1 guy, 4 parks, 4 days, and not a clue: A first timer goes solo (full TR coming soon)

Vexorg

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
A week and a half from now, I will be making my first trip to Disney World, and since it seems like everyone else here has been there about half a zillion times or so by now, I thought I'd go ahead and do a pre-trip report for this trip. I've actually been to Disneyland twice now (most recently in January of 2006) so it's not like I'm jumping into this completely blind, but I still have quite a bit that I haven't figured out yet. I've got most of the basics (air, hotel, park tickets) sorted out now, but beyond that it's all pretty much a blank slate. Should be fun to figure out and see all this stuff for the first time though.

The actual pre-trip report itself has been posted up on my Blog. The link can be found here:

I Hear They've Got a Mouse There or Something: My Disney World Pre-Trip Report
 

Vexorg

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
OK, after spending way too much time this evening reading other people's trip reports and a little bit more than a week to go before I take off for my trip, I feel somehow inspired to continue here...

First of all, I'll go ahead and repost what I posted originally over at my Blog for convenience (and to make sure that I'm following the rules correctly: )

About a week and a half from now, I will be on my way down to Orlando to spend a few days at Walt Disney World, and hopefully get a chance to enjoy a little bit of decent weather in the process (since lately it seems like there are two choices of weather available up here: Partly cloudy and 53 degrees, or rainy and 47 degrees.) I booked my plane ticket and hotel to get there a couple of weeks ago, and I just went over to the Disney Store up at Alderwood Mall today to get my park ticket. Aside from arranging an airport shuttle to get to the hotel when I get there, I should be just about set now. Since I’ve got to figure out something to do in order to pass the time until I actually leave (and try to make sure that I’m actually getting the trip planned out,) I decided that I would go ahead and put together a pre-trip report here.

To people who know me, the idea of me going and taking a vacation to Disney World might sound a bit… uncharacteristic. After all, I haven’t ever really been a big fan of Disney stuff in general, and most of my recent vacations have been spent doing things like going to national parks (I was able to get to both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone last year) and taking nice long drives down seldom traveled backroads, hitting every tourist trap along the way. I’m far more likely to spend my vacations taking photos of abandoned gas stations in the middle of nowhere than I am to be relaxing on some beach somewhere. For some reason, I just can’t relax when I’m on vacation. I also generally travel solo when I’m on vacation. Aside from the obvious reason of being chronically single, I also suspect that my idea of an interesting vacation would probably bore most people who would actually travel with me to tears. So taking all that into consideration, why would I fly across the country to go see a mouse? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I suppose that I’ll probably figure it out once I get there though. Mostly at this point it would be nice to actually take a vacation for once after ending up staying here and dogsitting every time someone else goes on a vacation. I’m half tempted to get a couple of dogs of my own and drop them off at my parents’ house to take care of while I’m gone.

Another personality trait that I have which seems to come into effect mostly when I’m on vacation is that I seem to have some sort of mental timer that’s constantly reminding me that I’ve got only 63 hours of vacation time left, so I better make sure I’m using it. This means that I tend to overdo things on occasion, and eventually end up hitting the proverbial wall at some point. When I went to Disneyland back in early 2006, this meant that by the third day I was there, I got to the point where I didn’t really feel like doing a whole lot, and ended up sitting out a number of the rides everyone else went on. I suspect the fact that it was raining for much of the day before didn’t help, since it made it difficult to find a place to sit down anywhere in the park. On the other hand, the rain also made the lines a lot shorter on a lot of rides, so even if it does rain it’s not a big deal. I also have a tendency to not be able to suspend disbelief in many cases, so this means that if I see something really interesting in one of the rides or shows, I’m more likely to find myself trying to figure out how they made the effects than I am to just admire it because it looks cool. This tends to make places like Disneyland as much a museum to me as a theme park. In some ways, this can be a blessing and a curse, and because of it people might think I look bored when I’m there. In reality, I just have a slightly different definition of what’s entertaining than some people, but tend to think it’s not entirely necessary to scream your way down a roller coaster to find it fun.

As it stands right now, my plan is to take a morning flight to Orlando on Sunday the 14th, with an hour layover in Chicago along the way. With about 7 hours on the planes, an hour in Chicago and 3 hours lost to tine zone changes, it’ll take pretty much all day to get there, and I should be getting in around 7:30pm that evening. I’ll be spending four days there, then flying back on another early flight on Friday the 19th, with another hour layover in Dallas. This time around, I’ll get the three hours back that I lost on the way down so I should get back in a bit earlier. I will be staying at the Hilton at Downtown Disney, which from the info I’ve read is a nice place, and a bit quieter than some of the Disney-owned properties. I had thought about flying back on Saturday, but the flights seem to be significantly more expensive since that starts to get into Holiday travel.

