What it’s like to take a trip to Disney World alone (and why I actually love doing it!):
My heart leapt as I read my friend’s text: “I know it’s only a month away, but we wanted to invite you to our Disney wedding if you’re able to attend.”
It was all I could do not to let out a squeak of excitement right there in the library. I’d always wanted to attend a Disney wedding, but I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to actually do it.
Combined with the fact that we had a family member who had offered up their DVC points for free and I had an annual pass, it felt like I couldn’t say no… but my husband couldn’t get the time off from work. Which meant I would be at Disney, the most magical place on earth, all by myself. Could it still be magical going without friends or family?
Spoiler alert: absolutely.
I took that trip alone, and I loved it so much I’ve now traveled to Disney World alone at least half a dozen times in the past few years. While there were occasionally times when I wished I had someone else around, for the most part I loved being by myself!
Here are a few of the benefits I found of traveling to Disney World alone:
You can go your own way
One of my goals on this trip was to practice my photography. When I’m with other people they generally don’t want to stand around in one spot while I try different settings on my camera or experiment with different angles. But alone, this was something I could do.
Alone, I felt free to do things at whatever pace I wanted. I discovered that I also could:
- use the bathroom whenever I needed to
- stop for a snack at any time
- Take a midday break back at the resort for a nap
- Spend all day in the parks if I felt like it
- Only go on the attractions I love
- Sit on a bench just to relax and people watch
Finding things in the parks I didn’t even know about
Because you don’t have the distraction of other people with you, there’s really not much else to do but to really soak in all of your surroundings. You’ll probably notice lots of those magical Disney touches by yourself. I know I found a lot more hidden Mickeys than I would have seen otherwise!
Doing whatever I want
Moment of truth – my husband only takes pictures with the characters to humor me.
And while I appreciate he will do it for me, I know deep down it’s not what he wants to do – and I feel a little bad sometimes. By myself, I didn’t have to worry. I could take all of the character photos I wanted!
I could also eat wherever (and whatever, and whenever!) I wanted to eat. My husband and I are usually on the same page food-wise, but when I went with my parents I knew there were certain things my dad might not care for, like sushi. But on this trip, there was no reason not to stop at the Japan pavilion for some sushi!
What I discovered about waiting in line
If you’re always there with family you might not realize this exists. Sometimes Disney doesn’t make it super obvious, either (and no, I’m not talking about Genie+ or Lightning Lanes). Instead, it’s the perfect thing for anyone at Disney World alone:
Single rider lines.
Disney is great about filling in the gaps on attractions to maximize people on the rides, and one tool they use is a single rider line. If the ride vehicle seats 6 people and there’s a family of 5, they’ll pull someone from the single rider line to fill in the spot. It can often greatly reduce your wait times since there aren’t as many people willing to ride alone.
I should add a caveat and say it reduces wait times “for the most part”. My wait on Rockin’ Roller Coaster was just as long as the regular standby line due to large tour groups all going through the standby line (because they were all “together,” you would go through 100 people before a single rider even got the chance to board!).
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But on Expedition and Everest and Test Track I waited at most 10 minutes to get on those rides, even when the standby was an hour or more. I’ve also gotten on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run within minutes.
If you are thinking about Disney World alone, those are the 4 rides that offer single-rider lines.
But is it worth the price?
It’s no secret that Disney World can be expensive. There is so much pressure to make it “worth the price” (though you don’t ever want to be that parent who tells their crying kid they can’t leave because “this vacation cost so much”!).
So of course that’s in the back of my mind when I travel solo. Should I wait until other people can join me?
I had always been with other people before – my husband, my friends, my parents. At that time in my life my go-to date night spots were Applebee’s or Chili’s, so when we took our honeymoon to Disney and the check came for our first dinner together at over $150, it was a little mind-blowing!
But if you save and get used to these “Disney prices,” it (slowly) becomes less shocking. So when I traveled alone, the shock was a bit different – it cost me a lot less to pay for one person than for 2!
Of course this is pretty obvious, but when you’re paying half of what you’re used to and actually seeing the numbers, it was a pleasant surprise. It felt much better for the budget when I only got one – one ice cream, one glass of wine, one souvenir.
I also made a last-minute decision to do the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot. For $18 for a 1-hour, backstage tour, it sounded like a pretty good deal. If Jason was with me he wouldn’t have been interested, and paying $36 for the experience doesn’t seem as worth it.
But it isn’t all good
There are only a few negatives for me that I discovered about traveling to Disney World alone.
The first was that when you did end up waiting in a long line, there wasn’t a ton to do to entertain yourself. Disney is slowly improving this with interactive queues and the Disney Play app.
