12 pro-tips for experiencing Walt Disney World alone

12 pro-tips for experiencing Walt Disney World alone

Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Walt Disney World seems to be filled with families enjoying a vacation together, eating together, and riding every ride they can get on together. But solo travelers can have just as much fun, or even more, on a trip to the vacation kingdom. If you’re thinking about heading to Walt Disney World as a single traveler, you’re going to want to check out our tips for experiencing the parks alone, including what to do, where to go, and even how to meet other people!

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Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Hangar | PHOTO: Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Hangar | PHOTO: Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks

While the stigma attached to solo travelers has thankfully waned in the last decade or two, making a solo trip to a destination that’s typically more family oriented like a Disney park may still raise an eyebrow. But the real joy in traveling to Walt Disney World alone is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want because you’re not running on someone else’s schedule!

If you’re worried about other people pointing you out in a crowd because you’re at Disney alone, don’t be concerned about that at all. Most everyone at Magic Kingdom and the other Disney World parks are so consumed with their own schedule and their kids that they don’t even notice the other people in the park. Just bask in the sweet freedom of not having to push a stroller or stand in line for an attraction you’re not excited about.

Vacationing sans the kids: romantic strolls by Disney’s Boardwalk Inn.

If you really want to meet other people at Walt Disney World, there are some great places to make connections. The first is through social media. There are hundreds of Disney Facebook groups where people post their vacation dates along with meet-up times where they are encouraging others to come hang out with them in the parks! While we would err on the side of caution when it comes to meeting up with strangers, Disney is a very public space and if you’re not comfortable in the hang-out group, it’s pretty easy to get away.

For those just looking for a space just to chat to someone new for a while or get together with a large group, try some of the bars at Walt Disney World. Most of the Disney hotels have great bars where the staff behind the counter are up for a chat, and maybe even introducing you to other guests who might be having a drink. A great spot for this is The Barcelona Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, bookable via Orbitz, or along Disney’s BoardWalk, a quarter-mile promenade of restaurants, shops, and nightlife options at Epcot.

Epcot hosts four unique festivals throughout the year, and this is when you tend to see way more adults, including solo travelers, in the parks. Reserve your ticket far in advance, and then get ready to partake in great food and entertainment, and explore all the the park has to offer. Winter brings the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which highlights all of the different types of arts from culinary to stage shows, and multiple interactive activities for guests. Spring sees the debut of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, where Epcot comes alive with thousands of flowers. Fall starts the most popular festival, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, where everything revolves around eating and drinking. Lastly, winter brings the start of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which celebrates different winter celebrations from around the world.

These festivals are perfect for solo travelers because there’s so much to do. You really could spend a whole day at Epcot and still not see everything. Epcot is also considered Disney World’s more adult-focused park, but that’s slowly changing as more Disney characters are integrated into the park via newer attractions such as the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France pavilion of World Showcase.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge | PHOTO: Abigail Nilsson

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge | PHOTO: Abigail Nilsson

There are currently four attractions that have a single rider line across three of Walt Disney World theme parks. Using the single rider lines not only cuts down on your wait time, it also allows you to get on even more attractions during the day since you aren’t waiting nearly as long as the stand-by queue.

The four attractions that have a designated single rider line are Test Track at Epcot, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Flickr CC: Jeff Kays

No matter which park you choose, you’re going to want to choose your Genie+ skip-the-line pass reservations effectively, especially now that you have to pay for the pass (it was formerly known as a FastPass+ and was free). This means not choosing the rides that have a single rider line as mentioned above. This also means not wasting those reservations for early in the morning when the park opens or late at night near the time when the park is set to close, since this is when the parks are the least busy and wait times are lower anyway.

Food - Things to do in Kissimmee other than the theme parks - GettingStamped

Chef Art Smith’s (former chef to Pres. Obama) famous Fried Chicken at Disney Springs | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Walt Disney World parks, resorts, and Disney Springs have dozens of bars guests can eat and drink at. The best part is that the bars, which are often called lounges, are first come first served. As a single traveler, it’s typically pretty easy to find a solo seat at the bar to enjoy lunch or dinner. Most of the bars at Disney World have a great food menu with items you won’t find anywhere else except the bar.

