My Every Ride Challenge on opening day of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
Before the event
For a few years I have been attempting to complete a challenge to ride every operating ride at Walt Disney World, a challenge created by the team at parkeology.com. The challenge had another version added by Every Ride Challenge which added the element of using the same goal but also gaining donations for the Give the Kids the World Charity. http://support.gktw.org/goto/scottkumka
I had the most attempts at completing these challenges at 26 attempts. From experience with other opening days at the park, namely Pandora, the world of Avatar, and Toy Story Land, I knew that the opening day of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was going to be my best shot ever at completion.
The day before opening I worked a full 8 hour shift as a pharmacy technician and then drove 2 & 1/2 hours from Palm Beach to Orlando. I arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 10pm and was told to turn around as the parking lot would not open until 3:45am for the 6am park opening.
Trying to think what to do I decided on going to get a drink at the Polynesian resort at Trader Sam’s. I ended up ordering the shrunken head. Spoke with a few of the fellow patrons and they wished me luck on my quest. The bar closed at midnight so I went and walked the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Started talked to a few other challengers through Twitter and found that a few were hanging out on the walkway into the Studios from the Boardwalk resort and I headed over there to join them. There were quite a few already waiting there around 2am.
Entering the Studios
Slowly we were walked from the overpass area of the Boardwalk walkway into the Studios around 3am. We went through security and had to wait until 4am to be allowed into the park.
Once inside the park gates we hurried down Hollywood Blvd until stopped just before the Keystone Clothers. Here I was joined by fellow challenger Nathan Firesheets @A_Coaster_Story as we were at the head of the crowd on the far left side. The other challenger Michelle Sims I had met under the bridge from the Boardwalk.
We were then walked around 4:15am around Echo Lake, by the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, past Star Tours, and through the Grand Avenue section of the park to the tunnel between MuppetVision 3-D, and the planet of Batuu. We were still at the front of pack and on our way to start the challenge.
Ride 1 Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run 4:50am
It has been the dream of every person that has seen the Star Wars films since the release of the original New Hope in 1977 to fly the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon. As we were let into Black Spire Outpost, all I saw upon entering were three bright spotlights and blackness the whole way to the Falcon (as they were filming footage for the media) The journey to the Falcon was the most chaotic, frustrating, painful, path I have ever taken. I have been in mosh pits at punk rock shows with bands like the Descendants, the Dead Kennedys, and the Misfits and I was never pushed as hard as I was here. Still we did make it aboard the Millennium Falcon as the second group to load at 4:45am
Ride 2 Alien Swirling Saucers 5:19am
After disembarking from the Millennium Falcon we had to figure out how to get into Toy Story Land. The Cast Members were not prepared for guests to leave that early. After figuring out how to pass through the crowds we entered the line for Alien Swirling Saucers as what we were told guests 3 & 4 for the day. We had to wait for a full cycle of empty cars before we boarded.
Ride 3 Slinky Dog Dash 5:23am
What until this day was the go to rope drop (first ride to go to upon entering the park) attraction became third. This was fun as most of the cast members were lined up in front of the entrance and we had a whole line of high fives to continue on our quest. We boarded and quickly rode on the wildest ride in Andy’s backyard.
Ride 4 Toy Story Mania 5:31am
Running out of Slinky’s exit we head across Andy’s backyard over to the carnival games of Toy Story Mania. Due to a problem with a fire wall in the queue we are escorted by a cast member around the building into what appears to be an emergency exit and end up riding on the third track. I end up with a score on the attraction that equates to the level of cat in the ride, which is just below the highest level of bear.
Ride 5 Star Tours 5:53am
We decide to head back across the park and board the best Star Wars themed attraction in the park. We end up waiting a while as a full load was allowed to build up before entering our Starspeeder 3000.
Ride 6 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 6:15am
While we were the only people at the moment to enter the long abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel, we also ended up waiting for the full length of the library preshow. We board the maintenance service elevator and find out what lies beyond the fifth dimension.
