Planning a Solo Walt Disney World Trip

After years of dreaming about it, I’m finally doing it: I’ve booked my first solo trip to Walt Disney World.

I love my family and our crazy busy Disney vacations, but this one I’m doing just for me. No FastPasses, no hectic dining schedule, no racing through the parks at breakneck speed not really seeing it all or taking it all in… This trip will all be about enjoying the gluten-free side of Disney parks and resorts, taking time to enjoy all the sites and sounds, and of course running.

Planning a Disney vacation at this point is fairly straight-forward for us. We know which resort we want, we always get the deluxe dining plan, everyone has their favourite must-do rides and restaurants…no questions. But this time it took a lot of extra thought on my part. I’ve never been able to book whatever I want when it comes to resorts, dining, parks, or plans. Sure I’ve gone off on my own for a few hours at a stretch, but never have I had DAYS to myself. And yes, I’ve been able to select a couple must-do items that I’ve wanted for most of our trips, but again, not anything and everything for full DAYS at a time. This time, planning each detail seemed a little daunting. There were so many questions.

When to Travel?

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side 5K, April 2018

Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side 5K, April 2018

The first question I faced was when to go. That was fairly easy. I knew I wanted to go with the idea of celebrating my 50th birthday (in August), and I want to participate in what will be my second runDisney event. I’m also Canadian and I wouldn’t want to book a trip through the worst of the winter months and risk travel issues or cancellations due to weather, so I chose the spring and the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. The registration for this event opens in August (Happy Birthday to me) and I completed the Star Wars Dark Side 5K run last year. As a Star Wars fan, I would love to do it again..but bigger (longer?). So I’m training with April in mind and will keep my fingers crossed I get into the run of my choice.

Where to Stay?

Question number two. I’m happy to say, our family has been to Walt Disney World a number of times and we’ve always stayed on property, so I’m pretty familiar with most of the resorts. My biggest issues here were whether or not to stay on the monorail line, and of course, my budget.

First, I thought of all of our past trips, and the one memory that stood out the most in my mind was our stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and walking along the boardwalk into Epcot early one morning for a pastry in France before the park was open to everyone. It was so quiet and peaceful and the chance to take World Showcase photos without anyone else in them was priceless.

Secondly, I considered all the things I want to do while I’m there. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and want to do all things Star Wars, so being in the Boardwalk area and close to Hollywood Studios seemed the right choice. Not to mention, the runDisney event I want will likely start at Epcot (it has in the past), so staying closer to the park might mean a few extra winks the night before the run. Very important when you consider the races start at 5:30 am.

Problem solved: Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

Disney Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?

I’m a chef and my kids are a couple of foodies, so we always get a dining plan (usually deluxe) and enjoy some of Disney’s finest dining options when we go on vacation. But I’m likely going during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival (the exact dates have not yet been announced), and this time I want to try all the gluten-free food options I can at the outdoor kitchens around World Showcase. In light of this, I don’t think I’ll be sitting down to eat enough to make the deluxe plan worth it for just myself, so while I’ll still take a dining plan option, I’m going a little more basic for this trip: 2 snack options, 1 quick-service, and 1 table-service each day.

The Disney Countdown is On

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

That’s the plan so far. My flight is booked and paid for, my resort reservation made, and I’ve already linked my registration and customized my MagicBand in my My Disney Experience account.

Next hurdle: the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend registration date, August 28th, and successfully registering for the run of my choice (10K, half, both?).

Trip countdown: just 258 days to go!

 


Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast Review (gluten-free)

If you’re like me, you typically eat the same four or five breakfast meals over and over: toast, eggs, cereal, and oatmeal. Well, when I’m away on vacation, the one thing I allow myself to indulge in is breakfast. And indulge I do.

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World in April I could not get enough of their breakfast potatoes. Whether it was in a cheesy casserole, or baked muffin-style (I’ll write about those another day), I loved them. And all of them gluten-free.

My absolute favourite breakfast potato dish though was at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Norway pavilion in Epcot. This was our first time dining at Akershus and we chose to go for the Princess Storybook character experience at breakfast.

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Akershus is a unique dining experience in that it’s both a buffet and a family-style meal. They have an extensive buffet set up with assorted meats and cheeses, pastries, cereals, bagels and more. On top of that, a family-style platter is delivered to your table complete with eggs, sausage, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. And as if that isn’t enough, there are gluten-free waffles, muffins, and hash browns available to order.

Thankfully, there is an allergy-friendly menu to walk you through all the items and as always, you have the option of talking directly to the chef if you would prefer or if you have questions.

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While everything on the breakfast platter was safe for me to eat, I also ordered the gluten-free waffles. Much to my surprise though, these were not the usual Mickey-shaped gluten-free waffles that I was used to at Walt Disney World and they certainly weren’t as tasty.

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They were cold and tasteless…oh, and they came alone on the plate. Unlike at other Disney restaurants, the waffles did not come with their own little pitcher of maple syrup. I’m not sure why they were different but after a couple bites, I opted to pass.

Then I discovered the potatoes. Incredible! Creamy and hearty, topped with cheese, I could not stop eating them.

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Definitely one of the better potato dishes on property!

Once back at home, and after returning to my regular breakfast routine, I could not stop thinking about the creamy goodness I’d enjoyed. I decided to try to duplicate the potatoes at home. Thankfully, having spent a number of vacations at Walt Disney World, I had collected a few Disney cookbooks over time, so I turned to those.

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Sure enough, one of them contained my beloved Cheddar Breakfast Potatoes recipe.

I must admit they turned out quite well but were not exactly the same.

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Maybe it was the illusion of eating them in a castle that was missing, or the absence of princesses parading around my kitchen table, I’m not sure. But I do know that every last bite of them was loved both by myself and the rest of my family. Even without the princesses.