Welcome to a new series of posts documenting my solo adventures!
Recently, I've faced the age-old young adult problem: wanting to go places and do things but not having someone to go with. Struggling with this inconvenience has also cultivated some feelings of loneliness in me, if I'm being honest. Always feeling like you are on your own can be tough, especially when social media, TV shows and movies often emphasize tight-knit groups of friends or family you may not have yourself.
And then there are always questions like, "is it weird to go to ___ by myself?" Is it weird? Why do we feel like it's sad to go some place alone? To eat alone? Is it true that you can be alone without being lonely?
Well, instead of wrestling with all of these questions and feeling a little sorry for myself, I decided to figure things out on my own and learn how to spend a day alone, with myself. My goal in going more places by myself is to be more comfortable with myself, and maybe face some issues of self-consciousness or feelings of trepidation.
Perfectly timed, Disney rolled out its California Resident tickets - 3-day discounted ticket options for California residents. Sure, the price tag may still seem steep but the savings were significant enough for me to make my purchase.
During checkout, I had to choose all 3 dates for my reservations. I decided to space my Disney days out once per month, starting with the current one. I took a day off work and had myself a magical, solo, park-hopping Disney day! One of my goals for my upcoming Disney days was to try different things, eat at different places, and spend my time on 'lesser' attractions that I don't normally prioritize.
Of course... I couldn't help but sense a little gray cloud over my head because of my last trip to Avengers Campus... my literal worst Disney day to date. I gave it a lot of thought and did my best to come up with contingency plans so I wouldn't be disappointed.
On a glorious Friday, my day began with an early rise at 5AM, well before the sun rose. In true Jolene fashion, I could not have an open-to-close Disney day without dressing up! I did my makeup, clipped on my home-crafted fascinator, pinned on my 'Loki for President' button, slid on my Loki helmet ring and was off to Anaheim.
I arrived at the Anaheim Hotel at 6:30AM to park. Parking cost was the same as Disneyland but the walk was significantly shorter, with much less of a hassle. Within minutes, I was already in line. Unlike my other visits to the park this year, the line was pretty short!
Pro tip: Park at The Anaheim Hotel for convenience!
Ten minutes before 7AM, cast members walked up and down the line reminding guests about boarding passes and explaining the process of acquiring said boarding passes. It was so lovely to have support from them. My heart was already racing, remembering the disappointment I experienced during my last trip, when I was unable to get WEB Slingers passes. I braced myself for the same result, telling myself I would still enjoy the park without Avengers magic.
Well, I didn't have to make other plans - I got passes! I felt a wave of relief as my eyes filled with happy tears (yes, TEARS. I mean, do you KNOW me?). Suddenly my day was already brighter.
For those of you who are new to virtual queuing, at 7AM and noon, there are opportunities to snag boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance (at Disneyland) and WEB Slingers (at DCA). Guests log into the app, link their tickets, then select their ride right at 7AM. If you notice my screenshot above, I had to very quickly click... I already had a boarding pass in less than a minute!
Pro tip: Click "Join Boarding Group" the moment the clock strikes 7AM. It's easier to do that than clicking at 6:59AM and trying to refresh.
With a big dumb smile on my face, around 7:30AM I entered Disney California Adventure and joined the masses for rope drop!
During my time waiting, I checked on mobile orders and found that there were plenty of windows for Pym Test Kitchen. Despite my upcoming brunch reservation at 11:10AM, I started my true cheat day and self-care day with breakfast at Pym Test Kitchen.
At 8AM, the park officially opened and I made my way to breakfast. I marked myself ready to pick up my order, and made a pit stop at the Avengers Campus sign for photos. I paid for a photo pass for the day - unlimited ride and photographer photos and I wanted to get some great shots of my outfit.
Pro tip: Consider investing in a photo pass if your budget allows! There is no limit to photos, including ride photos. If you are interested in having cute shots from your day (especially if you are traveling alone), the photo pass is a great investment.
