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.
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.
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!
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!