A day at Disneyland … by myself

You can go to Disneyland by yourself and have an amazing time. I am proof of that. Take a look at this quintessential Disney moment, for example.

The seat next to me on this Space Mountain roller coaster is empty, but that didn’t stop me from screaming and laughing and smiling — and clutching my sparkly pink Minnie Mouse ears.

Do I wish someone was sitting next to me? Sure, it would have been great. But do I regret going on this ride solo? Absolutely not.

The bigger regret would have been not going to Disneyland at all because I couldn’t find someone whose schedule allowed for it.

With only a few days in Los Angeles before journeying onward to Chicago, I made it happen. As a result, this fun Space Mountain moment happened.

This is how I approach life, in general — which is why I usually end up traveling by myself a lot. I don’t “need” to have someone by my side to go somewhere or try something new. If an opportunity pops up and nobody else is game or available, I’ll fly solo. No biggie. In some cases, I actually prefer it this way. It means no need for compromise. I can do things my way, no questions asked.

Perhaps I am too independent for my own good. I worry about that sometimes. But this independent approach worked beautifully for my first trip to Disneyland. I maximized my time in a way that groups never could. I timed my arrival to the park when it first opened and was able to zip from ride to ride quickly during those first few hours, without waiting on slower-paced children or getting lost in walk-and-talk conversations with friends. I made full use of the Fast Pass system, which enabled me to essentially “book” a window of time to come back to popular rides — again, without discussing the options with anyone else. Constantly criss-crossing from Fantasyland to Frontierland to Tomorrowland wasn’t a big deal for me, but might have been too crazy for others visiting the park with me.

I did Disneyland my way, maneuvering the park at my speed.

And I had an amazing time doing it.

I’ll admit, I did have moments of “I wish So-And-So could be here for this.” Like when I as flying high on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride. Like when I was spinning the teacup on the Mad Tea Party Ride. Like when I was waiting in line to meet the Disney Princesses. But those moments were fleeting. I would whip out my smartphone, take a picture and communicate that message to whomever sprung to mind. So in this sense, I wasn’t visiting Disneyland alone-alone. Family and friends were there with me — waiting in lines, riding the rides, meeting the characters. They were laughing alongside me, virtually.

My inner little girl that really, really, really, really, really wanted to visit Disneyland despite not having any companions available to visit the park with me … is really, really, really, really happy that I took myself down to Anaheim for the day.

Perhaps next time, I will be accompanied by a real little girl, and can dress her as a Disney princess, just like the miniature Snow White below. This is a relatively new fashion phenomenon for visiting the park, to see little princesses dressed head-to-toe as Cinderella, Ariel and Belle. When my parents used to take me to Disney World in Florida as a child, the coolest thing I got to wear was a fanny pack. How times have changed.

But the magical feeling you get when visiting the park, even as a 34-year-old woman, remains unchanged. I realize that this sounds like an infomercial — and perhaps it is the result of the happy gas that likely gets pumped into the parks, wink wink — but Disney theme parks have an remarkable (albeit pricey) ability to temporarily transport you into a bubble where anything is possible and everything is perfect. When you live in an imperfect world, this suspension of belief is a wonderful reprieve.

And hell, any place that makes you feel like a kid again without judgment is wonderful. Period.

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