In 2006 I went to my happy place all by myself for the first time! A pretty big accomplishment for an Asper-Girl! I was on meds at the time, so I had suppressed (but not entirely diminished) social issues and was feeling a bit braver than my normal state. Surprisingly though, I have always felt almost as comfortable at Disney as my own house, so it's not that shocking I could go alone. Wal-Mart, on the other hand...a completely different beast! But I also wanted to see Disney at Christmas at least once and I figured it was as good a time as any. For the most part, I did a darn good job of handling a solo trip, Asper or not! So much so, that I went again to Disney for Halloween in 2008, without the meds controlling me and still had a blast! It wasn't all chocolate and fairy tales, however, and the issues I ran across during those two trips are what have kept me from doing it since (well, that and lack of funds).
Let's start off with the planning phase. In 2006 I knew I would be going during one of the most crowded times of the year. Picking the right week or even where you go on what days is very crucial to controlling social issues...me and crowds don't mix, so if everyone else is going to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, that's my Studios or Animal Kingdom day. December also means that the Pop Warner kids are there. This increases the park population even more (as well as adds some unruly teenagers to the mix).
Staying off property is not an option for me either, solo or not. There are too many perks to staying on property. Besides, where we stay is just as much a part of the Disney experience as any other aspect of the trip. But with the added issues of driving from off property to on, staying in a strange location that is non-Disney, parking, traffic, and all the stress involved, there would be no way I could handle it.
Disney's value and moderate resorts are motels, whereas deluxes are hotels. Disney's deluxes are themed, but more "adultly" and moderates are a bit more themed, but still tolerable. The values, on the other hand, and their over-the-top theming is sensory overload for an Asper. Believe it or not, I have stayed in a value (well, for one night-we stayed in Wilderness Lodge last year, but because we were arriving late the first night, it seemed silly to pay that much for a few hours). The values have giant statues flanking the buildings, bright colors e-v-e-r-y-where (including inside the room), and the noise levels are outrageous because of the heavier traffic. There are more value resort rooms on property than any other type and since the theming is directed toward kids, a lot of families tend to stay there. I miss indoor voices and parents who control their kids as it is, but throwing myself in the deep end of the non-discipline-ing gene pool is just torture.
Sure, one could point out the fact that Disney is filled with over-the-top theming and tons of sensory overload...but at the end of a long day, I don't want to submerge in it for the final 8 hours of the day. I want calming and muted.
Port Orleans-French Quarter:
Art Of Animation:
It is very important to me to feel safe with my surroundings (as do most solo travellers). The more familiar I am with a resort, the more comfortable I feel staying there alone. This is the factor that hurts my pocketbook the most...when I go with family, most times we stay deluxe, so it's what I've become familiar with. But even then, there is the size of the resort that you have to take into consideration. Deluxes are spread out over several buildings just like the moderates and values, hotels or not. Your room may be indoors, but you may have to walk to China via Sherwood Forest to get to your building! Add in the fact that I have a very bad sense of direction (especially processing the way back from where I just came), a small deluxe with no pig trails fits just right.
Another big hit to the wallet is that you will pay double occupancy for a room, solo or not. That can add up to a lot of money for one person. I know I'm only eating for one (debatable) and buying park tickets for one, but the extra free time I have by being alone means more shopping time on top of the double occupancy...double trouble!
All that rambling comes to this: I have to be careful when I go, where I go, and where I stay, but there is still a good time to be had. Wilderness Lodge is a favorite because it's one single building, the cheaper of the deluxes, and in a very good location. I chose Yacht Club for this next trip because it's one single building, cheaper due to great discounts, and in an even better location. Even though I've been around the Yacht Club several times, I've never stayed there before, so I'm pushing the comfort level just a bit. We'll see how it goes!
Up next, the worst of the worst...travel!