At this point, you might have heard a bit about me trying to ride every ride at Disney World in one day. Twice. The second time I attempted it, just over a week ago, I teamed up with my friend Summer. After catching up on life and work upon my return, I thought it was time to map out exactly what happened that day. Or, at least as much of it as I could remember. Keep in mind we were going for over 18 hours. So, there are likely a few blind spots in my recollection. This is meant to be a fun tale of our crazy day. It’s long, but I think it’s worth the read. You’ll see some crazy pictures of me along the way as well. I hope you enjoy it.
A big portion of why we set out to do this was to help children and their families. I’ll talk a little bit about that at the end of the post. Also, I borrowed some of the timing from my good friend Summer, who wrote a recap as well about our crazy day.
Every good challenge comes down to preparation. We got some things wrong. But, part of what we got right started the day before. I hung out in Magic Kingdom, trying to learn from my first failed attempt. After a few hours of conversations with park employees, I arrived at a strategy where we could try to get Main Street Vehicles first thing in the morning around 7:45 am and then sprint to Hollywood Studios for rope drop there. Since Main Street Vehicles only runs until about 10am, this strategy would buy us time we would desperately need later. But, it also meant getting up an hour earlier.
Game Day-5:30 am
I’m up and it’s awful early.
I’ve laid out all the supplies the night before. There are backup batteries to charge cell phones, band-aids, Dramamine, motion sickness bracelets, dissolving meclizine strips for motion sickness (see a trend?), granola bars, Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, trail mix, beef jerky and sunscreen.
We’re staying at Caribbean Beach Resort, which is not far from Hollywood Studios. That means about a 10-15 minute drive to Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning. I want to make sure we’re first in line after people with breakfast reservations. I start mashing the Lyft button at 6:10am to get us a Minnie Van. Nothing. I keep mashing. Nothing. Finally, at 6:30 am I score a Minnie Van. I’m already annoyed we’re behind schedule.
The Minnie Van driver doesn’t really know her way around Caribbean Beach Resort. We’ve picked up one more member of our group, Mike, who’s coming along to help out. We’re meeting Lindsey from TPG at Magic Kingdom, who does some serious Jedi mind tricks with Instagram and Facebook. I’m talking next-level stuff.
We get the lost world stuff straightened out and by 6:45 we’re heading to Magic Kingdom. We arrive shortly after 7. There’s nobody here. Literally nobody. We get some cool shots of the front of Magic Kingdom with almost nobody around.
We’re waiting at the Annual Passholder entrance until 7:45, when they let us into Magic Kingdom to stroll down Main Street. We quickly cram ourselves into one of the Main Street Vehicles and relax for a ride up Main Street to the castle and back. First ride accomplished. All is great! We’re on schedule. And, then, for the second time that day, there are no Minnie Vans available. Ugh.
We walk outside Magic Kingdom, anxiously staring at the Lyft app, hoping that a Minnie Van will pop-up. Nope. Wait, is that the bus to Hollywood Studios getting ready to leave from a far-away bus stop? Yes, I think it is. The older I get the poorer my vision gets. I start jogging. Then, I confirm it’s the right bus. And, I sprint.
On To Hollywood!
It’s not quite 8am. We are all now drenched in sweat. But, we’re on schedule. Maybe. We arrive at Hollywood Studios shortly before 8:30am.
I put on the motion sickness bracelets to go with the Dramamine I took while on the bus. As a last resort, I take a meclizine strip. I am full-on hypochondriac mode. In reality, I’m a bit terrified of the “vortex moment” from last time. I rode Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Star Tours all in rapid succession. While sprinting around the park. In central Florida summer heat and humidity. To say I didn’t feel great afterwards was an understatement.
As has been the custom lately, the cast members rope drop early and we’re off to Slinky Dog Dash. We’re told numerous times to stop running. We kind of slow down, but not really. At 8:38 am we hit ride #2, Slinky Dog Dash. The first time I rode Slinky Dog was when I did my trial run. It’s a fun ride.
