only makes it a better choice, with many people nervous and wanting an experienced hand to help calm their nerves. Of course, before you even get there, the real experience of the Single Rider begins where it properly should, with a Cast Member.

The Cast Members are as much a part of the atmosphere as anything else, and though most will be friendly the first time through, your second or third time through the same line will begin to get comments and talk from them that really helps one open up. It’s their job, but it’s an important one, today I had this rather tall fellow asking me how many times I’d rode it since he had seen me pass through the Single Rider line earlier and was now at the exit platform for Everest. It was social and friendly, it made my day.

Once you slip past the Cast Member though, one is of course left with the line. Sometimes a line is just a chore, especially when alone, but occasionally one gets to chatting with other soon to be fill-ins and really get along. The line is likely to be longer than the ride itself, the people you meet there are also more likely to be there next time around as well. Getting to know them, being able to talk to them is really one of the best parts of the ride. My latest adventure had me bumping into a Cast member from the Port Orleans Resort. A local! It was certainly one of the more memorable meets I had, and it lasted for all of a queue.

That’s the way of it, short-term friendships that last just long enough. I muse on the idea occasionally of seeing about turning some of them longer, and in the past have managed to make relationships that lasted the whole day. That’s not really the point though, there’s something liberating about making friends and meeting new people, people that I may never even catch the name of, and realizing for that moment that I’m not alone.

It’s no less amazing once you get onto the ride itself. One has a moment as a single rider to study the groups coming through, waiting for that next person to lift up an odd number of fingers in response to how many in their party. A brief moment to look at whom one will be sitting with before being quickly told to follow along and join up with them. Usually conversations start whole still waiting to board, random talk about this or that, where they’ve been, where they’re going next. The bond is quick, it has to be, it’s only going to last for the next three or so minutes.

I actually had an amusing experience today, where I ran into a family of a man and his two children. There was the expected awkwardness when the young girl understandably switched with her father when I was put into her row. People are shy, it’d be wrong to consider it an offense. That led into a fun conversation that ended quickly once we were all off. I then met the same family, this time riding with the Mother the very next trip. It was a bit of a fortuitous baby swap and a bit of lucky coincidence. I didn’t get to talk to them much after, but I hope they found it amusing enough during the day.

I don’t like doing Disney alone, but as a Single Rider I never really am. It’s an experience I heartily recommend for those who need it in a pinch for when they don’t have anyone else to go with. Sometimes it’s fun to just be friendly and happy with other people, people never to be seen again; people that can be called friends, for that one ride around the track. No names, no commitments, but memories that’ll last for quite a while.

On an unrelated note, around the third time riding, it gets really hard not to try and make funny and amusing poses during the picture. By the eighth, one begins to debate how hard it’d be to do this.

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Categories: A Time In The Life Tags: ,
  1. January 20, 2011 at 3:24 am

    I’m finding myself musing on the concept of single-serving friends mentioned by Bukowski in Fight Club. The whole ‘Single Rider’ thing–since I haven’t been to Disneyland since 1995, and never to Disneyworld–is something I’d never even contemplated, and it’s a cool idea.

    As far as the xkcd comic goes, I get where the rest of the pictures come from, but I think it’s becoming one of those ‘oh man that would be so KEWL!’ internet fads, and it’s losing its unique punch.

    I grant full props to the guys playing cards–that takes dedication!–and the Captain in the helicopter, though, for preserving the cool in different ways.

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