On Wednesday, September 11th, 2019, my dad and I successfully rode ALL 47 open rides at Walt Disney World in one operating day, thus completing the Parkeology and Every Ride Challenges! That’s a lot of rides! The Parkeology Challenge was created several years ago by two guys named Shane and Ted. I first heard about it in 2015 and have been hooked ever since. Last summer, a similar challenge called the Every Ride Challenge was born to raise money for Give Kids the World Village. Due to many generous people, a lot of money has been raised for this great organization.
This challenge isn’t as simple as going from park to park and riding rides. It involves a lot of planning if you want to be successful. You need to account for the differing park hours, rides that don’t open until later in the morning, rides that stop operating before the park actually closes, threats of rain closing outdoor rides, park hop times, average wait times, Fastpass availability, etc.
This would be the second attempt at the challenge by my dad and me. Last August, we completed Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot, but were several rides short at Magic Kingdom. We learned a lot from that run and were ready to tackle it again. And the two of us cannot accept defeat!
Our three starting Fastpasses were at Magic Kingdom. Space Mountain from 9–10am, Big Thunder from 10:05–11:05am, and Peter Pan from 11:05am-12:05pm.
The morning of the challenge, we woke up at 4am. We ate a small breakfast and got some caffeine in our systems (coffee for Dad and Diet Coke for me). We packed our cooler of Gatorade, water, and bananas and headed to Hollywood Studios via our rental car. Hollywood Studios was the first park to open that day at 6am.
We arrived at Studios a little after 5am to a crowd of about 30 people. Most of them were fellow challengers as there were over 30 other teams running that day! Eventually we’re let through security and then the turnstiles at 5:30am. We chatted with some fellow challengers while we anxiously waited for 6am to arrive.
One not familiar with the time constraints of this challenge might thing we would head to the newly opened Smugglers Run first. But we knew that Cast Members were walking the crowd all the way to the entrance of the ride, and that was taking 20+ minutes. That’s a lot of wasted time! So, our plan was to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash. 6:00 rolls around and nothing happens. A couple more minutes go by and they still haven’t moved the crowds toward Toy Story Land or Galaxy’s Edge. They did however let the people waiting at Sunset Blvd go to Tower of Terror and Rock ’n’ Roller. A few of us are contemplating whether to ditch our plan and go to Tower of Terror first since they were letting people go that way. Another challenger checks the app, yells “Slinky is down,” and then several of us take off toward Tower of Terror. Audible #1 of the day!
Ride 1: Tower of Terror at 6:11am
We get to Tower of Terror and unfortunately aren’t able to skip the pre-show. All 12 of us on that elevator were challengers. This is definitely a favorite of ours!
Ride 2: Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at 6:20am
We head to Rock ’n’ Roller next, as does our entire elevator. I get yelled at while trying to take my on-ride selfie, then we zoom off in our super stretch limo. Two rides in and I’m already sweating, as you can tell from the photo.
Ride 3: Slinky Dog Dash at 6:47am
Slinky was still showing as closed on the app, but we see that it’s running when we get over to Toy Story Land and get in line. We end up waiting about 15 minutes. This is a really fun ride that we both enjoy!
Ride 4: Alien Swirling Saucers at 7:03am
Next roadblock. We go to Toy Story Mania next and it’s practically a walk on. But as soon as we get to the loading area, they stop the ride and start walking us back through the line. There was some confusion about what was happening, and we were not patient enough to wait for answers, so we bail and walk on to Alien Swirling Saucers. In hindsight, we wish we would have stayed a few more minutes because they would have taken us through the other line (wait time unknown though). This ended up costing us down the road.
Ride 5: Star Tours at 7:16am
We pass back by Toy Story Mania and the line is LONG, so we head over to Star Tours. We wait about 2 minutes for the previous flight to end and then board.
