Solo Travel: Disneyland and California Adventure

Ah…the Happiest Place on Earth.  Disneyland and its companion park, Disney California Adventure (DCA), are surely two of the most popular destinations in Southern California.  However, they are probably not 2 destinations that people think of going solo to.  But I’ve got to say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

One of the major things about Disneyland is the cost.  There are different tiers of tickets, ranging from 1 Day/1 Park up to Multi-day Park Hoppers.  Since I live within driving distance, I opted to go with the 2 Day/1 Park a Day pass.  This was $185 when it was all said and done.  Although I live close, I don’t live around the corner.  I opted for a decently priced hotel for the night to make it easier on myself.  If you are coming from out of town, the hotels in the area are pretty decently priced.  I stayed at the Anaheim Wyndham.  I give it a Fair Rating, but it didn’t matter, as I was really only there to sleep.  When traveling solo, I like to pick chains I am familiar with and that are in a well populated area.  Safety first!

After park entry and lodging, the major variable cost wise you can play with is food!  The great thing about Disneyland and DCA is the wide range of food options.  There are quick options like pretzels, churros, etc. and full service options like Blue Bayou and Carthay Circle.  When traveling solo, your comfort level is always the most important.  Since I love eating a nice meal at a nice restaurant, I made sure I had one meal somewhere nice, and took advantage of all the quick options the rest of the day.

PARK ENTRANCES AT NIGHT

PARK ENTRANCES AT NIGHT

Must-Eat quick recommendations are as follows: 

*Corn Dog – This can be found at a little red cart at the end of Main Street.  Yes, there will be a line.  Yes, it will be worth it.

*Dole Whip – This can be found right next to the Tiki Room.  Although this is not a live or die item for me, it is for a lot of people.  And I won’t kid you, it is delicious.  Definitely get one if you have never had one, or if you are trying to kill some time.  Its the only place to get it, and there will surely be a line.

*Mickey shaped food – I had 2 versions.  I had the Mickey pretzel and the Mickey beignets.  The pretzel can be found all over the place.  The beignets can only be found at a couple places.  I got mine at the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square.  They were delicious.    I’m not sure if the only other place to get a beignet here is actually outside at Downtown Disney.

*Candy – Whatever your preference, hard candy, fruity or chocolate, Disney does it right.  The one Must Eat item candy-wise is the Peanut Butter Heaven.  Do I really need to explain?  Heaven is in the name.  You can find delectable sweet treats in both Disneyland and DCA.

*CHURRO!!!!!! – Once again, you can find these all over the park.  They are probably the only must have, I won’t leave without one, item on the list.  A churro is the one thing that transports me back to being 5 years old, watching the Electrical Parade with my Grandpa.  One of the most reincarnations of the churro are the Churro Bites served at the Cozy Cone Motel in DCA.  They come with a side of chocolate sauce.  Wash them down with a Red’s Apple Freeze.

TREATS AT THE COZY CONE MOTEL (DCA)

TREATS AT THE COZY CONE MOTEL (DCA)

MICKEY BEIGNETS AND PEANUT BUTTER HEAVEN

MICKEY BEIGNETS AND PEANUT BUTTER HEAVEN (DISNEYLAND)

Must-Eat Sit Down Recommendations:

Probably the most popular of these options is the Blue Bayou.  It has a view of Pirates of the Caribbean, and their food is pretty good.  This time around, I opted for another restaurant, but I recommend it at least once.  This time around, at Disneyland, I opted for River Belle Terrace.  They were having a Fantasmic! Dinner Package that included priority view seating for Fantasmic! and a Prix-fixe menu.   Definitely worth it if you are going to watch Fantasmic!  The food was delicious and I was super impressed with the wait staff.  The next night, at DCA, I opted for a nice lunch instead of dinner.  I ate at Carthay Circle.  It is a replica of the now demolished Carthay Theatre in Los Angeles, and its beautiful.  The food was delicious (I recommend the pot stickers), and the service was outstanding.

