Hitting Walt Disney World Solo!

February 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney Travel, Disney Travel Planning, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort | 3 Comments
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Me in front of Cinderella’s Castle

Recently, I had the chance to plan a solo Walt Disney World trip! Solo?!? Why on Earth would someone want to go the Most Magical Place on Earth all by themselves?  As someone who has always gone with family, I always wondered the same thing. As someone who has now experienced it solo, I can simply say DO IT!

My husband is a corporate pilot, and he was assigned an Orlando trip which was supposed to go from February 14-16. I was invited along! Great! Of course I’ll go! Well, as things typically go in the corporate aviation field go, plans changed. Our 2-night trip was cut back to 1 night. I began thinking, “what if I just stay an extra day and go explore?”. So I made the plans: got a Disney resort reservation, made a reservation for the Keys to the Kingdom tour and began to plan my ONE day at WDW by myself. Then plans changed again. Instead of arriving on Sunday, we would now be arriving on Friday night, and my husband would be leaving on Saturday evening. What to do? I had flight arrangements for Tuesday and my tour on Monday. After careful researching, I decided to stay on until Tuesday, giving me 2 FULL DAYS and 3 nights at Walt Disney World all by myself! What would I do?? The answer: ANYTHING I WANTED TO!

We arrived late Friday night and checked in at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort. We had an early Valentine’s Day dinner at  Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Gaylord Palms. What a wonderful place! If you ever are lucky enough to get to eat there, get the artisan macaroni and cheese! It’s delicious! We wandered around the hotel f or a bit, and then we decided it was off to bed as we were planning on waking up

Welcome Home!

and heading out! We awoke bright and early on Saturday to head to the Magic Kingdom! I felt like we were home! Nothing beats driving through the Walt Disney World Resort arch! We went straight to Jungle Cruise, Pirates and Big Thunder Mountain. It was so strange to be able to ride these sitting next to my husband and not my kids! Then we headed over to the Haunted Mansion, lunch at Columbia Harbour House, Buzz and Carousel of Progress. As we were getting on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, he received a text that signaled the end to his Magic Kingdom time! He had to head out to fly his boss home, leaving me alone on

Goofy in Frontierland!

Main Street USA during the Move It, Shake It Celebration. At first, I was so lonely, and I thought “What have I done?”. I saw all the smiling faces of the families around me, and it made me miss my family terribly! But then….I saw the tantrums. The meltdowns. The family arguments on where to go next, and I realized… I don’t have to deal with any of that!

I immediately headed over to Aloha Isle in Adventureland to get a Dole Whip Float. I sat down to enjoy it and watched the people go by!

My Dole Whip Float

 I walked around Magic Kingdom to take photos of whatever I wanted! It was extremely crowded due to the President’s Day Weekend, Daytona 500, cheerleading championship and more. I decided to head over to Wilderness Lodge to go take some resort pictures and enjoy a quick break. I jumped on the boat, and away I

Wilderness Lodge

went! I waited for the geyser to erupt (but quickly lost patience) so I went and wandered around. I bought an iced tea at Roaring Fork and sat down in one of the rocking chairs in front of the huge rock fireplace in the Wilderness Lodge lobby. It was cold out so the fireplace felt great!

I then hopped on the bus and headed over to Epcot! Crowds were an issue there, too- no more Fastpasses for Soarin’ and the wait was 120 minutes. I decided to try for Test Track in the Single Rider line, which said 20 minutes when I went in. By the time I sat in line for 30 minutes and heard the announcement that wait times would be longer than posted, I decided to head back out. When I walked out, the Single Rider line was up to 90 minutes! Whew!

Epcot

I walked over to World Showcase and began wondering through all of the pavilions. There were many stores I had never been in before because I had the kids with me, and they wanted to do their Kidcot stops! I took my time in each pavilion exploring and seeing what I

Italy Pavilion

may have missed before. Then I got hungry! I had no ADR that day so I decided to try my luck! I went to Tutto Italia, where I had never eaten before! I was able to get in with a minimal wait! I guess seating for 1 makes them feel sorry for you! I waited for about 5 minutes and then was seated! The food was great. The ambiance was very romantic (at least that’s what I gathered by watching others), and the service was great. I enjoyed listening to the Italian singers and just getting off of my feet for a bit! Then back out to World Showcase! I finished wandering through the pavilions and bought some gifts to bring home. Then I headed out the back entrance and walked over to the Boardwalk!

I had never been to the Boardwalk before, and I’m sorry I’ve missed it! I will definitely have to bring the family back! I have to say though that I am not a fan of the pool area. As many of you know, the Boardwalk pool has a

Boardwalk

 HUGE clown slide, and I HATE clowns! I strolled along the Boardwalk and went to the bakery where I ordered a Cheesecake Brownie- simply put, DELICIOUS. After walking around the resort for a little bit, I decided I was pretty dang tired so I hopped in a cab to head back to the Gaylord Palms!

