A Solo Introvert at Walt Disney World

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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.

A Foggy Beach Club

A Foggy Beach Club

My inexpensive Beach Club room with the lousy view

My discounted Beach Club room with the lousy view

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.

Town Square from the Train Station

Great view of Town Square from the Train Station

Steam Train Magic Kingdom

Riding the rails

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.

Line for Be Our Guest

The line for Be Our Guest was about 30 minutes

Gargoyle at Be Our Guest

My friend the Gargoyle

Be Our Guest menu page 1

Front of the menu

Be Our Guest menu page 2

Back of the menu

Cast member

Random cast member that chatted with me at the entrance

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:

Tuna Nicoise at Be Our Guest

Surprisingly lovely Tuna Nicoise at Be Our Guest.

Onion Soup at Be Our Guest

Very cheesy but sort of bland onion soup.

Passion Fruit Cream Puff at Be Our Guest

Passion fruit cream puff. I liked the mousse.

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.)

Country Bear Jamboree

I can never get my family to sit through this.

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.

Katsura Grill Japanese Curry Udon

The Japanese curry udon were totally delish

Katsura Grill patio Epcot Japan

One of the prettiest spots to eat in Epcot

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.

Chips and guacamole at Cantina de San Angel

Stale-ish chips and meh guacamole. Great view.

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.

Segway Tour of Epcot Selfie

Traveling alone is a great time for selfies!

Segway Tour Epcot

Cast members and tour guides make good photographers, too.

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.

Burger and Vanilla Coke at Beaches & Cream

Riding around on a Segway makes you hungry and thirsty. Free Vanilla Coke refills!

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.

School Bread at Kringla Bakerei Og

My precioussss

Have you been to Disney alone? What did you do? Any advice?

MouseChow Ratings:

  • Be Our Guest restaurant – 3 mice
  • Katsura Grill – 4 mice
  • Cantina de San Angel – 2 mice
  • Beaches & Cream – 3 mice
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Epcot Segway Tour is Cancelled – Wherefore art thou Lamonte?

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I had planned to write a quick review of the awesome Segway tour I had the joy of experiencing a few weeks ago, “Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream”.

Sadly, now I’m writing a retrospective. As reported on Touringplans.com this week, the tour has been cancelled and Disney is calling customers already booked to refund their purchase.

If the tour ever returns here’s the type of thing you might experience.

First, I met up with our group at the Guest Relations office to the left of Spaceship Earth. We had a nice group of 9 people for the 8:30am tour on January 29. After signing up, we were met by our awesome trainer, Lamonte and escorted over the the training area in Innoventions. Lamonte (with an E) has been conducting the 8:30am M-F training for 12 years. He’s very aware that he is a little bit famous having been blogged about numerous times, and makes sure that the bloggers on the tour spell his name correctly. He’s also a fantastic trainer. I was very nervous, having absolutely 0 coordination and even worse balance.  But he took it step by step, and I felt confident very quickly.

Epcot Segway tour

Lamonte (with an E) and Clementine, our tour guides

If you’ve never been on a Segway before, you’re in for a total treat. There’s a reason for the hype. You barely have to do anything to make it move. Basically, you just think about where you want to go, and you go there. It’s simply awesome. I immediately started trying to figure out how to buy one, and where I would use it. (The answer was no where, so I won’t be getting one. That, and they cost $5K.)

So after the training, everyone heads to Sunshine Seasons (via the cast member entrance to The Land) for breakfast. Before the tour begins you have the choice of a full breakfast or a continental, for the same price. Everyone in my group chose the full breakfast.

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons Breakfast

Breakfast on the Tour

The breakfast was the same as the Bounty Platter you find at many of the resort Quick Serve restaurants, minus the Mickey Waffle, but including French Toast. It was just OK. I have a serious problem with the scrambled eggs throughout Disney – they’re the Nescafe of eggs. (Instant, an awful substitute for the real thing, and ubiquitous throughout WDW.)

But it was good to have a break, because riding a Segway is more tiring than you might think. I’m guessing it’s an isometric thing. Anyway, it gives you a good chance to grab a FastPass for Soarin’ if you haven’t already done so.

Then, we were off to World Showcase. Because the tour ran before World Showcase opened for the day, once we were past Norway it was pretty much empty.

We were equipped with transmitters and ear pieces so that we could hear our tour guide, and set off single file around the world, checking out each country along the way.

We zipped through the China pavilion, toured through the model trains in Germany, and visited the cute little gardens in the back of the American Adventure.

Once we hit Italy and slalomed through the columns at the Doge’s palace, Lamonte and our tour guide Clementine set up cones so that we had a great spot to just buzz around on our Segways. It was also time for a photo op.

MouseChow on the Segway Tour in Epcot

Look, I really did it!

Finally, we made our way through the remaining countries. Morocco and Japan are already two of my favorites, and they’re especially serene and beautiful with no crowds, while you zoom through silently. It’s sort of nice to be a foot taller, also – you notice things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

By the time we hit UK and Canada, World Showcase was open, and we had to maneuver through crowds a bit. People are a little bit clueless when wandering around Disney (this is news?) and so it’s a bit hazardous to drive a completely silent vehicle through them.

We returned our vehicles to Innoventions, received our special pin, and said goodbye to Clementine and Lamonte. I really hope Lamonte is still conducting the training somewhere at WDW – maybe over at the Fort Wilderness tour. He’s a gem.

Did you get a chance to experience either this tour or the prior Epcot Segway tour?  Share your experience in the comments!