Transitioning from Solo Traveler to Group Traveler

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Pictures with your friends are the best!

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.

Copyright 2010 Claire Nat
It’s more fun to do a quirky photo with a friend!

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 SeeWould 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.

Surprise Them

wishesThis 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?

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Are you watching me? Because I’m crying right now.

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!

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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!

5 thoughts on “Transitioning from Solo Traveler to Group Traveler

  • September 23, 2015 at 3:34 pm
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    “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)”

    While we haven’t been to a dessert party, I have heard from others who have that unless you get a seat near the edge, it is hard to see anything because the seating at the Tomorrowland Terrace is mostly covered. They also report that it is unlikely one will get a seat near the outer edge. So is the view “lovely” for everyone, or just those who get lucky?

    Reply
    • September 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm
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      I have to say also — we did this in August, I did keep it as a secret surprise of our two week trip. I figured, 7 and 10 year old boys and two teenage girls, how could I go wrong with a dessert buffet? It did not turn out as I expected … as we had anticipated from other reviews, the projection show was partially obscured, but we had a fine view of the fireworks. It wasn’t a problem for us to stand at the rail (which is what everyone does to be able to see), and we didn’t have a problem finding space for everyone *at* the rail. What I really hadn’t anticipated was when my 14 yo daughter, who is a major sugar addict and bakes cookies after school at least once a week looked up and said “You know, these desserts just aren’t that good”, and then proceeded to stick to fruit, crackers, and one of the mini-cupcakes for the rest of the evening. Other’s experience may vary, but I had to agree with her on the quality of the desserts.

      Reply
      • September 24, 2015 at 9:11 am
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        I know that this blog isn’t all about the dessert package but I just wanted to say my husband and I booked this last December for our Silver Wedding Anniversary trip. Despite it being really cold (even for us from the North of England) and that my husband is more of a savoury man rather than desserts, we had a fabulous time and enjoyed the desserts. The fireworks were amazing and Tinkerbell flew over right above us. We loved the fact that it was not crowded. Would we do it again? Possibly not – but only because of the cost as we usually have two daughters with us and possibly others which makes it quite expensive for us!

      • September 24, 2015 at 9:40 am
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        It is a great experience indeed! I’m not sure if I’ll ever do it again, but it’s worth it for one time!

    • September 24, 2015 at 9:41 am
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      I remember that they wouldn’t let us move our chairs to the edge, but we could stand to the side to watch. This was a few years ago, so the policy might have changed, but we didn’t have edge seats and still saw a good show!

      Reply

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