I grew up enjoying Disney. My birth place is about 45 min away from the parks and I visited as a young girl decently often. My love for Disney though has grown more and more in adulthood. I have found the more "tough times" I face, the more I appreciate the magic Disney provides. It's a place of pure joy. A place where all the realities of life fade away for a bit. It's become my happy place and my favorite place. I. Love. It.
When we got Zach's potential MS diagnosis in early November he and I both talked about what we wanted for Christmas. And how this news just changed our views on THINGS. We didn't want a bunch of junk, we wanted experiences. He really wanted quality time with his dad. And I really wanted to go to Disney by myself.
Yes. Alone. To Disney. I know, it sounds weird. Especially when you factor in that I'm a) very anxious in public places alone and b) very much an extrovert. BUT I have found over the years that my joy at Disney is wrapped up in the joy others experience. It's great when everyone is happy, but it's awful when they aren't. When I work hard (and enjoy it!) at planning trips so much of that joy for me is thinking about how everyone else will enjoy it. And if they don't? I'm pretty bummed. Plus having my focus be on everyone else means I do miss out on things I would enjoy doing.
I wasn't sure if I'd LIKE being alone at the parks but I wanted a day to try it out. Since I have an annual pass for the first time this year, I just wanted to see what it'd be like. Doing whatever I want to do. Seeing how I like things from my own perspective without the influences of anyone else's moods or opinions or reactions. Just me. Doing me. At my happiest place.
I lucked out and found a friend who also was interested in going down to Disney! My concern with the solo trip was mostly about how I'd arrange a stay somewhere. I needed to spend two nights down there in order to maximize my solo day park time and I get CREEPED OUT by being alone at a hotel or traveling and such at night. Having a friend tag along meant cheaper prices but also less scariness ;)
We decided to go the weekend of Feb 11th! I made VERY little plans in advance for my day. I knew roughly a few things I wanted to do but otherwise just planned on enjoying the experience as a whole with no pressure or expectations :)
The friend I planned on going (Amanda) with is someone who has been a long time blog reader. As in back in the day when I would become friends on my personal Facebook with people ;) I've met her once "in real life" when she attended my baby shower for Tess! So I knew she was a real person and not a killer or something haha She also had a friend who was coming along. I'd never met Ashley prior to the trip but also knew she was legit b/c she's the owner of aNn Monograms who does a TON of my decals and such for me!
Of course traveling in a car with new people meant I randomly had stomach issues haha I was freaking out all day worried I'd be stinking up their car and not even know it b/c I can't smell bahahaha. Luckily the Pepto worked!
Amanda and Ashley picked me up around 5:30 and we hit the road. Zach and the kids were excited for their weekend together and kicked things off with homemade pizza!
We stopped and hit up Olive Garden which is pretty hilarious...I always tease local Valdosta people at how they are obsessed with Olive Garden haha. Amanda and Ashley don't live in Valdosta so they don't get to frequent Olive Garden like we do now so I will give them a pass ;)
We originally planned to stay on property b/c it feels the safest and is easiest with driving to parks and such but everywhere was booked SOLID! Instead we got a pretty good deal at a REALLY nice hotel (Springhill Suites and Flamingo Crossing). It had a HUGE closet too if anyone is looking for a place that could fit a pack and play ;)
We had a great ride down! People think it's so funny how comfortable I was going on a trip with people I barely know but I LOVE getting to know people and road trips always end up having some wonderful conversation. I enjoyed getting to know both Amanda and Ashley and shared so many common interests with them both and just loved learning different perspectives on things. I also love learning new things from people and I def learned that Ulta is a dangerous store thanks to them haha!
We got to the room at about 11 and had a BIG day the next day so we got to bed as quick as we could. They were having a BFF day together while I did my solo thing. Our plan was to ride to MK together then split up and meet back up after MK closed that night. They had breakfast reservations at 8:10 so we headed to the park around 7:15ish but hit some monorail issues and were a tad late actually arriving!
I hunted and hunted for the PERFECT solo day shirt and I LOVE the one I found from Happily Ever Tees. It was PERFECT b/c I was def planning for an EPIC day!!!
Here we goooooo!
Everyone now must go through the metal detectors but they did add a special entrance just for annual pass holders. I def felt SO VIP!!!
