Earlier this year when my family and I were at EPCOT, we heard that Kenny the Pirate was attempting this crazy challenge in which he was attempting to ride all 47 Walt Disney World rides in one day. We followed him on Twitter, and while he wasn’t successful that day, he did peak our curiosity about the challenge. When we got home, my then 13 year old daughter found the website with the rules and description of the challenge. We visit the parks frequently and felt that this challenge would put our Disney Parks knowledge to the test and it would be a great mother-daughter bonding experience.
The first thing we did to prepare for the challenge was to read all the info on the Parkeology website and watch a video of Shane and Ted’s first successful completion. The next thing we did was choose a date. To have a chance at completion, (a trophy by your name on the website) all rides must be operational, so you have to choose a day when none of the rides are closed for refurbishment. The number of park hours is also a huge factor so checking park hours is a must. The challenge has never been completed in fewer than a 16 park hour operating day. The first date we chose was August 16th. The parks were only open for 15 hours that day, so more than anything, we were going for our personal best and as a practice run. We ended up getting in 38 rides that day.
In late October, we heard that a couple of teams had signed up for December 6th. I looked at the park hours, 17, which was good and crowd levels tend to be low the first week of December, so we decided to sign up. This gave us about 5 weeks to plan. As the day got closer, a total of 15 teams signed up for the challenge and the December 6th challenge was given the name Parknado.
Some of the teams don’t carry anything with them in order to avoid bag check, but we decided we would both carry a Kavu bag and brought the following items: mylar blanket, long pants, chapstick, bandaids, moleskin, 2 anker chargers, camelback water bottle, PB&J sandwiches, granola bars, apples, peanuts, extra magic bands, excedrin, ink pen, and various ziplock bags to keep things dry. We also had various lists of ride hours, rides with FPP available, ride duration times and walking times to and from various attractions.
On December 6th, we set our alarms for 5:00, but I woke up at 4:30. It’s a good thing because I later realized that I had set my phone for 5 PM instead of 5 AM. We live 45 minutes from Disney, so we just drove over that morning. We parked at our hotel (Pop Century) and Ubered to the Animal Kingdom entrance.
We arrived at Animal Kingdom at about 6:30 for an 8:00 AM opening. Once we got into the park, cast members walked us back to the pandora area and we were on the first ride of the day on Flights of Passage, whose line builds very quickly. After that, we used a fastpass for Navi River Journey, so we had both of the Avatar rides done by 8:15. We then hit all three of the Dinoland rides really quickly, and by 8:40 we were hailing an uber to Magic Kingdom.
Unfortunately, our uber driver got lost and didn’t speak English. After a small delay which included an unintentional visit to Animal Kingdom Lodge, we still got to Magic Kingdom by about 9:20, but the Main Street Vehicles (MSV’s) had stopped running a good hour before they were scheduled to stop.
A cast member mentioned that the vehicles might be back at 10:30, so we hopped on the Walt Disney World Railroad (ride #6) to Frontierland and rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (#7). Devastated that we had missed the early MSV’s, we were not going to take any chances of missing them again. Our plan had been to knock out Splash Mountain that morning. The cool weather had kept the wait time down, but splash is a fairly long ride and we didn’t want to chance getting stuck on it and missing the MSV’s again. We opted for the shorter ride Magic Carpets of Aladdin (ride #8). We figured if we got stuck on that ride we could always just jump off. We had a few minutes to spare, so we took advantage of that time to buy me a water bottle as some time before the second ride of the day, my camelback disappeared. We also took a quick restroom break then headed to main street to wait out our fate.
As we were standing there, we began seeing more and more of our fellow WDW47ers coming to catch this elusive trolley. As we were waiting, one of the creators of Parkeology, Shane, showed up to surprise all of us and cheer us on. A few minutes after 10:30, the horse driven trolley came out of the barn and stopped right in front of us. The trolley driver didn’t know what to think as we all erupted into cheers and screaming. She turned around and said, “remember, I have a live animal up here.” As we began our ride down main street, all the challengers were so excited we began singing Jingle Bells.
Waiting on the vehicles cost us a lot of time, but they were necessary for us to stay in the game. After we finished riding the MSV’s (ride # 9)we headed to the riverboat(ride #10), then to Tom Sawyer’s raft(ride #11), both early closers.
That morning, after we had tapped in to Navi, we began trying to get a same day fast pass (SDFP) for Frozen, and we were successful in getting one for 12:55. We also picked up a FP for Spaceship Earth at 11:30, so after Tom Sawyer, we had to head to EPCOT.