Ride 7 Rock and Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith 6:31am
The last ride at Hollywood Studios and the first small wait of the day. We rock out to the music of legendary rock band Aerosmith and then quickly leave the park and continue to the next one.
On to park 2 the Magic Kingdom
Since I was still parked at the Boardwalk resort it was here that I split from my de facto running mate Nathan as he decided to travel via Uber to the Magic Kingdom. It took the semi long walk back to my car and ended up parking at the Contemporary hotel before going into the Magic Kingdom.
Ride 8 Main Street Vehicles 7:06am
Main Street Vehicles, which include the Firetruck, Trolley, and multiple Jitneys, can be the make or break point for many Parkeology challenge runs. This attraction has the shortest and least consistent hours if any attraction in any park. I was fortunate this day that one of the Jitneys was sitting waiting for passengers as I entered the Magic Kingdom. I rode up Main Street and stopped right in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
Ride 9 Seven Dwarves Mine Train 7:18am
The Magic Kingdom was just starting it’s Extra Magic Hours in which only resort guests are allowed to experience the attractions before the official opening at 9am. Normally I would have walked either through the castle or along the path towards the Mad Tea Party to reach the Dwarves Mine but on this day all resort guests were being verified on the Tomorrowland bridge which did slow me down slightly. I had a brief thought of going to Space Mountain first but I had a fastpass (which I ended up not needing or using) and headed to the Mine. There was a posted 10 minute wait and it wasn’t even that as it was just the walk through the queue that took time and I boarded the Mine cars immediately upon arrival.
Ride 10 Peter Pan’s Flight 7:25am
Had a brief thought about head to the back corner of Fantasyland with Dumbo and the Barnstormer, since I had a fastpass for Pan later that day. But since the Seven Dwarves Mine Train exits in a way that guests head toward Pan and it’s a small world, I figured I would go investigate the current wait time for Pan. It was a great call as I literally walked right onto one for the flying pirate ships and avoided one of the possible longest waits even with fastpass in the park.
Ride 11 Winnie the Pooh 7:33am
After leaving Neverland I headed over to the Tomorrowland side of the park. On the way I saw that the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh did not have a wait and since during many of my other attempts at this challenge this ride had broken down on me, including once while I was still on board, I took the opportunity to ride.
Ride 12 Space Mountain 7:48am
One of the most famous of Disney’s attractions and therefore one that can quickly build a wait I knew this had to be done early in my run. From previous runs even the fastpass line can get well out of hand, as when I ran with partners and on at least 2 different occasions with different partners, we waited 30 while having fastpasses both times. One this day however, I was incredibly lucky and practically walked on. It was the walk back out of the attraction that took longer than the boarding process.
Ride 13 Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin 7:57am
This is one of the more fun rides to me during a challenge. The ride involves using a laser pistol to defeat the forces if the evil Emperor Zurg. It is also one of now three rides that give riders scores. Since part of the challenge does have people donating to Give Kids the World Village and there are side challenges for extra donations, scoring 999,999 on this attraction was one of them. Unfortunately this day I was not quite up to this part of the challenge as I ended with a score of 894,000.
Ride 14 Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover 8:03am
This is considered by quite a few of my fellow challengers to be the best ride ever, and I can’t really disagree with that sentiment. It is one of the few attractions anyone can ride, gives great views if a lot of the Magic Kingdom, and there is always the possibility of a high speed high five with other guests in the area entering/exiting Space Mountain as the cars pass each other.
Ride 15 Tomorrowland Speedway 8:38am
The Tomorrowland Speedway may be towards the bottom of rides I want to do. Since the challenge is to ride every ride I have to do this and knowing how slowly this attraction loads and how hot it can get waiting for it, I got in line. I had a fastpass but didn’t really need it here as there was what looked like a short line. This was very, very false as although the fastpass wouldn’t have gotten me any closer in this queue, this turned out to be the second longest wait I would have all day. There was only one lane of cars out of 4 lanes possible, and that lane only loaded 4 cars at one time. This ended up being a nearly 30 minute wait.
