Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disney World

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Magic Kindgom

Seriously – why wait? This Kingdom is just begging to be explored!

Sometimes, a trip must be made.

Whether it’s the perfect time of year, the premier of a new attraction, or simply the impatience, a person just needs to go to Walt Disney World. I am planning a trip in October, and even though the timing/cost does not work out for my friends and family, it works out for me. So I am going by myself.

It’s not uncommon to see solo travelers in Walt Disney World – I have already done one solo trip back in 2012. There are blogs covering the topic at AllEars.net and even an entire website called Solo Disney Traveler. If you have an inkling to get down to Walt Disney World soon, and find it difficult to arrange dates with your family and friends, don’t be afraid to try out a solo trip!

Here are some of my suggestions when booking and taking a Walt Disney World solo trip:

Be mindful of your hotel.

There are so many hotels and motels in the area surrounding Walt Disney World, and more in the resort itself. If you are planning to stay on property, then the risks are smaller. Every resort has well-lit parking lots and walking areas, and during “normal” hours (6am-midnight) there are always people around.

If you are planning to stay off property (like I am), make sure to check out all the hotels in detail. Do they have outdoor walkways or indoor halls? Are the parking spaces near the entrance or do you have to walk a bit? How far is the hotel from the Walt Disney World entrance? Do they have a shuttle?

I don’t just point these out for safety reasons – I point these out for practicality, too. When going solo, there isn’t another person with which to split the check. A hotel with a great rate but far from property means that you’ll have to rent a car, pay for parking every day you go (now $17 per day at the theme parks), and maybe pay for gas. That can add up if you’re not careful.

Shuttles to the parks aren’t always reliable, either, but at least it will save a couple bucks.

Don’t forget to eat – and be adventurous.

I laughed when a podcast host reminded solo travelers to eat. Then I went on a solo trip and realized how easy it was to forget to eat! When you’re on your own schedule, that kind of power sometimes blocks out other necessary functions, like eating.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich – found at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square

I try to be more adventurous when eating on my own. During my solo trip, my first destination was the Contemporary resort, where I took an elevator to the California Grille and ate sushi at the bar. No reservation? No problem. I tried a Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich as I watched the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party (and was rewarded greatly – the food was incredible and the street party was catchy). But I had to make sure to get one of my favorite meals at the Magic Kindgom: the BBQ Slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner. It was messy, and it was delicious. And nobody made faces at me as I made a mess eating it.

This solo trip falls during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, which means I will be very adventurous when it comes to my food choices. I will try something from all the vendors, if I can, and I won’t try to play it safe.

Make friends and be outgoing.

I always enjoy telling people the story of my little brother and the Walt Disney World buses. At 7 years old, he would get on the bus, immediately walk to the very back, sit down, and start a conversation with the people next to him. My family met a lot of cool people because my brother was such a personality. (Actually, he still is.)

On a solo trip, you have a chance to be bold. You have a chance to be a completely different person. Are you an introvert at home? Well, no one that knows you at home will be at Walt Disney World – be an extrovert for a couple of days. Instead of rolling your eyes at the loud family in line in front of you, strike up a conversation with them. If you see someone that looks a little confused, use your amazing load of Disney knowledge to help them out. There isn’t anyone tugging on your shirt making sure you hurry up, so take the time to get to know people.

At Walt Disney World, some of the best places to have a good conversation are on the transportation systems: the buses, the monorail, and the boats. People aren’t looking for an in-depth conversation; they are just looking for someone with whom they can share their stories and bounce their ideas.

Share your experience in social media.

My initial point was going to be “put away the social media,” but that’s hard to do thanks to My Disney Experience. Because we as Walt Disney World customers use our phones for apps like My Disney Experience and TouringPlan’s own Lines, it’s better to just go with the flow. Tweet all the fun experiences you’re having. Text your friends the picture of you with Jedi Mickey. Put that video of the Festival of Fantasy parade on Facebook. Ask your family where you should go next.

