Taking a solo trip to Walt Disney World can be an intimidating, yet incredibly enjoyable experience. In this post, we’ll offer some tips for making the most of doing Walt Disney World by yourself, highlighting what you can enjoy when you’re alone, and offering some reassurances.
The idea of going alone may seem off-putting, even. For many people, the highlight of a Disney vacation is spending time with family and making memories of fun, laughter, and little moments shared with the people you love. That’s not to say flying solo at Walt Disney World is a lonely and laughter-less experience. Well, depending on your personality, maybe it is.
I think that doing Walt Disney World solo is sort of like Home Alone (minus the burglary). Intimidating and scary at first, but pretty awesome once you realize you can run around doing and eating whatever you want without anyone to stop you. I’ve made a few solo trips in the last few years and have gone from being scared of the very idea of going without Sarah to being so comfortable that I spent an afternoon at Typhoon Lagoon and ate a bucket of ice cream by myself…
With that said, solo trips are certainly not for everyone. I suspect those who go primarily to see the reactions of their children or serious extroverts may be less inclined to enjoy the experience. However, I’ve learned that as an ‘outgoing introvert’ (that’s what the government scientists who interrogated me at the bunker in New Mexico studied me concluded) a solo trip from time to time is great for me.
If you think a solo trip might be right for you, here are 10 tips to making it a great experience…
10. Eat Where You Want
My biggest fear before my first solo trip to Walt Disney World was eating alone. I don’t know why…maybe the stigma? It turned out to be just fine. That first trip I ate entirely at counter service restaurants, wanting to minimize awkward encounters by not dealing with a server.
I’ve become more comfortable eating alone, and have since done table service meals. There has been no issue with this, and I’ve found most of the time Cast Members at the restaurant are more conversational with me to make my experience better.
One thing you might want to tell your server when you are order is that you are in no rush (assuming you are in no rush). I’ve found on several occasions that servers rush the meal along, probably under the assumption that you want to be in and out.
Another reason for this might be because servers work for tips. You might want to be cognizant of this, especially at busier restaurants, and not take up a table that could be used by a larger party. You might also consider eating at the bar if it’s an option (even if you don’t plan on drinking). It’s usually an environment more conducive to solo travelers, anyway.
9. SINGLE RIDER
We recommend using single rider lines on this blog even when you are with others, but so many people are staunchly opposed to single rider lines when they are in groups. While that still perplexes me, when you’re traveling alone, there’s absolutely no reason not to take advantage of single rider lines.
Granted, this is only available at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Test Track, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest, but these are three of the longest waits at Walt Disney World, and thrill junkies can really get their fix via these single rider lines. There have been times where I’ve looped Expedition Everest, riding it 3 times in about 15 minutes!
If you’re incorporating Universal Orlando Resort into your solo trip, you can take advantage of single rider lines on many attractions there. This can be an immense time-saver, and something to use even when you’re traveling with others (we do!).
8. TREAT YO SELF!
If you have a family of 5, you probably balk at the prices of some experiences at Walt Disney World. Even things like a buffet mean dropping at least $200. There might be a lot of pricey things you haven’t done at Walt Disney World because of how much it would cost for your entire party. When you are traveling alone, the cost of your entire party is the cost of YOU.
This might seem super selfish, but this is America. George Washington would roll in his grave if we all didn’t act like we are the center of the universe. Joking aside, a solo trip is an opportunity to do a couple of those expensive things that simply cost too much with your entire party.
It might be something relatively straightforward like a Halloween or Christmas party, or you might go all out and get a spa treatment or do surfing lessons at Typhoon Lagoon. Regardless, Tom & Donna would be proud.
7. Be Someone Else
Whenever I travel to Walt Disney World, the people I encounter along the way meet George Kaplan, secret agent and international man of mystery. Actually…that’s not what I mean. When you’re on a trip by yourself where you’re only interacting with people who don’t know you and probably will never see you again, you can feel freer to step outside of your “normal” personality.
This might sound silly because you could always step outside of your comfort zone if you so desired, but that’s easier said than done. I think quite often we comport with others’ expectations of us…or might be embarrassed to have friends or family see us step outside of our comfort zones.
When you’re solo, it’s easier to go out on a limb, so to speak. Whether this is manifested in talking to strangers on the monorail, getting up and doing karaoke, or eating a porterhouse the size of your head if you’re a vegetarian, it can be a fun way to try things you normally wouldn’t.
6. Be Social…
Social media can be your lifeline to the outside world. While there is something to be said for actually experiencing what you’re doing rather than sharing the supposed experience, I think a solo trip is somewhat different because it gives you a chance to engage with others.
Part of what makes a trip with others fun is sharing those little moments in the parks with someone else. Sharing online provides a quick and easy way to have a semblance of that, while still traveling solo. Just be careful: the fear of loneliness can make it easy to spend too much time sharing on social media, and not enough time actually enjoying yourself and doing things on your solo Walt Disney World trip.
My recommendation here would be to live in the moment and ‘catch up’ on sharing when you’re waiting in lines. Oh, and be sure to bring an external battery charger for your phone. The dullness of certain queues is amplified when you’re by yourself, and you will use a lot of battery killing time…
5. Vacation Kingdom
I’m not entirely sure why I view this as a solo activity, but I find myself stepping beyond the turnstiles of the parks out into the rest of the Vacation Kingdom of the World when I visit by myself. This is probably because the theme parks are broadly appealing to a wide range of people, whereas the rest of the Vacation Kingdom–whether it’s golf, fishing, or specific resorts–is all more targeted to certain hobbies and interests.
