Losing mom a year and a half ago was devastating, but we are all learning to continue living, as we know Mom would have wanted. Our father is no exception. Recently our Dad had the chance to house sit and preach at a friend’s church in the Anaheim area. He wasn’t sure about making the trek to Disneyland solo since we had just visited the parks as a family in March. However, it didn’t take much cajoling to get him to the park by himself. Here are his thoughts on how to do Disney solo!
The question: should you go to a Disney Park by yourself?
Many factors and feelings come into play when making that decision: your current relationship status, your personality, and your love of Disney Parks to name a few. My purpose in writing this? To invite you into a conversation so you don’t rule something out before weighing the options.
My wife of 41 wonderful years passed away in April of 2021. She loved Disney Parks. I love Disney parks. We started taking our daughters, the ones who contribute to this blog, to Disneyland for the first time in July of 1988 when Erica was six, Heidi was four, and Elisia was months old. She was obviously too young to remember us pushing her around in a stroller and me putting her in a snugly and wearing her from her last feeding until we closed down the Park.
Where it all began
As a family, we have visited Disneyland multiple times. We joined Lottie’s family including her parents in 1992 (which, by the way, was the first time we went to the Park twice in one holiday). We had so much fun, we did the same with my parents a couple years later. In 2002, when the older two were dating, we camped on Harbour Blvd so we could accommodate the two boys who shared a tent and the girls shared another. Once again, we drove to our family “Happy Place” in 2006, 2009 (where Daniel proposed to Elisia at Snow White’s Grotto just outside the main gates of Cinderella’s Castle on the right going in), and from there I lose track; we went almost every year.
Lottie and I created Disney fans that has given rise to this blog and Erica being a Travel Agent specializing in all things Disney. We all know Disneyland like the back of our hand. Any one of us could be guides. We all learned from the best: my wife and now my girls are passing on Disneyland savvy to their kids. Lottie once said to me, “You know, we will be schlepping (German for taking) our kids and grand kids to Disneyland until we can’t go any more.
Even with their mother gone, we all continue to love going to Disney Parks. Some have asked why we continue to return year after year. My answer is simple: Disneyland is not a place per se but a backdrop for priceless times together as family. The fun begins with the planning, continues when we are there even in lineups, and the memories that are beyond priceless.
That brings me back to the original question: should you go to a Disney Park by yourself?
My answer is “Yes!”
I have recent experience in doing Disneyland by myself. Our entire family had been down for our Memorial trip in March and when I received an invitation to house sit in Anaheim for two weeks, I initially said “I don’t need to go.” Then I reconsidered and decided to spend a day in Disneyland and another in Disney California Adventure. I am so glad I made that choice.
Here are some thoughts that I hope might help the person going alone:
Check your attitude
Decided beforehand that you are going to enjoy the day and immerse yourself in the “magic” of the park. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are as happy as they choose to be.” Let the Disney Park truly be your “Happy Place.”
Have a plan
If you are new to one of the Parks, study the map so you have landmarks that will help you make the most of your visit. Whether you are new or an old hand, start by going deep into the park and pick off as many of the “big attractions” as possible before noon. Don’t dart from one part of the park to another but move systematically through the Park. Single Rider lines are perfect for this kind of trip as well!
I have so many places in Disneyland that are very dear to me. One of my strongest and earliest memories is Autopia with my mom letting me “drive” and the cast member putting the seat belt across her pregnant belly. This became so special because my Mom went into early labour a month later and my little brother did not make it. When I am at Autopia, I have a little “visit” with my Mom and little brother. Another special place is “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” and I make sure I see that attraction and feel my Grandfather close. (My kids now do the same because I included them in the experience and one day they will feel as I do about my grandfather. In addition, create new memories and special places. I did that recently by marking strong memories of my wife and our family grouping up that I will revisit in my mind for years to come. And I have memories of my solo visit that are equally precious.
Take lots of pictures
With smart phones, I took selfies in various places and posted them so my family back home could share the experience with me. (Elisia tracked me all day in both parks and know where I was before I posted. She was with me virtually and so I was not “alone.” I cannot say how meaningful that was.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself
So you are there alone. Make the best of it! I made sure I got myself a Dole Whip in Disney and a Ghirardelli Sunday. I made sure that when going on certain rides to remember which daughter enjoyed that ride the most. If you don’t have kids, choose a favourite ride and when you come back, you can have a little “visit with yourself.
Make conversations with people in the lineup
This may be a personality thing, but I enjoy light conversation with people in the line next to me. Read the people but most are willing to engage when asked “Where are you folks from?” I have a “sign on my back” that says “I am open and how can I help you?” I will ask them if this is their first time in a Disney Park and if so, I offer some tips to enjoy the day. I met a couple on the Grizzly Rapids ride from Palestine and Syria. I struck up a conversation with two guys who were from Edmonton. You just never know how your life can be enriched by such casual conversations.
Being in Disneyland and DCA was different by myself. I followed my own counsel and those two days are now a part of my life experiences. I look back on those days as wonderful memories…just for me.
– Tom, father of Stress Free Mickey’s Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle
To read another guest blog from our Dad, head to his last post: Disneyland, A Grandpa’s Perspective here!