At 8:45, we hit Alien Swirling Saucers, ride number 3. It whips you around a bit. We’re trying to do all kinds of cute, cool videos and Insta-stuff . Because, it’s early, we’re not tired. We’re optimistic. And, we’re nuts. Bad things are coming. For now, we’re happy!
By 8:55 we’ve jogged over to ride number 4, Toy Story Mania. This is one of my all-time favorite rides. Summer and I bet $1 per ride on whoever finishes with the lower score. Summer does her best, the game breaks in the final screen, so our scores suck. I still win. Domination for charity! Ride 4, in the books. Things are about to get ugly.
9:15 has us at Tower of Terror. I rode this ride the very first time during my practice challenge. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t quite hate it, but it was the beginning of my “vortex moment”. When I did it the first time, I just assumed I didn’t love riding it the first time. But, I wasn’t looking forward to it. We hopped on, Summer laughed at me as we bobbed up and down in an elevator shaft. We exited without too much mayhap. I was an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10. Ride #5 in the books. Onward!
9:25 and we’re on Rock n’ Roller Coaster. We go single rider line and all end up on the same coaster. I really like this ride. But, there’s some “stacking” from the previous ride. I’m down to an 8 out of 10 but still feeling okay. Ride #6!
By 9:40 we’re done with Star Tours. I’ve never really liked Star Tours, messes with my equilibrium. There are some strategies discussed about looking at a fixed point. Summer is coaching me and also trying to look somewhere static. She has a bit of a serene look as she appears to be focusing on her breathing. We exit Star Tours, and I’m now a bit wonky. I’m probably at a 5 out of 10, but ride #7 is in the books. And, we’re done with Hollywood Studios!
This time, there are Minnie Vans available. We hustle to the pick-up point and hop in the van, bound for Animal Kingdom. When I did the first run, I was at maybe a 2 out of 10 when I left Hollywood. I made a mistake the first time and didn’t take a picture on Star Tours. I had to sprint into the park, ride that ride again then sprint back out to a minivan. This time, I felt much better, though by now I was sweating like a pig. I opened up my bag to take out some snacks and offered them to the rest of the group.
And, That’s When The Day Changed.
I was seated in the front of the car, Summer was in the backseat. She didn’t look so good. Remember when I told you I felt horrible after sprinting through all those rides at Hollywood Studios. Summer felt worse. We quickly learned a new rule about Minnie Vans. Windows are traditionally locked for your safety. As it became clear that was a bad choice in our situation, the driver deftly maneuvered the car to the side of the rode while unlocking the windows. Summer pretty quickly had her head out the window. She so artfully revisited her breakfast that she didn’t get a single drop on the Minnie Van.
My first thought was, “Are we done?” I mean, this was definitely not an alternative I had planned for. Puking in between parks was nowhere on my spreadsheets. Summer managed to pull it together on the drive over to Animal Kingdom and we hit the ground running, er, jogging. We had a Fastpass for Avatar, Flight of Passage.
In a perfect world, riding Flight of Passage after getting sick wouldn’t be the best option. That ride isn’t horrible, per se, but it definitely can get to your stomach. Summer marched on behind me and we mounted our banshees. She was doing some pretty sick, otherworldly breathing exercises. And, by 11 we had notched our 8th ride!
Summer made a beeline for the ladies room and took a few minutes to compose herself. She walked out and didn’t even break stride when she asked me, “Where to next?” Kilimanjaro Safaris was our next stop. Ride #9. A bit bouncy but it seemed like we were starting to feel a bit better.
Ride #10 was right next door, the Wildlife Express Train that goes to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This is a nice, easy one. Heck, you don’t even have to get off the train. It’s too bad they’re closing this one for a while Our kids enjoyed exploring the Planet Watch.
Time to cool off! Ride #11 was Kali River Rapids. We had a FastPass for Kali River Rapids so we moseyed over that way. No real dizzying activities on the rapids but we did get wet. Thank goodness, it cooled me off for about 4 minutes.
