Disney articles

Traveling Alone to Walt Disney World



August 14, 2010
by Firedancer on the DISboards
DIS Contributing Columnist

travelling alone to Walt Disney World

You have your Walt Disney World trip with friends or family all planned out only to have everyone else pull out of it all of a sudden. Maybe their schedules changed, maybe money just wasn’t there after all, maybe they just don’t like you enough to spend a week trapped in a hotel room with you. For whatever reason, you now face a decision - go solo or don’t go at all.

Whether it is planned or the result of a group trip falling apart, a solo trip is not something to panic about. They can be just as much fun as a trip with friends and family. Heck, they can be even better. There are, however, some differences when you are at Disney all alone. There are also things you can do to share even a solo trip with friends or family who are a thousand miles away.

Let’s get the obvious disadvantage out of the way first - price. There is no one to share the cost of a hotel room or a rental car with. While that could be a pretty big chunk of change, there are some things you can do to mitigate the cost of your trip. You will not need as much room with one person as you do with two, three, or four, so staying at a value resort as opposed to a moderate or deluxe is one option. What about staying off site? Well, while that could save you even more on the room, you will have to factor into that cost the rental car you are now paying for by yourself. Add the cost of parking each day and it might make more sense to stay at a value resort and use Magical Express and free Disney transportation even if the room is slightly more expensive. Going solo may also mean you are more flexible in your schedule for arrival and departure. Sometimes a simple shift of your trip a day or two in either direction could save you on airfare, move you into value season, or get you weekday as opposed to weekend prices. While this is true of any trip, when traveling by yourself you will only have to worry about one schedule, your own. Most of the other costs are on a per person basis anyway (food, souvenirs, tickets, etc), so going solo will have little if any effect on those expenses.

I know some people are thinking that even a fun solo trip is still solo and you aren’t building memories with your friends or family. While true, there are ways to counter that. We’ll get back to those a little later though. What are the advantages of going solo? The first is schedule. You get to do what you want when you want every second of the day. Morning person? Everyone in your party is a morning person. Night owl? Everyone in your party is a night owl. Love buffet meals and early dinners? Everyone in your party feels the same. There is no trying to fit what 4 different people want to do into a schedule. You don’t have to justify sacrificing park time to sit by the pool or, conversely, convince anyone that there are pools at home so you should maximize your time in the parks.

You also have some scheduling advantages when you are solo. I usually make very few advanced dining reservations when I go solo, because walking up to a restaurant with a party of one will get you seated quicker (most of the time) than walking up with a party of six. Now, that isn’t a guarantee and the time of your trip along with the time and place you want to eat will affect this. If you are trying to get into the Crystal Palace on Christmas day at noon or into Le Cellier at 5:00 during free dining it might not matter if you are alone or in a group. If, however, you are willing to eat at non-standard times, travel at non-peak season, and don’t have to eat at a specific place at a specific time you will find walking up is pretty easy while solo. Since you are eating solo, you will also have a better chance of getting in and out of the restaurant quickly. There are less orders to mess up or meals to send back, less chance of someone ordering something that takes a long time to prepare, and less idle after dinner chat to slow you down.

There are also some advantages when it comes to attractions. Along with the ability to do only the attractions you want, even over and over, you can get onto some of them more quickly. Three attractions on property have dedicated single rider lines: Test Track, Rock 'N’ Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest. Even on other attractions the cast members will occasionally ask for single riders because a party of three or five needs one more to fill a row or an attraction like Soarin’ needs a solo person to fill a glider. If you are seeing a theater or live action show you don’t have to scope out the right number of open seats in a row and can often find a great stand alone seat that was left open up front. This also means you can arrive to certain shows a little bit later.

I see a lot of people concerned about dining while they are at Disney solo but there is no reason to be. I’ve done table service, buffets, and even character meals solo and none were a problem. Even if you are a little self conscious about eating solo in a restaurant you quickly realize that everyone else is far too concerned with enjoying their own meal to concentrate on you. Even if they do notice the chances of ever seeing these people again is pretty slim.