Ride 16 Dumbo the Flying Elephant 8:48am
This was one of the easiest rides to get on and off of, even though it is one of the most iconic of all attractions.
Ride 17 The Barnstormer 8:54am
Located in the furthest back corner of the Magic Kingdom but being right next to Dumbo this was the obvious next choice. This is the absolute shortest ride on the entire quest so not much to say here.
Ride 18 Mad Tea Party 8:59am
One of my favorite attractions and yet one of the most simple. This is a simple spinning attraction that is an off the shelf ride, originally built by the Arrow Dynamic corporation, and then themed by Disney to the fantastical film Alice in Wonderland. There is an ongoing joke in the ride challenger community about whether the rider does or does not spin this ride. I always try to spin as fast as possible.
Ride 19 Splash Mountain 9:13am
Running across Main Street to the other side of the park as the Magic Kingdom was now open to all guests, I want to knock out the last two parts of Disney’s mountain range in this park before the waits started to build. This is the first of a few rides where guests have a chance of getting wet while riding. The ongoing joke/added challenge of my fellow challengers is to do these attractions without wearing a poncho, which of course I did not.
Ride 20 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 9:42am
The last peak of the Magic Kingdom mountain range, Big Thunder is right next door to Splash Mountain. This is the wildest ride in the wilderness and did at least help me to dry off a little bit from riding Splash Mountain.
Ride 21 Magic Carpets of Aladdin 9:58am
This is a similar ride to Dumbo, as it is a mere spinner attraction but can take a bit of time to load. I thought I might have been able to get to what I wanted to ride next, the Liberty Square Riverboat, since that attraction only runs on the top and bottom of the hour. The Magic Carpets took longer than expected to run and even though I sprinted to make the 10:00am riverboat, I was mere seconds short from boarding.
Ride 22 Jungle Cruise 10:10am
Having just missed the riverboat, I headed back into Adventureland and boarded the world famous Jungle Cruise. This had a surprisingly short line as with a lot of attractions this day I walked right onto the boat. This ride is one of the longer ones and by the time I got off I had to make a decision on what to ride next. There was about 15 minutes til the next riverboat at 10:30 and the only attraction that was nearby that was running was Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates lasts about 8 minutes but if there was any wait I would not make the next riverboat so I went back to Liberty Square.
Ride 23 Liberty Square Riverboat 10:30am
There was no sprinting this time to make the riverboat. This is one of the longer rides at about 20 minutes and once you have ridden it once, there is not a whole lot to hold the riders attention. Luckily, it was here that I caught up with fellow challenger Michelle Sims, who I had lost since the mad rush earlier at the Millennium Falcon. She wasn’t that far behind at the Studios but had a few problems here in the Magic Kingdom so she was a few attractions behind where I was at the moment. This attraction became the half way point for my run, and another challenger, John Welch, offers donations to every challengers that record themselves singing part of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, so I did such on the bottom deck of the riverboat.
Ride 24 Haunted Mansion 10:55am
Joining the 999 happy haunts was my next attraction as it was the closest to the exit from the riverboat. This is always a fun ride and I was able to get a like on Twitter from the voice of the bride, Kat Cresida, and that was encouraging to me.
Ride 25 Tom Sawyer Island Rafts 11:13am
This ride is one of the most decisive in the ride challenge community on whether of not it should count as a ride. The original creators of the Parkeology Challenge count it as a ride so it was required and I had been trying to complete the original challenge for years. I timed this badly as the attraction opened at 11:00am but the cast members delayed crossing the river so that the riverboat could pass first.
Ride 26 it’s a small world 11:32am
I had to go back to Fantasyland to complete a few rides a missed earlier. While this may be considered the happiest cruise that ever sailed, it is not one of my favorites to do during these challenges as it is one of the longer attractions. Not much of a wait but the mental strain of the repetative chorus and lack of sleep I was starting to feel here.