Ride #12 was one I definitely enjoyed, Expedition Everest. This is a roller coaster that ends up going backwards in the dark. Pretty awesome ride!
We were starting to close in on 1pm. We were doing “okay” on time, not great. Navi River Journey, one of the 2 new Avatar rides, usually has a shorter line than Flight of Passage. When we made our first pass on the way to FOP, Navi was already almost an hour. We suspected it had broken down earlier. As we were making our way from Expedition Everest to Primeval Whirl, Navi was showing as out-of-order in the Disney app. Yikes!
As noon became 1pm, we hit one of my least favorite rides. This rides nickname is Primeval HURL. And, I just hate it. You get whipped back and forth, folded in with some dips that really don’t serve my stomach well. And yet, both Summer and I survived it. Unlucky #13 in the books!
#14 was easy-peasy. TriceraTop Spin is like the Dumbo ride in Magic Kingdom. There are smiles back in the pictures on this one. We survived “HURL” and things seemed to be headed in the right direction. Time to go inside for an air-conditioned ride and cool off, if just for a bit.
You know how things sometimes seem happier in your memories than in reality? Yeah, well…..that was the DINOSAUR. This was our last ride before we bugged out of Animal Kingdom. We were hoping to get Navi River Journey. Alas, for the second time that day, it was broken down and would end up being our first casualty. Not the end of the world. We would hop on DINOSAUR and be on our way shortly thereafter. I had ridden this with my son recently and don’t really remember it being that bad. I shared that with Summer as we headed to the ride. Um, oops.
It was definitely a lot bumpier than I remember. I was pretty well recovered from our earlier antics at Hollywood Studios, so it didn’t bother me too much. And, in the end, it probably wasn’t even Summer that I felt sorry for the most (though my heart did go out to her). As we finished the ride up, I looked over at Summer to check on her. That was right around the time she leaned over the side of the car and got sick again. And, that was also the same time we were pulling back into the station to unload the car. The poor teenage girl operating that side of the ride did her best to pretend she didn’t see what happened. She clearly did, and I think she was pretty happy to see us go.
At this point, I was legitimately worried about my friend. We’re only a handful of hours into what was supposed to be a long day. Was she okay to continue? This was a foolish question on my part. She lead the way out of the park and to the Minnie Van on our way to EPCOT. 15 rides under our belt, we left our 2nd park of the day. We didn’t expect to return, though we might if Navi opened back up. It was noon and we were feeling….good????
EPCOT, Don’t Steer Us Wrong
As soon as you walk into EPCOT, you’re confronted by the big “golf ball” that is Spaceship Earth. It’s a longer ride, in the air conditioning where you get to sit down. And, move slowly. Probably all good things for a bit of recovery. Just a bit after 2pm and we had notched #16.
What better ride to follow up Spaceship Earth with than another softie? Living With The Land is a 20-minute ride, seated in air conditioning. The only other time I’ve ridden it is during the first time I attempted the Parkeology Challenge. At 2:45, we had notched #17 and were off an running. Er, walking somewhat fast.
Number 18 was Soarin! We scored a FastPass to scoot around the line and kept up our streak of rides where we could sit down inside and take advantage of the air conditioning. By 3:30 we were off and heading over to…..
Nemo! We were approaching 4pm, which was technically the halfway point to our 11pm park closing. Ride 19 under our belts, we were debating whether we should make a sprint to Magic Kingdom to pick up Tom Sawyer’s Island before it closed. We chose to knock out all the low hanging fruit in EPCOT. Nemo fit the bill at number 19 and we were on our way to my favorite EPCOT ride.
It’s funny how people have favorite rides at Disney World, especially since others might never have ridden your favorite. Summer loves Living With The Land. I had never really bothered with it. Meanwhile, Journey into Imagination with Figment is one of our family’s favorite rides. We love Figment. It’s a pretty simple ride inside, one that challenges kids (and adults) to use their imagination. Figment has been a part of EPCOT for quite some time, beloved by many. There was a rumor a while ago that he was going away, but I haven’t heard any scuttlebutt lately. After Figment got done with our imagination, we were 20 rides into our crazy day.
