I remember my very first trip to Disneyland by myself. At the time, I had been missing Disney terribly and all my friends and family were busy with school, work and life. I thought, "why not just go?" And I made the leap to becoming a solo Disney visitor. I was nervous about going alone when I used to visit with my husband, Leap, my tadpoles, and other friends and family members. But when I got into the park, I shed my fears. I felt liberated and free to do whatever I wanted! I have since made many additional solo trips. If your loved ones are not into Disney or are holding you back with complicated schedules, then this solo traveler’s guide to Disneyland is for you!
The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Disneyland
Whether you are going for a day or a week, traveling from afar or taking a day trip, we have some hoppin’ tips to make your journey, well, your own and full of Disney magic. It doesn't matter if you are young or just young at heart. If you want to go to Disneyland but do not have anyone to go with you, take a solo trip. I've met soloists from all walks of life. Many of them have become my dear friends. It's a small world after all when it comes to Disney fans! Use this solo traveler's guide to Disneyland to make your solo journey a rewarding experience.
1. Do Your Research Before You Visit
If this is your first trip to Disneyland, you’ll want to find out as much as you can about the parks, rides, restaurants and treats. Throughout this solo traveler's guide to Disneyland, we provide hopful links to other posts that will get you off to a great start in planning a solo visit. You'll want to decide how many days to visit and whether you want to park hop. Park hopping is quick and easy at Disneyland, with both park entrances facing each other across the esplanade.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go with the Flow
Yes, you want to plan to maximize time and hit all your must-do items, but you can also enjoy a lot of flexibility as a solo traveler at Disneyland. I find when I am alone I tend to stumble upon cool characters (such as Peter Pan or the Mad Hatter and Alice playing with guests), unexpected performances (such as Mary Poppins dancing with the Pearly Band or the Dapper Dans striking up a song in a Main Street, U.S.A. shop) or other forms of magic. When you aren’t focused on the people in your party, you see a lot more of what's going on around you. I slow down to enjoy it and stop worrying about my schedule when I'm flying solo.
Sometimes, I head to a ride but change my mind and pivot in a different direction. I don’t have to consult with anyone. It's so easy to just do what I want. I take the time to meet characters, see shows, enjoy spotting hidden gems and look for hidden Mickeys.
3. Plan Bathroom Breaks and Meals or Snacks Before a Long Wait
One challenge to visiting Disneyland alone is that you have nobody to save your spot … unless you make friends with the people around you. You cannot count on that, though. You can end up waiting hours for parades and fireworks shows. When traveling alone, I make sure I have used the bathroom, picked up food and drinks and have everything I need before camping out. Another upside to going solo is being able to find a good spot to watch the parade (one that does not require a lot of real estate).
Speaking of camping out, as a soloist, it's easier to get a good spot for the fireworks. About 30 to 45 minutes before show time, a cast member will tell all the people sitting in front of the castle to stand up. That makes a lot of space for people on the sides to move in toward the center and front. A single person can weave right into a great viewing spot. You can't manage that with a stroller or large group.
4. Stay Within Walking Distance
There are many hotels within walking distance of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. When you walk in, you can avoid paying for parking and the time it takes to park. If you want to hop back to your room for a shower or a nap at midday, it's easy to do that with a nearby hotel. I especially enjoy the hotels that offer free breakfast. While there are benefits to staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you might want to travel a little cheaper and choose other hotels near Disneyland.
5. Download the Disneyland App
One of our top solo traveler tips to Disneyland is to use important tools, such as the app. The Disneyland app has become an important tool in managing your day. You can use it to make restaurant and experience reservations, check wait times, Mobile Order, find upcoming shows and entertainment and pair it with a MagicBand to go bounty hunting in Batuu. The app also allows you to make Lightning Lane selections with Genie+. Using the app does wear down phone battery, so bring those portable chargers and cords with you. The Disneyland app is also where you can access your PhotoPass photos on your phone.
6. Get Disney Genie+
Genie+ is one of our favorite tools for skipping the lines at Disneyland. It’s an optional paid service that is well worth the extra money. You can make a Lightning Lane reservation on your phone through the Disneyland app for either park as soon as you’ve entered a park for the day. (Psst … if you are taking a multi-day trip, Undercover Tourist sells discount Disneyland Resort tickets that are pre-loaded with Genie+! Our tickets will give you the best possible rate for the service.)
What I really love about using Genie+ on a solo journey is that I seem to pick up earlier return times (ride reservation windows) than groups and can scoop up other guests’ cancellations for rides. When I am managing a group, I can only reserve the first available time slot that can hold our entire party. If there is just one canceled Genie+ spot, and I’m a single rider, guess who’s getting it? Me!
7. Follow Our Tips to Ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Our tween, Tad, created a comprehensive guide for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. In it, he provides tips for getting the shortest wait for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — along with a wealth of information about this massive land in Disneyland. If you are flying solo, you get to the ride faster in the morning or after it reopens following a temporary closure.
8. Make Dining Reservations
Make Disneyland dining reservations for places you’d love to eat. It's easy to do through the Disneyland app. I enjoy getting to sit and relax to enjoy a nice, peaceful meal. An expensive meal can be wasted on kids who are happy with chicken tenders and french fries from a quick-service restaurant. It’s a nice treat to indulge in when I’m just paying for myself, especially when having some adult beverages at Oga’s Cantina or at the Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure. Traveling solo definitely saves money because you are just buying for one, so treat yourself! Go ahead and splurge for a Fantasmic! dining package at Blue Bayou when you only have to pay for yourself.
9. Download and Play with the Play Disney Parks App
There are fun activities to play in the Play Disney Parks app. Download and set it up before your journey so you can get right to the fun once you are in the park. If you enter Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the app and your phone transform into a Datapad. Use it to pick up hidden signals, translate the language Aurebesh to English, scan containers for items and so much more. You can spend hours playing with the Datapad. Hop over to Tad's post on the Galaxy's Edge Datapad at Disneyland to learn more.