Beyond that, I pretty much don’t have anything definite planned at this point. Since I’m going to be traveling solo, I suspect I’ll probably be eating mostly counter service, since I am a bit hesitant to make dining reservations for one. I also have not been to Disney World before, and don’t really know what to expect yet for a lot of things. I also haven’t been keeping up on my Disney lately, so I think I’m stuck somewhere back around Beauty and the Beast or so as far as being familiar with the movies (although I did see about half of Wall-E not too long ago.) I suppose I should probably make some sort of attempt to catch up on the stuff before I go, just in case there’s some quiz to get in or something like that. My mostly childless current existence doesn’t provide a whole lot of incentive to watch those types of movies, and since I don’t really watch movies in the first place, I haven’t paid much attention to such things lately. I suppose that if I can get most of the plot of a 2-hour movie out of a 5-minute theme park ride, it frees up time to do other things. Of course, there’s the slight risk of getting It’s a Small World stuck in your head for the rest of eternity by doing that, but I don’t think that it’s actually driven anyone to insanity just yet.

Anyway, one way or another, I’m determined to enjoy this trip, so I should probably figure out a way to do so at some point before I go. Since the hotel I’ll be staying at charges $10.95 per day for Wi-fi access and I’ll probably be tethering off my phone for an Internet connection while I’m there, I don’t expect that I’ll be doing too much Blogging from there until I get back. I should also try to make sure I’m not seeing the place from behind the lens of my camera (another mistake I’ve made on vacations before,) but I do suspect that I’ll put together some sort of trip report, probably after I get back. In the meantime, I should probably try to get at least some idea of what I’m going to be doing while I’m there… Now what was the name of that mouse they’ve got there again?
OK, that said...

On one hand, I'm finding myself anticipating this trip a lot more than I had expected to at this point, especially after getting the chance to read through more of the TRs posted here. At the same time, I also find myself wondering if I might have made a few mistakes in planning by booking things before I really had a good idea of what I was doing. For one thing, I'm now wondering if I should have booked a longer stay than 4 days, and if I should have just gone for an on-property resort rather than the DD Hilton where I'm staying. I went with four days (five nights, but that's with a 7:30pm arrival on Sunday, and an early flight out on Friday) based on my budget, and based on having felt like three days was plenty when I went on my trip to Disneyland a couple of years back. On the other hand, once I started reading some of the TRs here, I am now starting to think that four days is barely going to scratch the surface (although if nothing else, that'll give me a valid excuse to go back at some point.) It's probably a bit too late to do much second guessing on my travel plans, but I suppose we all have to start out somewhere, right?

My other main concern about this is that going as a solo traveler makes me wonder if I'll be missing out on things by going that way. On one hand, I won't have anyone trying to drag me onto the teacups for the 47th time in a day and traveling solo will probably make it a lot easier to get around the place from a logistics standpoint. On the other hand, I get the impression that going solo makes it hard to do table service restaurants, and there's something to be said for having kids to bring along with you, even if they do have a pesky tendency to get sick at the most inconvenient times on vacation (the first time I went to Disneyland in 1987, I seem to recall spending a fair share of that vacation sick myself, so I suppose I can't complain too much.) Still looking for that princess that's theoretically supposed to be out there for me somewhere, and by now I'm wondering if it would help if I got turned into a frog (mental note: BAD idea. I'm not that desperate JUST yet.)

Anyway, there's still quite a bit of stuff I need to figure out, but I get the impression that no matter how much planning I end up doing, chances are I'll still pretty much end up winging it. It's been said that no plan ever survives contact with the enemy, be it a 60 minute Fastpass line or a run-in with the Rainy-Day Cavalcade.

Only 8 days left until I get there. Guess I need to brush up on the whole "kid in the candy store" routine. It's been a while since I had much of a chance to use it.

More to come, stay tuned...
 

Vexorg

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Just three days left until I'm supposed to leave for my trip now, and in spite of best efforts, it looks like I might end up running into a bit of the drama that I was hoping to avoid. The weather reports for the next few days are showing a big cold front moving into the area here, with a bunch of snow and ice in tow, and the forecasts are saying that this might be creating the conditions that can turn the roads into solid ice right around the time I'm supposed to be heading out on Sunday. With only four days (plus the travel day) scheduled, I am worried that this could throw a major monkey wrench into my plans if I run into weather-related flight delays or cancellations anywhere along the line. I knew I should have grabbed the no-expiration tickets... I guess if I'm traveling in December I shouldn't be too surprised.

