Disney World is all about fun and magic and we absolutely love it! BUT, there is a way to step up your Disney World game. That is with the Disney World 4 Parks Challenge! Yes, I am sure you have heard about it by now. I want to let you know how we completed this challenge on our last visit to the magic!
Disney World 4 Parks Challenge
Recently my husband and I were at Disney World for a few days to attend a conference with Walt Express Travel. While most of my days were jammed pack with amazing resort tours, we did have an extra day free to explore a park. But what park should we choose? The Magic Kingdom is one of my favorites and is just a classic, but it’s been a couple of years since we were at Animal Kingdom and Epcot together, and my favorite ride EVER (Rock n’ Roller Coaster) is at Hollywood Studios. So… we decided to do all FOUR! In ONE day!
We took this challenge a step further and decided to make some rules to go along with it. Some will do this challenge casually and count just physically being in each park as acceptable but I tend to take things a little extra. So, since we wanted to do more with this challenge we decided that this list was the minimum to do in each park to say you really experienced each of them.
Here are our rules that we made up for our Disney World 4 Parks Challenge
- Take a photo in front of every park icon (Cinderella’s Castle, Spaceship Earth or as we call it, the Epcot Ball, Tree of Life, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror)
- Ride 3 rides in each park
- Buy something to eat in each park
- See one parade
- Ride more than one type of complimentary Disney World transportation
- Not using extra ticketed event hours
This was an amazing experience but SO exhausting! Here is what we learned!
Plan. Plan. Plan. I cannot stress this enough! I thought I had planned enough for this but I really did not. First thing we did was looked up park hours on our challenge day so we would know which park to start with and which park to end with. All of the parks opened at 9 am that day but Epcot had evening Extra Magic Hours until 11 pm so I knew we would end there. Next, I looked at any early morning reservations I could snag to get me into the park before opening. I figured I could eat really fast and then be in line before rides opened to get me a head start. I was able to snag a Be Our Guest reservation for just after 8 am! So, now we knew we would start with Magic Kingdom and end with Epcot. After some discussion we agreed on Animal Kingdom then moving onto Hollywood Studios before finishing with Epcot.
Since we were staying on property, we were able to book our FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance so that helped us out so much! We had not been to Animal Kingdom since the opening of Pandora, so I knew we HAD to ride Flight of Passage. We were open to changing our park schedule if we were able to grab a Flight of Passage FastPass+ but unfortunately we weren’t able to get one for that ride at all. With 3 FastPass+ rides secured in Animal Kingdom we made our list for what rides we would ride in the other parks. Next, we needed to figure out how we would get from park to park. We knew we wanted to use more than one mode of transportation and that we only wanted to use the complementary options available. That meant we would be wasting precious time waiting in line for the different transportation options inside of using the amazing Minnie Van service. So, we needed to be able to make up our time at the park and with only about 3 hours to spend in each park, we made out the plan.
For more info on transportation options to help maneuver the parks during your Disney World 4 Parks Challenge, just click the link!
Here We GO!
The Morning Of Our Disney World 4 Parks Challenge
So, the morning of started out GREAT! Todd (my husband) just knew this was going to be a breeze and was not in the least bit concerned. I on the other hand, was nervous! We ended up having a change of plans and stayed off property that night so my father-in law dropped us off at the Transportation and Ticket Center so we could take the ferry into Magic Kingdom. One transportation option down! The park officially opened at 9 am and we got there at about 7:30 am and I was surprised at the amount of people already there. We kept our bags light so we could make it through security faster especially since we knew we would have to go through it each time we park hopped.
1st Park – Magic Kingdom
- Take Ferry into Magic Kingdom
- 8:10 am Breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest
- Be in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before the park opened
- Ride Splash Mountain
- Ride Space Mountain
- Watch the Move It! Shake it! Dance & Play It! Street Parade before leaving Magic Kingdom
- Take Bus to Animal Kingdom
Once inside, we booked it towards Fantasyland to get inside for our Be Our Guest Reservations. This place was SO good! We both ordered kids meals because we aren’t big breakfast eaters normally but I really wanted to try this place and I knew we needed to have a good breakfast to keep us going. It is quick service in the morning so we were able to get in super quick, order our food at the kiosk, eat at our own (fast) pace and then get out. We were in and out in less than 40 minutes! Not bad to get great food and enjoy the atmosphere of Beast’s Castle!
We immediately headed towards Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and got in line. The line seemed so long because it wrapped around the ride but it only started at the entrance so it was not as long as it seemed. Once it hit 9 am, we flew through the line and was out in no time! We switched the schedule to do Space Mountain next since it had a shorter wait time. This was the first time I actually rode this ride since I normally travel with really little ones and we just haven’t made it a priority to do a rider swap. The wait time for this was only about 30 minutes and I think we made it through it even faster than that. Next up was Splash mountain! This ride is always a must for me! The wait time said 30 minutes so we decided to do a quick restroom break since they had one at the ride. That 30 minutes wait time quickly turned into 45 minutes and we ended up waiting for over an hour. This wait time put me behind a little more than I wanted to be but we figured we would make it up along the way.
We then headed back towards the entrance of Magic Kingdom to catch the Move It! Shake it! Dance & Play It! Street Parade on our way out. We got a pretty decent spot considering we got to the parade after it had already begun but we were able to watch the second half of it and then we followed it down Main Street to the exit.
