Solo trip from UK - planning questions

SomeDayMyPrinceWillCome

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Hello! So, I'm from the UK and have ALWAYS wanted to go to Disney World. I've been lucky enough to go to Disneyland Paris three times, but Disney World is obviously something else. None of my friends or family are Disney nuts, so I always thought I'd wait until I met my Prince Charming to go, because I've always thought of Disney World as being somewhere you have to go with other people.
However, recently I've thought, why do I need to wait?! Why don't I just go alone!! It's my absolute dream holiday and I don't think I should miss out just because I'm only kissing frogs (and not the Prince Naveen type!). I'm very independent anyway and mostly like to do things on my own. I absolutely love reading everything about Disney World, and reading solo trip reports on here has inspired me too! I do have a few questions though, if anyone can help:


1. So, I know it would probably be cheaper to book everything separate and through places like Trivago and Skyscanner etc, but would this mean I wouldn't get the early access to FP reservations? I want to stay on property, but do I have to book through the Disney site to get the Magical Express/EMH, etc?
2. Would it be cheaper to book through Disney, or a travel agent? And if the latter, which one (bearing in mind I'm in the UK)? Virgin/Thomson/TUI, etc? And again, does booking with travel agents give you access to the Magical Express? And if not is it difficult to get from the airport to Disney?
3. How far in advance should I book? Because I'm sure you can't book more than 11 months in advance on the Disney site?
4. How long do you think is best for a solo visit? I know there are a few solo ride lines, and you can be called forward from the normal lines to fill spaces. So I understand you may be able to get rides done a tiny bit faster than normal visits. But I want to make sure I get as much as possible done. I'm not too interested in the waterparks, especially solo, and I don't think I'd want to go to Universal on this visit. I like the idea of being totally immersed in the Disney bubble. I think if I was visiting with someone, I'd go for two weeks, but would this be too long on my own?
5. I'm planning to stay in a value resort as to me, it's just there to rest/sleep. I'm happy to stay in any except Sports (I'm sooo not sporty so I wouldn't enjoy sporting theme!). Are there any that are better for a solo visitor?
6. Do you feel safe on a solo visit? I'm a 5ft 2, 26-year-old female, and I can feel quite nervous walking alone in an unknown place, especially on my own. But I feel that Disney should feel safe, because you're on Disney transport all the time, and safe in your bubble? It's part of the reason I wouldn't want to venture out to Universal.
7. I'm thinking of going from very late October, and hoping to do Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. How busy will the parks be around this time? And how is the weather? Being from the North of England, I'm not used to hot weather and can get a bit grumpy! Do you think this is the best time to go, to have more experiences (both Halloween and Christmas decorations and parties and food)?
8. Do you have any advice for someone who doesn't eat much at all? I eat a child's portion most of the time, and I am slightly worried that the portions in Disney World are huge. (Side note: I went to New York eight years ago and remember that McDonald's portions were crazy! New York's regular size McD's was the UK's large!) I don't really like wasting food/money! I know I can order a kid's meal from quick service restaurants, but would this mean I'm compromising on options? Or is it possible to just ask for a smaller portion of an adult meal?
9. What is the best way of taking money/paying? I probably wouldn't feel comfortable taking so many dollars in cash with me, but I know a lot of cards charge crazy prices.

I'm sure I have more questions but that's all I can think of for now! And if you have any pearls of wisdom for me that I haven't asked for, please still tell me! I'm so excited to get planning! <3
 

daae3

Sue Donym
Joined
Dec 15, 2013
Hopefully some answers below...
1. So, I know it would probably be cheaper to book everything separate and through places like Trivago and Skyscanner etc, but would this mean I wouldn't get the early access to FP reservations? I want to stay on property, but do I have to book through the Disney site to get the Magical Express/EMH, etc?

the Disney requirement is for “on property” so I think you are fine using a third party site...but I would check and compare Disney’s prices...I have found that once you put a package together, it is hard to beat the mouse...but check around and compare!