If this is something you just can’t get past, there are options. The first is counter service. You are much less conspicuous at a counter service location then a table service location. They also tend to have a busier, more distracting atmosphere that can take away some of that self consciousness. A second is to eat at a restaurant with a bar. Places like ESPN Zone and the Rainforest Café have bar areas and some people are just more comfortable eating in that type of atmosphere when alone. Lastly, you can always head back to the resort (for that above mentioned pool time perhaps) and grab room service or something in the food court.

Because you can do only the things you want to do, can cut some lines short, and can get into and out of restaurants more quickly you just might find you have more leisure time when you are on a solo trip. What you do with that time is naturally up to you. It might mean doing your favorite attraction(s) again but it could also mean a chance to do something new, something you have never had time to do before. Whether that is touring resorts you’ve never seen or taking a little more time to notice the little details you always walk past doesn’t matter, but you won’t regret either.

Remember when I mentioned things you could do to share your trip with friends, even those a thousand miles away? Well, I had two things in mind. The first is by using technology. Thanks to smartphones you can post status updates, photos, and video to Facebook or Twitter. If you have a blog you can live blog your vacation. If you are active in any of the online fan communities, like DISboards, you can do a daily trip report. That last suggestion leads to the second thing I had in mind, a meet. Sometimes they are “official� meets organized by podcasters, bloggers, or message board operators and sometimes they are just informal gatherings organized on message boards by the people who post there. Either way they are a way to not only spend time with like-minded Disney fans but a chance to make new friends. If you happened to be down for a specific event there could be meets set up around that event. Participants on the W.I.S.H. board often meet during marathon weekend and posters on the Podcast board set up meets around official DIS Unplugged events.

No matter why or when you are going down to Walt Disney World all by yourself, it is an opportunity for the best trip you’ve ever had. I hope if you are presented with the ‘go solo or don’t go at all’ conundrum, you will choose to go solo.

Thanks for the great article! I'll be embarking on my first solo trip in 2 months & change (66 days but who's counting?!?) Only going for 4 days and it's a research trip for a book, so I am looking at it as work (I actually kept a straight face as I typed that!) Can't wait!

synthroid online
Really interesting blog, keep up the good work!

Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

Tim Alcoser
I am also doing a solo trip to WDW this January (budget season). While I have done many solo trips solo, I was a bit concerned going to WDW by myself, considering the family and friends atmosphere the parks shoot for. I also had friends planning to go with me but it fell through. While I generally stick to myself on these trips, I think it would be a good idea if the WDWinfo boards had a section specifically for solo travelers to meet and greet in the park. The article was enlightening and gave me a few extra ideas.

Tim Alcoser
I am also doing a solo trip to WDW this January (budget season). While I have done many solo trips solo, I was a bit concerned going to WDW by myself, considering the family and friends atmosphere the parks shoot for. I also had friends planning to go with me but it fell through. While I generally stick to myself on these trips, I think it would be a good idea if the WDWinfo boards had a section specifically for solo travelers to meet and greet in the park. The article was enlightening and gave me a few extra ideas.

By the way when I said September this year I mean September 2011!!!

Planning to visit WDW all alone in September this year and would like to know if some solo travellers are planning to do the same at the same period so that we can meet to go on the rides, coffee and/or whatever to make it a little bit easier! I'm from Spain! Yeah sounds crazy!!!

Thanks SO much for posting this blog! I have been longing to go to WDW for some time now - problem is, I have nobody to go with. (Several years ago my sister & I had started making plans to go, but then the plans fell through.) There's an amusement park not far from my house that I go to frequently from May through October, and always go alone since I have nobody else to go with. So...that got me wondering if anyone has ever gone to WDW alone - doing a search for that led me to this blog. I figure that going alone to WDW won't really be any different than going to the local amusement park - it's just a whole lot bigger! I've never travelled alone unless it was to visit a long-distance friend - but after reading the positive comments here, I think I may go for it!

