Party of one: Is it worth it going to Walt Disney World by yourself?

Eve Chen
USA TODAY
  • Visiting Disney World with family or friends can be magical, but there are also downsides.
  • My first solo trip to Disney World was pricey, but I could definitely see why it's worth it for many solo travelers.
  • While I saved money on meals and admission going solo, my hotel cost about the same as it would have for my whole family.

I've been visiting Walt Disney World for as long as I can remember, but I'd never visited solo – until now. 

Growing up in Florida, my parents made the 3.5-hour trek at least once a year. My drive is twice as long, but I've continued the tradition with my kids.

I have so many fond memories of my kids' faces lighting up seeing their favorite characters and enjoying beloved rides. Visiting Disney World with family or friends can be magical, but there are downsides.

Each additional person balloons the budget and wish list of things to do. There may be disappointment. There must be compromise. There is always a "Maybe next time."

Not this time. My first solo trip to Disney World was pricey, but I could definitely see why it's worth it for many solo travelers.

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Is it OK to travel solo?

Fans of Dumbo the Flying Elephant can step right up for this photo op in the Storybook Circus section of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Solo travelers are as welcome as multi-generational family reunions at Disney World. The biggest perk to visiting solo was the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I wanted.

Usually, I'm focused on making trips special for my kids or easier on my husband, who has a bad knee and hates crowds. I'm the one who books Genie+ reservations, mobile orders meals and maps out each day. 

Of course, I weave in what I like, too, but some things go by the wayside. For instance, I hadn't been on Haunted Mansion in years because my younger kids are too scared, so this trip, that was one of my priorities. 

My all-you-care-to-eat character breakfast at Topolino's Terrace wasn't cheap, but the steak-inclusive splurge was worth it to me.

Not only could I ride all of my favorite rides, but if a line was long, I didn't have to worry about anyone complaining about the wait or the over-90-degree heat or whatever their sibling was doing. As I drew closer to the front of the lines, I was able to board some rides sooner, filling in a free seat as a party of one.

I could take my time browsing shops for souvenirs without feeling rushed or having to watch for little hands getting into things. 

Best of all, I could eat whatever I wanted without having to buy multiples for my family. Even Dole Whips, which cost $5.99 before tax, can add up. Sit-down meals cost much more. A character breakfast at Topolino's Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera would have added up to $195 for my family of five, before tax and tip. One adult isn't cheap but a more manageable $42. 

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Is solo traveling lonely?

Though I saved money on meals and admission going solo, my hotel cost about the same as it would have for my whole family. Standard rooms at Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, where I stayed, sleep four. Rooms with a fifth sleeper generally cost more. Prices vary by guests' ages, room type and date, but for sample dates I priced out in mid-September, the difference was $20.

That hotel room did feel a little lonely. It didn't help that when I FaceTimed my family, my middle child, who cried when I left, asked me to come home. That may have been more mom guilt than loneliness. I did luxuriate in having a king bed all to myself.

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There's so much to see and do in the parks, I never felt lonely. I'm extroverted, so it was easy for me to strike up conversations with fellow guests and cast members, who were kind and welcoming. But I was perfectly happy keeping to myself much of the day. It was the ultimate me-time.

The only drawback for me was missing my kiddos. There were so many things I knew they would have enjoyed, like the Fettuccini Alfredo, my daughters' favorite food, at Tony's Town Square, which just revamped its menu, or the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which was on a pandemic hiatus during our last visit. 

Maybe next time.

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Have you traveled by yourself? What are your best tips?