However, I am not trying to encourage you to walk with your nose facing the ground. Using your phone can be a way to connect to the world, but don’t let it dominate your life that it prevents you from connecting to the World. Set some time in your schedule to find a quiet spot to text and tweet and post, but be sure to put that phone away as you walk and see the magic with your own eyes!

Of course, all social media warnings apply: don’t be so bold with your posts that people following you decide to take advantage of you or your situation.

Don’t be afraid to splurge.

Sometimes splurging can be bad. An Illuminations cruise isn’t worth it for just one person, for example. But sometimes splurging as a solo traveler is worth it. Instead of paying for five or six people to do Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, there’s only one! Enjoy the savings in that regard. Try a dessert party. Check out the Harambe Nights evening entertainment. Try out one of those top-tier restaurants. Get that extra special souvenir. I could attend the Food and Wine Festival’s Party for the Senses in October – a reasonable price for one person that might become pretty pricey for a family of four.

Go off the beaten path.

Citizens of Main Street

Do I want to see the Citizens of Main Street? Why yes. Yes I do.

When was the last time you walked the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? How many times have you done the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover? When we go to Walt Disney World in a group, there are fewer opportunities to hit those lesser-known spots because everyone has a favorite attraction or show they want to see. But by going solo, there are so many great things to be done after you hit your favorites. How about finally stopping and seeing Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial from start to finish? Take a trip back in time and enjoy the laser show at Voyage of the Little Mermaid! Don’t walk straight through the video after Maelstrom!

Have fun!

I could spend a lot of my time wishing that there was someone with me to share my fun. But that would be a large waste of time. There is so much to do and see at Walt Disney World, and it’s just begging to be experienced – even if it’s just by you!

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Posted on July 18, 2014

14 Responses to “Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disney World”

  • I completely agree about talking with people on the buses! I always meet interesting people from all over the country and sometimes the world!

  • I encourage everyone to do even a solo afternoon at Disney! I have my husband and son grab pizza or hang at the pool and I do an afternoon at one of the parks. It’s great to not have to stop for diaper changes or a snack. It’s on my terms for a few hours and it’s glorious!

    • That is so true! Everyone deserves to take a quiet afternoon or evening at the parks.

    • This is a great idea! I am not sure I would be able to get away with a solo trip, particularly with my kid being so young. Hubby would not like it too much either. But working in some solo time on a full trip might be a good compromise.

      • Absolutely – taking some time during a trip is a great release and would help to remind people of the joys of the park! I didn’t even think of solo touring away from a group – I’m glad other did!

  • by Edie Cohoon on July 18, 2014, at 10:18 pm EST

    I go “solo” when my husband golfs while we are at WDW. One of my favorite things to do is take pictures for people as I am walking around so everyone can be in it together.

  • I love running solo trips to WDW, in the spring I have to visit central Florida for work often, so it’s a great opportunity for me to enjoy Star Wars weekends without any of the other not-so-geek family members watching in judgement. Trying new food without having to worry about pleasing the crowd is a great bonus as well, and even if it turns out I don’t like something, I can always go elsewhere without breaking the bank.

    • Star Wars Weekends requires a lot of waiting in the hot hot sun, so I can understand how a solo trip might be best. Hopefully their non-geek ways will turn around and someone will enjoy the wonderful awesomeness that is Star Wars Weekends!

  • I love going solo it allows you to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it, the only down sides are how expensive it is to go solo (i live in new zealand) and the 19 hours i have to sit in a plane for, despite this i have done one solo trip already nd loved it so much im planning to do more nd i encourage others to aswell it really is a great experience

  • by Vanessa Schomberg on July 20, 2014, at 10:26 am EST

    Great blog! I’m a very proud and very happy WDW solo traveler since many years and I love it! I totally agree with everything you wrote here 100%! It’s absolutely the best and most relaxing experience ever and the most magical way to enjoy your vacation. I never ever will miss it again! Thanks for sharing your experiences! :-)