After 4 years of caring for my mother 24-7, I decided I needed alone time and did a solo trip to WDW. My family thought I was crazy, but it was WONDERFUL! I love the way Disney takes complete care of everything from the minute you get to the Orlando airport. I felt completely safe at Port Orleans French Quarter, and everyone was super nice! I had no problem eating alone, never felt like I was being stared at. I spent alot of time just sitting on a bench and people watching, rode Soarin' about 10 times, and enjoyed all the shows (my family only wants to be on the rides...) The highlight of my trip was the day long "backstage tour", it was well worth the price! When I tell other "moms" about my trip, they all say it sounds like the perfect vacation! I came home rested, refreshed and renewed.

My family thought I was crazy when I told them I was going to WDW alone for a conference and to the parks ALONE while I was there. I had a BLAST. I worked my flight out so I landed early and spent the entire day ( with Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. The next few days I made my way thru MK and Epcot alone. I had no problem whatsoever eating alone at Downtown Disney and at the parks. If I didn't want to wait for a bus I took a cab back to the room. I also went to the Polynesian Luau ALONE. I am hoping to 'sneak' away alone again. To follow your own schedule, eat, nap, go to the pool and enjoy on your own terms is HEAVEN!!!!

I absolutely love going solo! I am a 54 year old female that has been with my family (huband and kids) for the last 25 years. A few years ago I decided to try a solo trip because family members no longer wanted to share the magic. I had an absolutley fantastic time. A great thing to do is to stay at a Downtown Disney Hotel, get a 35.00 Mears round trip ticket to and from the airport, and ride the Disney Transportation at the hotel. You can walk to Downtown Disney from the hotel if you like, and the area is extremely safe. I LOVE doing what I want, when I want, and where I want. Dining alone doesn't bother me at all. It is abosoluetly the most relaxing way to enjoy WDW!. I am heading back for Mother's Day...and I can't wait.

Solo is great! I've never enjoyed Animal Kingdom as much as I did last fall when I had the time to leisurely walk through Pangani Forest or visit the Asian tigers. There is no one there to become impatient with my "elderly" attitudes toward wanting to really experience the World without dashing from one ride to the other. Yes. The World is a wonderful place to be with friends and family, but once in a while, a deep breath and a few days to oneself with all of Disney World at your disposal is truly magical.

I am planning to celebrate my 5oth in early Dec 2011. Will spend 4 days on my own, then hopefully my family will be able to join me. I can't wait. I've been checking into many different WDW hotels.

I had three days solo while waiting for my sister June 2010. I spent the evenings at which ever park had late magic hours. I love riding my favorite attractions at night, especially: Splash Mountain, Everest, Kali Rapids. I went for a late dinner at a resort restaurant then headed back to my resort for a beer at the hot tub. I am a large-ish 50 something woman but I figure it's my vacation and there are lots of folks who look like me. I did not feel awkward at anytime (and I'm a little shy) I felt it was worth it to book a moderate resort for the pool, hot tub and bar- I don't drink very much but a beer or margarita in the evening is very nice! For the poster who asked about a great solo resort, I don't think you could do better than Coronado. Fewer kids and great pool, almost always empty, lovely ,quiet atmosphere.

Wow... what a great article! I am now an "empty nester" and am accompanying my husband on a business trip to Orlando. As soon as I found out he needed to go there, my first thought was, "I can ride the Peter Pan's Flight as many times as I want!!!" I love my family but am so looking forward to doing what I want, when I want! It's nice to know I'm not the only crazy adult in this world and that there are others who appreciate the 'Disney Experience'!! Having read all these positive posts, I'll probably be more aware of the other solo travelers as well!! Bon Voyage everybody! Enjoy!

I am going on my first solo trip to WDW in early March, I was excited before, and now having read this column and all the comments by "experienced" solo travelers, I am in countdown mode! The dining was my biggest concern and that has been alleviated totally. I have always wanted to go to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and now I get to do it at MY pace! This could get addictive!

11-2010 Decided to confirm in my mind a Bithday at Epcot. Of all day's it's New Years Day. I have no family and changed all my friends. I have one who can't be with me. I will be going solo at Disney. I am so looking forward to this. One I am local. Just purchased an anual premium pass holder. I will arrive early. My past experience tells me it's going to be busy. Smart walking shoes, comfortably dress. Above all if time were to be limited then use maps. Fast pass where ever possible and take breaks. I am a past Disney marathoner so to speak do a park in just hours. Now near 50 yrs of age. Never went solo before. Plan to not have plans and enjoy myself. I only have a dinner reservation's due to the occasion and it being possibly busy. I am very excited a passport to another country and a day of peace. It can be great to be single at Disney positively speaking.

