June 04, 2017
Disney Parks and Resorts are tailor made for family fun and group activities, but that doesn't mean that you won't have fun if you go-it-alone on a Disney vacation. I have been to Walt Disney World many times as a solo traveler and while it's not the same as traveling with the family, there are some advantages and benefits to visiting a Disney World by yourself.
The most obvious advantage is that you get to do what you want when you want. You have no other plans but your own and no one to distract you or take you off in another direction. When you are solo at Disney World (or Disneyland or Universal for that matter), your time is your own -- so make the most of it.
When I visit Walt Disney World alone, I am usually working on a story, so I get to spend a lot of time taking photos and really thinking about what I want to do and how to compose a shot. I also take a lot of photos when visiting with the family, but it's more difficult to focus when the whole family is there (and after all, shouldn't I be focusing on family fun on those trips anyway?). So going solo allows me the time that I need to spend it in ways that simply aren't possible when I am with the family.
Here are five of the real benefits that you will get as a solo traveler on a Disney vacation:
Park Plans and Singles LinesA lot of groups use the Single Riders lines no matter what, but when I am traveling with my family, I would never use a singles line because we need to ensure that we are all together. When traveling solo, I am far more productive and efficient when it comes to line ups at rides and attractions and I don't have to defer to anyone else when it comes to choosing my plan for the day or how I want to use any FastPass Plus selections.
Faster Navigating Through CrowdsSpeaking of efficiency, when you are solo at a Disney Park you can cut through the crowds like a warm knife through butter. With no strollers in tow or family members getting caught up in crowds around you (or distracted by the endless array of potential distractions), you can work your way through a crowd in the most carefree manner possible and this makes your efficiency at a Disney Park increase by a huge factor.
The same goes for staking out spots for parades, shows or fireworks. All I need is a little 18-inch square of space to stand in and I am good to go. So as a solo traveler, you can cover a lot more ground than you ever could with a larger group.
Slower, more leisurely paceAt the other end of the spectrum, there are times when I want to simply enjoy the magic, detail and pixie dust that make Disney Parks unique and one-of-a-kind. At times I like to walk through Disney Parks very slowly and really study the detail that went into building every square foot of the landscape. Looking for hidden treasures, reading all of the windows on Main Street U.S.A. or searching for other unseen magic at a slow and casual pace is really not possible when the family is with you. When you are alone, your time is your own and you set the pace. If you are a true fan of Disney Parks, this type of uninterrupted time is something to treasure. So make the most of it if you are there by yourself.
Shopping UninterruptedIf you like to shop at Disney locations (and seriously, who doesn't?), you can go where your want and spend as much time as you like browsing and shopping without any interruptions or tugs at the back of your shirt. Of course, seeing a lot of the great items that my family would love is always a little hard because I know that they're not there, but that only results in a bigger load of loot for the family back home when I return.
Do the Magical Little ExtrasWhen you travel alone you have the opportunity to take advantage of many things that may otherwise be difficult when the whole family is there. Visit the spa or get a massage. Take advantage of one of Disney's many amazing VIP tours or backstage tours (it's hard to commit eight hours of your own time when the family is there and some tours have a minimum age limit). Visit attractions that can be tough with little ones in tow. This is the time to do all of those things that you'd always wished you could do.
Going solo is not all Mickey Bars and Dole Whips. There are a few downsides or disadvantages to being solo on a Disney vacation.
Meals can be AwkwardI know that some people are quite comfortable sitting down in a table service restaurant and dining alone, but I have never been one of them. I just couldn't see myself going to California Grill or Le Cellier by myself, and I would definitely feel a bit awkward sitting in Cinderella's Royal Table all alone. So I find dinnertime to be a bit awkward when I travel alone and I usually miss out on table service dining altogether.
Family MomentsA lot of the best moments at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort or Universal Orlando are family-oriented moments that are meant for sharing. Whenever I visit alone, I always miss my family, but I usually have a few moments that really stand out as times that I wish my family were there to share the memories with me. I will feel guilty at some times even though I know it wasn't possible for them to join me. So those times can be particularly tough--especially when you look around to see families enjoying themselves together.
All in all, however, experiencing any Disney destination as a solo traveler is very rewarding. When you're there by yourself you really see the parks and resorts in an entirely different light and get to do things that you may not be able to do with a bigger group.
So while traveling with the family to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Universal is always my number one choice, visiting as a solo traveler is never something that I would miss out on when the opportunity presents itself. Each experience is unique and rewarding in its own right.
What are your thoughts? Have you taken a Disney vacation as a solo traveler?
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