Of course, the weather in Orlando is looking quite nice for those four days at this point, so as long as I can actually manage to get off the ground here I should be OK. I suppose in the worst case scenario I can look at possibly rescheduling to after the new year (I have enough flexibility that it might be possible)

In the meantime, I'm still trying to work out exactly what I'm going to do (assuming I can actually get there,) but I think I'm just going to end up winging it, especially if I end up losing time. I had considered trying to get into the lunch with an Imagineer at DHS, but it looks like both days are booked for the week I'll be there. I'll try to see if I can grab a late cancellation, but I suspect that I'll probably find myself saving that one for the next trip. I'm also guessing I probably will end up doing MVMCP on Tuesday, since it seems that quite a few DISers will be at that one.

Oh well. I guess if everything went perfectly then it wouldn't be nearly as interesting, right?
 
  • penni520

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 10, 2008
    Just three days left until I'm supposed to leave for my trip now, and in spite of best efforts, it looks like I might end up running into a bit of the drama that I was hoping to avoid. The weather reports for the next few days are showing a big cold front moving into the area here, with a bunch of snow and ice in tow, and the forecasts are saying that this might be creating the conditions that can turn the roads into solid ice right around the time I'm supposed to be heading out on Sunday. With only four days (plus the travel day) scheduled, I am worried that this could throw a major monkey wrench into my plans if I run into weather-related flight delays or cancellations anywhere along the line. I knew I should have grabbed the no-expiration tickets... I guess if I'm traveling in December I shouldn't be too surprised.

    Of course, the weather in Orlando is looking quite nice for those four days at this point, so as long as I can actually manage to get off the ground here I should be OK. I suppose in the worst case scenario I can look at possibly rescheduling to after the new year (I have enough flexibility that it might be possible)

    In the meantime, I'm still trying to work out exactly what I'm going to do (assuming I can actually get there,) but I think I'm just going to end up winging it, especially if I end up losing time. I had considered trying to get into the lunch with an Imagineer at DHS, but it looks like both days are booked for the week I'll be there. I'll try to see if I can grab a late cancellation, but I suspect that I'll probably find myself saving that one for the next trip. I'm also guessing I probably will end up doing MVMCP on Tuesday, since it seems that quite a few DISers will be at that one.

    Oh well. I guess if everything went perfectly then it wouldn't be nearly as interesting, right?
    One very imporant information that you need to know. I just got back from Disney spending 5 night/6days. Make sure you have supporting walking shoes. Like New Balance for walking. I have been home since this past sunday night and I am still in pain, feet and legs hurt very bad.
    Good Luck and have a great time. I went solo and will for sure do another solo trip again.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    One very imporant information that you need to know. I just got back from Disney spending 5 night/6days. Make sure you have supporting walking shoes. Like New Balance for walking. I have been home since this past sunday night and I am still in pain, feet and legs hurt very bad.
    Good Luck and have a great time. I went solo and will for sure do another solo trip again.
    I actually bought a new pair of shoes earlier this week for that reason, since my old ones were getting pretty worn out (apparently I overpronate a bit, which means that old shoes can cause problems.) Usually I'm OK with the walking as long as I can avoid blisters, which I still need to figure out. I thought about throwing what few shreds of dignity I have left at this point to the wind and getting some Crocs (or at least some of the more shoe-like ones), but my mother has informed me that I am not to ever be caught dead wearing Crocs, Disney or otherwise.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    Since the local weather for when my flight is supposed to go out on Sunday continues to look ominous and/or threatening, I figure that I might as well continue here, since it's got to be a better use of my time than constantly refreshing the weather reports to see if anything changes. I'm probably just worrying too much here, although I am now giving some thought to getting a hotel near the airport for the evening so my parents don't need to drive me down there on icy roads.

    Cast of characters (Well, character, anyway...)



    This is me, from Disneyland a couple of years ago. I'm 30, chronically single (and probably not really doing much to change that in the first place,) and work as a contract software engineer for a company you might have heard of somewhere along the line (although I've worked mostly on products that you probably haven't ever heard of, with a couple of exceptions). In my spare time, I seem to have an odd tendency to hang out in empty malls and dabble in local history and urban archaeology. Admittedly, I probably also play way too many video games, but I've been cutting back on those lately. I've also been known for occasional bouts of cynicism, but I've been trying to cut back on that as well. I also get distracted easily by bright shiny objects.

