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Dining Alone in Disney

I’m honored to bring you a guest post by one of my favorite travel bloggers, Gray at SoloFriendly.com. Thanks again, Gray, for sharing your insights and tips on dining alone in Disney World!

Counter Seating at Wolfgang Puck

Counter Seating at Wolfgang Puck

Many travelers, even those who are excited by the prospect of enjoying some alone time at Disney World, get queasy at the thought of having to eat alone. This, despite the fact that Disney has fabulous restaurants and legendary customer service.

Don’t be nervous just because you’re a “party of one”! I have eaten alone in many restaurants in Disney World and 99.9% of the time have received the most exemplary service. Go ahead and eat at Quick Service restaurants if you’re on a budget, but don’t cheat yourself out of the wonderful table service restaurants if you can afford it. A delicious sit-down meal prepared by one of Disney’s talented chefs will certainly enhance any solo trip to the World.

To overcome any solo dining jitters, you need a distraction. This could be recording your day’s experiences in a journal, catching up on a good book, or flipping through the photos you took on your digital camera. Disney even builds in some nice distractions for us solos, you just have to look for them. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of solo dining at Disney World:

  • Have your table service meal during a less crowded time. This could mean eating at an off hour.
    Chefs de France Window Tables

    Chefs de France Window Tables

    Chefs de France, for instance, is far more enjoyable when there are fewer guests in the dining room. It’s quieter and more peaceful, and the odds of scoring a table by the window (for people-watching) are greatly enhanced.

    Resort restaurants tend to be less crowded during lunch, when everyone is at the parks. I had a wonderful meal at Sanaa on my last trip, right around noon, and I was only one of maybe three tables of diners in the whole restaurant. Again, you have a greater chance of scoring a good seat this way, but you also feel less conspicuous.

  • Eat at a restaurant with bar or counter seating. If you are a social person, this affords you the opportunity to interact with other diners.
    Todd English's bluezoo Restaurant

    Todd English's bluezoo Restaurant

    One of my favorite meals at Disney World was at Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney, when I sat at the counter in front of the chef’s station and had a lively and friendly chat with the chef while he prepared meals.

    Other great restaurants with bartop dining include
    Bluezoo at the Dolphin resort (a wonderfully grown-up restaurant), the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Flying Fish Cafe on the Boardwalk.

  • Enjoy a dinner show. You have many options at Disney World for dinnertime entertainment, including the Spirit of Aloha Show at the Polynesian Resort, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness, as well as smaller-scale entertainment such as watching a movie at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or belly dancers at the Restaurant Marrakesh.
  • Go for a great view. The Disney Food Blog recently highlighted the best restaurants for watching the Wishes and Illuminations fireworks shows during dinner; those are great choices.
    Relax with the show at the Coral Reef Aquarium

    Relax with the show at the Coral Reef Aquarium

    You could also grab a water-view window at one of the Downtown Disney restaurants or dine at the Coral Reef Restaurant, where you can gaze upon a living coral reef with 85 species of tropical fish swimming around. (For a more peaceful experience at the Coral Reef, try lunch here, when it’s less crowded; and don’t sit right next to the aquarium, or you’ll find children constantly bumping into you as they run up to press their faces against the glass.)

As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you dine out alone, the more comfortable and enjoyable it becomes.

From the Editor: Thanks again, Gray! DFB readers, if you’re interested in more info about solo dining in Disney, stay tuned for the next post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel Mini-Series where the moms chime in on their choices for meals if spending a day blissfully alone at Disney World!

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7 Comments

  1. [...] news to share:  I have written a guest post for my friend AJ over at the Disney Food Blog on Dining Alone at Disney World.  Check it out!  If you’ve ever contemplated a solo trip to Disney World and wondered what [...]

  2. Jenna says:

    I’m kind of a weird solo diner. I eat at peak times, I rarely bring any kind of distraction, and I never, ever eat at a bar or counter. I’ve never found the high stools comfortable enough for a whole meal and I like to see most of the room when I eat. For me, it’s all about confidence: walking into the restaurant without thinking a table for one is anything other than normal; engaging my server; and picking my seat at the table instead of letting someone seat me- I like to see the room and they always want to seat me with my back to it. And, as Gray said, practice makes perfect.

  3. AJ says:

    Good points, Jenna! I had a wonderful solo meal at Sanaa, where I just enjoyed people-watching throughout the restaurant. The animals outside were fun to watch, but it’s the people who are really interesting! ;-)

  4. Gray says:

    Jenna – You’re not a weird solo diner, you’re a confident solo diner! I think that’s great. The more people like you who get comfortable dining alone, the more people will do it, the more restaurants will get used to it, and the better all our experiences will be. Very few people are confident about dining out alone at first, though, so it helps to have some strategies handy. Just in case.

  5. Courtney says:

    I think the key is to be comfortable dining alone no matter where you are. When I travel on business, I never give a second thought to the fact that I’m sitting by myself in a restaurant. I finally realized that other diners have no idea why I’m alone, so I should stop worrying about what they think. And frankly, at Disney, everyone else is so caught up in having fun, they probably won’t notice you. I admit, I was a little nervous about making a reservation at Biergarten on my last solo trip, but I ended up meeting a very nice family and having a great meal. Thanks for the great article!

  6. AJ says:

    Thanks for your comment, Courtney, those are really good points!

  7. It’s great to see solo-diner-friendly Disney World restaurants celebrated. They offer wonderful dining opportunities to seasoned solo diners and wannabees.

    Here’s a tip to remember the next time you consider treating yourself to a meal out alone:
    Make a reservation! (Few solos do so.) Just the act of doing so will set you apart as a discerning diner deserving of the service you should expect.

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