Did you hear? Wishes is being retired in May!
Had to get a button to celebrate my "1st Solo Trip!"
I found out back in Jan that Disney did away with the opening show at Magic Kingdom. Y'all. I'm not kidding. I cried REAL TEARS about this. The opening show was my absolute FAVORITE thing at Disney. I cried every time we saw it and my lifelong dream was to get to be chosen as the family to open the park. I'm so so so sad it's gone!!!
Now Magic Kingdom allows guests to enter the park an hour before actual park opening time. You can wander down Main Street. Eat breakfast. Shop. Get those castle pics. Then the opening show is now a castle stage show 5 min prior to park opening.
I may be sad about the lack of the opening show I'm used to, but I didn't mind the time to explore Main Street. We always make a MAD DASH down Main Street and never get to really check it out. Having that extra hour in the mornings to take our time when entering MK will be nice. It'll also be nice to get the castle pics during that time as it's always a bit of a struggle between me and Zach. I like to get them at park opening but it's a crazy race to get to rides so we usually wait to get them later in the day. This way we'll have PLENTY of time to take them without it interfering with the flow of the day!
Speaking of castle pics...get ready for like a million pics of me in front of the castle haha. Being an annual pass holder means I get Memory Maker for free. Which means that any pictures the photo pass people take are automatically synced to my account and free to download. I was ALL about some pics that day! Why not, right?
I think Zach and the kids will really LOVE the early opening of Main Street. I think it'll start our park days off in a more relaxed feel that we'll all appreciate!
Ready for the new opening show!
I am a Disney Nerd and totally watched the very first morning of the new opening show on Facebook so I knew it was not much to be excited over. It's a BIG downgrade from what the old show was...but I'm not the type of person to hate on something just b/c it's new and different. I was eager to check it out for myself and am a person who just loves Disney so much that it still gave me that magical excited feeling. Counting down to opening the park is just awesome. Whether it's outside the park doors or at the castle steps. I did enjoy it and the kids will too! I took a full video of it (yes, it's SUPER SHORT) and you can see it here :)
If you have little ones they will enjoy the show because there are so many characters involved!
Leading up to the day I was anxious. I was worried I was in over my head. I was worried I'd spend the day bored or lonely or get sad. The weekend prior I went shopping alone and literally had this breakdown moment in the middle of Old Navy and Robyn came and met me so I wouldn't be alone. Sooooo it kinda freaked me out that an entire day at Disney was a bad idea. Even the morning of I was nervous!!! I brought a book and figured worse case I'd just sit on the grass area and read :)
But yall. The park hadn't even opened yet and I was GOOD. I knew it was going to be an amazing day. I felt it and the magic of it all was already there for me. I got teary eyed three times throughout the day and one of them was just standing there in front of the castle. Looking around at all the kids. Taking in the moment. It was perfect!
My crew at home was having a good time too with donuts for breakfast!
I had a fun game with Zach before the trip and had him guess the ONE RIDE I planned on riding at Magic Kingdom. I knew going in that I didn't want to spend time on rides or meeting any characters. I've met characters solo before and it was awkward and uncomfortable for me. And why spend time on rides solo? Zach literally could not come close to guessing the one ride I planned on riding...it was Buzz Lightyear haha I know that is random but I never get to actually PLAY the game. I'm either riding with a kid who I'm paying more attention to OR I'm with Zach who is so competitive and so stinking good at it that I just don't try very hard. Riding solo meant I'd get to actually enjoy playing :)
I went there first thing after the opening show but it wasn't open yet due to some ride issues. Normally this would be a cause for stress because it'd mess up our plans for the day...but not on this day! I just headed back to Main Street to get some breakfast. And stopped on the way for more pics :)
I had heard now that Main Street is open earlier that there are several new breakfast options. When I saw a donut ice cream sundae I KNEW it had to happen!!!