    What I hope to accomplish:

    Magic Kingdom: Since there should be plenty of time here (with an evening EMH on Monday and MVMCP on Tuesday) I don't think I need to be in too much of a rush here. Mostly I plan to focus on the classics here (Haunted Mansion, PotC, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, CoP and several of the Fantasyland rides) and try not to overdo it. It's been a long time since I've had a chance to see Haunted Mansion in its original form (on my 2006 Disneyland trip, the holiday overlay was in place, and as cool as that was, I'd like to see the regular version as well) so I'll probably head there first.

    EPCOT: I'll probably focus more on the World Showcase than the Future World part. I haven't really figured out what to expect here yet, since I haven't been before. I'm not exactly a morning person, so between that and the (apparently somewhat slow) DTD hotel buses, I'm guessing I probably won't be making any rope drops here, but I would still like to try to get some of the more popular rides in early.

    DHS / AK: I have even less idea of what I'm going to do at these two than I do with Epcot. DHS seems to be a park that's more of a place to watch things than to ride them (although there are a decent amount of rides now as well) so I think I'll probably spend some time here, although I don't know how much. As for AK, I'm not sure how much time I'll spend here. I'll probably go to hit some of the highlights (EE, Safari, etc.) but probably won't make a full day out of it.

    As I've mentioned previously, I'm just winging it (I figure that since I'm going solo, I'll have enough flexibility to do it that way.) I figure four days should be plenty of time to cover all the stuff I want to do at least once, but I also need to try to avoid overdoing it, as I've been known to do on vacations at times.

    Only 2 days left before I leave now. I suppose this means I should look at packing?
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    Well, after a moderately harrowing day of travel, I made it, and I'm posting from my (shockingly huge) room at the Hilton right now. I have to figure that when the day starts off with a harrowing drive on roads with an inch of ice on them (fortunately it was only a shuttle ride from an airport hotelin Seattle, and we had a driver who wasn't a maniac) you have to figure that things can only get better. They eventually did, but not before the plane sat for an extra hour at the gate waiting to be deiced, which caused me to miss my connection in Chicago. Fortunately, that's the point where things started getting better, as I got quickly booked on the next flight into an exit row (the one with the extra legroom, as long as you don't mind having to save everyone's life if the plane goes down in flames) and even though it took a couple extra hours to get out of Chicago (I wonder if a "donation" to Friends of Blagojevich would have helped?) I made it here, and was greeted by 66-degree weather at 11pm, a freakishly large hotel room (just don't ask about the view) and four days of Disney to look forward to. There will, of course, be plenty more later, but I don't know how much posting I'll be doing here (I'd like to not run the bill up on my phone's data tethering too much...)
     
  • knewton64

    - May the luck of the Irish always be with you -
    Joined
    Aug 20, 2008
    ....a rice krispy treat at Goofy's Candy Shoppe for me!!!!!! I am SOOOO JEALOUS!!!!! Ya gotta write when u can!


    :yay:


    My trip doesn't begin until 01-06-09.
     

    ILMICKEY

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 25, 2007
    Have a great time! Just enjoy. Don't worry about what you are "supposed" to be doing.

    Oh, and now I'm curious about the view. You can't say don't ask and expect us not to ask:confused3 !!!
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    I'll write about it eventually, but that'll be for the full trip report.

    A few quick notes from day 1 (which, in spite of my original plan to hit Epcot in the morning and MK later on, ended up being spent entirely at MK, except for a trip back to the hotel in the afternoon when the camera battery died right at the end of the parade: )

    Although I don't really have context to compare to since this is my first time here, the lines didn't seem too bad. I didn't make it into the park until about 9 or so, but got on PotC as a walk-on and Haunted Mansion in 5 minutes in the morning. I grabbed a FP for Jungle Cruise, which was right about the time I was done with the other two. The longest line I saw during the day was 45 minutes, although Peter Pan may have been longer (even with a Fastpass, I still ended up waiting at least 15 minutes there.) The longest line I waited in was Space Mountain at about 25-30 minutes (I think the sign said 40 at the time.)

    The evening EMH crowds were quite small, and most of the rides were walk-ons or 5 minutes (BTMRR was still 30 minutes and had no FPs left when I went there. Splash Mountain was a walk-on as well, but I didn't ride it.)

