The last month or so has been packed with theme park trips. I’ve ridden both of the new U.S. wing coasters visited a park for the first time (Six Flags St. Louis), and boosted my coaster count to the 240’s. I’m working on coaster reviews and trip reports that’ll cover my adventures. All of this traveling has reminded me of some of the more fun and annoying theme park experiences. This post is about an experience that falls in the latter category.

Why Is It So Important to Ride With Your Group?

I’ll admit that I’m pretty good at doing things alone. I’ll go see a movie alone, eat lunch by myself, even go to theme parks alone. And, I can definitely see why people would want to experience a ride with your friends or family, but you’re not really going to be able to high five your friends two cars ahead of you. So why does it matter if you’re on the same train? Is it that tough to just wait for a train or two after your ride?

Stock Market Floor - TradersAs soon as I enter the stations I see people negotiating with other guests who are just going about their day trying to enjoy a ride. They’re asking them if they’ll move ahead of them. They’re yelling to their friends a few rows away as they try to do the math and make sure they’ll ride together. I swear I thought I was on the floor of the stock market for a moment. Not every ride is an 8-person rapids ride or big shoot the chutes water ride.

The next time it happens, I may use the opportunity for an impromptu interview to see where their heads are at. I just went to Carowinds last weekend with a group. There were four of us and we didn’t have to wheel and deal to make sure we were on the same train at all.

The Flip Side – It Can Be a Good Thing

There is a flip side to this pet peeve. I’ve probably shaved off hours of wait time over the years as I’ve been asked to move ahead of people so that a group could successfully ride “together”. Maybe I should make a new shirt so I get asked even more often. Also, single rider lines and ride ops that ask for single riders from spots left by groups have been good to me. So these coaster riding groups aren’t all bad. I just wonder how much time and energy they waste just so they can be on the same train.

Theme Parks Aren’t Supposed to Be Stressful

Viper - Six Flags Great America

I’ll close this little rant with an uncomfortable story. A few weeks ago, my friend and I were at Six Flags Great America waiting for Viper. For about the 1,238th time in my life someone asked me if we could move ahead so that they could ride with their friends. I automatically agreed and we moved ahead.

We boarded the train and enjoyed our ride. When we returned to the station, we were asked if we’d be riding twice since we had a platinum flash pass. I said yes without thinking and then realized that we just messed up that group’s master plan of riding together. They gave us the meanest look. Not only did we have a flash pass (which actually didn’t shorten our wait on Viper), but we also prevented them from riding with their group. I felt a little guilty, but also very annoyed at the whole situation.

Just get on the darn rides people!

Ah. There, I feel better now.

What’s your take?
I’m really interested in hearing what others have to say about this. Again, I acknowledge that I’m often a lone rider and I visit theme parks pretty often. So, I’m sure I’m biased and more annoyed than the average theme park-goer. Are you working hard in the station trying to figure out how your group can ride together? Are you as annoyed as me? Leave a comment below.

For another theme park rant, read my article, Line Cutters Should Be Arrested on Theme Park Geekly.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

20 Responses

  1. @BrentKlauck

    I'm gonna have to disagree. I've been on both sides of this, both as the group member and as the one being asked to swap. I agree that it shouldn't be a stressful experience. It's the responsibility of the group to make sure that they're not inconveniencing others in any way. But even though you don't mind doing things alone, for the majority, theme parks are a social event. Enjoying a coaster with each other increases the enjoyment.

    Does riding at the same time but on cars far apart matter? Actually, yes. You may not get to sit next to each other and hear each other scream, but you still get to experience it at the same time. I'm sure I'm not the only one that's gotten off a coaster stoked and filled with adrenaline, and shared the excitement with my friends who rode it with me. If you ride on different trains, one group's "coaster high" is going to have gone down, leaving the second group feeling slightly awkward with their excitement and not getting to get amped up together with everyone else. Not to mention one group having to wait for the others to finish.

