How to Travel Solo and Make New Friends

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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.

crowd
Look at all these potential friends!

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.

Copyright 2010 Claire Nat
Perfect shirts for a future WDW Today get-together!

Meet-Ups

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.

Social Media

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.

Copyright 2014 Claire Nat
Crammed into a space…might as well get to know each other!

Queue Talk

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?”).

Disney Transportation

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.

Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols
Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols

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!

Final Thoughts

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!

Claire Nat

I've been enjoying Walt Disney World since my Nana pushed my sister's and my strollers back in the late 1980s. I enjoy my day job here in the Denver area as a teacher and music coordinator at our church. I love music, reading, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Michigan sports!

11 thoughts on “How to Travel Solo and Make New Friends

  • September 7, 2015 at 10:41 am
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    I have me several other liners inside the parks. Mostly by posting i was there and seeing who would answer. Or answering some elses post. It is a lot of fun. I fully intemd to try ad meet with more liners during my next trip.
    I travel with my husband, but a kot of the time we split up and do our own thong, so I gwt to fly solo and Disneyvis one of the best places for it.
    I have also ventured out for two liber meets in NYC and met a lot of liners there and seeing them again at the second meet, it feels as if you are meeting your family again.

    • September 8, 2015 at 10:20 am
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      It sounds like you make the most out of a solo trip – whether it’s being out on your own or meeting up with friends!

  • September 7, 2015 at 4:45 pm
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    So true. When my partner opted for the resort pool over Magic Kingdom on our last WDW trip, I spent dozens of hours solo and loved it. For years, I also used to go to Disneyland and California Adventure as a solo, and it’s the same thing there. You definitely don’t need to worry about feeling alone in a Disney park. When you reach out to other guests and to cast members, they’re often just as eager to reach back.

    • September 8, 2015 at 10:18 am
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      And make sure to check out the cast member name tags – they say where they’re from and sometimes you can make connections from that. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your solo time!

  • September 7, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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    Having been a solo traveler for many years, February will bring my first proper solo trip to a Disney park. Have done Universal a few times as a solo. WDW is too expensive for me as a solo.
    I love the freedom to go and do what YOU want to do without having to fit into someone else’s plan.
    I don’t tend to be a big talker, but often offer my services to take photos.
    I have no issue taking in attractions alone, and eating solo is no issues for me either. If I want to eat or do something, I just go ahead and give it a go.
    The combination of a solo traveler and your “Lines” app make for an exciting and full visit.

    • September 8, 2015 at 10:17 am
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      Thanks! The Lines app is a huge help – I always use it now. Enjoy your trip in February!

  • September 7, 2015 at 9:44 pm
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    I traveled solo because none of my regular travel companions could go. As an introvert I actually found it HARD not to have conversations and talk to people while I was there. Everyone was so nice.

    One day I’ll have the guts to meetup with an online group.

    • September 8, 2015 at 10:16 am
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      I understand introvertedness. I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to talk to people while you were there! (It’s so easy to do in a place like that!)

  • September 8, 2015 at 1:45 am
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    I am going on my first solo trip to WDW next month, so I really enjoyed this article. Good tips!

    • September 8, 2015 at 10:15 am
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      Have fun! Going in October is a great time – that’s when I did my solo trip last year!

Comments are closed.