In February I found out that I would be at Disney in September for a conference. I brainstormed on what mischief I could get myself into if I went a couple of days early. Then I asked The Google.
The Google told me I could attempt to ride every ride at Walt Disney World as part of the Parkeology Challenge. Let’s just say the next 7 months I immersed myself in all things Parkeology. I analyzed every run, studied all the previous runs, and searched the Facebook group for tips and strategies. GAME.ON!
I also decided to make this run a bit more special and raise funds through Every Ride Challenge for Give Kids the World to support children with illnesses and their families by providing them with a “storybook” cost free vacation at Walt Disney World. You can still donate here.
Originally I planned my run for Sept 3rd, an optimal day with 6a EMH (Early Morning Hours) at Hollywood Studios (HS) and Late EMH, until 12a at Magic Kingdom (MK), thanks to the opening of Smuggler’s Run.
A little hurricane named Dorian decided to foil my plans. So I moved my run to the other side of my conference on Sept 9th. It was then that I discovered the challenge starts much earlier than the moment you arrive for your official run.
Due to the change in date I had to change my fast passes and replan my route as I was now working with 2 hours less at MK. No late EMH for me on this day.
I am not a local in Florida and although I have been to Disney World multiple times I am not an expert on where every single ride is located and never have I ever been to Animal Kingdom (AK). Those were just a few of the layers I was working with.
The day before my official run I decided it would behoove me to do a practice run. I didn’t have the entire day so I chose AK and Epcot (EP) since those were the two parks I had the least experience with. Oh…and the International Food & Wine Festival is going on at EP this time of year.
**TIP** Do a practice run! I fumbled with documenting the rides via Twitter, getting to the rides, modifying fast passes, and understanding the general layout of the parks the entire practice run. Every misstep became a learning opportunity for my official run.
Sunday night I set my alarm for 3:15a in order to be at HS at 4:30a for rope drop at 6a.
For breakfast I ate a PB&J and had a Diet Dr. Pepper to help wake me up. In my car I packed the $4.96 Wal-Mart cooler With the following: 7 PB&J sandwiches, 15 small water bottles, and 1 box of salty bars to keep me hydrated and fueled while park hopping.
My resort was in close proximity to HS and I arrived at 4:24a to find myself third in line. Yep, third.
Around 4:45a I was instructed to go to the HS parking lot, unbeknownst to me I could have driven to the left, straight in and parked as soon as I arrived.
The only items I carried with me were a collapsible water container, a cooling towel, my phone, a portable battery charger (3 pk from Costco and changed them out when I park hopped) and rent car keys in an effort to save time and skip the bag check lines.
While I was in line at HS waiting for the park to open I struck up a conversation with a person that turned out to be a fellow challenger who was doing his practice run for his official run on the Sept 11th , along with 35 other teams. Hi Yvan!
We made it inside and Cast Members walked us down Hollywood Boulevard and held us until 6a. Yvan and I met Jon from Traveling with the Mouse Podcast who was also practicing his run for the 11th.
At 6a on the dot and not a moment before, unfortunately, the CMs walked us back in an orderly fashion. As soon as the Cast Member (CM) “rope” moved out of the way Yvan and I took off running down the Slinky Dog Dash que.
The plan I had for HS happen to be the same plan as Yvan’s so we completed HS together. I told him my husband was going to wonder who the heck I was taking pictures with on the Twitter. Say hi to Yvan!
We made decent time at HS, running when we could. We chose the single rider line for Smuggler’s run. It went a bit slower than anticipated but way faster than standby.
I left HS at 7:48a and I was already 18 minutes behind where I wanted to be. My plan had been to be at MK at 8a.
I made it to MK at 8:12a – whoo hoo…I made up 6 minutes.
I immediately hopped on a Main Street Vehicle then started panicking as we neared drop off…my mind went blank, I was all kinds of turned around and I had no idea in which direction to go.
Here is where the lack of frequent flier miles at Disney World reared its ugly head. I consulted my plan then I went to Disney World’s “My Experience” app and pulled up the map of MK. After clicking on the ride I noticed a glorious link “get directions”. This would be my life line that would help me navigate to each ride in all parks the entire challenge.
I was finally making headway. My plan was now based on what fast passes (FP) I held and the wait times. There was nothing strategic about my route for those first few rides. I was all over the place.
Like going from one side of the park to the other…
I gave myself a pep talk and settled in…
I ran into Yvan and his family on the Liberty Square Riverboat. We parted ways for good after Tom Sawyer Island Rafts.
Very happy to modify my Haunted Mansion FP. The wait for Jungle Cruise was about 40 minutes.