10. Enjoy the Freedom!
At first, I felt a little guilty traveling solo to the “Happiest Place on Earth” without my kids. But I got over that as soon as I had a taste of traveling stroller-free without all the backpacks of supplies that come with kids. Without the stress of counting heads, keeping track of little ones in crowds and making sure everybody used the bathroom before hopping in line, I was truly in my own Fantasyland. I had grown used to putting my Disney wishes aside to focus on the kids. I usually managed meals and nap times. For years, I skipped thrill rides because the kids did not meet height requirements. Instead, I focused on their experience. But when I visit without them, I get to do other things I love, too!
You can stay as late as you want! Fireworks, Fantasmic! and World of Color are my jam, but so is having a well-rested and manageable toddler the next day, so we sometimes skip the late nights and favorite nighttime spectaculars to meet my kids’ sleep needs. And don't get me wrong — I love all the family time at Disneyland too. I wouldn’t trade my family Disney experiences for anything. It has its own magic — but it's nice to get some "me time." My Disney cup gets filled. Then, I find I am toadally hoppy to focus on the tadpoles and their interests when traveling with them.
When I walked through the gates that first time alone and truly could go on and see anything I wanted, I noticed details in the parks that I had missed before. I could see shows nobody wanted to see, hop on rides I had not been on in years, wait for a rare character and enjoy the meals I wanted to eat. Plus, I could stay in the park as late as I wanted. It's almost like being a kid again!
I enjoy eating my way through festivals without worrying about the tadpoles. The Food and Wine Festival is a great event to visit solo in the spring. You can grab a sip and savor pass and eat whatever you want.
You do not have to have kids to appreciate the freedom of being a solo traveler at Disneyland. If you have ever visited with a group, you know the effort it takes to meet everyone’s needs. You have to work with everyone's dining choices, bathroom breaks and ride interests. You move slower as a group. When you travel solo, you set your own pace and can truly do what you want, whether that’s sitting on a bench with snacks while you people watch, shopping for souvenirs or hopping from ride to ride. Even when I take an adult Disney trip for a date night with Leap, I find that he has his own kid-free, must-do items and agenda, so we compromise to make it all work. When I go alone, I can experience the things I know he doesn’t enjoy. It’s a win-win for our relationship.
If you do not have Disney Park lovers in your friend group or family, don't miss out. Just go like our buddy Han ... Solo! (Seriously, I think Disneyland missed an opportunity when they did not name the Single Rider line at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run the "Solo" rider line.)
11. Talk to Other Park Guests (and Disney Characters)
I don’t get lonely when I visit alone because I can chat with other park guests. Whether we are waiting in line together or camped out for a parade or fireworks, I love talking to other guests. It's fun finding out where people are from, what they loved about their day and any tips they have. Some have become friends on social media. That way, we can stay in touch and keep the magic alive when we aren’t at Disneyland. Plus, we can share our pics when we are there. You can learn a lot by being friendly with cast members! It's also fun to meet characters solo and ask them about their day and story or clothing. They get especially excited if you are dressed like someone from their story or have a prop that fits in their story.
12. Wear a Button or DisneyBound
One way to stand out from the crowd or get people to interact with you is to DisneyBound. Adults and teens 14 and up cannot wear costumes to Disneyland (unless it's a Halloween party or Disneyland After Dark event). DisneyBounding is using street clothes to dress in the color scheme, pattern or accessories of a Disney character or even attraction. You are bound to have people ask you about your creative outfit. It's a fun way to connect with other guests.
One of our favorite free items at Disneyland is a free button. Are you celebrating a birthday? You won't feel alone when cast members and other park guests comment or call out, "Happy birthday!"
13. Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
Single Rider lines offer a great way to hop on a ride faster than the standard queue. The Single Rider line is for people willing to fill in empty seats on rides. It's only available for a few rides, but it's toadally worth using when available. Our post on how to maximize your time at Disneyland talks in detail about Single Rider lines, and a whole lot of other tips for doing it all while saving time at Disneyland.
14. Take Photos
Disneyland is one of the most Instagrammed places on earth for a reason. Focus on capturing that perfect shot. Of course, if you want to be in the shot, you’ll need to perfect your selfie skills or enlist a PhotoPass photographer. We are proponents of living in the moment and not on our phones. But if you post pics of your solo journey, your friends and family at home can follow along virtually. They may reply and give you all the likes, helping you feel connected to loved ones who could not join you. If you have Genie+ for the day, all your PhotoPass photos are included.
15. Bring Home Souvenirs
If you feel guilty for leaving loved ones behind, bring them a treat from Disneyland. You’ll feel better when you get to share the magic.
16. Join a Solo Disneyland Social Media Group
You can join Disneyland solo groups on social media to pick up tips and maybe even some new friends. I’ve made several Disneyland friends who share my passion for Disneyland through online groups. (I mean, who else in my life can I talk about Disney with all the time? Even my Disney-loving family can only take so much.) Social media groups provide an outlet for all that Disney love. It’s comforting to find that you are not alone in wanting to visit Disneyland alone. Sometimes, I’ll meet up with other soloists for a quick ride or meal or to watch the parade. I will say it’s hopful to chat with the regular solo travelers to Disneyland who can share their must-see sights and tips with you.
Are you ready to go solo? If our solo traveler’s guide to Disneyland leaves you with any questions, please ask them in the comments below. You can save money with Undercover Tourist discount Disneyland Resort tickets and discount hotel stays at the Disneyland Resort and nearby locations.
Related: Reasons We Say "Yes!" to Disneyland for Adults