I had a lot of great moments throughout the day. But this one. This was THE moment. It was 9:30 in the morning. At Magic Kingdom. Normally at 9:30 we're on a ride and rushing to the next ride. Instead I was sitting on Main Street eating. I LOVED IT. I had a perfect seat with a perfect view of both the castle and the action on Main Street. I loved just taking it all in and not feeling the least bit rushed. I also enjoyed laughing a bit to myself at the people sitting near me. Who were sipping their Starbucks and trying to decide what to do that day. Y'all. It's Disney. You need a PLAN haha. The moment was made even better (and was teary eyed moment #2) when performers started singing right by me. I took this video and had a TON of people message me about just how happy I look. It was def a moment of just pure joy for me :)
The only flaw in the breakfast was NO WATER CUPS. I struggled to find ANY water! I didn't bring water with me b/c I didn't want to carry it around all day (my bookbag with my camera was heavy enough) but I regretted not tossing a bottle in there and will remember that in the future. I didn't want to wait in the eternally long line at Starbucks for stinking water! A cast member suggested going to the Baby Care Center for some water. Kinda ironic that my first time visiting the Baby Care Center was WITHOUT my kids!
They did have water. In little paper cups. So I refilled it, no joke, 6 times. The cast member working that area probably thought I was a nut job!
Finally ready for Buzz! Love finding hidden mickeys!
Not bad...def not worth bragging over either ;)
This hub area has become a favorite of mine for castle pics because it's rarely crowded and is a good view of the castle. The cast member was pretty funny having me pose in the grass haha
I will mention my shoes! I really wanted some cute Disney tennis shoes so Zach and I found these from Under Armor on our Christmas trip. I was nervous to try 'em out on such a long park day but thought it'd be a good test and they did GREAT! Goodbye ugly orthotics...these are my go-to park shoes now!
I hung out there for a bit. Just drinking my water and watching a bit of a stage show taking place at the castle. My big mission for the day was just to allow myself to soak everything in. No rushing. Just enjoying!
Saw someone get engaged!
Also got to watch the Move It Shake It Parade (which is SO SHORT btw!)
I know when I said earlier that I had no plans to ride any rides or meet any characters that yall probably thought "then what the heck was she gonna do all day?!?!" My #1 mission was to walk all of Main Street. I've never walked it all and gone in every shop and truly looked at everything so that's what I really wanted to do. It's something I'd never do with the kids or even on a solo trip with Zach! I went ahead and decided to start that mission as I wasn't sure how long it would take!
Right of the bat I found something I wanted to buy haha How adorable are these?!?!
I was also pumped to see the Belle doll in person. I've seen it all over the internet and couldn't believe it's legit that horrible in real life!!! TERRIBLE job on their part!!!
I ended up buying the earrings and also a new Hidden Mickey book. Zach and the kids had bought me a Hidden Mickey book as a gift but it is one that was like a scavenger hunt or something and doesn't tell you exactly where the hidden mickeys are. I wanted something that spells it all out for us so we don't have to figure anything out haha. This was a GREAT one and I figured I'd spend some of my day finding some of the hidden mickeys in the book and that way I could show the kids on our next trip!
They are doing a good bit of construction on parts of Main Street and I always love the quotes!
I love looking at all the window displays and took this for my Tessie!
Something I've heard about but never done before is the Sorcerers of the Kingdom game. I actually had it on our itinerary for Kye's birthday trip but am SO GLAD I stopped by there and learned more about it. If we ever are able to be annual pass holders it'll be an AWESOME perk but it's not an experience we'll be able to do on just a normal park day. It takes up a lot of park time and you can't have a set itinerary because the cards tell you where to go. It does look super, super cool though and it's neat that you get free cards every time you come and that they are a different mix each time. The game is always different since the cards are different too!
Another Main Street experience first for me: Dapper Dans!
I loved seeing the horse too and the hidden mickey on his attire!
Truly Main Street is an area of the park that is just overlooked. At least by our crew! I was SO thankful for the time to truly appreciate it on a new level and spent majority of my day in that area.
Rocking the new earrings!
I also took my book on a hidden mickey hunt!
Do you see it?
And another ;)
And of course my time involved more castle pics!
I was enjoying the hidden mickey book and the castle pics and decided to walk all around the park. Check out hidden mickey locations when possible and also hit up every photo pass person. I hadn't really noticed before but there are NO photo pass people around the park!!! SO LAME.
Being able to walk around the park with zero agenda allowed me to really notice how much detail goes into every area. I loved it. I also loved all the people watching too ;)
I always notice the hidden Mickey in the Rapunzel bathroom but never had noticed this one!
