Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disneyland

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Red Car Trolley Newsboys

Stop and enjoy the show!

Ever find yourself wanting to visit Disneyland but have nobody to go with? It’s nothing to be afraid of! Some of the best trips I’ve ever had visiting Disney Parks have been by myself. I used to be an Annual Passholder for Disneyland Resort Paris and would make a stop in the parks whenever I was travelling from anywhere in mainland Europe back to London, where I was living at the time. (I had to pass through Paris by train anyway, so I figured, why not tack on a half day in the parks?) I also visit Walt Disney World solo on occasion to participate in Run Disney events. (If you’re thinking of visiting WDW alone, check out these great tips from fellow blogger Claire.)

Now that I am a Southern California resident, I frequently visit the Disneyland Resort, but because I’m new to the area and don’t know too many people, I don’t always have someone to go with. (Especially since I’m sure that I’m interested in going much more frequently than any of the new friends I am making, if they even have an Annual Pass. I’m not a “few times a year” guest, to say the least.)

Touring the parks solo offers many advantages: You can can go at your own pace; you aren’t forced to doing anything you dislike; you can make new friends, etc. If you decide to visit the Disneyland Resort by yourself, here are a few helpful tips.

Consider Staying Off-Site

Unless you’re made of money, staying on-site at Disneyland Resort can be pretty cost-prohibitive, especially if you are paying for 100% of the room yourself. I’m a local so I don’t have to worry about this, but if you are visiting from further away, I would recommend any number of the Good Neighbor hotels, which are much cheaper. (Or, use a service like AirBnB and stay with a local for a reasonable price. You may even find a host who you can visit the parks with!)

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks

Choosing a restaurant can often be more difficult with a group, especially if your travel partners are picky eaters or have dietary restrictions. When you’re eating solo, you can cater every meal to your own tastes. While Disneyland might not have the same variety of options as Walt Disney World, there are certainly a few worth exploring. But, a large meal can fill you up quite quickly, and frankly isn’t as fun. Instead, when I’m visiting the parks alone I like to try a couple tasty new snacks. Matterhorn Macaroons, Dole Whip, and Corn Dogs are crowd favorites, but consider trying something new like a Pumpkin Beignet or Pickle Popcorn.

Tweet Your Heart Out

Another advantage to travelling alone? You won’t slow anyone down if it takes you forever to pick out the best Instagram filter. You can also have a lot of fun tweeting with @DisneylandToday, an official account run by Disney Parks that will answer questions, provide touring tips, and occasionally do fun giveaways. This is something that Walt Disney World doesn’t offer yet, so it makes a visit to Disneyland just a little more special. You’ll also be helping out your Disney-loving friends who will live vicariously through your good times in the parks.

Tour Like a Pro

Mickey and the Magical Map

“Mickey and the Magical Map” – One of my favorite shows to watch alone!

If anything, travelling solo can be the best way to reduce wait times in lines. First of all, you can take advantage of single rider lines that many of the more popular Disneyland and Disney California Adventure attractions have. Even at attractions that don’t have a designated single rider line, the Cast Member loading cars will often ask “is there a party of one or two?” while trying to fill gaps in a train. Keep alert, and you may be able to shave a few minutes off your wait time. You also have more flexibility to optimize your day using Lines.

If you don’t care about getting the best seat in the house, you can also usually sneak into a show just as it is starting. (Since you won’t have to worry about your child having their view blocked, or anything like that.) I love “Mickey and the Magical Map,” and when I go solo I can easily grab a really good seat on the edge of a row just as the show is about to begin.

Strike Up a Conversation

We Disney folk are (generally) a friendly bunch. I have met some really cool people at Disney Parks while waiting in line for attractions, riding on a monorail, or even just walking down Main Street. Even the last time I went to the parks, as I was sitting on the tram from the parking structure, a nice couple with a young son started talking to me and let me know that it was their first time visiting the parks and asked if I had any tips. I tried not to overwhelm them, but I definitely did have more than a few tips to share.

If you’re not as comfortable talking to just anyone, try experiences that offer up easier interactions. The new Legends of Frontierland interactive game is a great way to meet new people. I’ve also found that Disney employs some of the best bartenders around. Not only can they make a killer cocktail, but they are nice to talk to as well. Ask them about the funniest thing that’s happened to them while on the job, what their favorite attraction is, or if they have any insider tips to share with you.

Most of All, Just Enjoy Yourself!

Once you get over any initial awkwardness you might feel, touring the parks solo is a lot of fun. I’ve had some of my favorite Disney Parks experiences watching World of Color with no interruptions, jumping on Soarin’ with practically no wait, or just taking a leisurely stroll to enjoy the atmosphere.

Do you have any additional tips for solo travelers? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted on July 24, 2014

4 Responses to “Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disneyland”

  • I went alone on Sunday. I shared my table at Refreshment Corner with a couple who were starting a multi-day stay and advised them on how best to use their magic hour at DCA. They were very happy to learn they could do something more useful than rush for World of Color tickets on a Monday. (They decided to hit RSR 1st then get FPs for a 2nd ride.)

    Then, in Frontierland, I did something bold: I am always pained when I see lost people staring at the map, so I walked up to a couple doing that and said, “Gosh, you look so lost, can I help?” and they didn’t hesitate for a second! They were trying to find the Golden Horseshoe. It was barely out of our sights, so I led them over about 5 feet and showed them the way. They were very thankful and it made me happy to help. I may make a point of doing that more often!

    Anyway, got my pins, got my Dole Whip with the cute, new plastic bowl, got 2 bags of cinnamon chips, got a scrapbook kit on request for a friend (in other words, finished all my errands), and got home in time to take a nap! It was just as fun as going on rides with friends, but in a different way!

    • That’s awesome, Ann. I don’t know if I would have the bravery to approach someone who looked lost and offer them tips, but I occasionally approach someone to offer them Fastpasses that I have that I won’t be able to use. (Usually not when I’m alone, though, because one FP won’t do a group much good.) But I went with a friend to DCA a few weeks ago and we decided to not use our Radiator Springs Racers passes, so we handed them off to somebody else.

      The Disney community takes care of itself :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  • I will be traveling alone to DCA for my birthday this September. I’m looking forward to short wait times and the Big Thunder refurbishment. My girlfriend has gone with me the last three times, but we have another trip planned, and she’s not the Disneyland fanatic I am. I like the suggestion to tweet @DisneylandToday, I’ll have to remember that one.

    • Have a great trip! I love following & tweeting with @DisneylandToday. I am not sure if it will still be going on then, but they have been doing a bunch of giveaways every Monday with the hashtag #GetHappier, giving away things like free snacks, extra Fastpasses, free souvenirs, or even giving people wristbands that gave them an extra hour in DCA after it closed for the evening. Definitely an account worth following!