You have a conference in the Orlando area and have time to kill. You’re a Disney fan whose vacation schedule does not align with those of your friends. You need a mental health getaway from your family. There are countless reasons why you might find yourself on a solo trip to Walt Disney World. Here’s everything you need to know.
Is it weird to travel to Walt Disney World as a solo adult?
No. Seriously, just no.
Every day, thousands of adults visit Walt Disney World on their own, taking advantage of all that the parks, resorts, and entertainment areas have to offer. I have done this myself dozens of times, for short visits and for multi-week stays.
OK, well a solo trip might not be weird, but will it feel weird to go to such a family-focused destination on my own?
First things first, while there are many things at Walt Disney World that are designed for children and families, there are just as many things that are designed for adults. Spas, gourmet restaurants, and thrill rides are just a few of the adult-oriented entertainment options at Disney World, vanishingly few of which are geared to any particular party size. And all that kid stuff – adults are welcome to enjoy most of that too.
But how you feel about being alone is a state of mind – one that may take some practice getting used to. I’ll confess that I was well into adulthood before I was comfortable doing things like going to a restaurant by myself. If you’re nervous about emotional disequilibrium about being in an entertainment venue alone, it may help to take some baby steps at home first. Practice by doing things like:
- Go to a movie by yourself. Start with a matinee or weekday show, working up to a weekend evening.
- Go to a cultural venue such as a museum or exhibit on your own.
- Go to a fast food restaurant, dining in by yourself.
- Go to a waiter service restaurant by yourself, start with breakfast or lunch, working up to a weekend evening.
- Go to a live entertainment event, such as a play or concert, on your own.
- Visit a local amusement park on your own.
Depending on your upbringing and personality, various of these activities may feel more or less unsettling, but after you’ve mastered a few, then you’re likely ready for a solo WDW trip. It may also help to bear in mind that everyone else at Disney World is engaged in their own vacation, no one is paying attention to you (I mean this in a good way) and most likely no one will have any idea that you’re traveling on your own.
Will I be lonely if I visit Walt Disney World on my own?
Again, this is a personal feeling. However, there are lots of people to talk to if you’d like to engage with others. Cast members are often more than willing to chat about their area of expertise. You can meet other guests while sitting at the pool or while waiting in line at an attraction. And you can always call or text a friend at home if you want some known companionship.
Where should I stay as a solo traveler?
There are thousands of travel accommodation options in the Orlando area, both off-site and on Disney property, at all price points. You can stay wherever fits your budget at appeals to you from convenience and aesthetic standpoints.
That said, from the perspective of a woman who has stayed at nearly every WDW hotel alone, I typically prefer to be on the second floor or higher of my hotel, close to high-traffic areas such as elevators or public lobbies. Disney property is very safe, but I don’t love walking to a distant location in the dark alone. You may have different preferences.
You should also consider how staying at a particular location will impact your transportation needs. If you’re staying off-site you will likely need a car, which may mean driving in an unfamiliar area at night, or taking Ubers or taxis. Depending on your experience, these activities may or may not be comfortable for you.
You mentioned that Disney is safe. Are there things I can do increase my safety?
Use the same common sense that you’d use when you’re traveling alone anywhere. For example:
- Leave a copy of your general travel itinerary with a friend at home.
- Keep details about where you’re staying, such as your room number, private.
- If you’re taking an Uber or Lyft, turn on the feature that tells a friend or family member your route.
- Keep to the well-lit paths at night and if you have any concerns at all, ask a cast member to escort you to your room.
- Keep at least one credit card and form of ID in your hotel room safe. In the unlikely event that your wallet is lost/stolen, you’ll have a back-up means of payment.
What’s the best way to get to WDW as a solo traveler?
Now that Disney’s Magical Express service has been discontinued, there are no longer any free options for transportation from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World. This means that you can rent a car, hire a limo, use a ride share service or taxi, or use a shuttle service such as Mears Connect.
These are all good options. Base your choice on budget, comfort with travel alone with just a cab/car driver, and desire for access to your own vehicle.
Is there a better or worse time of the year to visit WDW as a solo traveler?
Take a look at our Disney World Crowd Calendar. The highest crowd times are those when a larger percentage of the U.S. schools have a scheduled break – and thus when a larger percentage of the park will be occupied by children.