This is about the time Summer has a serious craving for french fries. We decide to stop for chicken tenders and french fries. I’m a bit scared if I sit down again for a long time I won’t be able to get back up. And, the competitive guy in me wants to keep pushing to ride more rides, even if I end up falling over. But, the food hits the spot. An amusement park chicken tenders has never tasted so good. Time to get back at it!
Blackjack! Ride #21 saw us on Three Caballeros, a nice, peaceful water ride in the Mexico Pavilion in EPCOT. This is also one of Summer’s favorites. I enjoy it as well. So far, our EPCOT time has been pretty peaceful.
Ride 22 is Test Track where we take advantage of the single rider line. In, out, on to the next ride!
A workable Fastpass for Frozen hasn’t shown up. We have the option of waiting a long time to pick up one more ride or to beat feet to Magic Kingdom to rack up as many rides as possible. We decide to hit Mission Space! on the way out of EPCOT and leave behind Anna and Elsa for another day. After all, more rides is more money raised for charity! We finish up Mission Space! just before 6pm and head to the monorail. Minnie Vans are technically a few minutes quicker, but we’ve had trouble getting them today. So, we sit on the monorail and hope it doesn’t break down!
Just before 6:15 we enter Magic Kingdom, our first and last park of the day. We have a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain. We power walk our way to the back of the part. I am now drenched in sweat again, after a leisurely air-conditioned time in EPCOT. We hit the runaway train and are off and running. 24 in the books!
We have another FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean. We’re quickly in and out with 25 under our belt. Picking up steam!
I calculate that I’ve sweat out twice my body weight. I have chugged at least half a dozen Powerade bottles and I’ve lost track of how much water. We make a brief stop in front of the Purple Wall for some cool photos as we make our way to Tomorrowland because we’re not exactly sure what time the People Mover and Carousel of Progress close.
Turns out the answer is at regular park closing. They’re not open for Extra Magic Hours. It’s also at this point that we realize we missed the Walt Disney World Railroad. Bad planning on Ed’s part! Still, we knock out two longer rides and are hunting for more at 7:30.
We’re in the area of Space Mountain and decide to knock it out for number 28. The number is growing more quickly now. As we close in on 8:30 we’re trying to strategize how to take advantage of the lull when the fireworks are going on.
As we’re walking by Tomorrowland Speedway, we see the wait is posted at 15 minutes. That’s a gift, though the line looks even shorter than that. We walk on while the fireworks are going on. 29 and feeling….fine?
As we’re getting off Tomorrowland Speedway I look at my the My Disney Experience app for the 7,000th time that day. That number might be an understatement. If I had beer in my mouth I would have spit it out. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is 15 minutes? Sweet Jeebus! This ride is usually almost a 2 hours wait. I’ve seen it drop under an hour during the fireworks. But, 15 minutes? That’s just crazy. We’re off and running. And, just like that, by 8:30 we have Seven Dwarfs under our belt. We thought it would be our last ride of the night. Instead, with just over 2 hours to go, we’re changing the plan again.
Winnie the Pooh is just outside the exit to Seven Dwarfs and is a deceptively busy ride. Another short line and by 9pm we’re at 31. 40 is now in sight!
But, we have to survive those damn tea cups first. Mad Tea Party, you’re really the last chance to ruin our day. With a death grip on the wheel, we keep the tea cup as steady as possible. 32 and still charging!
A quick walk to Dumbo for #33. We bypass the kid’s play area and get ready for a quick nighttime jaunt on the back of an elephant. Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise are not part of Extra Magic Hours. I didn’t realize that at the time, but it works a bit in our advantage. Both are longer rides, and we’re still moving and shaking to get as many rides in as we can. However, we’re going to need a perfect storm to tie my previous record of 41.
