The WDW46 Challenge – Parkeology Rides Again

This week, a lucky quirk in scheduling has paved the way for another Parkeology run at the WDW46 Challenge.

On Thursday, Ted will leave snow-swept Chicago en route to sunny Florida, arriving just in time to join Shane on an attempt to ride all 46 rides at Walt Disney World in a single day this Friday, May 29th, 2015.

As the saying goes… One Day. Every Ride. Again.

WDW46 2015

Yes, like a certain Disney franchise of apple-based dessert outlaws, we are trotting out another entry in our WDW46 series.

And this time it’s personal.

No, really. We’ve enjoyed the success of the Official Parkeology WDW46 Challenge. But now thanks to the refurbishment schedule, the window of opportunity is closing. This is one of the last chances for anyone to attempt the challenge before the end of the year.

We hope to provide a book-end to this inaugural season by doing it again. This is just Ted and Shane’s chance to relax and have fun together.

… Because nothing says relaxation like non-stop sprinting through muggy theme parks during a jam-packed summer weekend.

Especially when we only have 16 hours this time instead of 17. With a lousy set of Extra Magic Hours. On a Star Wars Weekend (why do we always schedule these things during super crowded days??)

In typical Parkeology fashion, we have been hearing reports of severe weather forecasted for Friday evening—possibly even more severe than we faced during our first attempt.

With our luck, they’ll probably sound the tornado sirens just before midnight.

So that should be fun.

We invite you to follow us on Twitter, where we’ll give you the play-by-play from @Parkeology and hashtag #WDW46.

6 Ways to Survive Your Last Day of a Walt Disney World Vacation

The dread begins sometime around Day 3. “Halfway” is approaching. The train is cresting the mountain. Sharp rocks lie at the bottom. And then you are barreling towards it, unable to apply the brakes.

Soon it will all be over except the screaming and the credit card bills. Not necessarily in that order.

The very last day of a Walt Disney World Vacation is always the worst. Your fate is inescapable. Depression sets in. By this time tomorrow, you will be back at work.

Just chew on that for a moment. Those gray cubicle walls. Those droning bosses. Those unhappy, inarticulate morons you work with who have no appreciation for your ability to pick the shortest bag check line. The clock resets on your life and you are back to square zero.

This is your life. It didn’t go anywhere while you were on vacation. It just hid under the bed until you wandered back into the house, tan and overstuffed from the free dining promotion.

Then it popped out at you like an 80s slasher movie to remind you that the lawn is overgrown, the cat threw up all over the carpet, and somebody left the milk out all week.

I hate that day.

"Yes, I know about the selfie-stick policy. But this sticks other people."

“Yes, I know about the selfie-stick policy. But this is for sticking other people.”

For my wife, it is different. The woman begins every vacation with a total meltdown of logic that will not subside until we are safely inside the hotel room, with the 21-point room inspection completed and all bags unpacked.

In the hours leading up to leaving the house, she is not only afraid that we will miss our flight, she is actually convinced that they are already boarding the plane. This in spite of the fact that we have never missed a flight in nearly 20 years of marriage. Since we have not left the house the requisite 15 hours in advance, that flight is gone, baby.

And whose fault is it? Mine, because I did not think to charge the kindle before going to bed.

And we still need to write a note to the pet sitter and the car is out of gas and oh no we did not check-in for the Southwest seat assignments at precisely 10:22 pm and the whole world will come to an end!

As I write this from my new permanent home that is called the couch, let me also admit that once we get there, she’s fine. She settles into vacation mode no problem. I’m the one who feels stress on the last day of vacation.

So as the victim of too many of these horrible End Times, let me offer you some ways in which to cope.

Ride the Train a lot

I go hard at the parks when I am on vacation. Open to close, every day. Early entry, extra magic—I am bringing the heat. I will see every freaking ride and show on property.

And I will do it efficiently, mind you.

By the last day of vacation, I can barely walk. I totter around like Mr. Glass in Unbreakable. The thought of standing in line for Splash Mountain is enough to shatter my bones.

This is the perfect time to plunk yourself down on the Walt Disney World Railroad and ride that mother three or four times full-circle.

Mr. Glass from Unbreakable

Did someone say something about trains? Because I have an idea…

I’m a self-respecting park maniac. I am not going to waste my last day at the hotel pool or shopping at Downtown Disney. No, I’m going to sit my butt down and not move while increasing my ride count.

They let you stay on, guys. You don’t have to get off.

Watch the Clock

During the week, I can’t help but keep count.

“Only 5 days left.”

“Wednesday, still not halfway.”

“Three more full-service meal vouchers with dessert and I never want to see a cheesecake again.”

But on the very last day, you can trick yourself again by switching to hours.

“It’s only 10am. I still have another 14 hours before I have to go home.”

“Lunchtime. I still have a whole ‘nuther cheescake left.“

“Parks are closed, but I can still watch the Tip of the Day on the resort channel one more time.”

Everywhere I look, there are crazy bearded homeless Cast Members standing with signboards that say “The End is Near” but I don’t have to believe them. Denial is a viable coping mechanism. Embrace it.