When we arrived at EPCOT, we rode Spaceship Earth(#12) first, then we headed towards Frozen. Mexico was on the way, so we walked on to the 3 Caballeros(#13). Thankfully, the Frozen(#14) line moved quickly but while in line, we did have time to pick up a Soarin fastpass, which was one of our must-gets. We tried to minimize walking whenever we could, so we grabbed single rider test track (#15), Mission Space (16) before heading to the other side of the park. Nemo(#17) was a walk on, then time for our Soarin FP(#18). After Soarin, we FP Living with the Land (#19). After walking on to Figment (#20), we were done with Epcot. There are 9 rides total in Epcot, and we flew through them all pretty fast. We finished Epcot in about three hours and by 3:00 we were on our way back to Animal Kingdom.
We got back to Animal Kingdom with only 4 rides we needed to hit there. After a quick restroom stop at the entrance, we headed to Wildlife Express Train. The train was pulling out of the station just as we arrived so, rather than wait the 8 or so minutes it would take to return, we opted to run over and ride Kali then try to catch the train when we rode Safari. Kali River Rapids(#21) was a short wait and we were on and off quickly. Upon checking the app we discovered that Expedition Everest was broken down so we ran back and caught the Wildlife Express Train (#22) as it was in the station. We FP Kilamanjaro Safari(#23), which is a fairly long ride, and then decided to walk over to Everest and just see what was going on.
As we walked up, the ropes were taken down and the ride reopened-Everest #24
We were heading to Hollywood studios at around 5:00
There are currently only 4 rides in Hollywood studios. We fast passed Toy Story (#25) and Star Tours(#26) , and then got in the single rider line for rockin rollercoaster (#27). That line took longer than expected, but we got through it and fast passed tower of terror(#28). After ToT, we were feeling pretty good and a little ahead of schedule ( and probably a little over confident) so, we mobile ordered a burger and fries and ate while running to catch our Uber- best food we’ve ever eaten.
We were headed back to MK at 7:30
This is where it gets intense (in case it wasn’t already) we got to MK at 8:00, we had until 1:00AM. 19 rides to do in 5 hours.
Splash, jungle cruise, peoplemover, and Carousel of progress all closed at 11:00.
So we fast passed splash(#29), hopped on carousel(#30), then FP jungle cruise(#31). Our plan was to go ride buzz light year, because we had a fast pass, and it was close to our other two early closers. However, about that time the fireworks show started, and we realized that Peter Pan couldn’t possibly have a 2 hour wait when 80% of the people in the park were watching the fireworks, so we went for it.
We waited almost no time for Peter Pan(#32), and encouraged by that victory, sprinted across the park to space mountain(#33) to take advantage of fireworks-short lines there as well. We waited maybe 15 minutes for Space. Then we used our fastpass for Buzz(#34), and hit our other two early closers, COP (#35) and Peoplemover (#36) Now that we didn’t have to worry about the rides that closed at 11, we grabbed a fastpass for tomorrowland speedway(#37) and knocked it out as well as Astro orbiter(#38).
By 11:15, we had 9 rides left. We ran all the way across the park to do Pirates(#39), and then, we were planning to ride Haunted Mansion, but as we walked up we discovered that it had broken down.
We modified the plan though and ran to it’s a small world(#40). After that, we went to Ariel(#41), and knocked out that, barnstormer(#42), and dumbo(#43) in about ten minutes.
We went to teacups (#44) (and we did NOT spin) and then pooh(#45).
At this point all we had left was haunted mansion and seven dwarfs mine train.
At some point while we were in line for pooh, haunted mansion came back up. I was super excited because we still had 45 minutes until closing, and haunted mansion (#46) was sure to be a walk on. (seven dwarfs mine train is always a long line, and technically we only had to be IN LINE by 1:00, not actually on the ride, so we were planning to go there last and just get in line at 12:55, that way it wouldn’t matter how long the line was, as long as we got on to the ride without it breaking down) so we went to mansion, and the line was pretty long, from the outside it looked like it would be about 20 minutes, and the ride itself lasted 10 minutes, so it seemed like we were cutting it pretty close. The line wasn’t as long as it looked though and we probably only waited about ten minutes.
We got in line for 7 dwarves (#47)(our last ride) at about 12:45, and it was actually a pretty short line. We boarded the ride just a few minutes before 1 AM. It was the first ride of the day that we were able to sit back and enjoy the ride and also to take in what we had just accomplished.
“Parknado” was an awesome experience and we made lots of new friends. Is it a relaxing day at Disney? No. Is it a great way to see everything at Disney in a day? No. It is more for people who have already spent a lot of time in the parks and want an additional challenge. We spent a good portion of our day on our phones, tweeting, modifying and looking for new fastpasses. I liken it to a combination of a long distance race, solving an intricate sudoko puzzle, and studying for then taking an exam on Disney Parks geography, Fastpass and transportation systems. It was an honor to be one of the four teams completing the challenge on December 6th along with Kenny the Pirate, Toddler of Terror, and UCF Kent.