Going to Universal Studios alone was one of the most daunting solo experiences of my life so far.
There, I said it.
Despite traversing the world solo from the age of eighteen, landing in one of the most dangerous cities in the world at night, and somehow surviving getting kidnapped in Nepal amongst many other travel-related disasters, I found visiting Universal Studios alone to be more terrifying than everything else combined.
You’d think, given the above, that going to a theme park alone would be a walk in the park, right?!
Well, it wasn’t.
Walking up to that oh-so-familiar globe of happiness and dreams, I felt a weird knot in my stomach at the prospect of spending the whole entire day completely alone at Universal Studios Hollywood.
See, as a solo traveller, I’m not against meeting people on the road.
Quite often I’ve befriended someone at a hostel, hotel or on a bus, and we’ve ended up spending the rest of our trip together. But a theme park? Not your typical solo traveller hangout. So with that in mind, I had mentally prepared myself for a day of complete solitude.
If you’ve come across this article, the chances are you’re already thinking about heading to Universal Studios alone. I won’t bore you by going into detail about the park and its layout etc., as the fact you’re considering a solo trip there indicates you already have at least a brief idea. I mean, you must be going for something in particular, right?
What I will do is give y’all a quick run-down on the pros and cons of visiting Universal Studios alone, so if you are considering it, I’m hoping this’ll give you a push in the right direction!
This is an updated post, originally published 18/09/2016
The Downsides of Going to Universal Studios Alone
1. There’s nobody to take your photos!
So you’re a huge Hogwarts aficionado, but your friends aren’t quite part of the fandom. You decided “Eff it!” and take a solo trip to Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You see the Hogwarts Express and its conductor, really want to have a photo with them but you’re all alone. What exactly are you supposed to do?
At first, I was self-conscious about asking staff members and other patrons at Universal Studios to take my photo. However, by the end of the day I became and old pro and managed to nab a photo with almost every single member of the Simpsons cast – you can check out those photos here.
There were times when I did feel embarassed about queuing up with families and small children to get a photo with something I knew was just a man in a costume, but the old “Oh, my brother’s kids love minions, I have to get a photo to show them!” worked a charm time and time again, if only to make me feel less of a schmut.
2. Constantly having to say “Nope, just me!”
Character photos aside, one of the most awkward parts of the whole experience for me was every time I’d get to the front of the queue and the ride operator would ask “how many, two?” They’d always assume I was with the family or couple behind me, and I would constantly have to grin sheepishly and correct them with a “Nope, just me!”.
This embarrassed me at first – I’d think they were pitying me, looking at me and thinking “Aw, you poor friendless thing“. Except the reality is they see thousands of people a day, and probably couldn’t have cared less if I was there alone or with the Queen of England!
One of the biggest upsides about going to a theme park alone is that you are the master of your own destiny, the decider of your fate, and you get to choose when you start, when you end and what you do in between. No fights over whether to get hotdogs or chicken and no squabbles about who sits next to who on what ride.
3. There’s no-one to watch your stuff!
So this one is easily remedied with… lockers! There are lockers readily available at Universal Studios Hollywood, which are perfect for families with too much stuff and solo visitors who don’t want to have to lug around their backpack all day.
Some rides (such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) even have their own lockers there, so you can store your things while you ride and collect them on the way out.
The Best Parts About Going to Universal Studios Alone
1. SINGLE FREAKIN’ RIDER LINES!
Single rider lines are without a doubt the greatest thing to have ever happened to the world of amusement parks! They need to be reintroduced to the UK.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, single rider lines aren’t available for all rides, but they are where it counts!
Attractions currently offering Single Rider Lines:
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Jurassic Park: The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
So what exactly is a single rider line?
you have the balls you are awesome enough to be visiting Universal Studios alone, or if you just don’t mind being split up from your friends, you can skip almost the whole queue and jump STRAIGHT TO THE FRONT of the line in no time at all.
Case in point:
I went on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey three times in a row. Although admittedly I regretted the third because hey sick-inducing dizziness if it wasn’t for the single rider line, I probably would have just about made it once.
The first time I queued, at around 10:40am, the “normal” wait time was 50 minutes. I barely had to wait for ten. The second and third times the waits were 25 and 35 minutes respectively, and both times I just strolled on up and was sat in my seat within 2 minutes.
It was bloody marvellous.
The same thing happened with Revenge of the Mummy – I just strolled right on in and up to my seat!
The Walking Dead Experience – no single rider line but super fast wait time
Jurassic Park: The Ride was an absolute nightmare, though. There were about 20-30 people in the single rider line but only me and one other guy were actual single riders (aka friendless loners). All of the rest were small groups or couples who were just waiting to get to the front to try and manipulate the system by swapping and changing with the mere peasants who had queued in the normal line, so they could still sit together.
It’s cheating, it’s technically queue jumping and, most importantly, you make me want to punch you.
But yeah, all in all, single rider lines are a little slice of heaven. Like I already said, with the help of my loner status, I was able to be done with all the rides by 4pm, leaving 4 whole hours to crack on with the ‘experiences’ – the Studio Tour, the Special Effects show and the water thing (I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called!).
By the end of the day, the only thing I hadn’t done was the animal actor show, and that’s only because really don’t like the idea of dogs doing people tricks.
2. You are in complete control of your day
One of the worst things to happen when you’re visiting a theme park or other tourist attraction with friends or family is for one or more of your party to have completely opposing interests to the rest of you.
It’s especially bad when there’s just 3 of you. Two of you want to go crazy and ride the biggest, most dangerous rollercoasters you can find – the other is more than happy sitting on the teacups all day long. They say they’re fine alone, but you feel guilty leaving them, so resign yourself to a day of compromise.
Visiting Universal Studios alone?
There will be no compromise! The whole day is yours for the taking. You can start your day when you want, end it when you want, go on as many different rides as you like (or repeatedly go on the same one as many times as you can! You can choose where you eat, when you take a break and where you wander. And the best part? There’s nobody there to talk you out of buying that giant donut from Lard Lad Donuts or the refillable plastic cup shaped like Homer Simpson’s face!
Planning to visit Universal Studios alone?
What are you waiting for? Just go. Take my word for it, you will have an absolutely incredible time and will be able to experience the park in a way you wouldn’t with family or friends. You’ll feel a little awkward and nervous at first – visiting a theme park alone is a completely different kettle of fish to visiting anywhere else alone, but within an hour you’ll have completely forgotten you’re alone!
And if you’re looking for a crazy deal on entry tickets, check out Attraction Tickets Direct for a whole range of fantastic value tickets to the park.