I'm completely terrified.
Before diving in, know that none of this is for pity. KNOW THAT. Just for advice.
I've been talking about taking a solo vacation for a long time and honestly, I'm way overdue for some "me time". I love traveling, and wish I had more time and money to do it. I've been to a few pretty cool places. One cruise to Mexico ten years ago, New York, LA and Chicago (Many times. Its my favorite BIG city). However, lots of small town trips have made massive memories. After having visited for the first time three years ago while working on my first St. Jude event, Memphis is now one of my favorite places. I've seen almost every small town, and some large from Fairbanks, Alaska, down through Canada and all the way to Mobile, AL. when driving across countries. One place still holds the top spot in my heart..
My infatuation with all things Disney started about 12 years ago. I had been as a child and loved it, but it wasn't until a trip in 2006 with my sister's family that I really fell into what everyone around me now calls the "Disney hole". I fall into it from time to time and it's hard to pull me out of it once I start talking. I know it's not fun for everyone, but it's my thing. Get over it.
I love Disney. I am a 33 (34 in November) year old woman and I live and breathe Disney. I've studied their business model and plan on convincing my bosses to let me go to corporate training down there (because I'm not just on air, but I work in Promotions as well) to improve my department and myself as an employee in general for the greater good of the company.
Side note (below): that's my dad holding me in '86. Sweet stache, Dad.
I once, in a random conversation and out of nowhere, described a company as being "Disney in the details" and it instantly became a standard for me and the plans I execute in life. Every single nook and cranny, thought of, deeply analyzed, planned and transformed. If we haven't seen it through a customer or guests eyes, and tried to think of a way to make it better then the planning isn't done. I mean think about what all goes into transforming an entire theme park(s) from Halloween to Christmas OVERNIGHT. I don't always get it done the way Uncle Walt would, but I dang sure try. Baffling. Goals.
So, here I am planning to take a vacation soon. Because of my work schedule I can only go at certain times and my kiddo has school (YES, I'm planning something for the BOTH of us when she's out so don't even judge). Process of elimination based on cost, safety and time led me home..to WDW. I thought about a cruise (not really safe for a single female in my opinion. I watch a lot of True Crime docs) and want to travel abroad so bad I can't stand it but I don't have enough time to do what I want based on what it would cost. So, BRING ON THE MOUSE.
I've read blog after blog about how liberating it is to take a solo vacation. I think that part is probably true. Cost-wise, it fits. I know I love the location so what's stopping me, right?
When I started searching around about cost-effective planning when taking a solo Disney trip, I came across one common theme. "Stay busy so you don't become distracted and lonely". Seriously, like 5 blogs told me that the hardest part about doing this is sitting on a park bench and seeing strangers get engaged in front of the castle, or getting off of Splash Mountain and seeing the picture of your wacky face on the ride...with strangers. Not having someone to share the joy with. Ouch.
Walt Disney World isn't just child-like fun for me. It's symbolic of everything I want in a relationship too. It's hope. It's imagination and dreams. It's holding someone's hand when you're happy and also when you're scared. It's knowing that at the end of the day the main goal is to make someone happy. Make sense? There's nothing more romantic to me than the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom, especially when it's decorated for Christmas. I think the sense of letting go of the pressures of the outside world to just enjoy the things you love about someone is more easily done once you walk through the gates of a Disney Park, which I've done umpteen times..just never alone.
I'm almost 34. I'm single and although I'm content and not ready to move forward in the dating world right now, I do miss love. I LOVE being in love. Will I regret going to such a happy place without someone I care about, be that my kiddo or a significant other? Will I see that cute couple get engaged and just smile for them and move along to get a Dole Whip, or will it make me want to go back to my room and take a nap? Will I get really sad when I see a kid and their parents on the teacups dying laughing? Will I spend more time in the park focused on sending people pictures or posting to social so I don't feel alone than actually finding this "liberating" feeling everyone talks about?
Fear. I know, Fear is a liar and has no place here, but this is the real world where we are vulnerable and emotional beings. Fear is a reality.
SO, now that I've been raw, vulnerable and (only a little) emotional with you, I want to know...Have you been on a solo trip? Was it to Disney? And what advice would you have for someone planning one?
Once upon a time, a man believed in magic so intently that he convinced others to take a chance on him, all to help strangers enjoy life a little bit more. Uncle Walt is not just a cool story for me, but an inspiration, dream maker and a reminder that if you have that "if you can dream it, you can do it."
"All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
Here's to you, Uncle Walt. Maybe I'll be home soon.......