    Again, you shouldn't inconvenience anyone else, and certainly never ask anyone to move BACK. But as long as you're being courteous thinking about how it will effect the people you're asking, I see no harm. Be nice, have fun, and get excited.

    • CoasterCritic

      I'm sort of with you. I completely agree that it's more fun to ride with a group, but I don't think it's that important that all 6 of you can talk about your ride at the very instant you get off. I see your point though and I hadn't thought of it that way.

  2. Josh Batts

    I don't think it is a big deal wanting to ride as a group. As long as your group does not interfere with any other people's wait time, why shouldn't they be together as a group. I do find that it is more fun to ride together, for the reason BrentKlauck mentioned.

    My group doesn't make a big deal about it. If we can't find a way to ride together, we just ride separate trains.

    Don't really see why it is a big deal. However, the people whose group you messed up with the flash pass thing had no right to look at you angrily. You paid for the privilege, and had every right to take advantage of it. The whole Six Flags re-ride policy for those flash passes is idiotic though, in my opinion, but that's a separate issue…

    • CoasterCritic

      You're right. It's not a big deal. I guess when you've been in A LOT of stations in a short period of time, little annoyances like this compound themselves. Just like seeing guests sit on the hand rails over and over and over and over.

      I guess it's a good problem to have. Not everyone can visit theme parks as often as I have recently…

  3. Mike

    I think Brent makes some great points. For me I'm only usually with my wife or a friend and I have been to a couple of parks this year by myself. I have mostly benefited from this as I am always asked to go ahead which means one less train wait for me and more rides I can get if I feel up for it. Heck I'm not even afraid to admit that if I see a single rider and an empty seat I'll just go ahead and ask if I can jump ahead of a couple of people waiting so I can get the empty seat (since most parks I've been to by myself don't have single rider lines). I've never had an issue with that and most people are happy to oblige (maybe they feel sorry for me :). I can understand your frustration though with your specific situation with the platinum pass.

    • CoasterCritic

      I've done the same Mike. I scoped out a single rider on Wild Eagle last week and asked if I could join the rider next to it. Again, it turns out to be a good thing as groups are always looking for someone to cut ahead, but it can be annoying.

  4. coasterguy

    The only time that it really annoys me is when people ask if they can ride in front of me so that they can be with their group. OK, so you want to ride with your friends, that's fine but don't ask me, a complete stranger, to move back in line to do it.

    In other situations I'm usually fine with it.

  5. Patrick Adcock

    I think this is a reason I prefer going by myself, with my significant other and/or at most 2 other people. I just want to get on the ride and move on myself. As a usual single rider at times I've been asked to move ahead numerous times. The only positive I see from this is that it has helped me time wise. I just see it as wasted energy and time trying to calculate over and over and over again who's on which train and you aren't even in the same car, or even the one in front or behind. It's really silly to me. I mean, you end up at the same place, right? JUST GET ON!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    • CoasterCritic

      Exactly! I think it's their drama (no matter how minor it is) interfering with my excited, joyous state of mind is what makes it all so annoying.

      I'm not a fan of how I can't pick my seat on Carowinds Intimidator, but when the staff is assigning rows and organizing riders at least there's none of this occurring.

  6. Surya

    My friends and I tend to talk during the ride, comment on the experience as we experience it. And we joke around quite a bit. So it's more fun together, but we don't stress about it. We don't mind being on the next train that much 🙂

  7. @mattmcirvin

    This was actually my major inhibition about getting back into riding coasters; I didn't have any friends who wanted to ride them and I couldn't bring myself to go ride them alone. There seemed to be something sad about it.

    Then I got over that, and, lo and behold, it was fun anyway. I generally go to parks with my family, and it does mean I can't ride the big coasters as much as I'd like (since I don't want to abandon them all day), but that may be for the best (see the marathon thread). Riding alone also means you can sometimes have a much shorter wait or a walk-on.

