The Art of Attractions | All by Myself (Don’t Wanna Be)
As a party of one, it can be disconcerting to walk along a midway, grab something to eat, or catch a show at places that are packed with groups of people all enjoying each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do and consider myself fortunate in that regard.
But seeing everyone around me engaged with one another, laughing, swaying to music, sharing food, excitedly heading to something highly anticipated, or otherwise doing all of the things that families and friends do together at parks and attractions can make me long for companionship. While it’s true that I get to experience some pretty wonderful things when I am chasing stories, they would be so much sweeter if only I could share them with others.
Nowhere is the wistfulness more acute than when I am riding solo on a world-class coaster. To be barreling along a course, the train inverting me this way and that, feeling a litany of sensations that only thrill machines can deliver, but to have nobody going along for the ride with me? Well, it’s just not right.
It’s one thing to be unaccompanied aboard a trainload of screaming passengers. It’s even more bewildering to be the only passenger aboard a coaster. There have been times when I’ve been at closed parks and rode the rails all by my lonesome. Without the screams, the nervous laughter, and the energy of other people, it can be an especially flat experience.
That’s because roller coasters aren’t meant to be ridden alone. Parks and attractions are inherently social places. And that, I believe, bodes well for the industry as the threat of the pandemic passes.
You know who else doesn’t like to be alone? Everybody.
But that’s what most of us have more or less been doing since COVID-19 reared its ugly virus. We all long for companionship and want to share treasured experiences with those for whom we care. When the pandemic’s threat has passed, I contend that the pent-up demand to reenter communal spaces with our loved ones will be astronomical. It will be an incredible boon to the travel and hospitality sectors in general, and to parks and attractions in particular.
Nobody is better able to bring large groups of people together and deliver unbridled joy than you. I know it’s been tough. But hang in there. I think this century’s Roaring ’20s are just about to begin, and you’re about to be the beneficiary of its largesse.
I’ll see you at the parks. But do me a favor, will you? Save me a seat on the coaster. I could use the company.
A lifelong park fanatic, Arthur Levine has been writing newspaper and magazine travel features about the industry he loves since 1992. He’s been the Theme Parks Expert at TripSavvy.com (formerly About.com) since 2002, and is a regular contributor for USA Today.