Ride 27 Prince Charming Regal Carousel 11:58am
The oldest attraction in any Disney park as it predates the Magic Kingdom itself. A simple attraction and a version of which was the inspiration to Walt Disney to create the original Disneyland.
Ride 28 Journey of the Little Mermaid 12:11pm
The newest dark ride in the Magic Kingdom, the Little Mermaid ride loads quickly and most if the wait is just walking through the very long queue. Using a fastpass can shorten this but so far I had not need to use any. This is still a great attraction and it is fun to sing along with Ariel, Sebastian, and the other underwater friends.
Ride 29 Carousel of Progress 12:41pm
The last Tomorrowland ride and one of the longest. It was here that I slipped into a short 5 minute nap during one of the early scenes. Then I remembered that there are much harder attractions coming up and while waits had been short, I might need fastpasses for upcoming rides in the Animal Kingdom. While constantly searching towards the end of riding Carousel of Progress, I was able to pull a fastpass for Avatar Flight of Passage.
Ride 30 Pirates of the Caribbean 1:10am
The final ride at the Magic Kingdom, I set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow and the rowdiest crew to ever sail the Spanish main. Most of this ride, I’m deciding on what to do first at the upcoming Animal Kingdom. I have been very surprised that I have not yet used a fastpass at the first two parks and I am ahead of the time I thought I would be.
Park 3 Disney’s Animal Kingdom
I fast walk over to the Contemporary hotel to pick up my car. It is now the longest park hop as I travel from the Magic Kingdom to the Animal Kingdom. I did have a choice of the two remaining parks but the Animal Kingdom has a ride that closes at 4:30pm and Epcot has two rides that close at 7pm, so I know that I have to finish at the latest by 6 at the Animal Kingdom to have time to complete Epcot.
Ride 31 Kali River Rapids 2:26pm
Kali has been one of my nightmare attractions as it has been the cause of the failure to complete this challenge several times. There are storm clouds building and while I had a fastpass I could have used for Avatar, I decided to wait in standby for Kali to try and avoid the coming storm. Unfortunately due to one of the longest waits I had, I board the attraction at the absolute worst moment. As mentioned before, there is the unofficial no poncho rule and I was not wearing the one I was carrying as I boarded. As the ride started the rain started and continued the entire length of the attraction. I was bending over and hold my arms above my head but ended up being completely soaked by the end of the ride.
Ride 32 Expedition Everest (single rider) 2:42pm
Trying to dry off somewhat from the soaking I received on Kali, I head to the Forbidden Mountain of Anandapur. Using the single rider line there was a minimal wait. I do love this ride but being wet made it kind of feel like I was really in the Himalayain mountains.
Ride 33 Triceratops Spin 2:53pm
The simplest ride in the Animal Kingdom, just being a simple spinner there isn’t a lot to mention here. It was nice that the next door attraction, the Primeval Whirl was down for maintenance and would not be required to be ridden to complete the challenge.
Ride 34 Dinosaur 3:03pm
One of my favorite attractions at the Animal Kingdom we now head into the Dino Institute and board the time rover to go back in time get the last igaunodon.
Ride 35 Avatar Flight of Passage (fastpass) 3:37pm
The newest ride at the Animal Kingdom and one of Disney’s highlights. I enjoy this ride even more than having flown the Millennium Falcon earlier in the day. I get to board an Avatar link riding on the back of a banchee and uh..fly.
Ride 36 Wildlife Express 4:03pm
This attraction is the early closer at the Animal Kingdom and the last train to the Conservation Station leaves at 4:30pm. Its while aboard the train that I pull my next fastpass for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Ride 37 Kilimanjaro Safaris (fastpass) 4:14pm
This is the longest attraction at the Animal Kingdom. I use my next fastpass and it honestly would have been faster to go standby as that side of the queue was loaded first but it was under a 5 minute wait. It is fun to view the animals but I was spending part of my time looking for a fastpass for the last ride at the Animal Kingdom, the Navi River Journey. When I pull the needed pass I am able to relax a bit and enjoy the views of the Savannah.