Ride 6: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at 7:35am
Next up is Smugglers Run! We walk right through the single rider line and are given our boarding cards. Another girl in line sees we end up on different flights and kindly offers to switch with me so Dad and I could ride together. We were very thankful since this would be both of our first times riding it! The queue for this ride was awesome! We weren’t big fans of the ride itself, but that’s another post for another day.
As we exit Smugglers Run, Dad asks a Cast Member how to get to Toy Story land as we were a little disoriented since we had never been in the new land before. Since the CM’s are supposed to stay in character, they ask us what a toy story land is. I knew it might take a few minutes to get a real answer, so we fast walk away and find the way out ourselves. We pass back by Toy Story Mania, which was still running at limited capacity and showing a 30-minute wait. We get in line to see what it looks like and we don’t move at all for about 3 minutes. Since we were worried about getting the Main Street Vehicles at Magic Kingdom, we decide to leave Hollywood Studios and come back later for Toy Story Mania.
Exit Hollywood Studios at 7:56am
We’re driving to MK, trying to eat a snack and get some water, and honestly just frustrated that we’ve already encountered issues. We make a right turn too soon and END UP BACK IN THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS PARKING LOT. LOL. Cast parking to be exact. We even drove the routes the night before since so many of the roadways had changed since we were last there. We make it back out of HS, ride the wave to MK, and tap in at 8:18am.
Enter Magic Kingdom at 8:18am
Ride 7: Jungle Cruise at 8:26am
We don’t see any Main Street Vehicles at the front of the park, so we make our way down Main Street. We see one dropping guests off near the castle. We go to get on, and the Cast Member says they have stopped running for the trolley show and to come back in about 15 minutes. So, we make our way to Jungle Cruise, which was a walk on.
Ride 8: Main Street Vehicles at 8:44am
We head back to the hub and hop on a Main Street Vehicle with some fellow challengers. This is the most unpredictable ride since it rarely follows its set schedule and only operates the first couple hours of the day. It felt great to get this one out of the way! #MSV1 complete.
Ride 9: Space Mountain at 9:00am using FP#1 (9–10am return time)
I use the first fastpass of the day to ride Space Mountain. I got to skip about 15 people since I was a single rider. After I got my row placement, the party around me realized they messed up and I could hear them talking about how I got placed in their rocket instead of another member of their party. Normally, I would have offered to wait and board the next rocket, but this is a challenge and I just pretended like I didn’t hear them. I boarded the rocket and left them behind to figure it out. Oops! It felt like it took longer to walk OUT of this ride than to actually ride it.
Ride 10: Peoplemover at 9:10am
Time for the Best. Ride. Ever. We hop on the Peoplemover and enjoy the breeze and some peanut butter and crackers.
Ride 11: Carousel of Progress at 9:24am
We knew we wanted to hit all rides that closed “early” before we left Magic Kingdom, just in case we got back too late. Carousel of Progress was 1 minute away from loading the next group when we got off Peoplemover. Dad did some stretching on the floor and I caught up on other challengers’ progress on Twitter during the show.
Ride 12: Liberty Square Riverboat at 9:58am
The past few rides were going exactly to plan. We have time for a quick restroom break and pick up some fresh waters before boarding the Riverboat with many other challengers.
Ride 13: Splash Mountain at 10:47am
This is where it felt like things started to fall apart. We knew we wanted to get Splash done before we left. It was posted a 15-minute wait, but it took over 20 due to the crazy amount of fastpasses being redeemed. We board what is usually one of our favorite rides, but it quickly turns into a nightmare! The ride stops, the lights come on, but the music just keeps on and keeps on and keeps on playing. We were right by a speaker, so it was LOUD. The announcement just kept saying we would resume motion momentarily. It ends up taking 40 minutes to get through the ride. We ended up missing our Big Thunder fastpass, even with the 15-minute grace period. We were having flashbacks to a similar situation last year.
Ride 14: Tom Sawyer Island Rafts at 11:35am
Next up is the rafts, which we ride with several other challengers. Nothing too exciting about this ride.
