Have you ever considered leaving the family behind and going to Disney World by yourself? Do you dream about kissing them all on the doorstep and saying, “I’ll see you in a week?” It could be that your family doesn’t share your Disney passion or maybe you just need some good old me-time. Whatever the reason you might be considering a solo trip, read along for some tips to keep you from getting too lonely at the most magical place on earth!
Disney is used to all kinds of travelers, so they won’t make you feel awkward as you step off the magical express onto your favorite resort. In fact, you’ll even be greeted with a Welcome Home! Nothing makes you feel more welcomed.
Check in at the front desk
I’m all about convenience and sometimes avoiding people interaction (I’m a weirdly extroverted introvert), but when traveling alone, I make sure to purposefully make connections along the way. Even if you’ve done the online check in, I recommend going to the front desk and proudly proclaiming, “I’m on a solo trip.” My front desk concierge immediately made me button that said “First solo trip,” so I could wear it throughout my vacation (if they don’t offer, make sure to ask for one). She also made great suggestions for places to connect with those around me and just really gave me a great start to my trip.
Don’t hide in your room
Disney resort rooms are glorious but if you’re worried about feeling lonely, they’re the last place you want to hang out. Eat in common areas. If you need to do some work, bring your laptop or phone outside and sit in the lobby or by the pool (if you can tune out distractions). Stroll the grounds for exercise.
Again, I’m kind of an introvert, so I need to create ways to start up conversations and pin trading is a great way. Stock up on pins before you go, load up your lanyard and then head out and look for Cast Members with pin collections. It’s such a fun and easy way to start up conversations, and there are just tons of neat pins to trade. Pick a character to look for (all Donald Ducks) or a theme (all Disney nerds) and let the adventure begin. As a little plug, World of Walt has a Pin of the Month Club that you can sign up for and receive a new pin each month. Start this club a few months before your trip and you’ll have a nice jump start on your pin trading.
Wear your button
If you didn’t get a personalized button from the front desk Cast Member, pick up one yourself and create a fun button yourself. You can really write anything you want one them – “I’m celebrating my first solo trip” or “First Visit … Alone!” Or, if you’re a planner, look to Etsy or similar site to find all kinds of unique personalized pins. Whatever you do, Cast Members seem to make a point to try to read your pin, so they can ask you how it’s going or what’s your favorite part about being solo.
Enjoy community meals
Personally, I found eating meals the only time I felt a bit awkward with being alone, but I did find a few ways to help me overcome that uncomfortableness. First, I mainly ate at quick service restaurants. I liked the idea of picking up my food and then finding a table among a few hundred of my friends. I always try to sit with my back to the wall, so I can see out and experience the community around me (or in other words – people watch). Another great place for solo dining are the lounges at Disney. The bartenders and servers there are very good at keeping you company and striking up conversations.
Take a Tour
Tours are made for solo travelers! They give you structure, purpose, built in conversational cues and tons of choices so you can choose to do a tour no one else ever wants to do. Going solo on a tour is cost efficient as well. Some of the tours can be pricey for a whole family. When you’re alone, you only need to pay for one person, not five, of which 3 are bored in the first hour. Most tours need to be booked ahead of time, so go to myDisneyexperience app and pick one that appeals to you.
Strike up Conversations
Whether it’s on the bus ride to Disney Springs, while standing in a long queue for Haunted Mansion or simply sitting on a curb waiting for a parade to begin, you’ll notice there’s always someone around. Look around to see if there are any friendly faces and begin a friendly conversation. I find most guests at Disney are extremely friendly and love to chat, especially to kill time while waiting for something. An easy intro question is “where are you from?” or “how long is your vacation?” Even for a somewhat introvert like me, these conversations can come easily and it’s fun to get a peek into someone else’s world for a little bit.
Try new things
A solo trip is the perfect time to do the things your family or friends never wanted to do. Go and watch all of the national movies in Epcot (O Canada!, Impressions de France and Reflections of China). Or explore Main Street with a thoroughness you’ve never had the chance to do before with everyone else wanting to hustle to all the rides. Or maybe you have a favorite ride you’d like to ride over and over. For me, I went on Soarin’ 6 times in one day and it still wasn’t enough.
Avoid emotionally-laden experiences
If you’re feeling a bit homesick or lonely, I recommend not doing activities that are perhaps family traditions and carry a lot of emotions with them. If your family always goes directly to meet Mickey Mouse first thing, maybe skip that specific character visit. Pick a new character or get your photo in a completely unique place. If your child has a favorite ride that you always share, consider not going on that ride. For me, it was Three Caballeros. My one daughter loves that ride so when I tried to ride it alone, I couldn’t stop thinking about how happy she’d be to be with me. Ugh. Crying on a ride is AWKWARD!
Use social media wisely
My daughters live overseas so I love that we can stay connected via social media like Skype, Facebook and What’s App. If you feel the need to reach out or share an experience with someone you love while at Disney, Facetime them, or share a show with all of your friends at home via Facebook Live. Your family can respond as they watch along with you, and you can have conversations in real time during the show. I took my daughters along on the PeopleMover just so they could hear “Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow.” Social media can be a great way to share bits and parts of your trip on your terms.