Why Traveling Solo to Walt Disney World is the Best
By Megan Valentine
“Couldn’t you find someone to go with you?” This is a question I heard only once on my five-day solo trip to Walt Disney World.
This past October, I finally got to do something I’ve always wanted to do. A little background: I’m a museum curator, I love to travel (probably an obvious statement on a travel blog), and I am a huge Disney fan. So, to celebrate a huge work accomplishment, the opening of my museum’s first permanent exhibition that I had been working on for almost two years, I decided the perfect thing to do was go to one of my favorite places, Walt Disney World, on my own. I thoroughly enjoy traveling with friends and family, and do so on a regular basis, but this time I wanted to do something for myself, by myself.
I thoroughly enjoy traveling with friends and family, and do so on a regular basis, but this time I wanted to do something for myself, by myself.
I have only traveled by myself on very short overnight trips to nearby locations previously. I decided that my first bigger solo trip would be absolutely perfect with a destination like Walt Disney World. I stayed on property, so once I reached the airport all of my travel was arranged through Disney transportation, and I have always felt totally safe in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
One of the best parts of travel for me is planning for a trip. I am big into researching my destination and learning all that I can, so scheduling my trip to Disney in April allowed me to spend a great deal of time planning my dining, FastPasses, and optimizing my five days at Walt Disney World. I went during the International Food and Wine Festival and over Halloween, so I attended one of the nights of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I also had to schedule my plans around nights that the party was happening but I was not going, so it added another challenge to my schedule.
I flew out of the nearest metro city with a direct flight to Orlando, landing in the late evening and spending my first night at an airport area hotel with free shuttle service to save a bit of money. The next day, I took a shuttle back to the airport bright and early, arriving before 7:00AM for my Disney’s Magical Express transport to my Disney resort. I was one of three people on my bus, so I got to watch the sunrise and get some great photographs as I talked with our driver en route. I arrived at my hotel before 8:00AM, left my bags with bell services since I had already done online check-in, and got in line for my bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
My first day at the Most Magical Place on Earth was the second time in my memory that I have made it to a park for rope drop, and one was accidental. I made it to Hollywood Studios about 30 minutes before the park opened and was ready and waiting for the anticipated rope drop to head to one of my top five rides at the parks: The Tower of Terror.
Here is my first of many benefits of going by yourself, you don’t have to worry about everyone keeping up when you are hustling to a destination, and I am a fast walker. Another benefit: you can get onto rides really quickly as they try to fill space. I ended up being able to jump ahead of numerous groups because they had an empty seat to fill on the first car. In about 15 minutes, I had ridden Tower of Terror and was on my way to the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, and by 8:30AM I had actually ridden two rides that I had made FastPasses for!
I had big plans for my first day at Disney. I was going to do everything I could at Hollywood Studios on the first day and see two fireworks shows in one night: Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and IllumiNations. I managed to accomplish all of it and thoroughly enjoyed my first day.
I know a comment that many have about traveling alone, particularly to a family oriented destination, is “don’t you get lonely?” There is a ton of things to do to entertain yourself with at the resorts and parks, and I had great conversations with people the entire time I was there, guest and cast member alike. While I was waiting for IllumiNations to start my first night, enjoying a cake and delicious beverage from the Ireland booth and taking cover under an umbrella during the only rain I would have on my trip, I ended up sharing the table with a nice couple and talking for almost an hour. It was relaxing and fun, and I was so glad that I got to kick off the first night of my trip that way.
I know a comment that many have about traveling alone, particularly to a family oriented destination, is “don’t you get lonely?”
My second day was the Halloween party day. I began my day with a character brunch at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. The character breakfast includes Alice, the Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Mary Poppins, some of my favorite characters in the Disney canon (let’s be honest, I have way too many favorites!) The meal was delicious and I loved my interactions with the characters! I did a bit of a Disney bounding as Alice, complete with some homemade floral wire Minnie ears that encouraged conversations about the flowers disrupting my conversations with their singing from both Alice and the Mad Hatter. Then I wandered around the resort and Disney Springs a bit before preparing for my party evening.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party officially starts at 7:00PM, but you can get into the park at 4:00PM with your party ticket, so I took full advantage of that. I am a huge Halloween fan and love to dress up in costume, so I had planned my costume before I even booked my trip. If you did not go to Disney World before 1999, you will possibly never know the wonder that was the original Journey Into Imagination ride with Dreamfinder and Figment. You can still ride the ride at EPCOT, but it is a new version, sans Dreamfinder. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the ride, but it will always pale in comparison to the original. I still have a picture of myself meeting Dreamfinder and Figment at four years old. So why wouldn’t my costume for the Halloween party be from one of my absolute favorites? I did a gender bend version of Dreamfinder for the party and carried a stuffed Figment with me throughout the evening. By the end of the night, I had decided that I was a walking Disney history test for cast members working the party!
The Halloween party is one of my absolute favorite experiences at Walt Disney World. The theming, character interactions, and opportunity to see everyone in costumes, was incredible. That doesn’t even include the incredible fireworks, parade, and stage show featuring the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus. And I actually briefly forgot to mention the candy and special treats! I never wanted the night to end! Bonus tip: You can purchase a photopass for all the photos you took on that day if you don’t want to buy the whole thing. That’s what I ended up doing for documentation of my Halloween party night.
My other major goal of the trip was to enjoy the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival for the first time. I had never been to Disney in the fall, and as a foodie of sorts, I was thrilled at the opportunity to try things from many of the international booths. I accomplished nine booths in just over one day at the festival and would have visited many more if I could. One disadvantage of traveling on your own is that you can’t try as many things at festivals like this because you don’t have anyone to split the food with. Even with that slight disadvantage, I got through a good bit of my wish list!
My first solo trip to Disney World was all that I wanted it to be, completing multiple firsts, completing all the experiences I wanted to, and walking over 50 miles in 5 days. I would recommend visiting Walt Disney World as solo traveler to anyone who is curious. If you have ever wanted to go at your own pace and not worry about what anyone else wants to do, solo Disney travel is a dream. It isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s definitely a great way to try out solo travel if you’re at all reticent to the idea. And although I don’t know of a totally bad time to visit Walt Disney World, fall is filled with so many fun experiences that it is quite possibly my favorite now. (To be fair, spring is pretty amazing too!)
Megan Valentine (@bakingegyptologist on Instagram)
My name is Megan Valentine. I'm a travel junkie, a lifelong Disney fan, and a museum curator & registrar. My granddad was born in 1928, just like Mickey Mouse, so he has worked to instill a love of all things Disney in his kids and grandkids. He and my grandmother took me to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was four years old, and I have been addicted ever since. I have now been to WDW seven times and can't get enough! I am the planner for all of my family's Disney trips and consultant for any friends with questions since I am always reading about Disney, listening to podcasts, or watching the movies. In addition to my Disney travels, I love to explore a variety of destinations with an ever-growing list of places to visit. As a museum professional and art historian, I often seek out fascinating new museum exhibits when I can, particularly if it has anything to do with my other major obsession, Egypt!