2. Would it be cheaper to book through Disney, or a travel agent? And if the latter, which one (bearing in mind I'm in the UK)? Virgin/Thomson/TUI, etc? And again, does booking with travel agents give you access to the Magical Express? And if not is it difficult to get from the airport to Disney?

Travel Agent vs. direct...usually no savings but travel agent might give you some perks that make up for it. Would not hurt to ask them and compare what you find in your own. Magical express is benefit of staying at a Disney property
that you would have even if you book directly. As to airport transport- very doable, but you will have to pay...options are Uber, taxi or private car. You could also rent a car but since Disney charges for parking I would skip that option unless you plan to do things outside of the mouse.

3. How far in advance should I book? Because I'm sure you can't book more than 11 months in advance on the Disney site?
Disney releases package dates for the next full year in June of the year before...so if you want to book for 2021, then start stalking the boards in June 2020 as someone here will post that info. There are other options and maybe for international booking it’s different. You can book a room only pkg further in advance...
4. How long do you think is best for a solo visit? I know there are a few solo ride lines, and you can be called forward from the normal lines to fill spaces. So I understand you may be able to get rides done a tiny bit faster than normal visits. But I want to make sure I get as much as possible done. I'm not too interested in the waterparks, especially solo, and I don't think I'd want to go to Universal on this visit. I like the idea of being totally immersed in the Disney bubble. I think if I was visiting with someone, I'd go for two weeks, but would this be too long on my own?
Hard to say...I like a 7-8 day stay but I am a fairly quick flight and go often enough that I see everything I want to see. Now, I would love to do a 2 week trip...that would be awesome. I would be able to have rest days and pool days and actually enjoy Disney Springs instead of rushing through it...so that sounds like a great idea to me. This may depend on your park style which you may not know yet...I tend to go into park warrior mode, park open to park close and then hop to another park or Disney Springs...maybe you want a more relaxed time? I don’t think you would be bored...

5. I'm planning to stay in a value resort as to me, it's just there to rest/sleep. I'm happy to stay in any except Sports (I'm sooo not sporty so I wouldn't enjoy sporting theme!). Are there any that are better for a solo visitor?

Another choice that is personal- my preference is Pop Century. I like the dedicated bus, find the bus system efficient. I like the theming. I like the pool and the way the resort is set up. Once upon a time, I gave the quick service dining good marks but the last time I stayed there, I had issues with service and they had gone down in quality. But it has been awhile so maybe that has improved again.

6. Do you feel safe on a solo visit? I'm a 5ft 2, 26-year-old female, and I can feel quite nervous walking alone in an unknown place, especially on my own. But I feel that Disney should feel safe, because you're on Disney transport all the time, and safe in your bubble? It's part of the reason I wouldn't want to venture out to Universal.
Yes, always feel safe...and I will advocate for Universal here too. I have visited there as a one day hop and gone over and stayed. I also felt very safe there as well. I travel solo a lot...for business and for fun so I am very comfortable doing so. Even with I travel to Disney with family, I usually split from them and do stuff on my own...but I will say for a solo traveler, Disney and Universal have always felt very safe, there is security and always lots of other people around!
7. I'm thanking of going from very late October, and hoping to do Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. How busy will the parks be around this time? And how is the weather? Being from the North of England, I'm not used to hot weather and can get a bit grumpy! Do you think this is the best time to go, to have more experiences (both Halloween and Christmas decorations and parties and food)?
I prefer the Halloween party to the Christmas party plus if you go in October, you get the food and wine festival. But I love going at Christmas for the decor and the lights and the storytellers in Epcot. Weather can change...I have been in October and it has been hot and muggy (90s) and the same time of year can be brisk and cool...December is less likely to be hot but it can still be pleasantly warm. Crowd wise...toss up. Early December used to be great but there are some special events that bring in more people. Same with Oct. food and wine and Halloween draws crowds. Check the crowd predictors for an estimate of what to expect.
8. Do you have any advice for someone who doesn't eat much at all? I eat a child's portion most of the time, and I am slightly worried that the portions in Disney World are huge. (Side note: I went to New York eight years ago and remember that McDonald's portions were crazy! New York's regular size McD's was the UK's large!) I don't really like wasting food/money! I know I can order a kid's meal from quick service restaurants, but would this mean I'm compromising on options? Or is it possible to just ask for a smaller portion of an adult meal?
I am American and agree our portions are crazy. I do not think Disney is worse than any other restaurant. Some things are meant to be shared and they are noted or are more expensive. Order appetizers instead of full meals, eat at the bar or go for quick service meals...I would just check menus and find what you like..
9. What is the best way of taking money/paying? I probably wouldn't feel comfortable taking so many dollars in cash with me, but I know a lot of cards charge crazy prices.
Card is the way to go...esp with magic bands making it so easy to charge to the room...
Otherwise the best advice I have is to enjoy your trip! Going solo is great because you get to make all the choices! Have fun!
 