I was hoping crowds would be low enough due to Hurricane Dorian and I could “grail” Magic Kingdom. (Grail – meaning complete all the rides in 1 park without park hopping). However, everyone decided to come out to play on that day. I decided the wait times were too high and made the decision to hop to AK. I still could come back to finish the remaining rides at MK in the evening. I did make sure all of the early closers were accounted for before I left…such as Carousel of Progress.
I left MK at 12:49p and arrived at Animal Kingdom at 1:22p. 22 minutes behind schedule.
Thanks to my practice run the day before I was comfortable with my route at AK and my FP were on point.
I was making up a TON of time….right up until it was time to ride Flight of Passage (FOP). I had a fast pass for 4:35p and I wanted to leave AK at 4:30p and hop over to Epcot to stay on schedule. If I could modify I would be on schedule, perhaps even a bit ahead.
I attempted to modify the 4:35p FOP FP for an hour. The standby que was 80 minutes. I could not pull an earlier FP. I literally SAT beside the FP entrance tapping and attempting to modify until 4:22p when the CM said I could go in…they wouldn’t even honor the 15 minute before FP time “guideline”.
I left AK at 4:54p, now running 24 minutes behind schedule…
I arrived at Epcot (EP) at 5:20p after a little SNAFU with parking. I paid for preferred parking because there was a line to get into the general parking area thanks to the Food and Wine Festival and the signage was jacked so I missed the parking area. That was unfortunate.
Ideally, I wanted to be back at Magic Kingdom at 8:00p to finish the remaining rides.
[Let me stop here and mention those PB&J sandwiches I referenced earlier. I ate 1.5 sandwiches out of the eight I made. It was so ridiculously hot eating anything was a no go. I kept my collapsible water bottle filled, and refilled in line when I could. I was never without water. When I got to the car I refilled my water bottle with cold water and I chugged Pedialyte. **TIP** Supplement with Pedialyte on hot days. It kept me hydrated and replenished all the salt I was losing from sweating. I drank water, Pedialyte and ate 1.5 PB&J sandwiches for the entire 20 hours. (For the record, I went to the bathroom once just as I entered AK and I needed to go again when I hopped back to MK in the evening but I didn’t have time and forgot about it until I completed). Overall, I feel like I was well hydrated for the extreme heat conditions.]
I made it to EP and even with the parking issue I was only 20 minutes off schedule. I was still shooting to be done with the park by 7:45p to then hop back over to MK.
The big win for me at EP was obtaining a Frozen FP. “Thank the Phoenicians!” It was exactly when I needed it. Note: this ride is back in the World Showcase section and while everyone was casually enjoying their food and wine I was hurdling strollers.
I left EP at 8:08p and I arrived at Magic Kingdom at 8:29p. I had an 1 hour and 31 minutes to complete 7 rides. I was leaving Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for the end because I knew if I was in line before 10p it didn’t matter how long the wait was as it would count as a completion.
I got on the Peoplemover and good grief it seemed to take forever.
Winnie the Pooh was up next then on to the Carousel…**TIP** The Prince Charming Regal Carousel closes during fireworks. Yeah…that. So I
ran limped over to it’s a small world at 9:01.
It was here where the irrational thoughts started creeping in. What if I leap out of the boat and swam the rest of the way? How many dad gum countries are there? If I come around the corner and I hear another language I going to…do nothing and sit here and wait fir the ride to be over. Ugh!
I had an hour left and 4 rides to go. I knew it was going to come down to minutes. So I
ran, limped-galloped, over to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was painful and I thought I was going to vomit more than once.
I did take a beat and marvel at the awesomeness of being on those rides during the fireworks…it was magical; however, as soon as the ride stopped I
ran, limped-galloped back over to the Prince Charming Regal Carousel. I had 9 minutes.
More irrational thoughts entered my mind as I watched a couple of moms attempting to put both kids on the same horse AND strap them in while delaying the start of the ride…I will keep those specific thoughts to myself.
As soon as the Prince Charming Regal Carousel stopped I leaped off and SPRINTED to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and entered the line at 9:57p!!!
I literally started shaking in line with all of the adrenaline I was pumping. What in the world did I just do?!? I checked my Twitter feed and celebrated with all of the cheerleaders I had following me. The preparation, planning, strategizing, audibles, second guesses, mistakes all paid off with 3 minutes to spare.
I took my celebratory picture in front of the castle and I
walked, limped, waddled back to my car and called the Husband to share my joy and excitement.
ONE AND DONE!
Disney was my jam a couple of decades ago then it wasn’t for a very long time. It may very well just be my jam again. My perspective on riding rides at Disney World has forever been altered.
This completion would not have been possible without Touring Plans, Theme Park Challenge App , the advice and experience of everyone that went before me and especially my family and friends that supported me from the inception of the crazy notion.
Thank you again for stopping by and reading through what was an incredibly challenging and amazing experience for me.
Your support and gratitude is overwhelming.