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How many of you out there have been to a Disney park all by yourself before? Raise your hands! If you’re not raising your hand, then you’ve never been a solo traveler to Disney World. That’s okay! Until January, I was a solo virgin as well. I made up my mind to travel from Michigan to Florida alone and I had such a wonderful time 8 months ago that I’ve decided to do it again in September. If you happened to read my previous post on my first solo trip then you might remember how new and fun the experience was for me. It was a real eye-opener as a female, a Disney fan, and a tourist.
I took a really brave, big girl step in January on my trip. I ate at a restaurant… all by myself! Yeah! It was wild! There were two wonderful experiences that changed my thoughts on being a solo diner, one at Mama Melrose’s and one at Jiko. The latter was one of the most incredible dining experiences of my life. All of that being said, I couldn’t have done it without some encouragement and stupendous tips given to me by readers of the TouringPlans.com blog. I even learned a few things for myself along the way about dining solo and I’d like to share my suggestions with you readers out there that are planning a solo trip or would like to travel alone to the Disney parks someday.
First of all, customize your dining schedule based on YOUR eating habits. It’s tough to imagine it if you’ve never done it before, but being alone means that if you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat just yet. What works best for me, since I’m an active Disney traveler, is to pack protein bars in my suitcase and then take one with me and eat it on my way to the bus stop. I don’t waste any time eating over-priced scrambled eggs. From then on I just roll with my day and my appetite. If you had a big lunch and aren’t hungry for dinner.. skip it! If all you want for dinner is a delicious Dole Whip Float… by all means, eat it! The great thing about traveling solo is no one is there to stop you or judge you after you’ve eaten your body weight in popcorn while waiting for the parade.
My next suggestion is completely against the Disney travel bible but I’m going to say it anyway. Don’t make any Advanced Dining Reservations. I know! It’s shocking! This especially rings true if you’re traveling during a slower month like January or September. Obviously, if you want to eat at one of the few insanely popular restaurants like Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table, go ahead and make that reservation. Otherwise, you’ll probably be just fine walking into any restaurant and getting a table with little to no wait at all. It’s so much fun to be able to decide on the spot what you’re in the mood for rather than having planned out what you’ll be eating six months in advance.
Without a doubt, the absolute best table service restaurants to visit when you’re by yourself are those with “counter” dining. That would include Jiko, California Grill, and Flying Fish Cafe and Wolfgang Puck Cafe. While the level of attention from chefs varies at each of these restaurants, your experience will still undoubtedly be memorable. You don’t have to worry about staring across the table at an empty chair. If you’re a social butterfly, you might even find yourself having a conversation with a total stranger sitting next to you, much like I experienced at Jiko back in January. It ended up being one of my favorite memories from my solo trip. I know that during my meal at Jiko, sitting at “The Cooking Place” made me notice less that I was alone and the chef’s did a great job putting me at ease. All of the restaurants I mentioned come with a high price tag. However, it’s much easier to afford a nice meal for one than for five. Think of a solo trip as the perfect excuse to pamper yourself and indulge without feeling guilty.
If you’re more of a wallflower (like I thought I was until my solo trip) and you think to yourself, “But, what will I DO? Won’t I just sit there thinking about how alone I am? Won’t people notice me sitting by myself?” Well then my friend, you need a good distraction. This is easy at Disney World because so many restaurants have entertainment built right in. Think about Sci-Fi Dine In Theater, where you can lounge in a car and watch the fun retro television commercials and clips being played. Raglan Road is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Disney World simply because of the excellent live entertainment. The music and irish dancing starts later in the evening and isn’t every night so make sure that you plan accordingly. Another great place to consider is Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot. Especially if you’re usually traveling with picky eaters and you’ve always wanted to branch out. Marrakesh has belly dancers and traditional Moroccan music to keep your mind off the fact that you’re dining solo.
Now that I’ve shared some of my solo dining tips, I’d like to hear yours! Leave me a message in the comment section!