karly05

DIS Veteran - "I found the Snipe!"
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Hello and welcome!

Here are my thoughts on questions 4, 5 & 6:

"How long" is really subjective, and also depends on how long you can stay. A week is about as long as I feel ok taking off work; I've done 7 nights and that was good for me, but if you can take a longer trip, I'd consider it. Especially since you're coming from overseas and might not be back for a while.

I totally recommend Pop Century. For such a high-capacity resort, it has a surprisingly compact footprint. If you want to make sure you're closer to lobby/buses, you can book a Preferred room. I had a Preferred room in the 70s section and it was so convenient. Pop did a complete room remodel/renovation recently, and the Skyliner should be running by the time you go. Plus you're a short walk across the bridge from Art of Animation, which is well worth visiting and has another food court with some different selections.

I've done 6 solo trips to WDW as a middle-aged lady and always felt safe. I'm not a night owl so don't tend to stay out super late, but if you're coming home in the evenings/normal park closing times, there will be plenty of other guests doing the same thing. Wherever you go, use the usual common sense precautions, be aware of your surroundings, keep the deadbolt and latch on when in your room, etc. But I've never had an issue.

If you're pretty independent, mostly enjoy doing things on your own, and love reading about WDW, I think you'll do great on a solo trip!
 
  • bryanb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2013
    Here's my take:

    1. So, I know it would probably be cheaper to book everything separate and through places like Trivago and Skyscanner etc, but would this mean I wouldn't get the early access to FP reservations? I want to stay on property, but do I have to book through the Disney site to get the Magical Express/EMH, etc?

    I would check the UK planning forums for tips. You'll find there here: https://www.disboards.com/forums/uk-trip-planning-forum.47/ If you book through a third party, they will send you a confirmation, and then send you a Disney reservation number (call them if you don't get it within a few days). You can then go onto disneyworld.com or the "My Disney Experience" app and link that reservation. You will have access to Magical Express, a Magic Band, and all the other benefits of on-site stay.​

    2. Would it be cheaper to book through Disney, or a travel agent? And if the latter, which one (bearing in mind I'm in the UK)? Virgin/Thomson/TUI, etc? And again, does booking with travel agents give you access to the Magical Express? And if not is it difficult to get from the airport to Disney?