It also would’ve been nice to have someone around when I got upset/frustrated, like when Toy Story Mania was never open the day I was in Hollywood Studios, or when someone dropped a cupcake on my foot frosting side down that was not protected at all by my flip flops.
And yeah… I missed my husband a little bit. Mostly at night when I went to bed by myself, and occasionally throughout the day.
Why you should travel to Disney World alone too
For me, I adored my solo Disney trip and I highly recommend it. You have to be comfortable with yourself for it to be good, though.
I wasn’t afraid to do table service meals alone (I brought a book), meet the characters by myself, or take photopass photos alone. If you’re willing to let go I’m positive you will have a great time!
There is something amazing about being at Disney alone so you can soak up all of the magic without any interruption, and do things the way that you want to do them.
How much did I love going to Disney World alone? Well, we now have our own DVC points and I’ve renewed my annual pass every year since that first solo trip. Jason, however, has not had an annual pass since 2013.
That means I’ve taken my fair share of Disney trips by myself!
My solo time at Disney is really special to me: I can soak up all of the magic without any interruption, do things the way I want to do them, and take advantage of a last-minute Disney wedding invite whether I have a date or not!
Would you ever consider visiting Disney World alone?
Debbie Kolacki says
You took some great photos!
Debbie Kolacki says
What time of day did you take the photo of the castle that’s in this article?
It was in the evening – maybe around 7:30 or 8:00?
I did Epcot by myself a day before Infinitus started (Where we roomed together! 😉 And it was a blast!
I’m the type of person that likes to go fast paced and see and do as much as I possibly can, so it was nice not having to slow my pace down like I normally do when I’m with people.
One thing that was great for me, was when I went to go eat at my favorite restaurant, the San Angel Inn, they were completely booked up for the night. (This was before I was Disney savvy and had no clue I should reserve dining before the trip). They turned away a bunch of people who were waiting before me, but I decided to go up and ask if they possibly had a table for 1 if I ate fast lol. They did and I was able to eat at a restaurant that was booked up for the night.
The only thing I didn’t like was traveling by myself at night to get back to the hotel. It creeps me out sometimes. That and having no one to talk to when waiting in lines, but talking to cast members is always fun!
Sounds like an awesome day at Epcot! That’s so cool that they sat you at San Angel Inn even though it was booked. And yeah, I could definitely see how getting back to the hotel would be a little scary by yourself. That was one of the pros of staying on Disney property – it feels very safe even when you’re by yourself.
I’m loving your blog Becky, great job! Your solo trip sounds great and that castle photo is gorgeous, makes me very “homesick”for Disney!
Thanks Lucy! I’m sure your trip to Disney will be here before you know it!
It sounds like an awesome idea! I did go by myself once in Feb. to Animal Kingdom and I agree the Single rider lane is amazing! I wish they had it for more of their other rides. That is one thing I will say about Universal is that they do accommodate single riders more in their parks. If I could hop on Space Mountain and Splash as a single… that would be super amazing. I have an annual pass that is up in November… so your blog has already gotten me thinking of when I could go before that. 🙂 That and it seems like we have the same concerns of the both the good and the bad.
I agree, more single rider lines would be great! Luckily the fastpasses help out too – the combination of fast passes every few hours and single rider made it so I could get on all of the major rides with little to no waiting.
I used to by myself all the time when I was a CP. I loved it because I could stop and trade pins all I wanted without anyone bugging me. I don’t know if I would go back by myself now, I think I would miss my husband, although I’m sure he would not hesitate to go with out me! I’m glad you had fun!
I bet you would be busy enough that you wouldn’t miss him as much as you think! Haha, I definitely did miss mine but there was also something very liberating about knowing that I could travel and do things on my own without him, too.
sue @ tea, love, and cookies says
I surfed over from your trip report on Dis. That castle picture is incredible.
I went by myself in 2009 and I’m going again in February (I’m fairly certain the next seven month will be the LONGEST seven months of my life!). I really enjoyed the ’09 trip, but I think I will like the next one even more. I am definitely more comfortable with myself than I was five years ago, and I had just been to World the year prior. So it’ll be almost five years when I go back… I cannot wait!
Thank you! It’s tough to go so long without being in Disney, but in some ways coming back after so long away is even better and more special. It had been about 4 years without going when I went for my honeymoon, and it was so exciting to see what was new and do my favorites that I hadn’t done in so long! I hope you have a great time!
I have done Disney alone at least 10 times love it. also post anything Disney and I will love it.
It is a wonderful way to do Disney – I hope to try traveling solo again!
samantha jones says
would love to see more ride photos.
Ride photos are always fun!
Jenn @ Fairest Run Of All says
Feedly JUST dropped a bunch of your posts today so I’m way late to the party, but just to say I’ve done solo Disney a bunch and there are ways it is the JAM. It’s awesome with people too, of course, but I love going alone!