In August 2012, I embarked on my first solo trip to Walt Disney World. My little Disney geek was also headed to the World, but with his grandparents, so I was able to take my own trip guilt-free. I snagged a last minute plane ticket, scored some discounted rooms, and I was ready to roll on my own. While parts of my trip were not-so-solo, I was able to enjoy the solo experience as well as see some of the pros and cons of doing Disney by myself.
Since I like to end on a good note, let’s begin with my least favorite aspects of traveling solo…
1. I Missed the Family
Missing my family was definitely the biggest downside to my solo trip. I’d run across things I knew the kids would love, and I’d feel a little tug on my heartstrings. I’d pass by one of our traditional family photo spots and wish we were all there. I’d see families enjoying their trip together, and I’d pout a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the me time, but Disney is such a prominent place for our family that it was hard not to miss them.
2. No FastPass Runner
This was something I really missed compared to our group vacations. At least one person in our party tends to skip coasters and the like, so that person usually grabs a set of FastPasses while the rest of us are screaming and throwing our hands in the air. This saves so much time, and keeps the majority of us from criss-crossing the parks.
Get Park Wise: If you didn’t score a FastPass, keep an ear out. Sometimes cast members will call for a party of one to fill a vehicle on rides that don’t feature a single rider line.
3. No One to Chat With
While I would strike up conversations with other guests and cast members here and there, I had no one to chat with in the evenings about our favorite experience of the day. No one to talk with over meals. Not always someone to pass the time with in queues. I’d occasionally be on the phone, but it’s not the same as having someone to talk to who’s experiencing the vacation with you.
But there are far more things I enjoyed…
1. I Only Had to Keep Up with Myself
No costumes to tote. No autograph books to keep track of during the day. No one to wake up in the morning. I only had to worry about me. It felt really strange to be able to sleep late at Disney. I’m used to having to be up early and help with baths and fixing hair and coordinating outfits. I got used to it quickly, though.
Get Park Wise: Without kid gear to keep up with, consider stashing your ticket, ID and money/card in a pocket and enjoy bypassing the security line at the parks.
2. I Could Do What I Wanted When I Wanted
This might’ve been my favorite thing!! If I wanted to sleep until 10:00 A.M., I did. If I wanted to eat ice cream for lunch, I did. If I wanted to ride Tower of Terror five times in a row, I did! It was so much fun to be able to park hop just to ride one ride or stay out late without worrying about cranky kids or shop all afternoon just because I wanted to do it.
3. Dining is Super Easy as a Solo
I was able to get walk-up availability at every table service I approached. It’s much easier to squeeze in one person than a party of six. It was also a lot easier to find tables at quick service restaurants for the same reason. Oh, and meals are a whole lot cheaper when paying for one.
4. Single Rider Lines
Yes, you can utilize these with a group, but when you’re all alone, there’s no waiting for the rest of your crew to make it through the line. You can move on after your ride, or you can head back to the line for another go.
Get Park Wise: Check out the Disney sites prior to your trip to see which attractions are currently offering a single rider line.
5. Grown-ups Night Out
A friend of mine also happened to be traveling at the same time, and she also happened to be staying at the same resort I was, the Beach Club. Without having to worry about a babysitter (or being up early the next morning), we were able to have a girls’ night out on the Boardwalk. I also was able to have a grown-up beverage or two while strolling the World Showcase in the evenings.
Would I do it again? Sort of. I’m headed back to the World for their summer Agent Education Program, and it’s for travel agents only, so I’m sort of a forced solo traveler. I’m not so sure I’d do it again on my own volition, though. Darn mommy guilt!
Have you done a solo Disney trip? What did you love? What wasn’t so good?