Early Sunday, I woke up and rented a car so I could spend my Sunday exploring the Disney resorts! My first priority was breakfast! I headed over to the Polynesian Resort for my 10:20 ADR at Kona. Tonga Toast was

Tonga Toast from Kona!

calling my name! After stuffing myself with the banana-stuffed cinnamon-sugar rolled French Toast, I jumped on the monorail to the Grand Floridian Resort to explore! I had never been able to truly explore any of these resorts before! What a beautiful resort! I watched the crazy kids play in the pool, wishing I had mine with me (although it was way too cold for me to have allowed my kids to get in the water- call me an overprotective mom)! I walked to the far

Grand Floridian Resort

 end of the resort and enjoyed the site of  Magic Kingdom before me! I walked along the beach and walked through the great shops!

After riding the monorail back to my car at the Polynesian, I decided to head up to the Value Resorts. I had visited Pop Century before breakfast so I went over to the All-Star Resorts. I knew I had to make it to All-Star Movies to see the Toy Story section, as my 3-year old LOVES anything to do with Toy Story! What a cool place!

Toy Story section at All-Star Movies Resort

Then I was off to Animal Kingdom Lodge, Coronado Springs (simply beautiful), Port Orleans French Quarter (where I sat and enjoyed some beignets) and Port Orleans Riverside. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend time at the various resorts. I knew it was something I could never do with my kids. And how magical it was to be able to take it all in and watch the kids’ eyes light up when they realized that they were checking in to their hotels at WALT DISNEY WORLD! It brought tears to my eyes on several occasions! Being alone gives you a lot of time to think, and I was remembering vividly my kids’ first times at Walt Disney World- the excitement, the fatigue, the amazement. My daughter was 3 when we brought her for the first time. We stayed at Wilderness Lodge, and the look on her face when we walked into the majestic lobby was absolutely priceless.

Late in the afternoon, I headed over to Hollywood Studios to meet up with a Twitter friend, Maria. I enjoyed the

Maria and Me at Hollywood Studios

 Block Party Bash, and then I went off to meet Maria and her husband and four daughters. What a sweet family! They were off to spend time in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area. I decided to head the other way to take some more park photos. It was too crowded to ride my favorite ride, Toy Story Midway Mania, so I continued to just explore! I was wearing down after all those resorts so I then was off to try to get in to a table-service restaurant. They weren’t accepting walk-ins at Mama Melrose’s so I decided to head to another

Sci-Fi Diner

place I had never been to- Sci-Fi Drive-In. I was amazed when I was able to get a table- in one of the cars, nonetheless! What a fun experience! The kids around me were enthralled by being able to eat in a car and watch TV while they ate! I was hoping to catch Fantasmic, but with the crowds, I decided it was best to head out to check in to my new hotel- the Hilton at the Walt Disney World Resort!

I checked in and decided to head across the street to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping and exploring! I’ve never had the chance to wonder aimlessly at Downtown Disney before so I took the chance! I drove around for a while and finally found a parking space and then headed straight for World of Disney,

World of Disney

 my favorite store. Then I decided to indulge in a warm cookie fudge sundae from Ghiradelli (would have posted a picture but I ate it too fast). After my treat, I decided to head back to relax as I had an early Monday! It was a great Sunday, although I missed having my sweetheart with me on Valentine’s Day!

Monday came up fast! I was up early checking out of the Hilton and checking in at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Then I was off to do something I would never be able to do with my kids here- The Keys to the Kingdom Tour (you must be 16 to attend the tour).  My tour started at 9:00 so I arrived at Magic Kingdom

at a little after 8:00. I checked in for the tour and then walked around Main Street USA and enjoyed the

The Mayor on Main Street

emptiness! There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the castle without a massive crowd in front of it! I walked down Main Street and up through the castle and then slowly wandered back near the Main Street Train Station where I took in the pre-opening show with the Disney characters! As I waited for the tour began, I was lucky enough to have the characters walk right by and wave at me on their way backstage!

Then came time for the tour to start- this was the part of my trip I had been waiting for! I had a group of 16 people. Needless to say, I was the only one attending solo. Our tour guide was named Tracy, and she was excellent! We began by touring Main Street and discussing Walt’s idea for the park and most importantly, the story. We took in the windows on Main Street and discussed a few windows in particular. As we strolled down Main Street, we learned bits and pieces of Walt’s life and his relationship with his brother, Roy. We ended up at the Partners statue before we were on our way to Adventureland where we hopped on a Jungle Cruise boat! We didn’t get the normal Jungle Cruise speel. Instead, Tracy talked with us about Walt’s original thoughts for the attraction. The main thing being the fact that he actually wanted real animals along the banks, an idea the Roy rejected! But how interesting would that have been??

After the Jungle Cruise ride, we were on our way to Frontierland, where we finally got to go backstage! We were all responsible for making sure that our “travel buddies” made it each step of the way. Needless to say, it was easy keeping up with my travel buddy! We had to take an “oath” that we would not take any photos or videos while we were backstage. Then off we went! We first saw the backside of Splash Mountain and then were able to go into the warehouse where they keep the Spectromagic parade floats. It was very interesting to learn about how they position the floats and who gets to drive certain types of floats. We also were able to see Woody and Jessie before they become Woody and Jessie, if you know what I mean!