2nd Park – Animal Kingdom
- Be at Animal Kingdom for our FastPass+ for Dinosaur before noon
- Ride Na’vi River (FP+)
- Ride Expedition Everest (FP+)
- Sneak in Flight of Passage somehow
- Eat Lunch at a Quick Service location
- Take bus to Hollywood Studios
We took the bus to this park and we quickly realized this was going to be much harder than we anticipated since we were already an hour behind our schedule. By the time we arrived at the park, we had already missed our first FP+ and was about halfway through our second FP+ time. We headed straight to our first ride, Dinosaur, and we got an amazing Cast Member who let us use our already expired FP+! As soon as this ride ended, we darted to Na’vi River Journey! Again, we were about 30 minutes past our time but they let us on this ride as well. We did really get some great Pixie Dust to help us out. Disney World has some amazing cast members and we were lucky enough to meet two great ones!
After Na’vi River Journey, we were finally back on schedule and decided now would be a good time to grab lunch. We ate at the Flame Tree barbecue Quick Service since we could smell it a mile away and we are huge BBQ fans. It did not disappoint! I would highly recommend the BBQ Mac and Cheese.
As we headed towards our final FP+, Expedition Everest, it began to rain. That didn’t bother us since we had planned for it and was expecting that to happen at some point. What we didn’t expect was the thunder/lightening that closed Expedition Everest. They did give us a FP+ to another ride or to come back later and use it. Since we had already hoped to ride Flight of Passage at some point, we decided to head straight there during the storm and wait it out in line for this ride instead. And wait we did! I think it was about 3 hours before we got through the line so we were obviously VERY behind on our schedule at this point! My husband loved Flight of Passage so that made it worth it but I believe this ride was the start of my motion sickness so I hate to say it but I am just not a fan. Since it was now almost 5 pm and we had to be at Hollywood Studios by 3 pm, we immediately ran to the exit and looked for a bus to go to Hollywood Studios.
The panic began to set in at this point and we started to think we couldn’t complete the challenge. So we took a look at our outline and decided to nix our original rides since they had long wait times, and decided to grab whatever 3 rides had the shortest wait.
3rd Park – Hollywood Studios
- Be at here by 3 pm
- Ride Rock n’ Roller coaster
- Ride Tower of Terror
- Ride Toy Story Mania or Slinky Dog Dash
- Grab a bite at Andy’s Lunch Box
- Take the walkway to Epcot
We rushed into the park and headed straight to Star Tours-The Adventure Continues since the wait was only about 10 minutes. Afterwards we ran directly over to Muppet*Vision 3D since they had just opened the doors to let everyone inside for the show. We finished out the park with The Voyage of The Little Mermaid and these rides were nice to do since we just sat down for them and the AC was so good but I did feel defeated that we chose easy rides instead of really getting the whole experience. I also hated not riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Since this park was basically a blur, we somehow left without getting a snack so we were already down one part of the challenge. On the way out, we decided to opt out of the walkway over to Epcot since we were both so exhausted and the bus was already there for pickup..
4th Park – Epcot
- Be here by 6 pm
- Ride Soarin’
- Ride Test Track
- Ride Mission: SPACE Orange
- Eat and drink around the world as a celebration!
The bus ride over really did help us pick up our spirits and we were close to being back on schedule! We had planned to be at Epcot by 6 pm and it was close to 7 pm when we got off at the park. We headed to Mission: SPACE first and decided to go the Orange track. Again, this was one I just never had a desire to do and I quickly realized why. Motion Sickness was in full force, Orange track was not the best decision. I had been given great advice to just look straight forward during the entire ride and that did help so much but I was so glad when the ride was over. We immediately darted over to Test Track. This ride had a single-rider option so we decided to do this since we wouldn’t be sitting next to each other on the ride anyways. Although, I honestly wish I had thought about that for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster!
So it was 8:55 pm when we got off Test Track and we still had one ride left! We RAN over to be in line at Soarin’ Around the World by 9 pm when the park closed. And… WE MADE IT! I honestly can’t even tell you how long it took to get through the line since we were just so excited for it to be over! HAHA!
After Thoughts-We ARE TIRED!
Man was this exhausting! So much fun and I will always remember the experience, but It. Was. Exhausting. I wish I had skipped Flight of Passage without a Fast Pass because the line was entirely too long to do with only a short amount of time in the park. I think that was the beginning of the downfall and this made us miss out on such great rides at Hollywood Studios. If you plan to test out this same challenge, maybe start with Animal Kingdom for rope drop and then book it immediately to this ride if you don’t have the Fast Pass.
I think I got caught up in trying to do it all and I should have chosen between the ride and that early morning breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest. (Honestly the food was better than the ride in my opinion anyways! LOL). Next, I wish we had thought about the single rider line at Hollywood Studios and then we would have gotten to do at least one coaster there. I also wish we had sucked it up and done the walk over to Epcot. It would have been tiring but looking back I think we would have enjoyed our time together just talking and admiring the trail. Overall this was a great time and I will probably do it again! Just maybe change a few things and I may even add in a character photo at every park next time.
Have you done any challenges like the Disney World 4 Parks Challenge? We would love to hear all about them in our Facebook Group, DISNEY EXPRESS LANE!
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