It was wonderful being back at Avengers Campus, despite my hesitation. The weather was still cool, slightly overcast, and this area of the park was not too crowded.
I loved the theming inside Pym Test Kitchen. Marvel fans will recognize the infamous Pym name from the Antman franchise. Just like the movies, this dining location is science-themed, with an emphasis on size changes.
Since it was so early, there was plenty of seating outside. I took my breakfast and enjoyed the ambiance of my surroundings, spying Captain Marvel and Black Widow greeting guests.
I ordered the "Ever-Expanding Cinna-Pym Toast" with bacon, a cute little egg, and maple syrup, along with a solid nitro cold brew coffee.
I tried the French toast without syrup first, and it was actually really good. However, it was a little dryer than I prefer my French toast, so I added the syrup. The bacon and egg were perfectly cooked, and the nitro cold brew was actually perfect.
Some think eating alone is sad, and maybe it is, but that's definitely not how I felt in the moment. I enjoyed my breakfast in peace, and of course I loved all of the Avengers-related commotion going on around me.
Once I was done with my food, I checked ride wait times and saw that both Toy Story Mania and the Pixar Pal-a-Round had short waits, so I left Avengers Campus temporarily to go do some rides.
Toy Story Mania is still very much one of my favorites but the Pixar Pal-a-Round? I hardly ever make time to get on that. This is where doing Disney alone has its advantages: being able to do whatever you want can be very liberating. I didn't have to ask anyone if they wanted to get on this ride. I also did not have to justify the wait time. I simply made the decision and went on.
Shortly after my ride with a view, it was right before 10AM when got a notification on my phone - my boarding group was called! I made my way back to Avengers Campus for WEB Slingers.
***WEB SLINGERS SPOILERS AHEAD***
I'd heard plenty about WEB Slingers being a disappointment, but I was excited nonetheless. Unlike opening day, there were not hoards of guests at a separate entrance trying to get in line for the ride. This time, everything was calm and orderly. A cast member scanned my boarding pass and I entered the queue!
I loved all of the details in the queue. They reminded me so much of my math and science-heavy high school days. I also grew up watching Spiderman, so I will always have a soft spot for Peter Parker... and of course we all know I love Tom Holland!
In general, Spiderman and WEB have a strong presence at Avengers Campus, and along with that presence comes with an emphasis on science and engineering. I love that Disney is promoting "science being cool," along with such a superhero favorite.
Total, I was in line for about an hour. It was longer than I expected, especially with virtual queuing, as well as the fact that the majority of the line is hidden. By this point in the day, even though it was still early, the sun was out in full force. However, there were strategically-placed fans and umbrellas to help with the heat.
We finally made it inside to the pre-show and I was massively excited! Not only do I love Spiderman, but I love having new experiences at Disney. The downside of going to Disney so often is rarely having new experiences. Don't get me wrong, I love revisiting my favorites, but nothing really tops the excitement of new experiences.
Combined with the queue, the decor and pre-show offered a cute background story to the ride. The idea is that guests are invited to the WEB open house to see the new WEB slingers. However, as the pre-show tells us, the spider bot presentation goes awry and guests need to help Spiderman stop them from taking over.
It wasn't long before it was my turn to put on my 3D glasses and try out WEB Slingers for myself. Thankfully, I had heard enough about the ride (without spoilers) to know how to 'shoot' the spider bots. The downside? I don't recall much explanation in the pre-show and there were only a couple plaques on the wall explaining what to do. The line was moving fairly quickly past them so I skimmed the instructions and wondered about the people who hadn't heard anything about the ride.
Overall, it was cute. My arms were killing me by the end of the ride, but I still had fun. Basically my evaluation of WEB Slingers is that it's a Spiderman-themed version of Toy Story Mania, but it felt shorter and was more tiring. I'd like to read up a bit on the different "hacks," since the plaques at the beginning mentioned different things you could do with your webs... Hopefully I can get back on soon!