    I'd always check Disney first. Your travel agent may have access to all of Disney's discounted rates, but not all online sites will. In rare cases, some travel agents may know of lower rates (such as the one I found on Expedia), but I believe that's rare. I don't know about UK-specific discounts. As long as you're staying at a Disney-operated resort at WDW, you should have access to Magical Express. If your travel agent doesn't set it up for you, a phone call to Disney should take care of it.​

    3. How far in advance should I book? Because I'm sure you can't book more than 11 months in advance on the Disney site?

    If you don't mind putting down a deposit, and you know exactly what you want, I would book your preferred resort and room type as soon as you know you're going to go. Rooms do sell out. But then I'd check again at last once per month for any special promotional rates. Sometimes a better promotion can come up. If you don't know what you want, you can wait until a promotion comes that suits you -- but I'd check more often than monthly, since inventory can go quickly.​

    4. How long do you think is best for a solo visit? I know there are a few solo ride lines, and you can be called forward from the normal lines to fill spaces. So I understand you may be able to get rides done a tiny bit faster than normal visits. But I want to make sure I get as much as possible done. I'm not too interested in the waterparks, especially solo, and I don't think I'd want to go to Universal on this visit. I like the idea of being totally immersed in the Disney bubble. I think if I was visiting with someone, I'd go for two weeks, but would this be too long on my own?

    Everyone is different on how long they like to be solo. I think a week would be my limit, personally. But you might be different. I find that any moments of loneliness are fleeting because you can keep finding new things to do. But two weeks is much longer than the average trip to WDW, and while you can spend 2 weeks there and not have done everything, it might be harder to immediately think of fresh things to do. You will save some time in a few rides being solo, but keep in mind that most rides do not have single rider lines. The increased speed you might choose to enjoy mostly comes from being on your own schedule and not having to stop for anyone else... or take side excursions that don't interest you.​

    5. I'm planning to stay in a value resort as to me, it's just there to rest/sleep. I'm happy to stay in any except Sports (I'm sooo not sporty so I wouldn't enjoy sporting theme!). Are there any that are better for a solo visitor?

    Sports has fun theming. I like Pop Century, personally. If you want some variety, you could try switching for the second half of your trip to something else. The bell desk will transfer your luggage at no cost to you.​
    6. Do you feel safe on a solo visit? I'm a 5ft 2, 26-year-old female, and I can feel quite nervous walking alone in an unknown place, especially on my own. But I feel that Disney should feel safe, because you're on Disney transport all the time, and safe in your bubble? It's part of the reason I wouldn't want to venture out to Universal.

    I imagine WDW to feel as safe as it gets, for tourist destinations. Keep in mind that some resorts can be really spread out, so you might request a room near the central building.​

    7. I'm thinking of going from very late October, and hoping to do Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. How busy will the parks be around this time? And how is the weather? Being from the North of England, I'm not used to hot weather and can get a bit grumpy! Do you think this is the best time to go, to have more experiences (both Halloween and Christmas decorations and parties and food)?

    It will be very hot, humid, and rainy. I'm not used to this weather either, but having been a few times, I get into "Orlando-mode." That means embracing the weather as part of the vacation experience. Dressing for hot weather, letting it go, and being okay with the feeling of sunscreen and sweat.​

    8. Do you have any advice for someone who doesn't eat much at all? I eat a child's portion most of the time, and I am slightly worried that the portions in Disney World are huge. (Side note: I went to New York eight years ago and remember that McDonald's portions were crazy! New York's regular size McD's was the UK's large!) I don't really like wasting food/money! I know I can order a kid's meal from quick service restaurants, but would this mean I'm compromising on options? Or is it possible to just ask for a smaller portion of an adult meal?

    You could order kid's meals, but I think that you will be compromising on options. Perhaps for worse, Americans don't have the same stigma as Europeans about wasting food. The wait staff will generally take no offense if you don't finish all of your food. Of course, the money is the other issue. The nice thing about going during Epcot's Food and Wine Festival is that they have booths with many small tasting plates that you can try, and you can choose how many you'll eat.​

    9. What is the best way of taking money/paying? I probably wouldn't feel comfortable taking so many dollars in cash with me, but I know a lot of cards charge crazy prices.

