Adventures in Solitude: A Solo Face in the ABD Crowd


After hearing on the podcasts about how fun the Adventures By Disney trips are, I finally decided to join the 2013 Backstage Magic tour. Although I’m accustomed to traveling on my own, especially to Disney parks, I’d been somewhat unsure about an ABD adventure. However, the promise of making like-minded lifetime friends, as I’d heard on the podcasts, trumped the fear of being solo in a group of strangers. Although not exclusively, the ABD adventures do tend to attract couples and families. So I was a bit unsure. Would it be awkward to fit in at meal times, on transportation, or on tours? Would the small groups remain tight and exclude me? What would I do during our free time? Would I have fun? While reading about other ABD trips on the DISBoards, I realized these are questions also being asked by other potential solo travelers. So I’m sharing my experience to help answer any questions.

Keeping the light on for Walt Keeping the light on for Walt

My Approach

I decided that I’d set myself some rules for the trip. My default setting is to be shy and somewhat introverted, so I determined that, in order to make the most of this vacation, I’d do three things that are contrary to my reclusive instincts:

  • Introduce myself to others and initiate conversations.
  • Say “yes” more than I say “no”.
  • Try new things.

The Meet, and Potatoes

No doubt, this was the easiest and most fun vacation ever.  My fears and worries quickly disappeared. Meals were a breeze. On the first night, I scanned the crowd to find the other three solo travelers on this adventure, Chandra, Kristen, and Patty, and started a conversation with them. At dinner, we shared a table for 8 with four other adventurers. After dinner, we all took turns introducing ourselves to the entire ABD group. These introductions, plus the adventurers’ list we received from our ABD guides, really made meeting everyone easy. Over the course of our meals, and especially at breakfast, we mixed it up. Everyone soon knew everyone. There was never a time when I felt like a “spare”, whether I was sitting with other solos, with a couple or two, or with the one family. Our common Disney bond facilitated easy conversation.

 

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lunch at the Tam O Shanter

 

Group Dynamics

Group activities were easy. There was no issue on transportation; the motor coach had plenty of room. On excursions, the only difficulty I had was remembering which of two groups I was in, and where I should be. Soon, my fellow adventurers were cheerfully steering me in the right direction. A smart tactic I adopted was asking if I could take other peoples’ photos for them. In return, they kindly offered to take photos of me. And the extra nice part was being included in others’ photos! Free time was not an issue. I worried about what I was going to do on our free night in Hollywood. But the El Capitan is so close that, when asked, I joined a group to see a film (Lady and the Tramp) in the beautifully restored historic theatre. After, we went to Ghirardelli for ice cream.

at walt's barn At Walt’s Barn

 

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Lessons Learned

In retrospect, I realize that my fears about going solo were unwarranted. The folks on this adventure were so friendly and fun, and I learned a lot from the other solo travelers. From Chandra, I learned that there is always a new destination to explore. From Patty, I learned that outgoing people have the most fun. From Kristen, I learned that being kind and generous brings the best out of people.

Never had to take a photo solo, unless I wanted to

The Inevitable Ending

The last day was surprisingly emotional. In such a short time, we formed strong friendships. We exchanged contact information, and then shared photos after we got home. Via Facebook, we’ve shared and celebrated personal milestones as well as just everyday life. A few of us have been fortunate enough to have mini reunions on podcast cruises, at DISApalooza 2015 (so much fun!) and other Disney-/DIS-related events. A group of us reunited last October for Disneyland’s 60th (where we were lucky enough to spend a day with Mary Jo!). By going on the ABD, I’ve made like-minded friends for life with whom I can share my love for all things Disney. And you can, too! Just contact Kevin at Dreams Unlimited Travel.

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