I have taken more than a handful of solo trips to Walt Disney World and they have been some of my favorite trips so far! Below are my best tips for having a vacation that’s just as memorable and magical as a group trip.
Where should I stay?
The All-Star resorts are usually the cheapest option. If you don’t plan on spending much time in the room, it doesn’t make sense to spend a large chunk of your money for resort amenities that you’ll find at the Moderate or Deluxe hotels when you can’t split that extra cost with anyone.
I prefer All-Star Music or Movies because I feel they usually have fewer large school, sports, or tour groups that visit the resort in the early spring or summer. But if sports are your cup of tea, there’s nothing terrible about All-Star Sports.
I also recommend staying on-property as opposed to at one of the Disney Springs hotels or other non-Disney hotel because Disney transportation is free and convenient, especially as a solo traveler. Many of the buses can usually squeeze one more person in and you won’t have to pay for the entire cost of ride-sharing to and from the parks.
Make sure you check for hotel discounts ahead of time! Even if you’ve already booked your hotel before a discount becomes available, you can call Disney to check for discounts to apply retroactively.
How long should I stay? Should I get a park-hopper?
My ideal trip as a solo traveler is 5 days with a park-hopper (or annual pass) but a park-hopper is not necessary.
If you’re going for 5 or more days (especially on your first trip), I don’t think you need a park-hopper. Five days allows enough time for one park per day plus an extra day at a park of your choice. If you think you’ll need at least one day of rest, you can get a four day ticket or stay for longer.
If you’re going for fewer than 4 days, then I would suggest getting a park-hopper ticket in order to do most of what you want to be able to do.
However, there are a couple of exceptions to these general guidelines.
First, as a solo traveler, you can likely do many of the attractions you care the most about in each park in less than a day because you’re more likely to get additional FastPass+ selections as a single person than a large group. With a park-hopper, you can go ride some of your favorite rides or see some of your favorite shows at a different park again instead of spending the rest of your time at Disney Springs or exploring the resorts.
Second, park-hoppers are more valuable during Halloween and holiday time because Magic Kingdom closes early on select nights. If you don’t buy a party ticket (which are typically more expensive than regular park-day tickets), you either have to plan to visit Magic Kingdom on non-party days (which generally have more crowds) or you can split up your time in Magic Kingdom across one morning and one night with a park-hopper.
How should I spend my day at Disney as a solo traveler?
The best part of being a solo traveler is all the time you have to do your favorite things – ride your favorite attractions, see your favorite shows and meet your favorite characters!
One tip for attractions: don’t get a FastPass+ for rides that have single rider lines! That includes Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith an Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at Hollywood Studios, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and Test Track at Epcot.
If you’re planning on seeing shows or nighttime spectaculars, don’t stress too much about showing up more than 5 minutes early. You can often still find a decent spot for one person somewhere.
After you’ve done all your favorite things, there are several activities that I think are worth taking your time to do as a solo traveler that you might skip in a larger group.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Discovery Island Trails have lots of animals to observe and learn about. The Disney Parks Play App has some fun activities to guide you through these trails as well. Take the train up to Conservation Station for an art class, to watch veterinarians at work, or for an up-close view of animals you won’t see elsewhere in the park.
There’s so much more to do than eat and shop. Stroll through the exhibits in Mexico, Norway, China, Japan, and Morocco to learn about aspects of each culture. Stop to watch the performers (times are listed in the My Disney Experience app). Especially don’t miss the Voices of Liberty and while you’re hanging out in the America pavilion, catch the American Adventure and peruse through the exhibit on Native American art.
During festivals, there are extra educational activities like art classes, wine tasting or cooking demos, and gardening tours offered for free. Each festival also has a concert series (or Candlelight Processional during Christmastime) offered multiple times a night.
Join the Citizens of Hollywood for all of their hilarious antics multiple times a day or explore Galaxy’s Edge with the data pad in the Disney Parks Play app.
I also like to take the boat or walk to the Boardwalk area on my Hollywood Studios day to explore the hotels and shops while eating some Ample Hills ice cream. At night, you can check out the Jellyrolls dueling piano bar or the Atlantic Dance Hall.
Take it slow by riding the Main Street vehicles or soak up the ambiance by eating a snack and watching either the castle stage show or people walking by. The area in front of the Country Bear Jamboree often has a hoedown with cast members and characters or you can pin trade at Frontier Trading Post nearby, one of the main pin shops on property. If you have time, try out one of the Pirate’s Adventure quests in Adventureland to find some extra magic or play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom!