Pack the Bags

This may not seem therapeutic, but it is a critical step in survival. It is the reality gut-punch to get you up and moving when you’d just rather lie down on the spongy water play area and bleed to death.

It is also an exercise in space-bending physics, because somehow—impossibly so—the laws of the universe have multiplied your belongings such that the same clothes you brought down on vacation no longer fit in the exact same geometric volume.

Wrinkled, wadded up socks and underwear should theoretically fit better into the suitcase’s negative space, but instead, the stupid thing won’t zip up and the front flap has an unnatural lump the size of George Lucas’s neck.

You are also forced to examine your own character flaws, because there was no way you should have bought both the ceramic Figment mug and the spinny light-up Mike Wazowski. Also does the R2-D2 popcorn bucket count as a carry-on?

And do you really need to take home every little Downtown Disney brochure and Hollywood Studios Times Guide that you’ve somehow managed to keep in pristine condition as a memento of this blessed family trip? The amount of useless crap that is accumulated during the average Walt Disney World vacation could complete another landfill for Tokyo’s third gate:

  • Splotchy paper tickets to blizzard beach.
  • Assorted plastic Disney shopping bags because won’t the niece back home love them?
  • That map of the resort that you looked at once and remarked “Hey, here’s the jogging trail I plan to use this week” and then promptly shoved aside to make room for the pizza box.

Yet somehow you will make it all work. You will borrow a bulldozer from Avatarland, just so that you can pull the suitcase zipper closed while little Johnny stands on top. And you will utter several prayers that the TSA people at the airport will not attempt to visually inspect the contents of your bag.

In the end you will feel satisfied that at least this little task is out of the way and now you can go enjoy the resort pool one last time.

But wait, where did I put the swimsuits?… oh crap.

Buy a New Outfit

If you are like me, finding a clean outfit for that last day of vacation is like finding a same-day FastPass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There is a mathematical law, which states that the Sum of All T-Shirts Needed for a Walt Disney World Vacation is Equal to the Total of All Shirts Packed Minus One.

My wife constantly mocks me for this. She knows that by the end of the week, I have fewer shirts than Hulk Hogan at a Steroid Convention. Every time we go on vacation, she reminds me to pack more shirts.

Welcome aboard the Hulkaminjaro Safari, brutha!

Welcome aboard the Hulkaminjaro Safari, brutha!

But what she does not understand is that if I pack 7 shirts, I will need 8. If I pack 8, the vacation will simply require 9. I could pack 43 shirts for a week at Walt Disney World, and come Friday, there I’d be, wondering how the heck I managed to melt 43 Mickey bars on myself.

This means that I am good for a last-minute impulse t-shirt purchase. I always have grand visions of finding that cool, park-specific t-shirt that I will wear proudly to work, church, and other places of high fashion.

It is not until I get home that I remember that Disney t-shirts are the rare clothing exception that will balloon to the size of Dreamfinder’s blimp in the dryer, and that when I’m back in the normal world, I will be too embarrassed to wear a bright red shirt of a Carnotaurus chasing a cartoon mouse.

Look forward to Pets

If you are fortunate enough to have pets, you can feel good about yourself on the last day of vacation by imagining how benevolent you will appear when you walk through the door of your home and restore peace and order to your poor animal subjects.

Like a king bestowing gifts upon his fawning peasants, you will parade through your house, kindly scratching an ear here, topping off a water dish there. And oh! Imagine the look of delight on their toothy drooling faces when you deign to kneel beside them and rub their belly.

These sniveling, groveling mendicants will swoon at your very presence and make you feel very amazing indeed.

I waited faithfully for you, my master. Come see what I did on the bathroom floor.

I waited faithfully for you, my master. Come see what I did on the bathroom floor.

Yeah, sorry, I moved on.

Yeah, sorry, I’ve moved on.

Re-evaluate your Life

More than any other time save New Years Eve, the last day of vacation is perfect for reflecting on what has gone off the rails in your life, and how you can set everything right…

…If you will just commit to a few resolutions.

Not looking forward to going back to work? Time to work on that resumé! You know exactly what skills you will highlight. Flashes of inspiration will come to you. Maybe you should even jot it down… But no, you’ll remember when you get home, plus you don’t have your laptop, so it’s just easier that way.

Maybe it’s time to really start exercising. Being in a bathing suit reminds you that everything is just not as perfect as it could be. You still have that treadmill-slash-clothesline you bought a couple years ago. You can power that up first thing tomorrow, be looking good in time for the next vacation.

For me, as a writer, I get my best story ideas on vacation. Taut thrillers, hilarious comedies, amazing action adventure. These ideas pop fully formed into my head from the awakened corners of my imagination. They practically write themselves.

And I’ll work on them just as soon as I finish this Dole Whip.

 

Four Forgotten Disney Attractions (Which Still Exist)

We all have one. The ride we don’t ride. The ride we avoid. The ride we forget.

You’d think that since I live here, it would be nothing but Soarin’ and Space Mountain all the time, but it’s fairly obvious why I don’t hit those rides much. Wait times.