What is a good hotel to stay in when travelling solo

I am getting very excited!!!! I'm leaving on the 12th and returning on the 20th. I'd love to meet another solo traveler for drinks or coffee!!!

Thank you for the article, Frank! I am planning a solo trip to WDW early next year; at first I was a bit apprehensive about doing it alone - I am encouraged by all the positive comments people posted. It has been five years since my last trip, and I think I am having withdrawal symptoms!

I've gone to WDW world at least 4 times solo and I've always loved it untill they closed the clubs over at Pleasure Island including the Adventurers Club which means I now don't know what to do at night. Bummer.

I will be making a solo trip in late November and i am really excited. The idea of doing what I want, when I want is great

Thanks for posting this. I am having my first solo trip to WDW at the end of October but have already been to all the other Disney parks in the world on my own. It's great to be able to please nobody but yourself and spend as long (or as short) somewhere as you choose. I admit that it can be hard as I have noone to share my enthusiasm with or to say "wow, that was amazing" and I do feel a little self conscious going on rides like 'its a small world' and some of the Fantasyland rides on my own but I have to put up with it if I want to experience those rides or attractions. I also find that becuase, for example, I often visit Disneyland Paris alone (I am from the UK), when I go with family I am more relaxed about what attractions I experience and can let them choose how to spend our time rather than being all 'me, me, me'. Beside, they love that I can tell them where the nearest toilet is without checking a map and can point out all the little, subtle Disney touches and I know about because I am such a big fan. Let's here it for going solo!!

I have been a few times solo and am going again Oct 13 to 22nd. If any other solo (or not solo) travelers are going to be there at that time let me know - it would be great to hang with other like minded Disney nuts! I am going to try and g to the Wine and Food at Epcot a lot and hit the waterparks which I haven't done the last two trips (too cold) and of course MK AK and HS!!! I'll be there 10 days - hope I have enough time ;-)

I'll be making my fourth solo Disney trip in October (13-22nd) will be checking out the Wine and Food fest, hitting all the parks, got tix to the Aloha show - etc. I can't wait! If there are other folks who will be there then let me know - it would be great to meet up with other Disney fans!

I'll be making my fourth solo Disney trip in October (13-22nd) will be checking out the Wine and Food fest, hitting all the parks, got tix to the Aloha show - etc. I can't wait! If there are other folks who will be there then let me know - it would be great to meet up with other Disney fans!

I'll be making my fourth solo Disney trip in October (13-22nd) will be checking out the Wine and Food fest, hitting all the parks, got tix to the Aloha show - etc. I can't wait! If there are other folks who will be there then let me know - it would be great to meet up with other Disney fans!

gloria Paulsen
pam you sound just like me.i have never been to disney alone except for a day or two without the family.i may be there alone in dec. just when will you be there perhaps we can meet up

My wife and I enjoy WDW much better together w/o children and grandchildren so we don't have to accommodate schedules and preferences of so many adults and children. The wife is a person who likes sleeping in and I am up at the crack of dawn. So I spend many mornings on my own at DTD or the parks and love having three or four hours to myself. Especially love doing some classes at DHS Animation Academy and them meeting up with my wife for lunch at Brown Derby or Mama Melroses. Thank goodness for cell phones!

I am thinking of making my 1st solo Disney trip so I can hit the International Food and Wine Festival this year. Not really concerned about going solo, I think I will just feel guilty that I am going and the rest of the family is not. Going on a family cruise the 1st week of November, thinking of driving down to Florida myself and hitting Disney for a couple of days then flying the rest of the family down to make the cruise out of Tampa. I am unemployed so I have the time in the world, wife only has enough vacation time to take the cruise and don't want to take the kids out of school more than we have to. I think I am going to do it, then just take the whole family on a Disney vacation @ the end of January.