And of course, to continue my *perfect* day, I got a notification that I could check in for my brunch reservation! I could not believe how well everything was going, and how relaxed I felt.
Lamplight Lounge is probably the most popular dining location in DCA, and reservations are not exactly easy to come by. I got lucky one day checking the app and snagged a brunch reservation.
In addition to its fun menu, Lamplight Lounge is Pixar animation-themed and has some of the best views of DCA.
I was guided down the stairs and seated at the bar. Surprisingly, the restaurant was fairly empty, and later I learned that they were accepting walk-ins.
I took my seat at the bar and was immediately helped by a cast member. Originally, I was going to start with the Cinnamon Toast Cocktail (Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Frangelico, Rumchata, and Cinnamon Cereal-infused Milk) but I'm not a fan of super sweet drinks (I asked if it was super sweet), so I changed my choice to the seasonal mimosa flight.
From left to right: orange ginger, watermelon agua fresca, peach mango, and grapefruit elderflower. I expected that last one to be my favorite, but I think the peach mango was my favorite!
This brunch was one of my favorite parts of my Disney day, not just because everything was delicious, but because it was the first time in a while that I've been able to slow down at a Disney park. I sipped my mimosas, worked on my painting, and spent a lot of time admiring the view. Even though I wasn't seated by the water, I still had a wonderful view of Pixar Pier. There was something calming about the sparkling water, California sunshine, and the rumbling of the Incredicoaster.
For brunch, I ordered the Crab and Potato Cake Benedict (Sautéed Spinach, Soft-poached Eggs, Chipotle Hollandaise, and fresh Fruit). This was definitely a rich dish! I'd asked if I could pay full price and get half, but unfortunately I could not be accommodated. I still enjoyed my meal - the potato cake was nice and crispy, the egg was perfect and the smokey chipotle hollandaise was very interesting. It had more of a kick than I expected, but I loved this unique take on a classic eggs benedict.
While I finished up my meal, I ended up chatting with a fellow solo traveler sitting a few seats down from me. We bonded over going to Disney solo, needing some "time away" and how some people just don't get it. There are so many who still believe "Disneyland is for kids," mostly because they don't really know much about Disneyland.
Once I finished my meal, I headed back to Avengers Campus to do some painting and of course, find Loki. I grabbed a drink at Pym Test Lab (I love the Honey Buzz! I had one last time and wanted another). I peacefully found some seating while I painted some of my favorite parts of Avengers Campus.
As I was painting the Ancient Sanctum, I heard someone exclaim, "THERE'S LOKI!" and I followed the commotion. That probably explains why my painting is a little bare in some areas...
Loki was my favorite character at Avengers Campus during my first visit. Of course, after falling in love with the Disney+ show and dressing up as President Loki, I was very excited to be able to interact with Loki this time.
Loki kept me on my toes from the second I walked up! I'd offered to help the guests in front of me by taking their photo for them (instead of them taking a selfie). I won't go into more details as to not spoil the show for anyone, but let's just say my interaction was on point.
As I was "wrapping things up" in Avengers Campus, I spotted one of my favorite Disney influencers! Courtney, also known as @colormemagic on Instagram, runs a wonderfully colorful, fun Disney-themed account. I love the energy in her account, and now I can say I also love her energy in person!
This was the perfect ending to my time in Avengers Campus.
The afternoon began to pass quickly, and I realized that I needed to head over to Disneyland soon. So, I decided to shop a little, take some fun photos and do one more ride before visiting Disneyland. I took advantage of the newly reopened single rider option on my favorite ride, Radiator Springs Racers.
Walking towards the entrance, I just couldn't help myself and decided to watch Mickey's Philharmagic, with the added Coco scene. It was just as fun as I'd remembered it at Walt Disney World. I sat in the cool theater laughing by myself, feeling liberated yet again because I was learning how to choose myself and be with myself.