Outside of the Parks
If you’re done with parks for the day, Disney Springs also has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants and live entertainment. Disney Springs is often open later than the parks, and is a fun place to stop if you’re spending a day check out all of the hotels since you can’t take a bus from one hotel to another hotel.
Many of the hotels have activities like making tie-die t-shirts during the day, trivia in the early evening, or outdoor movies at night. The Grand Floridian will have a live pianist or band playing throughout the day. Animal Kingdom Lodge has its own savannah if you want to watch animals in a quieter setting as well as walls lined with interesting African artifacts. Wilderness Lodge has a few hidden Mickey quests and Port Orleans French Quarter sometimes has fun scavenger hunts around the resort.
Which restaurants should I avoid?
Some Disney restaurants aren’t ideal as a solo traveler.
If you dine solo at Biergarten at Epcot and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios, you’ll likely be placed at a long table or in a car with another group. If you want to make friends go for it, but it can sometimes be a little awkward.
Garden Grill at Epcot and ‘Ohana at the Polynesian resort both only have family style dining options and are probably too much food for one person to eat. The same applies to Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom during dinner time, but single entrees are available during lunch. The menus at Via Napoli at Epcot and Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom have almost exclusively large shareable pizzas, but you can take leftovers.
Other restaurants are more fun with a group. 50’s Prime Time Cafe has servers that will kiddingly berate you, and that’s more enjoyable if other people in your group are the ones being berated. Hollywood & Vine is a character meal featuring mostly Disney Junior characters so might be best enjoyed with young children.
Lastly, you don’t need to bother with any reservations that get you special access to nighttime shows because there will usually be room for one person somewhere.
Which restaurants are best for a solo trip?
If you are determined to have a sit-down restaurant experience (which I recommend because the theming and food are usually top-notch) some options might be more comfortable as a solo traveler.
To meet mostly face characters, try 1900 Park Fare, Trattoria al Forno, or Story Book Dining at Artist Point. Tusker House at Animal Kingdom allows you to meet Mickey and friends in the park and has a few tucked-away spots for smaller parties that might make it a little less chaotic than Chef Mickey’s or Topolino’s Terrace (in high demand because it’s new for 2020).
Going solo is a perfect opportunity to try more adventurous cuisines as well. Tiffins and the Nomad Lounge are delicious but a little on the pricier side. Yak & Yeti Restaurant and the Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen have delicious Asian and South American inspired dishes. You can also usually find a last minute table at the restaurants in the Morocco pavilion (Restaurant Marrakesh and Spice Road Table) because larger groups gravitate away from the more unfamiliar flavors.
What are the best quick-service options at Disney World?
If sitting alone at a table feels weird as a solo traveler, stick to the quick-service options!
You can’t really go wrong with quick-service options in Animal Kingdom. Satuuli Canteen is lauded as a healthier go-to, but Flame Tree Barbecue, Harambe Market, Restaurantosaurus and Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes are also delicious.
At Epcot, I usually go during one of the many festivals and get food exclusively from the special booths over any quick-service restaurant. Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK pavilion reportedly has excellent fish and chips though.
Hollywood Studios quick-service is mostly American cuisine with so-so burgers and the like that aren’t very unique. Woody’s Lunchbox, Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge, and ABC Commissary have the most interesting options.
Magic Kingdom also have several fast food options. Columbia Harbor House can help you get a healthy serving of vegetables and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe has Mexican options. One of my favorite combos is to get the corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner and put them on top of the macaroni and cheese tater tots from The Friar’s Nook. But make sure to leave room for all of the specialty treats at Magic Kingdom!
Remember to use Mobile Order at these quick-service restaurants so you don’t have to wait in as long of a line!
Consider purchasing Memory Maker if you don’t have an annual pass; I find I often have extra time to take photos when I’m by myself.
Maybe purposefully miss your Magical Express back to the airport. You’ll get an extra few hours in the parks, and if you were able to check your bags with the airline services at your hotel, you can breeze through security with nothing but what you took to the parks.
Lastly, be brave in striking up conversation with other people! Whether you are waiting for something or want a picture that isn’t a selfie, you can make some awesome Disney-loving friends just by talking to a stranger. More of the people I’ve talked to think it’s awesome rather than weird that I frequently go on solo trips and they wish they could go on solo trips too!
Find any of these tips helpful or have additional questions about solo Disney trips? Let me know in the comments below!