    Generally, credit cards are the best way to pay. Disney (like most reputable merchants) does not charge more for people who pay with card. Unlike cash, you are protected if your card is lost or stolen. Also, the exchange rates that credit cards offer are usually far better than cash exchange rates. I would do some research on credit cards in the UK, and look for one that charges no interest (as long as you pay your balance in full each month), and perhaps even one that offers rewards points. It is also important to understand which cards charge foreign exchange fees. I would research some UK travel forums (or ask in the UK section of Disboards). Have a great time planning and an even greater time on your trip!​
     
    Last edited:

    BarlowFamily

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 27, 2019
    I love the responses you've received so far! I think it's awesome that you're planning this solo trip!!

    1and2. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, you will get the Magical Express, EMH and FP+ 60 days no matter how you book. Be sure to book/reserve that ME though! For my peace of mind, I would probably book through Disney or a travel agent. They will be close in price. Whatever you are most comfortable with. And it is NOT difficult to get from the airport to Disney, especially with Magical Express.
    3. You can book the room portion of your trip 499 days ahead of time! 499 from the checkout day. We wanted to be sure we got a certain room so we booked early. When packages are released a few months after that you could add on dining or tickets. My computer often takes me to the UK WDW website, so you'll have some great specials to book.
    4. How long is really subjective. A week is a great time. A day for each park an extra day to go back if you missed anything, plus some time at Disney Springs or checking out another resort. I could personally fill two weeks at WDW no problem, but that's not necessary to go for that long.
    5. I echo the Pop Century recommendations.
    7. While it's completely doable, if you want to experience both MNSSHP and MVMCP two weeks might be better timing! A trip that overlaps the last Halloween and first Christmas party is getting popular and crowded, so a two week trip would give you to options to do parties that are not last/first. You'll be here at the end of our Hurricane season. Though it probably won't rain all day, every day, you'll get to enjoy humidity and some rainstorms. Maybe not the BEST weather time, but far from the worst. It's a great time for what you want to experience. Early December is after Hurricane season and usually milder. Spring is fantastic, but also full of Spring Break crowds. Really, people say it and it sounds cheesy, but there is no bad time at WDW. Just be prepared for whatever season you choose!f
    8. With something like 400 eating establishments I wouldn't worry about this. I love food. Once you reserve your resort, you can look at menus online for your resorts food court and see if you fancy anything. Look at menus for places in the parks that catch your eye. It's nice to have an idea of something you'd like to try and be flexible enough to eat something else if you change your mind in the moment. In MK, Be Our Guest is a very popular restaurant, while breakfast is overpriced, the kids meal might be the right portion size for you. The castle is beautiful too. I have read of folks ordering off the kids menu no problem and others being told they would be served an adult portion at an adult price. It just varies.
    9. When we travel internationally we use a card that doesn't charge the convenience/international fee because those crazy fees can really add up!

    There's a website called Touring Plans that has a paid membership (less than $20 for a year). I highly recommend it. You can look through the site for crowd levels for the days you are thinking of going and they can create a Touring Plan for you for each park. We love it. You can modify it too, it's not set it stone. Just worth the money to experience so much with lowest wait times possible.

    There is plenty of shopping at WDW, though there are two outlet stores off property that I highly recommend. They are called Disney Character Warehouse (on is on International the other on Vine). They will have a random assortment of items with great discounts. This isnt where I would send you for that one item you've been eyeing, but for t-shirts, perhaps gifts for others...they are in VERY busy outlet malls, I prefer to go early in the day. I know you want to stay in the Disney bubble, but if you do decide to go for two weeks, I think this this detour would be worth it. An Uber/Lyft will get you there no problem.

    With a little research and planning you will have such a great time at Walt Disney World! I'm excited for you!
     

    Victoriasponge

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 4, 2019
    Lots of great answers already. I haven't got much to add except I did a solo trip from the UK a few years back when I was 37. I felt very safe at all times staying on site and using Disney transport. I went for 10 nights; it's a long flight so a week wouldn't have felt long enough. I found it was enough time for me to really take my time and take it easy with plenty of mornings where I just lounged around the resort and some days when I came back around 2/3pm and crashed for the afternoon before venturing out for a bite to eat in the evening.