Ride 15: Peter Pan’s Flight at 11:59am using FP#2 (11:05am-12:05pm return time)
We use our second fastpass of the day (would have been third if we hadn’t missed Big Thunder) and get Peter Pan out of the way. I grabbed a Flight of Passage fastpass in line for a perfect time and didn’t even have to wait for the 1:00 fastpass drop!
Exit Magic Kingdom at 12:14pm
We try to grab pretzels on the way out of the park, but of course they were out. I already have blisters on my feet. We make the -what seemed like 5 mile- walk back to our car at the Contemporary, hot, exhausted, and several rides behind schedule.
Enter Animal Kingdom at 12:44pm
We paid for preferred parking, but it didn’t help much here because they were having guests park in the lot right by preferred. But it did help at other parks later in the day.
Ride 16: Flight of Passage at 1:08pm using FP#3 (12:25–1:25pm return time)
We use our FOP fastpass (FP #3) to board this awesome attraction. It’s definitely in my top 10, but I really wish they could change the cringy pre-show!
Ride 17: Kilimanjaro Safaris at 1:37pm using FP#4 (1:10–2:10pm return time)
We could not find a Navi River Journey fastpass, so we get one for the next closest ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris. While in line for the safari, we picked up a Kali River Rapids fastpass. We got called aside and skipped about 25 people to board a handicap accessible safari truck. This ended up costing us more time in the long run because we had to wait for the accessible unload area to become available when the ride was over.
Ride 18: Wildlife Express Train at 2:10pm
Since it was right next door, we hopped on the Wildlife Express Train next and downed some snacks and drinks.
Ride 19: Kali River Rapids at 2:44pm using FP#5 (1:35–2:35 return time)
We use our Kali fastpass and I am praying we get wet on this ride because it was HOT outside. No ponchos, of course. While in line for Kali, I grab an Expedition Everest fastpass. I ended up in a really long single rider line for Everest the last time we did the challenge, so I wasn’t taking any chances this time. We have a short wait for Kali, but nothing like the fastpass line we’ve experienced in the past!
Ride 20: Expedition Everest at 3:03pm using FP#6 (2:35–3:35pm return time)
I decide to use my fastpass at Everest, even though the single rider line was short. But there was NO ONE in the fastpass line, so it got me ahead one train. Every minute counts in this challenge! While on the first few seconds of the ride, I grab a fastpass for Dinosaur.
Ride 21: TriceraTop Spin at 3:15pm
The sun feels 10x hotter on Dino Dumbo for some reason. Thankfully it’s a short one! Nothing wrong with two grown adults riding a kiddie dinosaur spinny ride.
Ride 22: Dinosaur at 3:27pm using FP#7 (3:15–4:15pm return time)
I have a weird obsession with dinosaurs, so I sincerely love this ride. I hope it never goes away. While in the pre-show, I am thankfully able to snag a Navi River fastpass, which is the last ride we need here.
Ride 23: Navi River Journey at 3:47pm using FP#8 (3:30–4:30pm return time)
We make our way back over to Pandora and hop right on to Navi River Journey with our fastpass.
Exit Animal Kingdom at 4:03pm
DONE WITH ANIMAL KINGDOM. ONE PARK DOWN. It felt great to have something go right for us! Other than having to backtrack to Navi River Journey, this park went pretty much according to plan. While in the car, I grab a fastpass for Soarin’. I also change socks and shoes to try to alleviate some of the pain I was having from my blisters.
Enter Epcot at 4:27pm
Ride 24: Spaceship Earth at 4:31pm
There was no line when we were walking past Spaceship Earth, so we decided to get it out of the way. This ride is known to break down often, so I was not going to let the SSE curse impact our run! We got lucky and had no stops or slowdowns on this ride! Thank you, Phoenicians!
