Inspired by episode 51 of the Disney Hipster Podcast, I started thinking back to all of the times I’ve been to Walt Disney World by myself. Over the past 5 years I’ve probably been to Disney alone more than 5 times, and I have to admit, I sort of love it.
I’m a total introvert, and generally enjoy being alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and nothing makes me happier than hanging with my family. But there is something fabulously decadent about being alone in my favorite place on Earth, with time to do exactly what I want on my own schedule. So back in January when I found myself traveling to Orlando for a conference, I took the opportunity to travel a day early to visit Disney.
So first question – where to stay? My friend Disney Hipster Andrew posited that maybe it is somewhat bourgeois to stay at a deluxe resort alone. I say, LET ME EAT CAKE! So I booked Disney’s Beach Club Resort for my solo stay. I’d never stayed there, and it’s an easy 5 minute walk to Epcot’s International Gateway. Plus I had a great off-season rate for a room with a view of the parking lot.
I arrived at the Beach Club at around noon, checked in, dropped my bags, and headed to Magic Kingdom. My agenda? (1) Eat lunch at Be Our Guest, and (2) Experience attractions I’ve never ridden before.
So first thing I did when I entered the park? Walked right up to the Walt Disney World Railroad train station, and hopped a steam train to Fantasyland. (I’d never ridden the train!) Is there anything more charming than riding a steam train around Magic Kingdom? No there is not.
My first stop was Be Our Guest for lunch. Now listen up, all of you who won’t eat alone in restaurants. You can do it, really. I’ve dined alone for the tasting menu at Fleur by Hubert Keller – you can sit alone anywhere. Just keep yourself busy if you’re at all self-conscious. I know you have a smartphone. Take pics of your food and look like you’re busy uploading them to Facebook. Tweet your whereabouts so everyone can be jealous. Read email. Eavesdrop on the tables near you. You’ll be fine. (If you need more encouragement, here’s one of my favorite songs – Dine Alone by Quicksand. Listen to it to get pumped before dinner.)
At Be Our Guest, I busied myself by taking tons of pics and checking out the menu while in line.
Oh, and another great thing about being alone – you can choose to wait in line or not wait in line for as long as you like. When with kids you might be tempted to avoid a half hour line for lunch because they’re hungry, and therefore end up somewhere that you didn’t really want to be. Or you might be stuck with a group who really wants to wait when you would rather do something else. When you’re alone, you can just do what you feel like doing. It’s pretty nice.
OK, so after ordering, I wandered around to each of the dining rooms to check them out, and took more pics. When dining alone, I really enjoy being able to sit on a banquette against a wall that overlooks the rest of the dining room. For some reason I feel less self-conscious and just more comfortable. Plus it makes it easier to people-watch.
Quick pics of the food:
So after eating, I started hitting all of the attractions I’d never before experienced (mostly around Fantasyland.) I finally went on It’s a Small World (wow, why did I wait so long?? It’s a classic for a reason – loooooved it), Mickey’s Philharmagic (from the lens of someone who doesn’t have any nostalgia around this, it occurs to me that all 3D movie attractions are now passé) and Country Bear Jamboree (a rip-roarin’ good time. Wish I’d seen it pre-update.)
Then I proceeded to ride my favorite attractions that my family doesn’t love, like Tiki Birds, Jungle Cruise, and Tomorrowland Transit Authority peoplemover.
A quick stop back at Beach Club to jump in the pool and change for dinner, and I was off to Epcot!
The only awkwardness I experienced at Epcot was at Rose & Crown. I stopped in at the pub for a pint. The crowd was very raucous and much younger than me, and mostly interested in hooking up with the hotties at the bar than chatting. It was sort of a drag. Their conversations weren’t even interesting to eavesdrop on. I finished my beer and left to walk around World Showcase.
I ate dinner at Katsura Grill in the Japan Pavilion. This is a fantastic spot to stop for a bite alone. I sat on the beautiful patio and slurped my noodles (and sake) in peace. It was some welcome quiet after the crowd at Rose & Crown.
After dinner I shopped around World Showcase, spending as much or as little time in each store as I wanted. (I loaded up on gifts for my anime-obsessed kiddo at Mitsukoshi. Trip-guilt hits hard every time I’m in Disney alone.)
I ended my evening at Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico pavilion with chips, guac, Corona, and Illuminations.
The next morning, I was up early for the Segway tour around Epcot’s World Showcase! (Sadly this tour has been discontinued.) Tours are a fantastic way to spend time at Walt Disney World when you’re alone. The groups are typically very small, and everyone is focused on the tour guide and what they’re doing, especially on the Segway tour where the focus for the first hour was just learning how to ride the thing without falling on our butts. No one will think you’re weird for doing the tour alone, and even a total introvert may end up striking up a conversation with others on the tour. I ended up chatting with an older couple from Minnesota who were there without kids or grandkids just because they love Disney. Their friendliness overrode my standoffishness and it was pretty nice.
After the tour, I headed back to the Beach Club to check-out and grab my bags. But before saying goodbye to Disney and heading to my conference, I made one last stop. Lunch at the counter at Beaches & Cream.
So really – if you have the chance to go to Disney World alone, don’t let your fear of feeling awkward keep you from having a fantastic time. See it as a chance to do whatever you want on your own timetable. Wander, look at details you’ve missed in the crush to ride every ride, chill. Or as I’ve done on other trips (especially at Universal), take advantage of single-rider lines and ride every thrill ride you can. Take a tour, read a book on a bench and soak in the atmosphere, spend as much time as you want in Innoventions.
No one will even ask you to share your school bread.
Have you been to Disney alone? What did you do? Any advice?
