Wondering how to make the most of a solo trip to Disneyland or Disney World? We’re sharing tips and tricks that’ll help you enjoy your alone time in the theme parks.
A solo trip to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort gives you a few days to have some fun as a party of one. But if you’ve never gone alone before – or are unsure if you’ll really have fun on your own – an individual trip can be tricky to plan. Can I still get dining reservations? What do I do if I get lonely? We’ve got all the solo Disney trip tips you need to have the happiest, most magical time when visiting Disney theme parks on your own!
Though family vacations and group theme park days might be more common, Disney parks are actually some of the best places to head if you’re going solo. Not only are there a ton of security measures to keep guests safe, it’s a place to easily meet new people. Disney even provides buttons to help spark conversation! Plus, there’s so much to do, from tours to character hugs to lounges – and even photo opps with Disney PhotoPass photographers (that’s right, not every photo on a solo trip has to be a selfie!). Try the following tips to make the most out of any solo trip to a Disney destination.
Planning Your Day in Advance
If you’re thinking about a solo Disney trip, I’m going to guess you’ve planned a Disney vacation before – so you know planning well in advance is key! That same approach applies to a solo trip.
You’ll want to plan the key parts of your day, or your must-dos, ahead of your arrival. If you’re staying for multiple days, you’ll want to book your resort early. Whether you’re staying for a single day or a few, you’ll also want to secure advance dining reservations at 60 days out, book any tours you’re interested in, and decide if you’re going to purchase add-ons like Genie+.
Definitely make a list of what you want to see, taste, and ride before you go. You can focus on checking off these must-dos as you move through the parks at your own pace. Feeling lonely? Your list can help alleviate that!
Also, if you’re hoping you connect with others while you’re on a solo Disney trip, don’t be afraid to reach out before you leave. You can share that you’re doing a solo trip on your socials, and see if anyone else will be in the parks during your visit. You likely know more Disney fans than you think! You can also check social media hashtags to see what fun events may be coming up while you’re visiting, or even ask to do a meet up.
Pack a guidebook focused on the details and wander the parks at your own pace. Yeah, you’ll look like a total tourist – but you’ll get to appreciate the amazing details the Imagineers put into everything! Plus, a guidebook is a great way to discover new facts and features of a park you don’t know very well (so it’s especially great if you’re visiting Disneyland as a Disney World local, for example, or vice versa).
Add a Party or Event to Your Itinerary
When you’re doing a solo Disney trip, it’s a great opportunity to add one of the after-hours parties to your itinerary. You’ll need to buy a separate ticket for these specially-ticketed events in advance – but they can give you a chance to mingle with other Disney fans, plus access to exclusive food and drinks, merchandise, and even attraction overlays.
Plus, if you attend a party like Oogie Boogie Bash or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on your own, it’s significantly less expensive to test run versus paying for a whole group to see if these events are worthwhile.
For example, a few years ago, I did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with my husband and teen. While at the party, after we had already paid for the tickets, we realized they just weren’t into the rare characters, stage shows and special snack and merch finds… especially by about 10 PM, when they were both tired.
However, I love a good party and usually only do them on solo trips now. Villains After Hours at Magic Kingdom and Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure Park are two I’ve loved. In the last few years, Disney has added even more parties that can be a blast sans kids, like Disneyland After Dark events and the all-new Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Try Different Dining Options
While table service restaurants are popular for parties of two or more and quick service restaurants are great when visiting with kids, you can try totally different dining destinations when you’re going solo. When I’m a party of one, lounges are my favorite. They have great eats and built-in company with the bartenders (don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation or ask for recommendations!). You don’t have to be drinking to sit at the bar, either – you can pop in for a quick bite, a leisurely meal, or some nonalcoholic mocktails.
A few of my favorite lounges are:
- Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure (reservations highly recommended)
- Trader Sams at the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland or the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World (for both, a reservation is a good idea. Just watch out for the special stool in Disneyland!)
- Tune-In Lounge at Hollywood Studios (no reservations needed)
- Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in EPCOT (which doesn’t even take reservations)
Another dining option is the quick service graze all day! If you’re on the move, you can eat well without committing too much time to a meal. What treats and eats have you always wanted to try? Do it on a solo trip – and mobile order them right from your smartphone to save time and skip the line.
Another great way to spend your solo day at Disney is to try special dining packages for a more unique experience. I’m all about the nighttime show special seating dining packages. I recently did the World of Color dining package at Disney California Adventure, which was a treat. Tip: Dining packages can be tricky to book for a party of one. Always go to the dining location and ask before giving up. Sometimes it’s just the app that doesn’t allow a booking for one, but the Cast Members at the location can likely help you.
If dining alone makes you nervous, bring a prop that sparks conversation or some reading material. A copy of DLR Magazine or WDW Magazine can do the trick!
Take a Tour
Another great thing to do as a party of one is take a behind-the-scenes tour. This could be early in the trip so you can go back and check out all the details from the tour, or at a point where you might be craving some company. Some tours may be better for making friends than others because of the use of headsets during the tour. Below are some of my favorites:
- Walt’s Main Street Story Tour at Disneyland (the tour guides have excellent stories!)
- Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom
- Behind the Seeds at EPCOT
Use your solo status as an opportunity to take in all those park details that can be easy to miss when racing from ride to ride, meal to meal trying to please others. If you don’t want to take a full tour, you can also create a little tour of your own using a guidebook (like we mentioned above) or by chatting with knowledgable Cast Members throughout the theme park.
Explore the Resorts
If you happen to be staying at a Disney World or Disneyland resort solo on your trip, there’s also plenty you can enjoy there. I suggest a solo pool day – it’s actually relaxing when you’re by yourself because you won’t have to keep an eye on anyone! Just slip on your headphones, read a book, or grab a drink or snack from an onsite dining spot.
Another great idea is to do a resort-only day! My family wouldn’t be interested in this when the parks are calling, but there’s a lot to see at the resorts. For example, at the Disneyland Hotel you can take in all the history and exhibits in each building and the conference center. See the pixie dust and the amazing details outside the new Discovery tower, too, or head inside for a peek at the stunning mural full of animated characters. At Walt Disney World, you can hop on and do the monorail resort tour (which is especially fun during the holidays so you can see the gingerbread houses or during Easter to see all the eggs).
Or, you can spend the day eating at some of the best restaurants found at Disney’s resorts. Start with breakfast in Italy at Topolino’s Terrace. Then, hop on the Skyliner to go under the sea for a snack and wander around Art of Animation. Make sure to check out the Cave of Wonders ceiling in Landscape of Flavors. Get a taste of the islands for lunch at Sebastian’s Bistro at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Later, head to Hollywood Studios to grab a bus over to Animal Kingdom. While there, you can find food from Ethiopia, Tunisia, Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, and even EPCOT. Yep! There’s a salad at Jiko featuring greens from the EPCOT Land Pavilion. This resort is also home to my favorite dish in all of the US Disney Parks: Butter Chicken at Sanaa! After your meal, watch the animals trek across the Savannah as the sun goes down and then head for some late night Spanish eats at Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs.
For more trip planning advice for either Disney World or Disneyland, make sure to grab our latest issue of WDW Magazine or DLR Magazine!