I've gone SOLO to Disney 3 times so far and love it! I feel like the cast members give you extra attention, plus people are just friendlier at Disney and I always find someone to talk to! I love doing what I want everyday and taking as many rest stops and shopping trips as I want!

As much as I enjoy traveling in a group, I have traveled solo several times and still manage to enjoy myself. I take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to going solo, like the single-rider lines and eating at the bar as opposed to waiting for a table. The only problem was whenever I wanted to take a photo of myself, I had to find someone to do it and hope they took a great shot. But that has changed with the Disney Photopass photographers. Yeah, if I had the preference I would rather travel with close friends and family, but I can still handle doing the solo bit.

In many ways, this would be my dream vacation! I love to take loads of photos, but I always feel like I'm holding my kids or friends back when I stop to take my "artsy" pictures. Being able to stroll at my leisure, stop and shoot at will, is something that is always in the back of my mind on each trip. Two years ago my best friend and I planned our first grown-up trip to WDW. At the last minute, she almost couldn't go, and I found myself 1/2 hoping I'd get a solo trip! But she was able to work out the details, and it ended up being one of my favorite trips of all time. But I'm still looking for that solo opportunity... :)

Hi: I'm 75 years old and I've been doing Disney solo for quite a few years. Last year I took the family in August, but still needed my solo trip in February. I'm headed back in October (solo). I've stayed at a number of the resorts, but I still like the All Star. My first trip to Disney was in 1977 and I've been back at least once every year since. Now, for me, solo is the ONLY way to go. Do what you want, when you want and where you want. See you in The World!

Wow -- I've shared a few "alone time" minutes in a park before, but never considered a whole solo trip. What an incredible idea! I will definitely be thinking about this. It's wonderful to read other people's comments who have done it before and get ideas that I may not have been inspired with yet.

Thanks Frank, I tour on my own quite often and those are great tips.

I am leaving for my first solo trip to WDW in exactly 33 days! I can't wait. I've always been independent. My only concern was feeling weird eating at the table meals I’ve scheduled but this blog has helped me look at it as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. This will be my second trip (both were planned for mid September). I love the idea of never having to answer to anyone but myself. I’m a social person so I think chatting it up with others won’t be a problem. I feel very safe leaving my first solo trip in the hands of Disney.

I am considering a solo trip to WDW myself I have a question there was a early post by a gal named Cindy Kay mentioning she was going to take Frank's advice and attend a meet is there such a thing and what it is ? I am a Disney fantic as many others are and Just enjoiy gooing to end being at Disney and doing most anything Disney but contempleting going alone but just curious if there might be w ay to connect with others who enjoy Disney and all of it's magic

Lou Ann
I have been to WDW many times SOLO. My husband goes to WDW with me some, but there are just times when I want to go for a few days (have FL resident pass) and he doesn't feel like going. Best resort for SOLO on budget is Pop Century Resort. I have never felt out of place and a few rides have a single rider line which is great! WDW is one of the few places I feel completely safe and secure going to...but just watch out it might be too addictive!

I made my first solo trip to WDW last December at the age of 66....I've been multiple trips with family but, I always wished to go more often. I stayed at AK....took advantage of one of the Disney specials and I haven't enjoyed myself so much in a very long time!! If I wanted to talk to someone, I just started up a conversation and mad lots of interesting friends of all ages!! In spite of my worries, I ate at some wonderful restaurants and didn't feel at all self conscious. I'm going back this December and can't wait to go!! It would be fun to meet some other Disney "addicts" while I'm there....Pam

Planning my solo trip next weekend. Being a local, makes the kids not appreciate what they have so they often not want to go. I always want to go to any park. So off I go with no concessions as to what rides I get on or where I eat.

I live in the Tampa area so every so often I make a solo single day trip up to WDW. Whether its doing a couple rides at one park, or park hopping, either way it is a fun time. I will admit there are times that I still get that self conscious feeling sometimes when getting off of a ride and not being able to express how joyful the experience was to a friend/relative helps generate that self conscious feeling, but it usually only lasts a little bit before I am off to the next attraction. I will say the best of the 4 disney parks to visit on a solo trip has to be Epcot. I feel Epcot has a more mature atmosphere than the other three so to feel slightly more comfortable, I usually choose Epcot first. I will actually be going to Epcot this Friday(solo) to finally see Captain EO. I am extremely excited about that.