Ride 25: Soarin’ at 5:03pm using FP#9 (4:10–5:10pm return time)
I really hate the uphill walk to the Land Pavilion, and it was especially hard today. But we’re able to board Soarin’ with relatively no wait. We got lucky on timing with this one since there’s usually a wait to board, even with fastpasses.
Ride 26: Living with the Land at 5:18pm
Since LWTL is in the same building, it only made sense for us to get it out of the way. I get a quick encouragement call from my husband on the fast walk over from Soarin’. We board with no wait and we snag a Frozen fastpass for 6:35pm while riding! We kept trying to move up the time but were never able to. Based on what we were seeing for wait times, we figured we didn’t really “need” fastpasses for the other rides, so we weren’t too worried.
Ride 27: Journey Into Imagination with Figment at 5:42pm
Figment was a walk-on. We can’t stand this ride and have only ridden it on challenge runs.
Ride 28: The Seas with Nemo and Friends at 5:56pm
A fastpass would have been nice here to not walk through the long queue, but I didn’t want to lose our Frozen FP. It was posted a 15-minute wait, but we knew that was probably exaggerated. Thankfully, it ended up being a walk-on.
Ride 29: Test Track at 6:11pm using Single Rider
We caught another break here. There was NO ONE in the single rider line and we were able to hop right on and even got in the same car! Things are starting to look up!! But we’re not getting too excited just yet.
Ride 30: Mission: Space — Green at 6:30pm
Mission: Space was another walk on. Obviously, we chose the Green side. No way were we going to risk getting sick from the Orange side!
Ride 31: Frozen Ever After at 6:51pm using FP#10 (6:35–7:35pm return time)
As you can see, our Frozen FP plan worked out perfectly and we were able to use our Frozen fastpass and didn’t need one for the previous rides. Dad quickly found us a Toy Story Mania fastpass while in line. Oh yeah…we still have to go back to Hollywood Studios for that one ride.
Ride 32: Gran Fiesta Tour at 7:02pm
We were worried this might have a wait with Food & Wine Festival going on, but we walked right on.
Exit Epcot at 7:20pm
DONE WITH EPCOT! TWO PARKS DOWN! We make our way back to preferred parking. Thankfully, the temperatures are starting to cool down slightly at this point.
Enter Hollywood Studios at 7:42pm
Ride 33: Toy Story Mania at 8:00pm using FP#11 (7:25–8:25pm return time)
This was pretty much a walk-on with our fastpasses. It felt good to finally get this one done. We grabbed a Pirates fastpass while in line.
Exit Hollywood Studios at 8:18pm
DONE WITH HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS! THREE PARKS DOWN!
Enter Magic Kingdom at 8:55pm
We have just over 3 hours and 14 rides left. We weren’t feeling too confident at this point, but we were feeling the adrenaline from getting 3 parks done.
Ride 34: Magic Carpets of Aladdin at 9:06pm
We timed this really well on our way to Pirates. They were loading the next cycle as we were walking up, so we didn’t have to wait at all!
Ride 35: Pirates of the Caribbean at 9:13pm using FP#12 (8:25–9:25pm return time)
Pirates was a walk-on as most people were waiting for the fireworks to start at 9:15pm. We kept trying for a Big Thunder fastpass but weren’t able to find one. At this point, we had surpassed our ride count from our previous attempt last year (34), so we were thrilled that we were at least improving!
Ride 36: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at 9:32pm
We thankfully make it over to Big Thunder before most of the fireworks crowd and have maybe a 5–7-minute wait. We pick up a Small World fastpass so that we can hopefully use one more before Extra Magic Hours start at 10pm (no fastpasses are available during EMH). We knew we wouldn’t make it to the other side of the park to use one for Buzz or Speedway, so we went with the closest ride we could get a fastpass for.
Ride 37: Haunted Mansion at 9:47pm
I love Haunted Mansion. I got to tour it when I worked for Disney and appreciate the ride even more now! We’re making good progress at this point but are still unsure if we’ll finish in time. But the last few rides have gone according to plan.
