A Solo Trip to Walt Disney World. YES, you CAN have fun!
By: Kris Banas
I seriously have a great time with the planning stages of trips and a countdown. Since I booked my trip a little later in advance than usual, the countdown seemed to go rather quickly. I was able to make my Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s) right away….but taking that chance can sometimes mean you won’t get what you want. Since I was traveling alone, and I would be at a table for 2, I didn’t have too much trouble. As a matter of fact I got an ADR at Be Our Guest for my date of arrival, and pretty close to the time I wanted.
I had 6 day Park Hopper tickets, 6 nights at the Art of Animation Resort, I got good airfare prices (as I am totally obsessed at getting great airfare-I even booked the flight before I booked the resort.)
I arrived before noon on May 1, and got to the Magical Express in record time as I wanted to get in as much magic on the first day as possible. But, alas……..my magic was in the rain. I left Chicago and it was warm, bright and sunny with a high the day before I left of 80+ degrees. I get to “sunny” Florida, and it was cloudy and rainy. Just my luck!
I got to the resort and was able to check in around 1:30pm as my room was ready. I stayed in the Little Mermaid section of the resort, which I did not realize seems to be about two football fields away from the lobby, dining, and buses. This did not make me happy. All the family suites are very close to everything, and if I had known it was that far away, I would not have stayed there.
I waited a bit for my luggage and it did not arrive when I wanted to leave for the day. I didn’t have the shoes on that I wanted to wear to the park, but I took off anyway. This would be a bad mistake as I got two blisters on my feet that would also put a damper on my trip, but would never stop me from having fun.
I arrived at Magic Kingdom and as usual, that first sight of it brings tears to my eyes. Magic Kingdom will always hold a special place in my heart. My very first visit there in 1976 put the bug in me, this was my 15th trip. I know there are many who have been there way more than me, but traveling from Chicago and spending a week or more on a regular basis, has just not always been in my budget. The fact that I have now taken two trips in less than a year is not common place for me. There was a stretch of eight years when I did not go at all. There are things that get top priority when you are a divorced single Mom.
Anyway, it felt great to be back “home.” I have always felt that about Magic Kingdom. Funny, how the minute I stepped onto Main Street, U.S.A., the marching band was headed my way, almost like a welcome!
I went into the Town Square Theater right away to pick up my PhotoPass+ card. I had purchased the package several months ago, and wanted to get it right away so I could begin getting my picture taken as many times as I could. That is the big disadvantage of traveling alone. There is no one with you to take your picture. I stopped every PhotoPass person I saw. As a matter of fact, when you show them you have the PhotoPass+ card, they are more than willing to take a lot of shots of you each time. For those of you who are not familiar with the PhotoPass+ package, it not only includes all the photos taken of you around the parks, but it also includes the ride photos taken and character dining locations as well. Those ride photo pictures can really get expensive. So, my package paid for itself in the about the first 6 pictures that were taken. If you buy it at least 14 days in advance of your trip, you can save some big money.
After this, I headed for my traditional first attraction. Pirates of the Caribbean. First off, it’s raining and when I get there, the attraction is down. I have never had this happen to me before. I think I stood there staring at the CM who was telling me to check back later. I felt like an idiot, and disappointed idiot at that. So, I went to the next best thing in Adventureland and got on Jungle Cruise in only about a 5 minute wait. Fun as always, I had a good skipper, who had perfect timing with his “jokes.”
After I left jungle Cruise I went out in the rain, and headed for a few other things. Making my way over to New Fantasyland where my dinner reservation would be. I loved Enchanted Tales with Belle, and I was chosen to play Philippe the horse. I guess I do a great “whinny.” I then went to Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Loved it as well. As a matter of fact, I got to go on right away again, as I asked the CM about flash photography. I was not aware that you could use a flash in that attraction, and she said SURE! So, she let me right back on again. How nice!
After Little Mermaid, it was time for dinner. What a lovely place Be Our Guest is. I had dinner in the Ballroom. I had the Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with Seasonal Vegetables served in Puff Pastry with a Creamy Lobster Sauce.
It was very good. I also had a glass of wine, and for dessert I had the Passion Fruit Cream Puff filled with Passion Fruit Mousse topped with Whipped Cream. Delicious!! Speaking of delicious……… since I was celebrating my birthday on this trip….I got to try “the grey stuff”!