Ride 38 Navi River Journey 4:48pm
The final ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is a slow boat ride through the forest of Pandora, and I feel every minute as we slowly travel along the river.
Park 4 Epcot
I am excited as I head to Epcot knowing that I have completed the other three parks and have a legitimate shot at finally completing this challenge after 27 previous failures. I do know from experience not to become complacent, especially as I see the clouds start to roll back in.
Ride 39 Test Track (single rider) 5:34pm
While I feel I should do the early closing attractions first, the incoming weather is concerning me as Test Track is an attraction known to shut down at the slightest drop if rain. I run to there first and the single rider line is thankfully short and I board fairly quickly.
Ride 40 Mission: Space 6:00pm
While there are almost no other guests in line here if takes some time to go through the load cycle of the preshow rooms. I ride the simpler green side of this ride both because it is the less intense side but more importantly for the challenge it ends closer to the exit.
Ride 42 Journey Into Imagination 6:16pm
What may be the most fun ride at Epcot, featuring Epcot’s most iconic character Figment. It is here in the presence of Eric Idle playing Nigel Channing that I truly realized that my possible completion will be a Grail run, meaning that I did all four parks in one direct line without having to go back and finish something at another park. It is somewhat disappointing that the sound is not working correctly, but I do start doing a singalong and video it to earn more donations for Give Kids the World.
Ride 42 Living with the Land 6:40pm
I now board the last of the early closing rides and I start getting more excited at the possibility of completion. This is however a long attraction and I am feeling every inch this boat is traveling. It is here that I start looking for fastpass for Frozen Ever After.
Ride 43 Soarin’ Around the World 6:59pm
The slowest loading attraction at Epcot, but on this day it loads fairly quickly and I can enjoy my flight. It is not during my run but a couple days later I do get a like on Twitter from Patrick Warburton, who plays the flight attendant from this ride, so that was nice.
Ride 44 The Seas with Nemo and Friends 7:14pm
A slow moving ride with an incredibly long queue in the same mold as the Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom. The neat part of this attraction is that the ride travels through a real aquarium as part of the ride.
Ride 45 Spaceship Earth 7:25pm
The signature attraction for Epcot and yet the most notorious ride for many of the ride challengers. It has a tendency to stop for a long time. This day was good as there was maybe only one slow down during this particular ride.
Ride 46 Grand Fiesta Tour 7:52pm
The penultimate ride for my challenge. This attraction rarely has a wait and this day was no exception. Even after completing this attraction I now knew that barring a ride breakdown I was going to complete this challenge. I was still however looking for a fastpass for Frozen Ever After as I was showing a 60 minute wait in the app.
Ride 47 Frozen Ever After 8:47pm
As I exited Grand Fiesta Tour I was joined by Michelle Sims. She had issues in the Magic Kingdom and was not going to be able to finish her challenge today. She came with me to wait with me in standby for Frozen. It was during this wait that my Twitter feed started to see a big increase in posts and likes. At least one other challenger on Twitter, Stacy Galloway who still holds the fastest record for fastest to 48, said I should beat Nathan Firesheets. It was at that moment that we saw him enter the Frozen standby line as well. Since there was less than a boat load worth of guests between us we had him come up and join us. All three of us now boarded the final ride of the night after starting so many hours before flying the Millennium Falcon.
After the run
After the run, since we had finished on Frozen Ever After we figured we should get photos with Anna and Elsa.
We spent the rest of the night walking around the World Showcase Lagoon. One of the most generous donors, Marty King, had gotten us reservations at the Japanese pavilion but we did not make it to Japan in time to use it. Still was was thrilling to finally complete this amazing challenge. I was getting 100s of congratulations on Twitter and also earned nearly $1,000 in my efforts towards the Give Kids the World Village. (You can still help me with donations at http://support.gktw.org/goto/scottkumka). As we walked the lagoon we watched what may be my last and certainly best viewing of Illuminations.
As a final moment, in what is somewhat of a tradition with runners, Nathan and I take a final photo with the park’s icon Spaceship Earth.