On June 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm Pacific Standard Time, my son and I completed our quest. We had visited every Disney theme park in North America in one day. This is our story.
When planning our latest Walt Disney World trip, the idea to do the coast-to-coast challenge was not the goal. Purchasing the cheapest plane flight possible was the goal. I found a roundtrip non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Orlando. When I looked closer at our return flight information, I noticed that we were not scheduled to leave Orlando until 4:50pm, and we’d arrive in LA by 7:15pm. The Carousel of Progress in my brain started spinning. We’d be in Orlando an entire day AND we’d get back in Southern California with an entire evening free. We could visit every park on both coasts in the same day. In fact, it would be pretty easy (famous last words).
I shared my idea with my son. He added the challenge of eating a different snack in each park too. After consulting some friends, we decided that we would ride one ride in each park that was specific to that park only. We would rent a car that last day in order to drive from park to park and get to the airport.
The day was here. We had our plan. Challenge accepted.
8:08am EST: Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to ride the Great Movie Ride using Extra Magic Hours. The Great Movie Ride doesn’t open until official park opening at 9:00am. Change plans and head to Animal Kingdom.
8:47am EST: Arrive at Animal Kingdom for rope drop. Get escorted with the masses straight to Expedition Everest. Eat a breakfast “snack” of muffin and donut.
10:14am EST: Magic Kingdom. Arrive on Main Street for picture in front of castle at 10:20am. Ride the PeopleMover (The ride that still should be at Disneyland, but I digress.). Eat a Mickey ice cream sandwich.
11:48am EST: Disney’s Hollywood Studios…again! Ride the Great Movie Ride. This was the first time that my son and I ever had the cast member join us in the western scene and not the gangster scene. Have popcorn of course!
1:49pm EST: Leave Walt Disney World for the airport.
4:50pm EST: Plane takes off for Los Angeles.
6:46pm PST: Land in Los Angeles.
9:47pm PST: Disneyland!! We enjoyed a Mickey ice cream bar for our snack.
This is where the “easy challenge” I so flippantly told everyone about ends. We get to Fantasyland right after fireworks, so we get in line ready to ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. They let us in…we tell the cast member what we are doing so he can take our picture, and he lets us go first as the ride was reopening after the fireworks.
We get in…and…we ride…three feet! We made a left turn and immediately stopped. Mr. Toad’s ride was anything but wild. In fact it wasn’t a ride at all. Could we still count Mr. Toad’s Wild Left Turn? No. You can’t change the rules when you’re this close. The cast members offered everyone in line passes to go on a different ride (except Matterhorn), but we didn’t use them. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was the final task. We decided to wait. They started it up again…and it broke down. Now my son and I were getting worried. Was this happening just because I assured him how easy this challenge was going to be? They called in two maintenance people. Time was running out.
Finally, at 11:06pm PST, my son and I rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to completion! Our goal was accomplished!
Why did we do it? Just because.