Recently I was able to spend a couple of days at Walt Disney World . . .alone. I had often contemplated a solo trip, but always hesitated for a variety of reasons. On this trip I was confronted with a couple of days in Orlando sandwiched between a conference with Disney Travel Company and a family trip that had been planned much earlier. So, what is a girl to do but take full advantage of some Disney time to myself! On this trip I learned and realized a few things that I wanted to pass along for anyone considering a solo trip to the World.
- Safety First!
Even though it is Walt Disney World and you definitely have a feeling of safety in the “bubble” you still need to be aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be paranoid, but just conscious of who or what is around you—especially since many of us stay out later at night than we normally do at home. On the same safety note, be sure to leave your itinerary with someone at home including your hotel(s), basic idea of where you will be each day and of course contact information.
- Take in a show
There are some great shows at Walt Disney World—and I don’t mean the ones that are attractions in the theme parks. Traveling solo is often a good way to take these in because you are only paying for 1 ticket. At Downtown Disney you can see Cirque du Soliel’s La Nouba performance which is full of amazing acrobatics set to a storyline (I personally don’t understand the storyline, but I still appreciate the athletics and physical feats of the performers). The House of Blues is also at Downtown Disney and it has a variety of options from special concerts to Gospel Brunch performances. And of course, you can always take in a movie at the AMC Theater with a meal through their Fork & Screen experiences. Or take a cab over to Universal’s CityWalk to see the Blue Man Group.
- Stop and Smell the Roses
When I am traveling with my kids, or even just with my husband, there is often that rushed feeling to go, go, go so that we can fit in everyone’s wish list of attractions and restaurants. When I traveled solo I didn’t have that feeling. I had all the time in the world. So I could grab a drink in the World Showcase and just sit and people watch. Or I could take an extra 15 minutes to stroll around the resort and find hidden nooks. I could relax over dinner and savor my food. And, most importantly, I could just walk around the parks and take in all of the fantastic details that the Imagineers incorporated into the designs. It was fabulous!
- Treat Yourself!
When you are traveling alone you have the opportunity to do all kinds of things just for yourself. I highly recommend the Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian. Delicious food in a beautiful setting—so relaxing. Or what about a spa treatment? Several Walt Disney World resorts offer full service spas where you could have a facial or a massage, or just a mani-pedi. Even you men out there could enjoy a massage! Maybe your treat is a fancy dinner at California Grill with a view of wishes, or a gastronomic adventure at Victoria and Albert’s. Whatever that special thing is that you’ve always wanted to try . . . a solo trip is the perfect time!
- Disney Transportation
Disney is a great place for solo travelers because the transportation is so easy. If you arrive via plane you have Magical Express to take you from the airport, and if you drive you can park your car and forget it. With the regular buses from every resort along with the other modes of transportation it is easy to get to anywhere you want to be without trying to navigate on your own. Even if you want to venture outside Disney and over to Universal you can purchase a ticket that includes transfers. Taxis are also plentiful at the resorts and parks.
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- Resort Choices
There are a lot of things to consider when you choose your resort for a solo trip. Are you planning to go commando and be in the parks all day? Then perhaps an inexpensive value resort is the best choice—plenty of space for a solo traveler. Are you looking for more of a resort experience with lots of amenities on site? Deluxe might be the answer. If you are a female traveling solo, or anyone concerned about safety, a resort with doors that open to an inside corridor might make you feel more comfortable. Are you planning to spend most of your time in a particular park? Choosing the most convenient resort might be your top priority. Weighing all of these considerations with your budget will help you come to the best conclusion. Or you could be like me and reserve one resort a few months in advance and then change 3 days before you leave.
Keeping in mind safety and that you don’t want to disclose to everyone around you that you are traveling alone, you still want to be social. I always think that [most] people are friendlier at Disney. You can strike up a conversation with someone on the bus, or waiting in line. I had a great conversation with a lady waiting at the bus stop one afternoon. You can also seek out places to be social. The first two that come to my mind are Jelly Rolls at the Boardwalk and Yee Haa Bob’s show at Port Orleans Riverside, but there are many others.
- Park Touring Made Easy
As a single traveler you have some advantages when touring the parks. First, it is easier to just get yourself up and ready for rope drop for the optimal touring time. You don’t have to make multiple bathroom breaks when everyone refuses to go at the same time. And you can just navigate the parks more quickly from attraction to attraction. You can also take advantage of the FastPass+ system—you may be able to get some of the harder to get attractions as a party of only 1 person even as your 4th FastPass after you’ve used the first 3. And don’t forget the attractions with Single Rider lines—Test Track, Rock N Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest—you probably don’t need to waste a FastPass on these since you can hop into the Single Rider line (sometimes it can be longer than the FastPass line).
- Make Dining Reservations . . . or not
When planning my trip I thought I would just grab quick service food because I would feel strange eating in a restaurant by myself. And then I said, well that is silly! And I booked some signature restaurants that I knew I would enjoy but 3/5 of my family would not, and I could eat there for the price of one dinner instead of 5! The other side of that coin is that you have some other options as a solo traveler in that many of the lounges in the parks and resorts offer full menus, so you could enjoy the same entrees there without worrying about planning ahead.
- You Call the Shots
Ah, my favorite thing about my solo trip. I could do what I wanted when I wanted. One day I slept in, sat on my balcony overlooking Crescent Lake and enjoyed my breakfast, walked around the resort, then went to Epcot and all I did was shop in the World Showcase. After dinner one evening I hopped on the bus and went to Downtown Disney to shop. My boys would never let me get away with either one of those things if they were with me. If I wanted to skip lunch and eat popcorn I could. If I wanted to ride Carousel of Progress and the People Mover 4 times there was no one to complain. I could eat when and where I wanted. I could enjoy the attractions I wanted. Or I could do nothing at all. I loved it.
Although I missed my family and I was very glad to see them again, I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience Walt Disney World as a solo traveler. It was very relaxing and gave me a different perspective on the resort. I hope I get to do it again one day!
Have you traveled solo before? If so, what are your best tips, tricks & advice?