    -The DTD hotel buses will definitely get you to where you need to go, but they're a bit on the slow side, since there are a lot of stops (for example, the return trip to the hotel from MK stopped at AK for another pickup.) Since the Hilton is right near the DTD Marketplace stops for the Disney buses, I'd probably consider walking there and hopping the next bus to the Contemporary or the Grand Floridian. It might actually get you to the MK faster...

    Tomorrow's plan: Epcot in the morning, and MVMCP in the evening. Days 3 and 4 are up in the air, but I'm giving serious consideration to just passing on AK for this trip and saving it for the next one, depending on how much time I end up wanting to spend at Epcot.
     
  • Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    A couple of quick day 2 notes:

    As planned, i started out in Epcot, got most of the big Future World rides out of the way early (Test Track was practically a walk-on in the single rider line even though it said 40 minutes in the regular line, and Mission Space green side was pretty quick as well. I also walked on Spaceship Earth when I got there in the morning. When i checked Soarin it was at 100 minutes with a FP return time of 4PM at 10am, so I skipped it. I have no clue why that one is so popular here, on the DCA version in 2006 I managed to ride it six times without a wait longer than 10 minutes on any of them.

    In spite of the fact that MVMCP was reported as being sold out when I arrived at MK in the afternoon (around 3PM,) the crowds weren't that bad. I didn't have to wait in line for cocoa and cookies (before the parade) and had no trouble riding rides either. The MK crowds before the MVMCP weren't too bad either, with relatively short waits on most rides.

    I seriously need to see if I can find an ADR or two tomorrow, I managed to get in at Nine Dragons in the China Pavilon (after getting sick or waiting in a REALLY slow line at the Mexico counter service place for 20 minutes with only four people in front of me,) but the options for a counter service meal in the MK are seriously lacking, and the table service places are booked solid.

    This place takes a LOT of walking to get around, and I'll have to say I'm just a bit sore right now. Fortunately I've managed to avoid any blisters, but still... Of all the walking it takes to get around the place, the longest bit of walking just might be the last little bit from the TTC Monorail station/ferry dock to the bus parking in back (actually it's not that long, but it sure SEEMS that way...

    Anyway, I think I'll probably head for DHS tomorrow morning, then head back to Epcot later for the rest of the World Showcase stuff I missed, then MK in the evening to catch Spectromagic (since I missed it on Monday, and it's the last one while I'm here,) then back to Epcot for Illuminations.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    Well, it's just about time for me to head home now, and I am not looking forward to it (aside from the usual leaving stuff, there's also the part getting up at 4am to catch my flight and huge snowstorm that got dumped on the Seattle area today to worry about too.) Spent yesterday park-hopping (ran out of steam and left before Illuminations though,) and got most of the interesting stuff at DHS done today before heading back to Epcot in the evening to finish off the trip with Illuminations. I also managed to get into 50s Prime Time for lunch today, and manaed to ride TSM twice in spite of not getting into the park until 10.

    All in all, I got most of what I came for done, but there's still a lot I missed out on (most notably, I didn't even make it to AK on this trip,) and got a nice little treat at tne end when I managed to see both the Illuminations show going on there and the MVMCP fireworks over at MK in the distance simultaneously over by Germany. I haven't even gone through half my photos yet, and I'm sure most of that will end up waiting until I get home. I had a lot of fun, but there are definitely things I could have planned better on, and a few things that didn't work out so great. More on this stuff when I get home tomorrow (hopefully...)

    Oh yeah, and there's some great bargains in the shops right now. I got a whole bunch of stuff to bring home for a lot less than I might have expected.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    Thanks to finding out that my flight from Orlando to Dallas was delayed five hours just twenty minutes before my hotel shuttle was scheduled to arrive, I ended up getting rescheduled onto a later flight, which meant that I got a few extra hours to wander around DTD this morning (which, presumably, is a bit more interesting than spending all day sitting in the airport might have been.) Still at the airport now, with about another hour and a half before my rescheduled flight departs. If nothing else, at least this trip has been interesting.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    I am now back home from my trip, and somehow I've managed to actually come home to even worse weather than I left here in. Since my car was buried under seven inches of snow before I cleared it off earlier, I've got to figure I'm probably not going much anywhere for a bit (at least I got back in town before the snow really set in and made a big mess of the airport.)

    Anyway, I have started a new thread for the actual trip report, which can be found here:

    Fleeing from a Winter Wonderland: A First-timer's Disney Christmas
     



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