As an Orlando local, I’m lucky enough to be able to visit Walt Disney World often and while I always love planning trips as a family, I also secretly love planning solo trips to Disney. There are so many wonderful perks to going to Disney World alone that are often overlooked by people who are nervous to go to the parks alone so I thought I’d offer up my best tips for going to Disney World alone – and why I love it so much!
Going to Disney World alone; planning a solo trip to Disney
Where to stay on a solo trip to Disney
The absolute best thing about going to Disney World alone is that you can pick exactly what you want to do, and this includes where you want to stay!
On my previous solo Disney trips, I’ve stayed at the deluxe resorts; whilst we do like these resorts when staying as a family, my kids often prefer the over the top themes that come with the value and moderate resorts, and don’t appreciate the qualities of the deluxe resorts that make the price tag worth it. On a solo trip, I know I’ll be able to make full use of those deluxe amenities all by myself! I’ve even splurged on Walt Disney World Club Level rooms so I can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the lounge in the evening!
On a practical note, think about the parks you’ll be most likely to visit on a solo trip, and that may impact where you decide to stay. Maybe you’ll be spending more time at Epcot so it would be convenient to stay at one of the Epcot Resort Hotels (the Yacht and Beach Club or the Boardwalk).
These resorts are also great if you have some time in the evening and are looking for something to do; not only can you walk over to Epcot via the International Gateway, but you can enjoy strolling around the Boardwalk too. You can even catch the Disney Skyliner from International Gateway to visit other resorts or Hollywood Studios.
Where to eat on a solo trip to Disney
Dining when going to Disney World alone is probably the biggest area of concern, and understandably so. Many people don’t like the thought of eating alone, especially surrounded by families, and it makes them feel uncomfortable. Luckily, Disney has options that should make everyone feel relaxed enough to enjoy a meal.
First of all, it should be noted that there are many, many people dining at Disney World alone and there’s no need to feel self conscious; no one around you will even notice! If you’d like to try a table service restaurant but feel a little uncomfortable about sitting alone, you could bring a book or an iPad or something to do to keep you occupied at the table. Servers are used to solo diners and are happy to either chat or leave you be.
There are a couple of tips I’d offer to those dining solo at a table service restaurant. If you’re eating at a character location and know you want a photo taken, keep an eye out for someone who can do so when the characters come by; character handlers try to stay close to their characters but one might not be on hand to take a photo so don’t be afraid to ask a server who doesn’t look too busy, or even another guest to take the photo for you. If there is no one around, go for a selfie instead – these often make really cute photos!
Another tip I’ve discovered over the years is for booking dining reservations. Sometimes when you search for an ADR (advanced dining reservation) for one person nothing will show up, but tables for two will.
Go ahead and book the table for two, and then call Disney dining to change the reservation to one – you can even just tell them at the restaurant when you check in that you’re going to be a smaller party. No restaurant actually has tables for one, they will all be two top tables so you’re not putting anyone out or taking away a seat from another guest this way. If you’re struggling to find room at some of the busier restaurants, consider one of these underrated Disney dining locations instead.
If you’re not comfortable dining at a table service restaurant alone, then there’s some fantastic quick service options available. Outside of the usual burgers and fries, Walt Disney World offers some really great quick service meals.
Some of our favorites include Satu’li Canteen in Pandora at Animal Kingdom, Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom, Woody’s Lunchbox in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, and pretty much anywhere around the World Showcase in Epcot!
What to do on a solo trip to Disney
Anything you want! The absolute best thing about a solo trip to Disney World is that you get to do exactly what you want without worrying about making anyone else happy – and for those of us that have been with family (especially a large family!) this is the best thing ever!
If you want to visit the parks, then being a solo traveler definitely has its perks. FastPasses for one are much, much easier to get than for a large party so you’ll find many more options available to you, especially during the day. You can also take advantage of single rider lines on many of the most popular attractions, meaning you’ll spend less time waiting in line.
Watching a parade or fireworks is also easier since you don’t have to stake out a spot for a large party; you can show up much closer to the start time and still get a great spot. If being alone in a large crowd makes you a bit nervous, consider booking a fireworks dessert party; not only will this give you a reserved area to watch the fireworks with a bit more space, but you’ll get drinks and dessert to go with it!
A solo trip to Disney World is also a great time to take part in one of Disney’s tours. The most popular tour is the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom, which is a 5-hour in-depth tour where you’ll learn the secrets of the park and little known Disney trivia – you even get to go backstage! This is perfect for the ultimate Disney fan (although if 5 hours doesn’t seem long enough, there’s also the 7-hour Backstage Magic tour!)
Other popular tours include the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom, where you get up close and personal with some of the parks animals, and the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot where you explore the greenhouses of Living with the Land. Not only are these tours a great way to learn more about the Disney parks, but you get to meet new people.
Things to consider on a solo trip to Disney
There are some things to consider when on a solo Disney trip:
I would advise anyone booking a Walt Disney World vacation to plan ahead, ideally as far in advance as possible, even if you are going to Disney World alone.
Although you’ll definitely have more flexibility when traveling alone, it’s still a good idea to pick out those must do’s ahead of time so you know you won’t miss out. I would still suggest making dining reservations for popular restaurants at the 180 day mark, and it’s still worth looking for FastPasses you know you want at the 60 day mark.
I always find that my biggest challenge on a solo trip to Disney World is taking photos with myself in them (something I am admittedly not good at doing anyway!)
If you’re going to Disney World alone and you know you’re going to want to be in those photos (as you absolutely should be!) then I would consider purchasing Memory Maker. This is a pre-paid service that allows you to download all of the photos taken by Disney Photopass photographers during your trip, including those taken on rides and attractions and at select character dining experiences.
This is a great way to make sure you’re actually in the photos without worrying about finding someone to take a photo for you. Memory Maker is slightly cheaper if bought in advance, and comes included with an Annual Pass.
Meeting new people
I always get nervous meeting new people, especially when traveling alone, but Walt Disney World is a great place to meet new people! Chatting to people in line for rides or while waiting for shows, seeing familiar faces at your resort or on the bus each day, everyone wants to talk about their vacation and what they’ve been doing so it’s easy to strike up conversation.
Cast Members are also so friendly and love to chat, especially those working in the World Showcase who always love to tell you about their country. I’ve found college program Cast Members are also really friendly (you can spot them because they’ll have their college listed on their name tag instead of their home town).
No matter what your reason for a going to Disney World alone or planning a solo trip to Disney, I would absolutely encourage everyone to try visiting the parks solo at one time or another; it’s such a great opportunity to try new things and your vacation will be just as magical as it would be traveling with others – maybe more so!