This was a new one for me too!
I decided to watch Philarmagic. It's a favorite of our family and there are quite a few hidden Mickeys during the actual film that I wanted to see so I could point them out to the kids! I love this photobomber! Speaking of...I'm proud of myself for the selfie taking haha. I'm not very comfortable with selfies but everyone all over the park was taking them so WHY NOT?!?!
I've noticed this one before!
I was really proud of myself for catching this one on the bridge in New Fantasyland! I wasn't even really looking and just happened to see it!
I went into Gaston's Tavern to get some water and really love the attention to detail in there!
There is a hidden Mickey on Gaston's fountain but the water is constantly hitting it so it's practically faded away!
Notice the hidden mickey bookend :)
This is inside the gift shop by Gaston's Tavern and surprise me that it's considered a legit hidden Mickey right?
I walked through Adventureland but didn't have any desire to do Tiki Room. I could never do it without my girls!
I've found this hidden Mickey many times on my own and didn't even see it in the book!
The weather was FLAWLESS. Cooler in the morning and at night and just a tad bit warm for about 30 min during the mid-morning. I didn't get too sweaty and never felt icky like I normally would at the park!
I asked around a bit to some Disney friends what they would do on a park solo day and my friend, Heather (who runs Magical Mouse Adventures), said she would get a reservation at Tony's and sit on the patio to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade (aka the 3:00 parade). I've NEVER seen the 3:00 parade. We are usually in the room for naps or in Adventureland on Jungle Cruise haha. Zach isn't a parade guy so we rarely catch any parade at all and if we do it's just luck in passing. I loved the idea of getting to sit in a great seat to enjoy the show! I've never eaten at Tony's and called and spoke to a cast member about a reservation. They said getting a 2:40 reservation solo should be fine and just to ask when I arrived about sitting on the patio to view the parade.
While I was at Tony's this crew was heading to the VSU basketball game! It was a PINK OUT so they rocked the pink ;)
Kye earned the whole family free tickets to the game thanks to his AR Score!
Can you believe this seat?!?!
Before the trip I invested in a phone charger and I'm so thankful I did. My phone is due for upgrade in April and the battery life is ROUGH so being able to keep a charge was crucial!
Hello FREE BREAD whhhhat?!? Whoop whoop!
I didn't want to overeat. I had that massive breakfast (and, yes, I ate every bite) and didn't want to feel icky or sluggish so I got a light pasta with broccoli and artichoke. And guys...my mouth is watering for it as I type this. It was FABULOUS and may be one of my favorite Disney dishes! I loved it! It arrived right when the parade was starting! Aside from sitting directly in the sun (the people at the table beside me actually moved b/c it was just too hot) it was perfection!
It was a great parade and one my kids would FOR SURE enjoy! Maybe someday :)
I read up a little on Tony's and found out that if you stand at a certain window it appears Lady is coming out of the hat box from the store across the street. If you have seen Lady and the Tramp then you will remember she was a gift given in a hat box :) I love little details like that...Disney thinks of everything!
Hidden Mickey on my way out!
If you eat at Tony's you can also ask for Lady and Tramp's autographs :) The cast member I spoke with was sweet enough to have them sign three cards for my kids!
After finishing up my late lunch I was ready to park hop. I'm REALLY glad I decided to go over to Epcot for a bit. It helped break up the day and really allowed me to never feel bored or restless!
On my way out I decided to climb the steps to the look out from the train station. I've never been up there before and it was a great time to take advantage of it!
Goodbye Magic Kingdom!
I debating doing the 4 parks in 1 day challenge on my solo day but I'm glad I decided against it. I didn't want to spend the bulk of my time dealing with transportation. I felt comfortable going over to Epcot because it's the only park you can go on the monorail. If I do ever attempt the 4 parks in 1 day (Which I hope to try!) I will probably get the Express Transportation thing! It'd be worth the cost if park hopping to all 4 parks!
On the monorail ride I looked up coffee options in Epcot b/c I was going to need a caffeine fix for sure!
It took me 90 minutes to get from Mk to Epcot. It was INSANE how crowded it was!!! This was the annual passholder line!!!