- Be Our Guest restaurant – 3 mice
- Katsura Grill – 4 mice
- Cantina de San Angel – 2 mice
- Beaches & Cream – 3 mice
Great solo trip recap! I loved listening to episode 51, and I also love touring solo. I wish I could do it more often…
I go on solo trips a lot and recap them too! They are my favorite because of exactly what you say – I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t have to worry that what I am doing is boring someone else. Glad you enjoyed your trip too!
Thanks! And yeah, worrying that the person I’m with is bored is more stress-inducing than just going it alone.
A.) Your blog is super cute! B.) I agree it’s fun to go solo sometimes 🙂
Thanks! I got bored today and decided I needed some color. 😀
Thanks! This is a great post. I’ll be in Orlando and I know I’ll want to spend some time at Walt Disney World. I usually don’t have trouble dining or traveling alone, but wasn’t so sure about theme parks. I suppose EPCOT would be the most interesting to visit alone, especially because one could really linger at the shops, the exhibits, and more — usually things my friends or family would have no interest in doing.
Have a great time, Brad! If I had one day to spend alone at Disney, I would spend it at Epcot for sure.
Back in October of 2011 I went to DW and was there for 7 days. I spent 3 of those days were by myself. I was nice to come and go on my own. Walked at my own speed (which is quite fast). Went to the No So Scary Halloween parade and loved it. After it was over I was able to walk back to the bus for the P.O. Riverside that I got on to a bus about to leave and it was empty. I was literally the only one on the bus. Very relaxing.
Thanks for sharing! That sounds like a perfect night. I may do the same thing in October.
I had a conference in California near Anaheim a couple of years ago, so I decided to spend a couple of days at Disneyland. I had never been there before. Eating alone was when I felt most anxious, but I really enjoyed taking my time and going at my own pace. It was pretty awesome, and I think a solo WDW trip might soon be in order!
My only trip to Disneyland was also because of a conference, but my husband was attending and my daughter (4 yrs old at the time) and I tagged along. Taking a toddler to the parks isn’t exactly like being alone but it is feels similar. Instead if doing whatever I wanted, I decided to do whatever she wanted, and just be laid back. We went on Pirates and Big Thunder like 15 times each every day. Just back and forth between the two…but we had a great time together.
That sounds nice too. I’ve always gone with my family, and we are mainly interested in the same stuff but I am the only one who enjoys roller coasters, so I had no worries riding them alone. I think another trip would be fun 🙂
I’m in the midst of planning a trip to Disney with extended family but not until April 2016. This will be my 6th trip and the first time I will fly there alone and have my own room (my 16 year old son and husband are going to Cuba as they want a guys trip). I love the preferred rooms at POR and think this will be a good choice considering they are close to the lobby/restaurant. After reading your blog, I think I’ll fly there a day early so I can enjoy the Magic Kingdom by myself. My trips always centre around what my son wants to do so this will be all about ME! I plan to do every little thing the park has to offer and might try to arrange one of the tours, depending on when they start.
That’s awesome! Sorry I missed your comment earlier – hope you had a fabulous time!
I’m heading to Orlando for a conference myself soon and am planning to go early to go to Universal and the Magic Kingdom by myself. My biggest concern is traveling to and from the parks since I am a female traveling alone and am staying outside the Disney resort area. Did you ever feel unsafe?
I have never felt unsafe in any of the parks or resorts I’ve stayed in, but it’s always smart to be aware and take precautions. As long as you’re staying in a reputable hotel (I like the Hyatt Regency near the convention center) you should be fine. I use Uber to get around – I like that their app records the trip. I know some people don’t feel comfortable with Uber but I travel a lot for work and use them everywhere I go with never an issue. Have a great time!
It is said that only an introvert can really understand another introvert. So, when I was looking for blog posts about ‘Going to WDW Alone’ and saw this one with the word ‘Introvert’ in the title, I KNEW I had to read it, being a big introvert myself and having just booked my next trip to WDW, this time ALONE. My partner, who would rather have a limb amputated than go back to WDW, is not going. So, I realized that if I was to go to WDW again, I would have to a) go with friends or b) go alone. I took the plunge and today I booked my 5 day late October trip to WDW alone. It will the first time ever (in my 30 or so times being there) that I am going this alone, but regardless of the pangs of angst I keep getting, I did it: I booked it. Now I am reading all the blog posts I can that encourage me and say it will be great going alone. Not to mention the couple of cast members I spoke to on the phone or chatted with online through my whole research and booking that have been amazingly encouraging of my upcoming ‘aloneness’ at WDW as an introvert. And, being an introvert staying at the Port Orleans, I will avoid the dreaded bus filled with people by driving my car to the park and then monorailing (since I will only do the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT). Thanks to blog posts like yours, I am slowly overcoming the “Oh no, I will be there ALONE and surrounded by PEOPLE” dread…..
Have an amazing time, and please report back and tell us how it went!
Thanks!! I definitely will. I find that preparing ahead of time will keep my introvert stress level at a minimum, so I am booking tables, fast passes, etc. and getting to know the restaurants well during these few months before I get there (I’d hate to book myself at Cinderella’s Round Table only to find myself in introvert hell — the one-on-one with cast members I welcome, but too many screaming children and adults in one place can definitely do me in). I am also finding out everything I can about the resort I am staying at and such, so when I get there I am familiar and, again, low stress. I find that, for me, meals are the toughest as an introvert, so planning ahead is helping a lot. EPCOT is even more of a conundrum. I know the Magic Kingdom like the back of my hand (I have been there easily 20 times in my 48 years), but EPCOT dining is still a bit iffy for me. So, I am planning and booking on-line and even devising myself a daily calendar for the week, almost by the hour, but open to whim. Since I am only doing those two parks because I don’t particularly care about the others, it makes things easier. Park Hopper tickets are also ideal of this introvert 🙂