On my last trip to Walt Disney World, I travelled with my mother, my sister, my aunt and my cousin. Essentially, I was the cruise director. I planned the trip, I made the itineraries, I booked all of the dining reservations. All of the decision making was left to me and I was glad to do it. So what happened? What went wrong? Once we got there, no one really cared for what I had planned and wanted to do their own thing. This would have been fine if I had not put so much work in to the planning. By the end of our first day I got tired of the complaining and decided that I could either stick with these people who were making me miserable, or I could branch out on my own and do the things that I wanted to do – after all, this was my vacation too!
I’ll never forget the moment I walked away from the group. There was a part of me that wanted to cry. I could not believe that THIS was how my dream vacation was turning out! But as I rode that boat across the World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot I had an epiphany – I was going to have fun! So off I went on my solo Disney adventure. I got off the boat at Future World and took out my cell phone and called my husband and kids to check in. I told them about my being alone and my husband was outraged for me. How dare they! I told him I was fine and that as I was talking to him, I was off to ride Soarin’ and I had everyone’s fast-passes because none of them wanted to ride it. We hung up and I walked over to the Land Pavillion and got on line. I talked to some wonderful people and even got pulled out of line because they were looking for a single rider! I rode it (my favorite ride) and then jumped on the line to do it again. I didn’t get pulled a second time but still had a great time talking to people and even convinced one couple to take my picture with my plethera of fast-passes!
The next morning, I woke up really early and got dressed and went walking on the beach of the Grand Floridian. I got to watch the sun rise. It was so peaceful and so beautiful. I actually called my husband to share it with him. Actually I was calling him to make sure he was getting the kids ready for school, but I did tell him about the sun rise! I explored the resort grounds and found some wonderful hidden treasures that I might never have seen if I was forced to stay with the group. I took tons of pictures and showed them to everyone over breakfast. Next, we all went to the Magic Kingdom and the plan was to split the group in half and meet up at It’s a Small World at 10:00. Okay, fine we did that but once that was over, yet another debate began about what to ride next so we split the group again and set a meeting time. At that meeting time, it began again – who didn’t want to do what. I was prepared. Some of the group went to eat at a fast food place, two went back to the hotel to swim and I walked around and shopped and got my picture taken all over the Magic Kingdom. Those were some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip! Later in the day back at the hotel, while everyone was drinking by the pool, I went shopping at the gift shop. By this point, I’m almost resentful of having to spend time with anyone because I was finding myself relaxed beyond belief! That’s something you don’t hear about a Disney vacation.
I repeated my beach walk that last morning and after a disasterous attempt at Hollywood studios as a group, we had to go back to the hotel to check out. Our flights weren’t until later in the day and so most of the group wanted to just hang out by the pool. I’m sorry, but I can swim at home. You see, the other four in my party all live near each other, I live 500 miles away from them. You would think they’d want to spend time with me, but no. So in order to squeeze the last drop of magic out of my Disney vacation, I hopped the monorail back over to the Magic Kingdom, got more pictures taken, rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA), went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, got my picture taken in front of the castle at TWO different angles and rode the monorail loop one more time – taking pictures the entire time. It was a blast!
I am a very social person. I normally enjoy being with a group of people. This really was an extreme set of circumstances. The thing is, there is really no shame in walking around Disney alone! Here are some of my top tips for having some alone time while still experiencing all that Disney has to offer:
– Explore the shops not only in your hotel, but in the parks. Each of the theme park has an extreme amount of shops to explore and sometimes it’s better doing it alone!
– Explore your resort. I’ve stayed at at least a half a dozen of the Disney resorts and only on this particular trip did I actually SEE the resort. There were secret gardens and Mickey shaped fire-pits in the sand that you could roast marshmallows over, hidden Mickey’s to see…it was endless. Take the time to see what you’ve paid for!
– Don’t be afraid to ride the rides! Most of the rides have a single-rider line so that you won’t have to wait as long in the regular lines. I rode Expedition Everest four times in a row that way!
– Get your picture taken! For years I wanted a picture of myself with the “Partners” statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella’s Castle and never got one. Well, when I was by myself I found a Disney photographer and got it done!
– Enjoy a treat! When you travel with kids you normally don’t want them indulging in sweets between meals but when you are there solo, go for it! There are some amazing sweet shops around the parks and hotels to choose from. Go ahead, no one’s looking!
– Remember that nobody’s looking at you! No one is looking at you and thinking “oh, look, she’s all by herself. What a loser!” If anything, should someone notice your solo status, they will be envious because you are free of the whining, complaining and crying that is going on in most groups!
So go ahead, break away from the group. Slap on a pair of mouse ears and skip your way down Main Street USA!