I always make it a point to see the new stuff at least once (even the Frozen Sing-a-long), but I tend to stick with something that is A) Good and B) Available.

It took me almost two years as a local before I finally checked off every single attraction. The guy who was obsessed with seeing everything when I came on vacation turned into a very discriminate tourist when I actually moved down.

When teams try to complete WDW46, there are a surprising number of occasions where teams are riding a ride for the first time (usually the Main Street Vehicles or Tom Sawyer Island).

It got me to thinking about my frequent ridership, and what are my least-visited attractions in the parks. I wonder how would compare to folks who come on vacation, or other locals. I expect the mileage will vary, but I’m certain these forgotten Disney attractions are on everyone’s lowball list.

Magic Kingdom

Of all the parks, I have probably managed to spread the wealth around the most at Magic Kingdom. I rode Mansion a ton when I first moved down, but Pirates is probably the current winner. It tends to eat lines better than Mansion lately (thanks for nothing, FastPass+). The PeopleMover is also very high on the list.

But there is one attraction I avoid like the plague. It takes a great movie, and then chucks that greatness out the window for a chance to allow kids to tell grade-school jokes via the magic of text.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.

I have probably seen this a grand total of 3 times in the ten years I have lived here. The jokes are forced, the theming is out of place, and with all the great Monsters Inc. material to choose from, they latched on to a Mike Wazowski burp joke that appears just before the credits.

Whenever I walk through Tomorrowland, this attraction might as well be an empty warehouse for all the attention I give it.

As a footnote, the AstroOrbitor is probably a very close second. I have zero tolerance for the wait time. I’m sure I’ve ridden it five times or less since moving down.

Yes, that means the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery is higher on the list.

Here is a picture of the Laugh Floor from AstroOrbitor, which is a rare combination of forgottenness

Here is a picture of the Laugh Floor from AstroOrbitor, which is a rare combination of forgottenness

Animal Kingdom

The most frequent ride for me is far and away the Safari, which is odd, since it usually has some of the longer lines in the park. But it was a good FastPass deal (old FastPass), and usually a walk-on in the evenings when we are most likely to visit.

Kali would be on the lower end of the spectrum because wet underwear in a theme park is not fun. But the champ is Primeval Whirl.

This unthemed rattling monstrosity is basically a Grand Inquisition torture machine, but without any of the redeeming qualities that Grand Inquisition torture machines typically have.

Unlike Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, I am always very aware of Primeval Whirl when I’m in the park. Usually it’s because I can’t hear myself think, and also because there is a sense of abject evil emanating from it, the way pea-soup vomit emanates from Linda Blair’s head.

Side note: With it’s limited show times, I have seen Flights of Wonder about the same number of times that I have ridden Primeval Whirl. But Flights of Wonder never crawled out of a sewer and ate my dog, so Primeval Whirl is the winner.

If Dante wrote a sequel to the Inferno, this would be its title.

If Dante wrote a sequel to the Inferno, this would be its title.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Tours is running away with the popularity award. Like the Safari at Animal Kingdom, we always seem to end up on Star Tours during an evening at the Studios.

On the low-end of the spectrum, I am surprisingly light on Toy Story Mania. That killer, killer line is a real turn-off. Somewhere between 5 and 10 times.

But nothing can hold a candle to Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. I’ve seen this a whopping two times in 10 years. The first time was simply to cross it off the list as the very last attraction I experienced as a local.

The second time was to let my son see it, because he had been bad that day and needed to be punished.

Okay, I’m being harsh. Beauty and the Beast is no Primeval Whirl, since the first time you see it it is tolerable and does not cause zombie snakes to infest your home. But subsequent viewings are just intolerable. The theater is hot and miserable, the characters are expressionless in their foam heads, and everything about it exudes blandness.

I don't have any pictures of the actual show, so here is a picture of a static Beast statue. It has approximately the same quality of performance.

I don’t have any pictures of the actual show, so here is a picture of a static Beast statue. It has approximately the same quality of performance.

Epcot

Spaceship Earth and Nemo lead the popularity contest here. I’m also good for a turn on Living with the Land.

The movie presentations fare the worst. O Canada, Impressions de France, and Circle of Life are probably between 3-5 times each. American Adventure is about 5 times as well (awkward show times and length).

I assume we’re not going to count Innoventions. I don’t go out of my way to experience every little corporate slideshow. I’ll usually do an exhibit once, but I don’t often repeat it. Playing the Playstations for five minutes counts as “doing something” right?

Your Epcot grand winner? Wonders of China.

forgotten_china

Up until last month, I had seen it only once, and actually made a special trip to see it again, just so that it wouldn’t be rated worse than Beauty and the Beast. It’s my least favorite of the World Showcase attractions, probably because it does not show one of the Three Amigos lacking self-awareness at how unfunny he has become.

But come on. It’s not worse than Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.

What Are Your Forgotten Disney Attractions?

So I’m curious… whether you’re an infrequent visitor or if you go all the time—what wins the prize for your most Forgotten Disney Attraction?