    I hope you have an amazing time! :cheer2:
     

    artinlife

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 21, 2017
    Hello! So, I'm from the UK and have ALWAYS wanted to go to Disney World. I've been lucky enough to go to Disneyland Paris three times, but Disney World is obviously something else. None of my friends or family are Disney nuts, so I always thought I'd wait until I met my Prince Charming to go, because I've always thought of Disney World as being somewhere you have to go with other people.
    However, recently I've thought, why do I need to wait?! Why don't I just go alone!! It's my absolute dream holiday and I don't think I should miss out just because I'm only kissing frogs (and not the Prince Naveen type!). I'm very independent anyway and mostly like to do things on my own. I absolutely love reading everything about Disney World, and reading solo trip reports on here has inspired me too! I do have a few questions though, if anyone can help:


    1. So, I know it would probably be cheaper to book everything separate and through places like Trivago and Skyscanner etc, but would this mean I wouldn't get the early access to FP reservations? I want to stay on property, but do I have to book through the Disney site to get the Magical Express/EMH, etc?
    2. Would it be cheaper to book through Disney, or a travel agent? And if the latter, which one (bearing in mind I'm in the UK)? Virgin/Thomson/TUI, etc? And again, does booking with travel agents give you access to the Magical Express? And if not is it difficult to get from the airport to Disney?
    3. How far in advance should I book? Because I'm sure you can't book more than 11 months in advance on the Disney site?
    4. How long do you think is best for a solo visit? I know there are a few solo ride lines, and you can be called forward from the normal lines to fill spaces. So I understand you may be able to get rides done a tiny bit faster than normal visits. But I want to make sure I get as much as possible done. I'm not too interested in the waterparks, especially solo, and I don't think I'd want to go to Universal on this visit. I like the idea of being totally immersed in the Disney bubble. I think if I was visiting with someone, I'd go for two weeks, but would this be too long on my own?
    5. I'm planning to stay in a value resort as to me, it's just there to rest/sleep. I'm happy to stay in any except Sports (I'm sooo not sporty so I wouldn't enjoy sporting theme!). Are there any that are better for a solo visitor?
    6. Do you feel safe on a solo visit? I'm a 5ft 2, 26-year-old female, and I can feel quite nervous walking alone in an unknown place, especially on my own. But I feel that Disney should feel safe, because you're on Disney transport all the time, and safe in your bubble? It's part of the reason I wouldn't want to venture out to Universal.
    7. I'm thinking of going from very late October, and hoping to do Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. How busy will the parks be around this time? And how is the weather? Being from the North of England, I'm not used to hot weather and can get a bit grumpy! Do you think this is the best time to go, to have more experiences (both Halloween and Christmas decorations and parties and food)?
    8. Do you have any advice for someone who doesn't eat much at all? I eat a child's portion most of the time, and I am slightly worried that the portions in Disney World are huge. (Side note: I went to New York eight years ago and remember that McDonald's portions were crazy! New York's regular size McD's was the UK's large!) I don't really like wasting food/money! I know I can order a kid's meal from quick service restaurants, but would this mean I'm compromising on options? Or is it possible to just ask for a smaller portion of an adult meal?
    9. What is the best way of taking money/paying? I probably wouldn't feel comfortable taking so many dollars in cash with me, but I know a lot of cards charge crazy prices.

    I'm sure I have more questions but that's all I can think of for now! And if you have any pearls of wisdom for me that I haven't asked for, please still tell me! I'm so excited to get planning! <3
    In answer to question 8; Since I have gotten older my appetite has diminished, so I often order an appetizer portion as my entree and no one bats an eye. I do often tip a little bit more as I often dine solo (I am going solo to Disney late September, early October) and feel that to make up for just being one person I tip a little bit more. Plus, I have worked as a waitress and appreciate what these servers do.
     
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