After dinner, I headed for Tomorrowland and the People Mover. It too was down. I was beginning to think there were saboteurs around trying to spoil my evening. I did a few other things in Tomorrowland then and came out just in time for Wishes! That was a great way to end my first night. As it started raining quite a bit now, I called it a night and went back to the resort, and of course was faced with that dreaded long walk to my room.
The next morning I was back at Magic Kingdom. I headed over to get my FastPass for the Princesses at Town Square Theater. I had to wait about 30 minutes for that, so I got in line to get my picture with Mickey Mouse.
That was about a 15 minute wait, so just in time for Princesses, I made my way back around to the front entrance and as I did, there was Mary Poppins and Mr. Penguin, so of course I had to stop for a photo op with them.
Not really raining early, but you could tell it was on the way. By the end of the day I was a drowned rat, even after breaking down and buying a poncho. I did get on Pirates of the Caribbean twice this day. Also, the People Mover was back up and running. I went on Big Thunder Mountain and several of my other favorites.
This evening I had reservations at 1900 Park Fare. When I left the park it was raining buckets. I called Disney dining when I got back to the room to tell them I was going to have to cancel. It was raining so hard, that I would have been drenched before I ever even got the bus stop at my resort. The agent tried to reschedule me for another night that I had open, but to no avail. It was not meant to be. I was really disappointed, but she was able to wave the cancellation fee for me, so that was nice. The rain finally slowed down around 8:30, and I was starving so I went over to Landscape of Flavors to get something for dinner. I called it an early night as I was heading to Animal Kingdom the next day.
I arrived at Animal Kingdom before rope drop, which I have never done before. I headed right to Expedition Everest as I wanted to get a FastPass and ride right away. Only 5 minutes to wait for my first ride. Nothing like an adrenalin rush at 9:15am! My FastPass was for only 45 minutes later, so I went and did a few other things and took pictures while I waited.
After my second go-round with the Yeti, I headed over to Africa. Again, I had on my birthday button. When I stopped to watch the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe, one of the singers noticed my button and pulled me up front and they sang Happy Birthday to me in Swahili. How fun was that! Unfortunately, another example of being alone, no pictures. It’s only a memory in my mind, but one that will stick with me for a long time.
Kilimanjaro Safaris was my next stop, and then on to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. When I returned I had a lunch reservation at Yak & Yeti. I had never dined here before, and I enjoyed it. I had duck with an orange sauce. It was very good.
Dinosaur was next on my agenda. I Love that attraction. The last things I wanted to do today before departing was buy some merchandise for the 15th Anniversary. I got the shirt I wanted and some pins. After my purchases I went over to the character greeting area for Pooh and friends.
I got some great pictures via PhotoPass and then made my way to Festival of the Lion King. I had some time to kill so I went over to the character greeting area in Camp Minnie-Mickey.
I love Festival of the Lion King. It’s such a great show. I won’t be returning to WDW until 2015, so I will be anxious to see the show in it's new home as I am sure it will move by that time. This show is always a very moving experience.
I made my way back to the resort around 4pm as I had plans with some friends at EPCOT that evening. We wer going to have a nice girls night, and we did, however the rain returned after not having a drop all day long. It cut our evening short, but was for the best as I wanted to get to Hollywood Studios early the next day for “May the 4th Be With You.”
That was a blast. There were Extra Magic Hours for resort guests for Hollywood Studios this day, so I was up and ready to go early. I really wanted to get a shirt and pins here for this event. First I ran over to Toy Story Midway Mania and got a FastPass, and already it was for the afternoon. Wow! Those go so fast! I got in line to buy my things for about 45 minutes, and the line grew very quickly after me, and was up to over 2 hours at one point.
I headed over to STAR TOURS to get a FastPass, and then went back to use it, and the attraction was down. You have to be kidding me?????? On a huge day like this?? So, they said when it comes back up, your pass will be honored no matter what time you return. Ok, not too bad. I met up with my friends and we had pictures done with Goofy-Vader, and Storm Trooper Donald. Great shots!
Waiting for STAR TOURS to come back up we went to Muppet Vision 3-D as this is one of my favorite things.
Went back to STAR TOURS………still down. It was down for about 5 hours all together. So, when it was finally back up, one of my friends and I went on, and to our surprise, Jawas were on the ride with us! What a blast that was!! They were so in character the entire ride, reacting to things that were said by C-3PO !
I said goodbye to my friends and headed over to the Great Movie Ride and then on for my FastPass at Toy Story! I didn’t score as high as in the past, but still did pretty good. After 1pm no rain! Thank goodness!!