Of course, there are always kids at Walt Disney World, so there will never be an “adults only” time to visit the parks.
In 2022, the lowest crowd period is the five weeks from the end of August, through September. This would be an ideal time for anyone, including a solo adult, to visit.
Is it weird to eat in table service restaurants on my own?
Adults eat at Disney table service restaurants on their own all the time. If dining alone is something that makes you uncomfortable, you can, as mentioned above, practice at home to work on this. Alternatively, there are quick service restaurants throughout the parks and resorts, many of which offer delicious food at reasonable prices.
Are there any restaurants that are better or worse for solo travelers?
My answer to this might have been different before the pandemic than it is now.
Pre-pandemic, there were a handful of restaurants at Walt Disney World where multiple parties were sometimes seated at the same table – notably Biergarten and Via Napoli, both located at Epcot. Your appreciation of these restaurants could vary depending on your thoughts about dining with strangers. However, with current social distancing protocols in place, these restaurants are not seating parties together. See our tips on Disney for introverts for related discussions.
I particularly enjoy dining on my own at locations where there is something to do rather than just staring at my food. For example, Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has fun films playing during your meal. My favorite place to eat alone at Disney World is the Brown Derby Lounge at DHS. This spot is located outside the main Brown Derby restaurant. They offer many of the same foods and the dining room, plus there is a terrific view of the DHS central hub with sight lines to the cavalcades and a fantastic people-watching vantage point.
Can I make dining reservations for one person?
Yes, you can. And you should make reservations for any must-do table service restaurant.
However, you may have slightly better luck if you experiment search for reservation meal times for both a party of one and a party of two, even if you’re dining on your own. As long as someone shows up for the reservation, it won’t matter how many people actually end up dining.
Are there advantages to going to Disney World solo?
The biggest advantage to traveling solo is that you can make the trip EXACTLY what you want it to be. Go on only the rides you like. Leave the parks when you’re tired. Eat what you want, when you want. Change your plans on the fly without having to consult with anyone. The freedom is AMAZING!
Beyond that, several attractions have single rider lines that get solo travelers onto the attractions faster. I’ve also had great luck as a solo traveler with getting squeezed into restaurants without a reservation.
Are there any price breaks for solo travelers at Disney World?
Unfortunately not, but unlike Disney Cruise Line their aren’t any penalties either. (On DCL, singles must pay the price for two guests.)
How do I get pictures of myself at the parks if I’m traveling on my own?
Solo trips are a great time to take advantage of the PhotoPass photographers.
Is it weird to go to a character greeting on my own?
Not at all. The characters are 100% fine interacting with guests of any age and any party size.
Will I have to ride with strangers on the attractions?
Take a look at our guides to the attraction vehicles at the Disney World theme parks: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios. You’ll see that there are very few attractions where there is even the possibility of being seated alone with a stranger. If you have any concerns, speak with a cast member at the attraction. I have never heard of a request for solo seating not being honored.
The only “ride” where I, traveling as a solo woman, have ever been placed alone with a single stranger, is the Skyliner transportation system. Speak with a cast member if you do not want this to occur.
What can I do to keep myself busy waiting for rides if I don’t have anyone to talk to?
You can try to strike up a conversation with the other folks waiting in line, if you do want to talk to people.
Otherwise, think of how you’d spend time if you were alone on an airplane or long bus trip: listen to podcasts, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, etc.
Any tips on making a solo trip more fun?
On many of my solo trips, I’ve set challenges or goals for myself. These could include things like:
- Try a new snack in each theme park
- Go on every WDW roller coaster in one day
- Visit every WDW resort during one trip
- Get one item from every booth at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (it was a long trip)
- Go on every ride at a particular park
- Master a new camera
- Find and photograph all the 50th anniversary statues
What is there to do as a solo traveler besides going to the theme parks?
Anything you can do with others, you can do solo at Disney World: go to the gym or spa, sit by the pool and read, go to a movie, take a backstage tour, shop at Disney Springs, listen to the dueling pianos at Jellyrolls, watch the Cirque du Soleil show … and on and on.
What have your experiences been like as a solo traveler to Disney World? Let us know!