Disney World vacations

Credit: Dawn Ashley | Flickr Creative Commons

All of the parks at Walt Disney World have great shows throughout the day. As a solo traveler being able to slow down and enjoy a stage show instead of rushing to the next big attraction is a real treat. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is best known for their stage shows which include one’s inspired by the animated films “Frozen” and “Beauty and the Beast,” one stunt show themed to Indiana Jones, and one featuring park guests themed to Star Wars. Be sure to grab a times guide or check on the My Disney Experience app to see show times. Shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios tend to fill up so getting to the theater about 10 to 15 minutes before showtime is ideal.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

Walt Disney World is home to two water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Both are a great option for a solo traveler during the warmer months since there is so much to do at each. Some of the rides are family-style raft rides where you will be paired up with other groups, but there are plenty of rides singles are able to enjoy alone.

If you’re just looking for a way to relax in the sun, be sure to grab a beach chair a little farther away from the wave pool, which is at the center of both parks. You’ll find chairs scattered in hidden pockets of beach throughout both parks! If the water is calling your name but you still want that relaxed feeling, the lazy river is the spot to be. Grab an inner-tube and slowly glide around the water park with no need to get out of the water anytime soon. For the ultimate in relaxation, treat yourself to a private cabana where you’ll have your own set of loungers, a host or hostess to bring food and drinks, and a great view of the wave pools or lazy river while you sit back and enjoy the day.

Animal Kingdom's Mt. Everest at night

Photo courtesy of Monica Pedraja

Being able to explore the theme parks at your own pace is a huge perk of traveling to Disney World alone. One thing you must do while at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is explore the animal trails. These trails can be found throughout the park and feature some unique animals. Cast members are always on hand to answer questions and tell guests more about the animals they are observing. Most of the times the trails are a great way to get away from the crowds at the park and just enjoy nature.

Since you don’t have anyone else traveling with you, being able to just show up to major fireworks shows or parades is a huge bonus at Walt Disney World. Each of the four Disney World parks has their own nighttime spectacular that tends to fill up quickly with families, but showing up just before showtime as a solo traveler can get you great seats since cast members will be trying to fill in as much room as possible. Showing up about 10 minutes before the fireworks is normally a good idea just to ensure you’re in your spot.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

This really depends on your budget and what you’re looking for out of your hotel. Disney World has their on-site hotels broken up into three tiers: value, moderate, and deluxe. If you’re looking for a place to eat, drink and have some entertainment offerings you’re going to want to choose a moderate or deluxe resort. If you’re really just looking for a place to sleep and take a shower, a value resort might be the best option.

At the Disney value resorts, rooms are a little smaller but have all of the amenities one might need while at Walt Disney World. We love Disney’s Pop Century Resort since all of the rooms have recently been refurbished with hard-wood floors, a regular and a Murphy bed which doubles as a table, and a bright bathroom with tons of storage. This resort is also part of the Disney Skyliner resorts making it easy to access both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot without having to get on a bus.

Disney’s moderate-priced resorts all feature multiple dining locations, some entertainment, and a more laid-back feel. We suggest Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside for how close it is to Magic Kingdom, the boat transportation to Disney Springs, and how spacious the rooms are. One downside to the moderate resorts is how spread out each resort is, but if you have your own car or don’t mind walking a bit to get to the lobby or restaurants that shouldn’t be an issue.

Deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World are often within walking distance to one of the theme parks, have multiple modes of transportation to get to and from the parks, quite a few dining options, and a lot of on-site entertainment. We love Disney’s BoardWalk Inn because it’s within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it’s got lively entertainment at Jellyrolls.

Many people are afraid to dine alone, but Disney makes sure even the solo traveler is well taken care of at table service dining locations. If there’s somewhere you’ve really wanted to try that maybe others you might normally travel with wouldn’t enjoy, treat yourself and make the reservation. It’s often pretty easy to get a reservation for one before your trip, or even walk up and be seated within a few moments.

One location we recommend at Epcot that’s great for solo travelers is Takumi-Tei, a new table service restaurant in the Japan pavilion. It’s definitely a place for someone who likes to be a bit more adventurous with their meal options, but also wants to treat themselves to a spectacular meal filled with Japanese tradition and exceptional service. We suggest getting the Omakase Tasting Menu, which will get your a little bit of everything including a few pieces of prized Japanese A5 Wagyu Strip Steak!

Doing Walt Disney World solo doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating, as long as you plan out your trip and leave a little bit of time to be spontaneous and do whatever you want to do.

Tagged: Disney, Florida, Orlando

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