Ride 38: It’s a Small World at 9:59pm using FP#13 (9:15–10pm return time)
We use our final fastpass of the night. We didn’t really need it at this point, but it did get us ahead one boat. Again, every minute counts!! The boats were moving painfully slow and got backed up toward the end, but it felt good to have the left side of the park complete.
Ride 39: Prince Charming Regal Carousel at 10:20pm
We thought we were timing this well by arriving during a load cycle, but we were two groups too far from being able to board. The load time at the carousel is soooo slow, so we probably should have moved on, but we decided to stay and save some steps.
Ride 40: Dumbo the Flying Elephant at 10:33pm
We bypass Pooh because it had a posted 15-minute wait, but it looked WAY longer than that. We also pass by Mad Tea Party since we just barely missed the load cycle. So, we decide to get the back right corner done and head to Dumbo. We ended up waiting about 5 minutes to load.
Ride 41: The Barnstormer at 10:39pm
Why does this ride even exist? It’s over before you even realize you’re moving. Walking OUT of the queue takes longer than the ride itself. We’re starting to get a little more confident at this point but were worried about the fluctuating wait times we had been seeing for Speedway and Buzz on the app.
Ride 42: Journey of the Little Mermaid at 10:47pm
They were letting everyone in the fastpass line, so we were thankfully able to bypass walking through the long queue. We walked right on. At this point the adrenaline was really kicking in. You can see the crazy in my eyes in the photo LOL. We forgot about our aches and pains and powered on.
Ride 43: Mad Tea Party at 10:58pm
We reach Mad Tea Party as they were unloading the previous cycle, so we decide to take advantage of the good timing and get this one out of the way! Absolutely NO SPINNING!
Ride 44: Winnie the Pooh at 11:10pm
We could see that Speedway was backed up, so we decided to get Pooh out the way. Pooh had also been really backed up about 45 minutes earlier, but it was much less crowded now. We wait maybe 5 minutes.
Ride 45: Tomorrowland Speedway at 11:21pm
THANK GOODNESS the line had gone down at Speedway by the time we got over there. Our strategy and patience had paid off. We waited just a couple of minutes and “sped” off. Just kidding, we got a super slow car. But by the time we got off Speedway, we finally started to think, “This might actually happen!”
Ride 46: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at 11:29pm
We walk right on to Buzz, but the ride STOPS right before we’re able to unload. It only stopped for 2 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. We were ready to hop over the door and get out! The forces of evil were working against us! As we’re walking away from the ride, Dad trips and almost falls down. I told him if he fell, I would carry him on my back to Mine Train!
Ride 47: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 12:05am
We got in line 20 minutes before the park closed. We waited an agonizing 25 minutes and finally boarded the last ride of the night!!!!! We were in a state of shock and disbelief that we had successfully completed the challenge!
Exit Magic Kingdom at 12:15am
We take a couple of selfies in front of the castle and head out. We get to the monorail (we parked in Preferred Parking) and AS SOON as we got to it, they announced there was going to be a delay. After waiting several minutes, they finally tell us it will be a while and we should take the ferry. So, we have to walk all the way to the ferry, which felt like 10 miles away. We could really feel just how bad our feet were hurting at this point. We had walked about 20 MILES and were exhausted. We call my mom who was waiting at the hotel and she orders us room service pizza, so it would be there when we arrived. Let me tell you, that was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.
We stay up eating pizza and filling Mom in on the day and don’t end up going to sleep until around 3:00am. We had been up for 23 hours! We sleep in until about 10 the next morning and then enjoy a celebratory lunch at Sanaa!
A few months later, and I am still in shock that we completed. Dad and I have done several half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, and hiked Half Dome together, so I know we were capable of doing it, but actually getting it done still feels surreal.
My dad and I share a love for Disney that many do not understand. The fact that we were able to accomplish this together is so special to both of us and is something that we will never forget! Thank you, Dad, for joining me on this crazy quest!