Side note but the guy who did my bag check couldn't believe I was carrying my bookbag around all day by myself ;) #strongmama
Epcot was my only section of the day with somewhat of an agenda. It was my only fastpass of the day so I knew I had to be at a certain place within a certain window of time. Since it did take me so long to get into the park I was a tad nervous how leaving would go and how it would go getting back into MK and I did NOT want to miss out on Wishes! I felt a tad bit of anxiety about the timing but refused to feel rushed about it.
I've heard about Brazilian Tour Groups on some Disney groups but haven't ever noticed them myself. Whew. TONS of them in the parks that day and they are a large group who do yell and chant together which is actually against Disney rules! I can see the backlash about them because the groups I saw did appear to be rather rude about it.
I walked by Club Cool and knew I had to pop in to try a world famous drink...
I also realized why Epcot was so crazy crowded...it was a Saturday AND Festival of the Arts!
Hello to the Beverly!
I have always heard Beverly is nasty so I got a cup of another drink to have on hand to down right after and the people in line with me all said the Peru version was good so I went with that!
I headed straight for World Showcase!
I would like to spend a lot more time exploring World Showcase. It'd be a fun thing to do with Zach or even if I do another solo trip at some point. I didn't have time to explore much, but I did try to take my time as I walked through the countries.
France was my first major stop because it's where I read was the best cold coffee!!!
This was also the point where I remembered that Epcot serves alcohol and that "drinking around the world" is a thing. The people in front of me in line for the photo pass were wasted and I also realized that 5:30 on a Saturday during a festival probably wasn't the best choice in timing for an Epcot visit. Oops. One guy did make some comments about getting in my picture with me which I declined ;) I did chat up the photo pass girl a bit about how her job allows her to see some pretty epic moments from drunk people haha
This was the only part of the day where I didn't feel super comfortable. The guy who had made comments about being in my photo was hanging around with a large group so I kept seeing him and I just didn't like the looks. I also didn't love that the ice cream/coffee place was down kinda an alley. It just made me a little uncomfortable so I kinda chugged the coffee so I could move on haha
Stoped in Morocco for water!
My version of Drinking Around the World ;)
All my water intake all day meant a lot of peeing too ;)
I took this for Mrs Charlotte b/c she loves trolls haha
Yes. I had one fastpass for the entire day. And yes. It was for FROZEN!!! I LOVE this ride!!!
No shame in my game!
Hey, I didn't scream out of terror this time ;)
I was heading back to MK right at 7 which was perfect timing! I was a tad nervous to see how I'd feel at the parks in the dark. I get easily spooked in the dark especially in public and especially solo. But I felt safe and happy to be out of the World Showcase ;)
In line for the monorail a couple was in front of me and the guy made a comment about my shirt. I had a good handful of comments about it throughout the day. Several things about how I was missing a "hashtag" and several questions about if my day was EPIC or not ;) I chatted up the couple and realized how weird what I was doing sounded to others. Yes. I'm at the parks alone. All day. And yes. I rode down with practical strangers. Who I met online. Ha!!!
Back at MK!
This background of the train station is actually not even real...they are doing construction on it so it's a covering. But doesn't it look legit?
Timing worked out great and getting into MK was not nearly as bad! I also got to ride the ferry in which I enjoyed. I talked to a mom who was solo with her two year old and enjoyed the conversation. I didn't chat up random strangers as much as I had expected I would. I thought I'd feel lonely but I didn't! I really enjoyed being alone and actually got a little annoyed when I had out my hidden mickey book and cast members would tell me where others were located. I figured I'd be ALL about some cast member talk but it wasn't really something I wanted to do while in the moment. And it was funny b/c many of the cast members I did chat up assumed I was also a cast member ;)
My only annoyance of the day was when I waited in line for a Mickey pretzel only to get up to the front to be told they were out. Luckily I got the last one from a nearby stand! I don't like Coke but a Coke Icee was just needed at that point and this made for a delightful dinner! I sat in Tomorrowland and people watched a bit while enjoying it.
I had a good 20 min or so before Wishes (there is no more night parade or pre-Wishes show) so I headed up as close as I could be. Usually with the kids we're pretty far back to have an advantage of leaving quickly but I wanted to be CLOSE. It worked out AWESOME. I was super, super close AND by some stroke of magic NO ONE STOOD UP. Like when does that ever happen? Literally everyone around me stayed seated the entire show!!! So awesome!