The only downside to sit down restaurants now is that you need to make reservations.  I made mine about a week in advance for River Belle Terrace and same day for Carthay Circle.  Since I love old Hollywood, I knew I wanted to eat at Carthay.  However, they also have a winery themed restaurant as well, at DCA.

Other than being able to eat when and where you want (because no one else is there to dictate to you), you can navigate the crowds easier as a Solo Traveler.  Also, some rides have Single Rider Lines.  Biggest advantage in Disneyland is at Indiana Jones, and at DCA, Radiator Springs Racers.  An example of the difference is this…I walked up to Radiator Springs Racers, and the Wait Time said 80 Minutes.  In the Single Rider line, I was in and out in 20 minutes.  Even if there is no designated line at the ride you are on, sometimes, they ask if there are any Single Riders.  Trust me, any pride goes out the window when you can get on ride that much faster since you are by yourself.

Now, just a couple tips…

Don’t forget sunscreen.  Dress in layers (take advantage of the lockers).  Bring a power bank for your phone, camera or other electronics.  Use the bag/purchase check where available.  Don’t be afraid to ask cast members to take your picture.

And last but not least, don’t forget to buy yourself some mouse ears!

Happy Traveling!

QUICK PIC WITH MY MOUSE EARS

QUICK PIC WITH MY MOUSE EARS

Traveling Solo: Las Vegas

What do you do after a break up?  You get out and do something for you.  For a year, I had grown accustomed to do everything in a pair.  But now, I’m by myself.  It’s a temporary situation, but being alone and doing things by yourself really teaches you about you.  

For my solo, getting back to myself, trip, I decided to head to one of the greatest cities in the US; Las Vegas!  Now, I know what you’re thinking; scary, lonely, awkward.  Truth be told is that, if you have any comfort level with doing things solo, it is just the opposite.  My experience will be broken down into 3 parts; Lodging, Food, Entertainment.

Lodging:  I stayed at the Monte Carlo.  It has a central location and was decently priced.  The rooms were clean, although the hotel REALLY needs an update.  Check in was super easy and I was in my room in no time.  Staying somewhere central gave me some level of safety and I didn’t have to go too far to experience the city. 

Food:  Probably one of the biggest concerns of new solo travelers is eating by yourself.  The key to this is bar seating.  If you feel really self conscious, bar seating makes you feel more comfortable.  Another benefit of bar seating is that you can be seated quicker than if you get a table.  Just make sure the same menu is available to you.  With that being said, I didn’t take advantage of bar seating on this trip.  I always try to eat one fancy meal when I travel, particularly in Vegas.  My solo trip was the 3rd time in 12 months I had been to Vegas, and I’m a big fan of celebrity chef restaurants.  For this trip, I chose OTTO at the Venetian.  It’s owned by Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali.  It was fantastic.  I highly recommend it if you like Italian food.  



OTTO Enoteca at the Venetian



I also went to Bellagio’s buffet.  People are up and down from their table all the time.  No one even notices you are by yourself.  And you have to go to a buffet when you are in Vegas.  It’s a must.  

Entertainment:  This was a no-brainer  for me.  The key to this was to see a show that no one I had gone with previously had wanted to see or wanted to spend the money to see.  My decision: Beatles Love.  Best decision of the whole trip.  This show is a love letter to The Beatles and is visually stunningly.  And the best part is that you can spend more money on a ticket because you only need one, and you get a better selection as there are single seats open everywhere.  

The other activity I planned was going to the Neon Museum.  This is a little farther away from the Strip than most things, but it’s worth it.  Seeing the original Stardust sign, to me, was like seeing the Declaration of Independence.  



Stardust sign



My trip was fabulous.  I was forced to be my own person, and I had to answer to no one when it came to planning.  If I wanted a shake from Shake Shack at 1am, I just went.  If I wanted to see the Bellagio fountains 3 times, I could!  



Don’t forget the Fountains!

As a single woman, I felt relaxed and empowered.  Solo travel is like therapy.  And I can’t wait to do more of it.  I urge ANYONE to step out of your comfort zone and just do it!