Many Orlando theme park attractions have three separate lines: The normal one where you stand and wait; the special line where Disney visitors have Fast Passes and Universal visitors have Express Pass; and the single-rider line that promises a shorter wait if you’re willing to split your family up and ride in separate cars. Families tend to avoid the single-rider line. They’re taking a family vacation, and, by gosh, they’ll ride as a family or not at all. However, it’s worth reconsidering that stance. The single-rider line can knock a one-hour wait down to 10 minutes or less.
Single-ride lines allow operators to fill cars completely. If six people can ride in a single car to see Harry Potter, a party of five has an empty seat. Operators then turn to the single-rider line, wave one person to the back of the five-party lineup, and operate at peak efficiency. In general, the parks have a single-rider line if A) smaller ride vehicles hold no more than four to eight people, and B) it’s popular.
Here’s the best reason to enjoy the single-rider lines, however: You don’t enjoy special family time when riding a coaster at 50 miles per hour. You also don’t get good family time in rides such as Harry Potter because they strap you into a plastic seat without good peripheral vision. Thanks to the plastic seats, you can only see your daughter’s smiling face if you crane forward beyond the lap bar, look left, and strain to peer into her little cubicle. And if she’s crammed against the back of the seat, that might not even work.
Family time comes, ironically, from waiting in the lines. That’s where you rehash the last ride, express excitement about the upcoming one, wonder aloud what Aunt Myrtle is doing back home, and slip in a question about schoolwork. The thrill of a coaster is discussed when you get off: Did you scream at the top? Did you lose track of where you were? Did you pass out? You can rehash that post-ride even if enjoyed as a single rider.
An addendum: The single-rider line is almost always significantly shorter than the full line. If you hit a moment when the wait time is almost as long as the regular line, backtrack, enter the regular line, and ride “as a family.”