There are usually two reasons for traveling solo to a Disney park: you are craving a trip on your own where you dictate every aspect of the trip, or you are going alone because no one else could go with you.
I have experienced both of these reasons in my trips to Walt Disney World, and while I was hoping for a companion for my Disneyland trip in January, the plans with my friend fell through.
It is impossible to take a Disney vacation to be “alone.” With tens of thousands of guests passing through the turnstiles every day, being alone probably isn’t your intention. But you may feel like you’re alone while being surrounded by hundreds of people passing you in the busy Disney lands.
So how can you bypass this lonely feeling? Here are some tips to make friends in the parks!
Start a Conversation
Easy, right? Well, for some people, this step can be a bit tricky and full of “what-ifs” floating around in their head. What if they ignore me? What if they think I’m a creep? What if I say something really dumb?
I’m not saying to talk to every single person that crosses your path. Find people that look lost and help them figure out where they’re going or what time the show starts. Tell them how much a tall frappuccino costs at the Starbucks. Or — probably the easiest one to do — offer to take their picture with their camera.
Sometimes people just aren’t going to be interested in having a conversation, but some are going to have that pleasant, Disney attitude and will be willing to chat as you both head for Toy Story Midway Mania.
Even talking to cast members might be a great opportunity for quality conversation. Since all cast members list their state or country of origin, they might be eager to share their experiences with guests.
If you know TouringPlans, you might be familiar with a few other Disney-related fan sites, blogs, or podcasts. These women and men know their stuff because they are in the parks often. Sometimes they might even announce that, while they’re down in the parks, they’re meeting up with fans!
I was able to do this with a TouringPlans group before I joined up. Some of the bloggers announced they were going to be touring around the new Storybook Circus section of Magic Kingdom park. (This was back in 2012.) Did I know anyone? Nope! But that didn’t stop me from searching out the bloggers in the lovely red shirts. There were about 20 of us there, and it’s a great chance to meet new people who you know you share something in common.
While you’ll want to make sure you are being secure with your information and not openly sharing everything with everyone on the Internet, you can still use social media to connect with people.
Using hashtags on Twitter or Instagram might get people to see where you are. You might even be able to strike up a conversation on social media with someone before your trip who will also be at the parks, and can arrange to hang out at some point on your respective vacations. Once again, be safe: make sure it’s an open location with cast members close by.
This one is easier than starting a conversation on the streets because both parties involved are dealing with the same thing: waiting in line for the next attraction. This opens up a whole mess of talking points: weather (“Man, it’s hot out here!”), the queue (“I love these new interactive displays!”), kids (“I love your daughter’s costume!”), and the visit (“How long have you been down here?”).
Very similar to queue talk, the group around you will be staying around you for a longer period of time. Especially at the very beginning and very end of the day, the buses, monorails, ferries, and trams will be full of guests. Sometimes offering your seat to a parent with small children or an elderly person might open the door to getting to know them (and the people in their group) a little better.
Biergarten and Counter Service
Ever been there? This unique Disney table service experience puts groups of guests together at the dinner table. For those ready to gab, this couldn’t be an easier way to do it. The ambiance of the restaurant – buffet-style food, entertaining musicians – brings alive a festive, partying atmosphere.
There might even come a point where you might need to share a table during counter service meals. I was once eating from a stand in Disney’s Animal Kingdom when a family of five asked to sit at the picnic table where I was eating. I had no problem with that – they needed to sit and I was pleased with the company!
Remember that not every conversation you have will result in finding a BFF. Sometimes having a nice quality conversation is all that you’re going to get. Don’t feel like you need to find out your new acquaintance’s Twitter handle or e-mail address if you talk to them for more than two minutes. Sometimes just snapping a quick photo (“Here’s that guy that I stood in a queue with for two hours!”) will be all the memory you’ll have.
Sometimes, though, you’ll find that person or group of people that share common interests with you and that you enjoy talking to. The experience you’ve shared might lead to a lasting friendship (or relationship for a lucky few!) all because you both share a love of Disney.
You can take a trip alone to the Disney parks, but you don’t have to feel alone while you’re there.
Have you ever met friends at the Disney parks or other Disney-related events like the D23 Expo? Has anyone met their significant other this way? Do you have an entertaining queue, transportation, or Biergarten story to share? Comment below!