I left DCA with a full heart and a full belly. My last visit had been so horrid that I almost didn't want to come back. Thankfully, this day made up for that travesty.
Soon enough, I had passed through the gates of Disneyland and was greeted by the familiar bustle of Main Street. I headed toward my first order of business, an attraction I had not experienced for many years: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
Sadly there are no photos or recording allowed in this attraction, but just know I thoroughly enjoyed it. Getting a little bit of American History is always great, but what is truly incredible is the technology on display. Disney has really always been before its time.
I went "home" to my mansion for a bit, then headed over to the newly refurbished and reopened Jungle Cruise.
At first, I was a little concerned that the changes would make this beloved attraction unrecognizable, but that was not the case.
Shortly after, I realized that it was time yet again to eat. Continuing with my try-new-things trend, I revisited a favorite and also tried something new. I decided to eat at the Tropical Hideaway - I ordered something familiar (pork lumpia) and something new (lime chicken bao).
As usual, I really enjoyed the lumpia. The lime chicken bao was good, but I'm not sure I'd get it again. The herbs were a little overpowering.
Golden hour had begun to fall across the park, and as my food digested I got in line for Indiana Jones. Despite this being my third time in Disneyland this year, it was the first time I'd been able to get on this ride! Even being in the line brought me so much joy!
Not sure if this is a pro tip but almost every single time I have gotten on this ride, the wait time has been shorter than what is listed. For instance, this particular time, the wait was 45 minutes, a wait I could afford. However, I ended up getting off the ride 30 minutes after I got on!
The sun began its descent and I was figuring out how to spend my last moments in the park. My feet were beginning to ache, so I knew I had to take it easy.
To my regular readers: I hope by now you have noticed something odd in this post.... I came to Disneyland/DCA, get ready for it, without a plan. Sure, I had a checklist of attractions and food I wanted to experience during my upcoming 4 trips, but I didn't fully build a schedule or plan. Although I really love planning, it was nice to go about things a little differently for my solo day. I wanted to give myself a chance to feel liberated in a full way, no real plans included.
I opened my Disneyland app to see It's a Small World was only a 5 minute wait, and I couldn't resist! I made my way over to this classic Disney attraction for some nostalgia and also to give my feet a break.
Afterwards, I intended to get on Snow White's Enchanted Wish, but after seeing a 20 minute wait for Matterhorn on the Disneyland app, I quickly made my way over to the iconic mountain. One more item to check off my list!
It was so fun getting on Matterhorn again after so long! This attraction had also just reopened and seems to have been refurbished again. The line was formatted differently and the ride seemed way faster than I remember!
The sky was darkening and I found my way to a spot to watch the fireworks for the first time in over a year. After such a magical day, I couldn't imagine ending it any other way.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't get emotional during the fireworks. My view wasn't perfect, but that didn't take away from the experience.
No matter how many times I have seen the fireworks, I really, truly always love them. They are magical to me every time, and I am incredibly grateful that I was able to see them again after all this time.
When the show was over, I looked at the time and realized I had 15 more precious minutes left in the park. I opened the app once more, saw the wait times and started quickly walking towards my last attraction: Thunder Mountain Railroad.
A steady flow of eager guests made their way from in front of the castle to Frontierland. The app may have posted a 15 minute wait, but it was more like 5 minutes. Excited chatter filled the air, despite how late it was, and how little time we had left in the parks. I think we all wanted our last ride to be an exceptional end to the day.
We loaded our trains, and of course, I asked for the very last car. Our train climbed its first hill and once the first descent started and speed picked up, I enjoyed my last moments of liberation before returning to reality. I let the 'wildest ride in the wilderness' sweep me away one last time, no thoughts of work or responsibilities. There was only the cool air, screams of exhilaration, and Disney magic.
Here's to more solo days, self care, and Disney magic!
Until next time,