Before the fireworks started I heard a group behind me cheering loudly and assumed someone must have gotten engaged. That night when I checked Facebook it turns out it's a friend of mine!!! How crazy small world is that?!?! I commented and asked if it was right before Wishes and she said yes! I wish I'd found her in the crowd to hug and congratulate her in person. How cool!!!
I took several videos of Wishes since it's soon to be a thing of the past:
I got a tad emotional here too ;)
And I love the couple of hidden mickey shots I got!!!
After I waited a good bit to be able to walk by the castle but they took forever to open the walkway so I just went through the crowd to get to the Christmas Shop in Liberty Square!
Back of castle!
Ready to get a Christmas Ornament!
I really wanted a Main Street USA one...but they didn't have anything specific to Main Street. Lame. So I got a light up castle instead :)
The park is SO pretty at night and a TON of the people left right after Wishes
And more castle pics ;)
On my way back from Epcot I booked another fastpass for Buzz, because why not?
Worse score :(
You can tell it wasn't for lack of concentration!
I headed back to Main Street. I wanted to wait until the end of the night to buy the kids something and really struggled with what to get. Because they don't need anything at all!!! I decided to do Pez dispensers. Cheap. Easy. Fun. But the line at the candy store was CRAZY long because people were cashing in their remaining snack credits. So I went over to Eporium and was so annoyed at their lack of selection. I found a cast member and asked for help. They had two Elsa ones which worked great for the girls but NO boyish ones. I told him I saw Star Wars ones across the way at the candy store but didn't want to deal with the line so I was hoping they had some in the back or something there. He was SO precious and ended up going across the way and paying for TWO star wars ones for me! How sweet was that?!?! Such a Disney Magical Moment!
My #1 goal was to explore all of Main Street. My #2 goal was to see The Kiss Goodnight. It's something I've heard about but that not even a lot of cast members can give specifics on. I heard a variety of things all day from it being right at park close to being an hour after park close to not even existing. Since my beloved park opening is gone I was hoping that the kiss goodnight could be my new "thing." At about 10 min till park close (11 pm!) I went and grabbed more water and a snack so I could get a good viewing spot of the castle!
I sat in the hub in front of Casey's. All by myself. PERFECT view!
No cotton candy is as yummy as Disney's!!!
The moment of watching The Kiss Goodnight was my third (actually I think it's #4 huh? I forgot about the tears at Wishes!) emotional moment. I have actually heard it before but never have stopped and watched and it was VERY awesome. I was able to view it twice. If you are ever at MK near park closing pay attention to the castle at closing and then every 15 min after park closing :) It's a great experience that only true Disney people will fully appreciate!
My battery life on my phone at that point was 4% and I was pretty nervous about not meeting up with Amanda and Ashley! I told them where I was at and then just hung out and soaked in my last moment of my day before they arrived. They had a great day too and we got a castle pic together before heading out!
SO much walking and I was ZERO PERCENT tired. I could have kept on going and going! I was in the parks for a solid 15 hours! I hurt the next day some but overall my foot did AMAZING (even with carrying the bookbag) and I never got tired or took breaks due to being tired or anything. I obviously did a LOT of walking and that's not counting the steps I took after midnight either ;)
We left our room at 7 am and didn't get back until 1:30ish am! It was an EPIC DAY for sure!!!
We all slept in and got breakfast...how cool that the hotel had Mickey waffles?!?!
We headed back and stopped on the way at McAlister's which I haven't had in a million years. So good! We had some great conversation on the way home and I really enjoyed our time together. The whole weekend couldn't have gone more perfectly! I'm sure they thought I was super disgusting b/c I didn't shower when we got back to the room that night and didn't shower the next morning either haha I did text them both and let them know I showered at about 9:00 that evening once I was home!
I am so thankful to Zach for supporting my desire to have a solo park day. I'm thankful for Amanda and Ashley for being down for the trip and allowing me to crash their BFF time ;) I'm most of all thankful for Disney though. This day just really cemented it for me that Disney is my absolute happiest place in the world. I loved every single second of the day and would love nothing more than to have the ability to make this a yearly tradition :) Can't beat some "me time" at the happiest place on earth!