Barnstormer, the cute, Goofy-themed roller coaster is number 34. We have less than 90 minutes left and the day is definitely starting to wear on me. Keep on pushing!
Most of the lines are short now. We just need to figure out the shortest path to knock them off. For the first time all day, I don’t feel like the humidity is wrapping a blanket around me. But, it’s still hot. Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid is 35. Keep moving!
The carousel (officially Prince Charming Regal Carousel) is number 36. It’s an “easy” ride, but spinning around in circles isn’t my favorite thing at the moment. All the cheering from folks on social media is incredibly helpful.
We have one hour left! It’s a Small World is number 37. Can we get in 3 more rides before 11pm? It’s getting tough, since there isn’t much left open.
We choose Haunted Mansion for ride number 38. The line looks short at first, but we can quickly see that’s not the case. Judgment call. Do we sprint over to Aladdin and hope the line is shorter? We stay put and notch number 38. But, we now have 30 minutes left.
Strategically, the two rides closest together that give us the best chance at 40 are Buzz and Astro. Can we do both in 30 minutes? I think so. At this point, we’re jogging/running. To say Summer has caught her second (seventh?) wind would be an understatement. We’re on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin by 10:40. Side note, I crush Summer’s score on Buzz, just like I did on Toy Story Mania. CRUSHED it.
And, we’re off by 10:50. The line for Astro Orbiter is right next to us. We hop on line for our last ride of the night. 40 is in sight. Or is it? One of the cast members managing the queue tries to hold us off for a future ride. We ask if there’s space for just two more? There is. We’re in the elevator and up to the platform, except it’s packed. The ride appears to be broken.
Is this really where the dream for 40 will die? I mean, 40 is only one more than 39. And, it’s been a heck of a day. But, 40 just sounds so. Much. Better. The crew send the ride up empty once to test it out and it appears that we’ll get to go. We climb onboard, knowing at this point that even if the ride breaks, the Parkeology rules give us credit for 40. Except, these spaceships aren’t really built for two people. My knee is wedged in between Summer and the outside of the spaceship as well as some piece of metal I’ll hate for the rest of my life even though I’ve never seen it. Every time we spin around my knee hurts worse. Why won’t this ride end????
Finally, blessedly, it does. We head to the elevator. I’m limping with a dent in my knee. It’s 10:57 and I see a glimmer in Summer’s eye. The only ride anywhere close to us is Peter Pan’s Flight. It would be a great ride to finish out the night, but there’s no way we can make it there in 2 minutes. I mean, we’d have to sprint. And, I only have one leg.
Summer is already running. She’s practically sprinting. I’m maintaining a pretty decent pace, but it’s pretty clear I’m not going to catch her. As we get close to the carousel she starts to slow down. I run past her, shouting that I’ll make sure they don’t close the line before she gets there. Summer apparently catches her 4,000th wind of the day and I barely beat her to Peter Pan at exactly 10:59pm. We are both drenched in sweat. Drenched.
And, we’re at 41.
Drenched in sweat, we stopped to film a quick video to think everyone. And, eat a donut. A really big donut.
The Final Two Pennies
I hope you enjoyed taking this tour with me. I wanted to make sure I had everything written down for the future. And, if you smiled and want to donate a few dollars to Give Kids The World, we are oh so close to our goal of $18,000 where we can send 3 families of critically ill children on a week-long vacation.
At first, I couldn’t tell whether I was happy or sad with 41 rides. It was the same number as last time and I really wanted to do better. But, with an hour less park time and 2 pukes, it was a pretty good achievement. And, when the donations started rolling in, it felt even better.
So, after almost 18 hours on the go and over 17 miles of walking, how do you end the day? By asking the Minnie Van driver if he’ll take you to McDonald’s. Where you eat junk food with your friends and reminisce about one crazy day that you’ll never really forget.
And, those of you that know me best know that I’ll be back. Until I get all 49.
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