The hardest part about taking a Disney solo trip is convincing yourself to go on the trip. Every time I post a solo-Disney article, I get lots of comments saying how “my trip was wonderful!” and “it was so worth it!” and “I’m so glad I did it!” The general consensus is that a solo trip might be hard to fathom, but once it’s done, you might never want to travel with people to Walt Disney World again.
But it’s rare that a person takes solo trips for the rest of their lives. There are those little twinge moments at the parks where you think, “I know a person who would love this!” And if the opportunity arises, you want to travel with those people to the Disney Parks.
Trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to go from solo-traveler mode to travel-with-friends/family mode. After an entire vacation where the only person you need to think about is yourself, it can be a tough transition to keep the best interests of the entire group in mind.
Here are some helpful pointers that I’ll be trying to use as I transition to a group traveler again next year. I hope you can use these, too!
Scale Back Your Needs
I have taken two solo trips, and I did so much that I wanted to do, and nothing that I didn’t want to do. But now there are going to be things that another member of the group wants to do, but I don’t.
I’m going to have to get over it.
There is a chance that the person with whom you’re traveling has never been to the parks before. Even though you probably know what’s best in order to make the most out of the trip, you have to concede many of the decisions to the others.
If they want to do the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, but you know that Dumbo is better…it doesn’t matter. That attraction will make them smile, and isn’t that the point of traveling with friends?
Give Them Sound Advice…
You are likely to have a lot of experience going into your next Disney trip. If you know that a bad choice is going to ruin the day (say, getting to the park at noon with young children), make sure to speak up. There’s a chance that your advice will go unused, but at least they’ll keep it in mind next time.
…But Not Too Much
It’s not a wise idea to sound like the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (or Disneyland) over and over and over again on the trip. I mean, have you seen how big that book is? You could be spouting new information for years!
This is probably the suggestion I’ll struggle with the most. I know a lot of the best advice from podcasts, books, and websites (like this one!), and I will want to tell my companions all the ways to make this vacation the very best. But I will need to reign it in and sometimes let the vacation follow its course.
Ask For Their Wants and Needs
I’ve done this with several friends. I give them a list of attractions and shows, and they sort them out by Must See, Would Like To See, and Don’t Want To See. If I can have that information ahead of time, I can make sure that their Must See attractions are the first ones we do. I could also use Fastpass+ or create a Touring Plan that guarantees that their favorites will get seen.
This is also a fabulous idea for groups with multiple children, though you might want to scale it down from every attraction to a few per park. That way every child gets a favorite attraction done in one day, and doesn’t feel left out of the process.
This is good advice for the companion you know really well. Keep something a secret from them – whether it’s a special dinner, a magical moment, or a “mistake” (that you knew about) that works to your group’s favor.
Let’s say, for example, that they love the Magic Kingdom fireworks. They also love chocolate. It is inevitable that some night on your trip you will be finding a spot on the busy streets to watch the night sky light up. What a better opportunity than to arrange a Wishes Dessert Party? The seating is guaranteed and not insanely crowded, the view is lovely (speaking from experience), and there’s all-you-can-eat dessert! Your comrade will flip at such a great and unexpected gift.
Watch Their Reactions
If it is still hard to transition from the solo traveler to a group traveler, try to take as many mental (or physical, if you can) photos of your companions. Did you see their face as they rounded the corner of Main Street U.S.A. and caught sight of Cinderella’s castle for the first time? Did you see their eyes light up when the Soarin’ ride vehicles went vertical? Did you see them wipe away those tears when Mickey appears at the top of the mountain in Fantasmic! and starts shooting fireworks into the sky?
Those are the moments you want to see when you arrange these kinds of trips. Personal, private moments are wonderful, but to share a special moment with someone else is deeply affecting, too. It will make the whole trip worth it.
Do you have any other pieces of advice for routinely solo travelers taking a trip with friends or family? Is it harder to transition to group travel than it was to transition to solo travel? Am I (still!) the only one that cries at the end of Fantasmic!? Comment below!