    It's still enormous fun to share the experience with someone else… but only if they're into it; I'm no sadist, or one of these parents who trick their kids into riding rides they're not ready for. I still feel guilty for taking my poor wife on Boulder Dash.

  8. Matt

    I always find myself having to do this when I go to parks with more than one other person. It is stressful having to figure out how we can all ride together and having to count people in front of you, etc. Why do we do this? Because we may not be able to high five our friends, but we can still talk to them. We choose consecutive rows so we can talk to them while on the ride. They don't have a problem hearing us since they are only a row behind us. And yes, we all like to get off together. Not only so we can talk about it at the same time, but because it is aggravating having to wait for your friends at the exit. This is why I love B&M rides. You can fit up to four people with you on the same row. I do not usually have more than 3 other people with me, so B&Ms work perfectly to get us to all ride together. Overall, it is important to ride with your party so you can talk to them and have the same ride experience.

  9. Prof.BAM

    I hate that. When you wait in line for hours and somebody asks to go ahead. The rides aren't that long, people!

  10. DRU

    It's all about the ride pics for me. We always buy at least 1 from each ride sometimes more if there is another good pic on that 2nd or 3rd ride. It is nice how they can squeeze an extra row or two into the pic We frame a coaster ride picture collage at the end of each season. My daughter is already 16 and I know she'll appreciate these pics a lot when she grows up.
    Today happened to be my first solo trip and my first trip to Dorney. What a wonderful thing to be able to cater to myself all day. Dorney has some sweet coasters!
    Solo to Great adventure tomorrow. Can't wait!
    I hate going to a park with more than 3 other people. Solo is great, 1 friend is the best…

  11. Kristofer

    I get really annoyed if I have more than 1 or 2 people with me when I go to a theme park. For that whole instance where they let you go ahead, I believe that because you payed for the privilege to ride you are able to, however, it was pretty inconsiderate of you to just screw them up when they were trying to make things work for them. I don't know. that is a tricky situation.

    • CoasterCritic

      I'm not sure I'd call it inconsiderate, but it wasn't ideal. I'd ridden once and completely forgotten about them trying to line up their ride. Oddly enough I was thinking about myself and my friend's enjoyment of the ride and having a good time. Then they asked if we wanted a re-ride and I answered without thinking. I felt bad for a moment and I would've thought it all out and not accepted the cut in line if I had my strategic rider planning hat on, but I didn't. And, for that matter, shouldn't have to.

  12. Rosie

    I think it depends, on one hand it enhances the experience to ride with someone who’s just as excited or nervous as you are.

    single riders can be paired up with other singles too.

    i guess it depends on the group, a school group or a youth group or a younger sibling being taken by older ones might hafta follow certain Stick Together Rules. when i went with my friends during a school trip to Wild Rivers like a decade ago, we were assigned to groups and told we couldn’t leave them.

  13. Marcia

    Personally I don’t care as long as:
    1) The group fits in no more than two rows. If it’s more than that, it’s just annoying.
    2) The group doesn’t ask people to move back. Moving forward is A-OK though!;)

    Since I’ve been the single rider and the one who’s part of a group, I kinda get both sides.:) When I’m a single rider, I couldn’t care less-after all, that means I get to skip part of the line. When I’m part of a group, then I tend to get annoyed because usually two groups won’t fit in a row unless it’s two groups of two or something.

    My verdict: Groups are great for the single riders. It may be annoying, but you’ll most likely get to wait less. If you’re part of a group yourself, be hoping there ARE some single riders behind you or you’ll be extremely annoyed that THERE’S THAT EMPTY SEAT and you can’t go ’cause your group wants to wait.:)

  14. Matt McIrvin

    A coworker of mine who is a veteran of many Walt Disney World visits pointed out that there’s no law preventing whole groups from going into the single-rider line, if there is one; on many rides, there’s little benefit from having the whole group in the same car as long as you can wait in line together.

    But it doesn’t work if you’re riding with young kids who have to be with you.


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