Just what did happen on Sunday?
How did two guys who had never met in person before manage to work together in an attempt to do the impossible: See all 47 rides at Walt Disney World in a single operating day, in the sweltering June heat of peak tourist season?
And above all, did we really do it?
It’s one of those weird moments in life. It’s still kind of a blur. Judging by the amazing reaction from all the followers we picked up throughout the day, we felt like we were the first moonwalkers. One small step for man and all that. Trust me, by the end of the day, the steps were excruciatingly small.
I guess technically we lost. 45 of 47 completed. We spent the last half hour of the day repeating rides, hoping the Speedway and the Astro Orbiters would come back online after being shut down due to lighting and deluge rains for all of the Extra Magic Hours. 48 total rides, but only 45 unique. We had the time. We had the energy. We were in the right place. We just ran out of luck.
So we lost. Fair and square. But looking at the outpouring of support from everyone on Twitter, it didn’t feel that way. You guys were awesome. We were keeping track even while posting our updates, and it is still surreal to me that so many of you were watching all day long and cheering us on. In the end, it felt like we had made history. It’s like the first Rocky movie. How many people remember that he lost that fight?
I’m sure at some point this will be attempted again, and it will be successful. It probably won’t be us. Those people will deserve their place as the first to complete WDW47. What I’m proud of is that we proved it can be done. If not for an ill-timed thunderstorm in the last hour of the day, it would have been ours. It’s true what all those sports cliches say. You have to get lucky to win this thing (and we had our share of luck along the way). And sometimes you get the wrong kind.
Teevtee and I each decided to do our own write-ups, since we came in with different perspectives. Teev’s will come later. As strange as it is to contemplate, he is actually still on vacation, touring WDW with his family (and probably hating life, if he’s as sore as I am).
I don’t know what most people want to hear about. Do you want the play-by-play? The highs and the lows? Emotionally, I don’t think there was ever any major high or major low for me. I was too busy thinking about the next step. People kept asking on Twitter if we were enjoying the rides. Frankly no, we weren’t. I was barely cognizant of the rides going on around us. During some of the exhausting parts, I mainly just welcomed the chance to rest. During the tense parts, I was just hoping they’d hurry up and finish.
If I had to pick one low, it was sitting on Kiliminjaro Safari watching rhino after rhino lazily amble across the road. No joke, there were FIVE white rhinos that held up the whole ride by refusing to get out of the way. I didn’t even know there were five white rhinos in all of Florida, but they were all congregating for a rhino convention on the afternoon of WDW47. Safari is supposed to be a 20 minute trip. It went 40 because of that, making it the longest ride of the day (beating out Ellen’s Energy Adventure). All we could think of were precious seconds draining away. Nevermind the fact that if this had happened during any other Safari, it would have been one of the best Safaris ever.
The high? Getting some of that luck back only hours later. We stumbled into Hollywood Studios with seemingly impossible odds: Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania (via FP), and Star Tours in an hour, with a park hop on foot to Epcot to hit Soarin’ before the window closed on its FastPass. But the rain had just passed through, and as we sprinted through a posted 20-minute queue for Tower of Terror, we found there was not a single person in front of us. We stopped only long enough for them to open the doors to the library. An hour later, we entered Soarin’s FP queue at exactly the last possible minute.
Here’s the real thing that gives me happiness though. Putting together this plan and having it work. I won’t deny a lucky break here and there (just as I won’t blame a bad break at the very end). But proving out the plan was a source of enormous fun for me. Watching the bits and pieces of it fall into place.
I’m going to write more about the plan later, but for tonight, I just wanted to say thanks again to everybody who cheered us on. Special thanks to Teevtee’s wife and daughter who caught the first ride of the day with us and let me borrow their husband/father for a mere 16 hours or so during vacation. An enormous, incredible shout of thanks to my wife and son who spotted us at Hollywood Studios and later rode Triceratops Spin with us (my wife has to be the most supportive person in history to let me try this, though I think my son mainly was just happy to use the resort pool). Massive thanks to my parents, sisters, brother, and his girlfriend who staged a cheering section outside TSM, and then later tailed us around MK in the pouring rain providing moral support. There were two people cheering us at the exit to Imagination who put a nice spring in our step (thanks guys!) and amazing Cast Members everywhere who made us feel important. Huge thanks of course to my partner in crime here at Parkeology, Teevtee, who proved himself a man among men as a Chicagoan gutting out the Florida heat and cataloging every ride on video for posterity. And of course all the incredible comments, tweets, posts, etc. from everyone following on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. I think we picked up nearly 300 twitter followers during the course of the event. Not bad for a little blog from the sticks. I feel like I should now try to sell you insurance or something (hey! buy my book! The Raiders of Castillo del Mar). Lastly I need to thank God for not only helping me not to die from heat exhaustion, but just for giving me the kind of life that lets me do crazy things like this.
Seriously, it was one of the absolute most enjoyable (and exhausting) days I’ve ever had at Disney World, and for those of you who expressed a desire to try it, I encourage you to go for it. Also, start training way in advance. Like, right now. And don’t cram down 3 or 4 beignets from the Port Orleans bakery the day before. Trust me on that one.