Oh, and I love that you used a photo of the Dolphin lobby for this story -- the Dolphin was the site of my first beloved solo trip, and I'm working on planning another one in October. I loved touring by myself -- hello multiple rides on the Tower of Terror!

I've visited 2 Disney Parks by myself. One was MGM Studios when they still had Soap Weekend, and the other was Epcot during the Flower and Garden event. As an avid photographer, I had such a fun time. I was in my glory being able to wander, and didn't have to worry about holding anyone up each time I stopped on a whim to take a picture. At the Soap weekend, it was fun waiting in line to get into the gift shop that was set up in the ABC Commissary, talking to all the other soap fans.

Cindy Kay
I will be going on my first SOLO trip in 3 weeks... I'm too excited! *woo hoo!* I am taking Frank's advise and will be attending a "meet" while I am there. :O) I think it will be fun to get together with others that enjoy Disney as much as I do!!

I am hoping to go solo in March. My hubby goes hunting for 10 days every, so I think it's time I got some alone time too. I plan on doing a spa day while there 1

I have been to WDW many times but my "nest" is now empty. I have been on wonderful trips with my grown children and hope there will be more but I realy want to go back in November to see the Christmas lights and decorations. Reading this story of A solo trip has realy shown me that it can be very special! POP here I come!

I'm planning my first solo trip for my 40th bday in April. I haven't told my husband or kids yet. But I feel like I deserve it. I cannot wait!

I did my first solo trip in 2000, tied in with a business trip. I have such fond memories of that trip, especially at Epcot where I took my sweet time.

My first solo trip is 12/10, only concern was the dining. Glad this blog was up!

I got back on the 5TH of July from my first solo trip and I had a great , I was there for 15 days and I had a great time . I played 10 rounds of golf at the Disney courses . I had several ADR'S and they all went great had some great conversations with waiters and waitress's . Did alot of pool time , that is where it got interesting I met and became friendly with a family who had alot of the same interest as myself . We shared many stories of DW trips in the past . I also met many other people from all over the world . As stated above I was able to fast track most rides being solo . Stayed at POR I really like it there . I was able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do them .

I am thinking (dreaming) of a solo trip, however I have 3 small children (all under 10) and even thinking about going to WDW solo gives me a guilty feeling. Does anyone else have these feelings? Should I wait and go later when the kids are older and *gulp* not as interested in WDW? Any suggestions to get over the guilt bubble?

I dreamed of a solo to WDW for years and finally made it come true this past May....It was AWE.SOME!!!!! I love my family and I look forward to the next trip with them, but this trip was just for me (and happened to fall over Mother's Day!). I was able to get up and out early; was first at the turnstyles each day, saw Rope Drop at the parks (MK's is esp. wonderful). I changed my mind on a whim and didn't have to take a vote on what to see or do next! I had two ADRs during my trip and never once felt weird about dining alone. The CMs give you lots of attention and I didn't feel it was a lesser experience in any way. There is a lot of freedom in a solo trip and I hope I can do it again one day.

I would love to visit WDW all alone. Just think of the shopping I could do. I could spend an intire day in Downtown Disney just window shopping. Just stoll down mainstreet at my own pace and just injoy being there.

I haven't exactly 'traveled solo' TO WDW, but when we went as a family, I had several occasions when the kids wanted to hit the hotel pool and my husband wanted to nap, so I went to Epcot or Hollywood Studios all by myself! It was AWESOME!!!

I have gone to WDW several times solo. and love the freedom of doing whatever i want, wherever i want, whenever I want ( within reason) staying at varied vacation club properties and/or the Pop Century Resort (which has a fantastic food court.) I am an Annual Passholder, a Disney Vacation Club member and a Senior citizen. I love everything Disney and hope Airline costs won't significantly decrease my several yearly trips to WDW in the future

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