You can also venture outside the park by simple “riding the rails.” Take a flight on the Skyliner or monorail, a leisurely ride around Bay Lake on the boats, or simply a stroll around Crescent Lake. One form of transportation we’d probably skip is the buses. While practical, there’s not much fun to be had simply riding around random bus routes.
One place I often find myself is Fort Wilderness, a resort I really love. Perhaps this is because I am accustomed to being alone with nature when I travel alone in the real world, so I gravitate to that same type of location at Walt Disney World. There’s a reason “at one with nature” is a popular saying, and I’ve found that Fort Wilderness is a great place for quiet strolls and introspection. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Trail’s End is an awesome place to eat.
4. Choose Your Own Adventure!
Want to do Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin 10 times in a row? How about spending the day watching ducks wandering around Casey’s Corner? Maybe stopping for 30 minutes to wait for the monorail to pass in Epcot so you can get that stellar photo you’ve always wanted.
One thing I’ve learned through this blog is that different people get different things out of Walt Disney World. I can tell you that my ideal day is radically different than some others’ idea of a perfect day. When you travel solo, your vision of “ideal” is the day you get to have, no matter how odd that may seem to others.
I spent an entire day in Epcot by myself once, and literally did nothing besides watching Impressions de France (twice), American Adventure, sitting on a bench listening to the Innoventions background music, and taking photos. So go ahead, stare at those ducks. You’ve earned it.
3. Fly by the Seat of Your Pants
Having a solid itinerary for Walt Disney World when you’re with several other people makes sense because there are certain pressures of a multi-thousand dollar trip. These pressures are significantly lower when you’re by yourself. This is not to say a Walt Disney World vacation is cheap when you’re by yourself or that you should go in without FastPass+ or any goals, but the stakes are lower.
It is to say that going solo at Walt Disney World makes for a more flexible vacation. If you don’t have a plan and you’re with a larger party, every step must be discussed, and making decisions on the fly is inefficient and unwieldy.
When you are by yourself, you can easily pivot and do things on the fly, as there’s no collaborative element. Not having any plan may make you feel somewhat “naked” at first, but it is another way to have a different type of day at Walt Disney World. Spontaneity is one of the highlights of a solo Disney trip.
2. Make “Internet Friends”
If this blog post were written 10 years ago, that heading might sound like the creepiest thing ever. “Internet friends” was probably associated with having a sit-down with Chris Hansen. The dynamic and perception of the internet has certainly changed a lot since then, and socializing online is no longer viewed as a hobby of the anti-social.
Now, there truly is a Disney online fan “community” (or multiple communities), and it’s a great place to make friends. Many of these people live close to the parks, and enjoy meeting up with their online friends “IRL”.
The thing about this is that you have to go about it the right way. If you’re not currently active in any online communities, don’t sign up 2 weeks before your trip and start randomly Tweeting people your travel dates and asking if they can meet up.
You need to make friends online just as you would in the real world, interacting and forming friendships over time, and then privately messaging them closer to your travel dates. I could write an entire post on the “right” way to do all of this, but I’m going to assume the readers of this blog are the coolest of the cool, and not socially maladjusted, so you can probably figure most of this out for yourselves.
Meeting up with friends is a nice safety net, so to speak, or a way to balance out the trip. This way, you can choose when you’re by yourself and when you experience the parks with friends. Personally, I know after a couple days of only superficial interactions, I’m ready for a ‘break’ from the solo thing and looking for meaningful interactions.
1. Disney Enlightenment
One of the odd problems I have with a group dynamic is that I always feel compelled to be ‘accomplishing’ something, regardless of whether the people I’m with are even more laid back than me. It’s this odd, slightly neurotic thing, I guess. For example, Sarah always tells me that ‘she’s just happy being there’ but I still feel the need to keep things moving along. I don’t want to stop for too long to take a photo, or linger after a meal. There’s just something in the back of my mind prodding me along.
By contrast, when I’m by myself, this does not even enter my mind. I am perfectly fine taking my time, meandering around and truly doing nothing. You might think that if you didn’t have anyone else slowing you down, you would do attractions non-stop, but inevitably, everyone I know who has gone solo talks about how they really loved the leisurely pace.
I refer to this as getting to know the parks. It’s my favorite part of going solo. There’s something about this that I just love that’s almost impossible to articulate, but you end up seeing the parks in an intimate, different way. It’s tough to explain, but after about a day of this, it feels almost like you have heightened senses: you see things you normally don’t see, hear things you normally don’t hear, etc. I suppose it’s like enlightenment, Disney style. That might seem embellished or even preposterous if you’ve never had solo time in the parks, but trust me on this. It’s a “thing.”
One thing I didn’t mention above was safety. Personally, I don’t think this really qualifies as much of a tip. You should be safe wherever you go. Although incidents do occur at Walt Disney World, bad stuff happens everywhere, and I view Walt Disney World as one of the safest places on the planet. So, yeah, don’t do anything stupid that jeopardizes your safety. Otherwise, I think I covered my favorite tips for flying solo at Walt Disney World!
Have you done a solo Walt Disney World vacation? Any additional tips? Are you thinking of flying solo at WDW? Does a solo trip seem like something you’d enjoy, or would you miss being with your friends or family? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have other thoughts or questions, please share in the comments!