Tackling Disney as a Single Parent; It’s Doable!

Tackling Disney as a Single Parent; It's Doable! lorena-severino-HpG8TWsoYfg-unsplash Large  Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@shimwerthle?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Lorena Severino</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/a-mickey-mouse-float-in-the-middle-of-a-parade-HpG8TWsoYfg?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Unsplash</a>

I’m going to preface this for those who know me and my back story: in life, I am not a single parent. However, when it comes to traveling, especially Disney trips, I’m well seasoned as a single parent, making the trip alone with my two children in hand on most occasions. I completely understand if you are holding back because you aren’t sure if you can handle it. Depending on the ages of your kids and how many you have, it might be something better kept for when they are older. However, on the off chance that a little encouragement and some of my hard-learned tricks might be able to help, I thought they might be worth sharing. Visiting the Disney Parks from Australia is no easy journey, even when you have adult company, let alone when you are flying solo with kids in tow. And believe me, this Disney Mum has made all the mistakes along the way. That’s why I have a few tricks up my sleeve that might help to make your family vacation become a reality.

10: Choose Your Resort Room Carefully

Choosing your resort room can be a tough decision at any time, but when you are considering the needs of your children, things can get a little more complicated. Be conscious that some resorts are enormous and can make getting from one place to another a much more difficult task. Consider a preferred room that is closer to the lobby and transport hubs. If you are using a stroller, be sure to choose a resort and room type that has access to an elevator. I know what you are thinking, don’t they all have that? No, they don’t. You can also add a request for the ground floor to your room notes, though there are no guarantees. Your resort experience will set the tone for your entire trip, so make sure that you select the right one for your needs.

9: Stick to Quick Service Meals & Eat Early

As much as I love a table service meal or character dining experience, if you are visiting as a single parent with more than one child, it can be, quite frankly, a nightmare. One is eating their meal; the other needs to use the restroom. Not to mention keeping them occupied while you wait for the food to arrive. All of a sudden, that quiet moment to sit down you were hoping for becomes a trip to the circus. When my kids were younger, I stuck to quick service; that way, I could keep them with me when ordering, find a table, and feed them relatively easily. Make sure to eat your meals a bit earlier than the rest of the crowd to give yourself a better chance at scoring a table to sit down.

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Photo by Selcuk S on Unsplash

8: Get Your Rest Time at a Show

If you need a moment to zone out and reset, this one is for you. Instead of looking for those moments of peace when you stop for food, consider taking in a show after lunch that gives you time to digest while keeping the kids entertained. Leave that quick service table for another hungry family to enjoy and head over to something like the Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The large air-conditioned space will have you feeling refreshed and the show will keep the kids mesmerized while you recover.

7: Don’t Over-Commit

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made when flying solo is to attempt to achieve too much in one go. You don’t need to tick every box to make the trip feel worthwhile. Think of this as more of a chance to make memories with your kids, with less rushing around and more family time for you to enjoy the little things. Forget about Park Hopping and this push to spend Rope Drop till closing in the park, and just follow your heart instead. In Disneyland, I am a huge fan of taking breaks and leaving the park for a swim or break during the day. However, this can be a little more difficult in Walt Disney World due to the distances between everything. When visiting the East Coast parks, don’t be afraid to call it quits in the mid-afternoon and enjoy some quiet time together in your resort.

6: A Pro-Level Backpack Is Your Best Friend

When traveling alone with my younger children, my best friend in the world is my backpack. It’s carefully curated with exactly what I need for each trip, including wet wipes and zip-lock bags. You can use those for just about everything from leftover lunch food to keeping electronics waterproof when you enjoy some of the rides where you might get wet. Lightweight jackets, ponchos (for wet weather and wind), a drink bottle, and bribery candy are just a few of the things I swear by in my backpack.

5: Have a Strategy for Waiting in Line

Having a strategy for waiting in line is a vital part of any DInsey vacation with little ones. Those bribery snacks that you pack in the backpack will come in handy, as you can use them not only to reward good behavior but also as prizes. Make up a game or ask questions if your kids are still in school and reward them with an M&M for every correct or creative answer they give. You’ll pass the time while having some fun and spend more time connecting while waiting for your next ride.

Tackling Disney as a Single Parent; It's Doable! courtney-vitale-TcKHZVD6yaM-unsplash-Large  Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@designcrft?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Courtney Vitale</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/a-building-with-a-fountain-in-front-of-it-TcKHZVD6yaM?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Unsplash</a>

Photo by Courtney Vitale on Unsplash

4: Take a Photo of Your Kids Each Morning

This is one of the uglier topics to discuss, though I am of the belief that if you prepare for it, you’ll never need to use it. Take a photo of your kids each morning before you leave. That way, if the unspeakable happens and your child walks off unexpectedly, you have a current photo to offer helpers that shows exactly how they were dressed for the day. I’ve had this gut-wrenching experience before (not one of my solo trips), and it was possibly the worst 15 minutes of my entire life. At that moment, you are frantic and can’t think straight to describe to strangers who they are looking for. This tip was suggested to me after my child was found, and ever since, I’ve done this every time we travel.

3: Don’t Underestimate the Physical Side

There is a lot of walking when it comes to enjoying the Disney Parks, and if we adults are getting tired, those little legs on our children are sure to be exhausted. Keep in mind how far you will be moving around the park, and keep realistic expectations. Renting a stroller can sometimes be the best decision you will ever make, especially if it means that by the end of the day, you can push your little ones home as they rest without trying to carry them or encourage them to walk. One consideration in Walt Disney World is transportation. It’s not easy getting on and off buses with kids and with a stroller alone, so give yourself some extra time and maybe ask someone in the line for some help ahead of when it is time to board.

2: Know Your Children’s Heights

When traveling alone, it’s much harder to accommodate your children when they have different needs. You can’t send your youngest off with Mum or Dad to get an ice cream because they aren’t tall enough to ride a specific attraction with the older kids. Knowing the heights of your children will make this process easier, as you can look up appropriate rides for your whole group ahead of time without those awkward moments in line where one wants to stay but the other can’t ride. Keep things simple and only approach attractions as a family that you can all enjoy together unless you have older kids who can ride alone. (Try using this handy tool here.)

1: Keep a Flexible Mindset

No matter how well you plan your trip, things are bound to change. Just about anything can happen, from someone getting sick to the weather turning on you. Keep an open mind and be flexible in your thinking to allow the best outcome. I highly recommend prepping your kids with the same attitude. Let them know in advance that sometimes rides break down, but we can try again later or that if it rains, the fireworks might be canceled. It’s the best way to keep everyone’s spirits up and make a new plan that is better suited to the situation.

If you are a single parent longing for Disney, there is a good chance you know someone else who is one, too. Why not start a few conversations and see if there is another like-minded parent with the same goal? If your children are friends, this might be the solution you’ve been waiting for, giving them the trip of a lifetime with a friend and you making the journey with the adult backup to help you feel reassured.

Those are a few of the best tips I learned while traveling with younger kids by myself. Let me know if you have any stories or tricks to add to the list, and let’s help some single parents out there find the confidence to make those Disney memories with their children.

Feature Image: Photo by Lorena Severino on Unsplash

Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.

Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.


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