I had a dinner reservation at Hollywood & Vine at 4:30, so I shopped around for a bit. After dinner and before departing, I went and found my friends daughter who works in one of the shops at HS. I then headed back to my resort. I would have loved to see the fireworks show for STAR WARS day, but my feet were killing me, and I was going to have a big day at EPCOT on Sunday.
May 5, brought a BEAUTIFUL day! NO RAIN! Yeah!! The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival was all I had hoped it would be. I have never been before at this time of year since this started 20 years ago. I took many pictures of the beautiful displays after my time in Future World. Twice on SOARIN’, twice on Test Track, and once on Spaceship Earth.
I had plans with a friend after 3pm, so we met up in Mexico after I had been on the Grand Fiesta Tour attraction, and got my picture taken with the Three Caballeros.
Since it was Cinco de Mayo, they had some special things going on there. Later that evening I was told that Orlando Attractions Magazine was there filming for the event, and I am on the video during my photo session. How cool is that? I didn’t even know they were there filming and I'd wind up on YouTube!
I met up with my friend, and we walked around World Showcase for a couple of hours and went into Tutto Gusto for a glass of wine and some time off my feet.
When we came out after our little rest, the Flower Power Concert Series with Tommy Roe was about to begin. I was so looking forward to seeing him, but didn’t think I would catch him. He was great!
After that, we headed back toward Norway and we had dinner reservations at Akershus at 7pm. I love that place. It was my very first time dining there.
I said goodbye to my friend after dinner, and made my way back through World Showcase to find a spot for Illuminations, and then opted not to watch. Instead, I went to the 9pm showing for The American Adventure. It was me, and only 4 other people in the theater. It was actually kind of cool!
I made my way out as EPCOT was closed, but took my time as again….my feet were killing me and I had a long walk. I stopped to take some night-shots of the topiaries. They look so different at night.
Got back my resort and crashed. I had an early day for Monday, my last full day. Early breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table and a meet up with another local Disney pal.
I arrived at Magic Kingdom about 40 minutes before my breakfast time of 9am. They let me in, and that was awesome. I loved taking pictures with hardly anyone in the park. I walked around and took quite a few pictures while I was killing time.
I went over about 15 minutes early, and sat down to wait for a bit to check in. The CM’s working at the desk asked me if I had a reservation, and I said yes, for 9am. They said, “Oh, we can take you now!” So, that was great. In 15 minutes ahead of time. After my photo session with Cinderella, I made my way up the stairway to the dining room. I actually had chills thinking to myself, “I am really in Cinderella Castle”! I got seated and didn’t have to wait too long for Princess Visitors to arrive at my table.
I was pretty much done with that even before my food arrived. That was nice. I got lots of great pictures. I sent my friend a message and told her I was almost done, so we met up shortly after.
We went on some attractions together, and had lunch at Be Our Guest. We waited about 40 minutes, which really was not bad. The place is so big with all three dining areas available, that it can hold a lot of people. We were together until around 1:30, and she had to depart to pick up her daughter from school. I was so happy I got to be with her 3 times during this trip. Still not enough when you only get to see each other every couple of years.
I stayed until around 5:30pm as I wanted to see the flag retreat. It was a very moving experience, and I am so glad I stayed.
After that was over, I said good-bye to Magic Kingdom with tears in my eyes, and said I will see you again in a couple years, hopefully 2015.
My last day at Walt Disney World took me to airline check in at the resort, and then on to Downtown Disney as I had not been able to make it there the rest of the week. I did some shopping at World of Disney and Basin and then headed over to the west side. I had a coupon I had purchased for Characters in Flight, and I wanted to use it as I paid the great price of $10.00 for it. I have a fear of falling, and this was a challenge I gave myself to do this. As I had challenged myself of the Wild Africa Trek back in the fall, I can proudly say that I have now done both and I did well.
I had a pretzel at Wetzel’s Pretzels before leaving. I then made my way to the resort bus area to get me back to my resort in time to catch the Magical Express for that dreaded ride back to the airport.
I made it back about 45 minutes ahead of time, and took pictures around the resort in the Family Suite area that I was not able to get to due to rain and having to be other places. The bus arrived, and I got on it, not really wanting to………
So, in closing……I hope you can see that you CAN have a fun time even traveling on your own to Walt Disney World.
Check out Kris' blog at http://disneynut1958.blogspot.com/