Next, we were off to Liberty Square, where we stopped to learn more about all of the details that went into Liberty Square, such as the 13 lanterns hanging in Liberty Tree.  Liberty Tree was even a great story- it broke in half when they were moving it to Liberty Square. After we spent our time in Liberty Tree, we had a great lunch at Columbia Harbour House, one of my favorites. I sat with Tracy, our tour guide, and a lovely couple who had gotten married only 2 days before! When we sat down for lunch, we received our special gift- our key to the kingdom (a key pin). After lunch, it was time for Haunted Mansion. We heard the “story” of Gracy Manor, and all of the rumors surrounding it. Then we went through the back entrance and gained quick access to the ride! I tried to locate some of the special things to look for (a headless Mickey, Jack Skellington and Sally), but I couldn’t find any of them!

Not long after that, we headed back up towards Main Street and down to the Utilidors! The Utilidors are a mystery to many people! And I can vouch for them saying, they are in fact long hallways. However, what is housed down there is simply amazing! It makes you wonder how many people truly realize they are on the second story when they are at Magic Kingdom! Tracy told us of the many benefits tat Disney offers their employees, and I have to say, that people who work at Disney are very lucky!

Rick, Amanda, me, James and Aurora

Once the tour was over, it was time to meet some more of my Twitter friends- Amanda, Rick, Aurora and her husband, James! What a great group of people! Amanda had a special pass that allowed us to get on Fastpass attractions right away! We met up at Space Mountain, where I took my 1st Space Mountain ride in 16 years (I know, a Disney-lover sin). I must confess that I am not a roller-coaster person, but Space Mountain is tame enough for me. We rode a few more rides and then met up with another Twitter friend, Debbie and her cute boys and headed to the Polynesian so we could have some dinner at Kona Cafe.

I then went back to Magic Kingdom so I could catch the 8:00 Wishes fireworks show, which I love! I

Wishes

 decided I couldn’t make it to Spectromagic (I had already been at Magic Kingdom for 12 hours) so I went back to take in my room at Caribbean Beach! I finally found my room in the Jamaica section, dropped off my bags and headed over to Old Port Royale for a drink and a snack! It was my last night at Disney!

I loved my Nemo-themed room and was excited to see the different Nemo characters on the comforter. I hopped into bed and watched what I wanted to- the Olympics!

Caribbean Beach Resort

My last morning there involved dropping off my rental car, checking out and waiting for Magical Express. After bringing the car back to the Gaylord Palms, I was back at Caribbean Beach Resort for a Mickey waffle and some bacon. I still had 4 hours before my bus to the airport came so I decided to catch the bus over to Downtown Disney for some last minute shopping. It was a chilly morning, but I had a nice time wondering through all of the shops and had a nice lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. I was hoping to hit DisneyQuest, but it opened a little too late for me to have been able to make it back in time! After doing some more shopping, I was off to wait for my bus!

After a rather lengthy wait for my Magical Express bus (he was 20 minutes late) and some last-minute confusion, we were on our way to the airport! I had a wonderful experience at Walt Disney World, but I was ready to get home to my kids and my husband. It was finally time to board my flight, where I wound up sitting next to my high school dance instructor! Such a small world! She had been there with one of the local high schools for the cheerleading competition! Three hours later, I was in the airport and seeing my kids running to me saying “Mommy! Where are my presents?”! I knew I was home!

Looking back, this experience was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. I had a wonderful time, met some great people, did a lot of walking and had some relaxing quiet time! I would without a doubt do this again, and I would hands down recommend a solo Disney trip to any Disney fans out there.

Walt Disney World is so many things to me- magical, peaceful, happy memories. But above all, Walt Disney World is family. My once-in-a-lifetime experience was something that I will always cherish. I was able to see many things I had never gotten to see before, even after all my trips to the World! I enjoyed watching the happy looks on the families that were there and seeing the magic on the childrens’ faces. I remember seeing that on my kids, too. Without the support of my family, I would never have been able to take this trip- my husband for inviting me and then for supporting me when I said I wanted to go alone for 3 days, my kids for being excited for me, and my parents, for taking care of the kids while we were gone. So thank you to my family…I owe you. I had a fantastic time. And I missed you.

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Go there to read more great Disney posts.

My Family on a Previous Walt Disney World Trip!

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3 Comments »

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  1. What a wonderful post! You had quite the solo adventure! When my husband and I went in January I was expecting to have a ‘solo day’ but it ended up being only a ‘solo morning’ – but it was still so different experiencing the MK alone. No kids. No tantrums. 🙂

    So happy you had a great time!

  2. […] The Magical Mousecapades Blog shares tips for Hitting Disney World Solo. […]

  3. I go solo to WDW, too, and I love reading stories about other people’s solo adventures at Disney World! I’m glad you had a good time. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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