We love park challenges. And that’s why we’re excited for this interview with Scott Kumka, the man who set the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance record — a whopping ten rides in a single day.
Scott was gracious enough to sit down with us for an interview and talk about his love of challenges, his fun accomplishments, and how he achieved that seemingly impossible Rise of the Resistance feat.
Parkeology: I’m going to just dive right into it. You are clearly a big Disney fan. What’s your personal Disney story? How did that start for you?
Scott: That’s probably back to when my parents took us to Disneyland when I was about five. All I really remember was going on the Storybook Canals and being freaked out by going into Monstro’s mouth. That’s the only time I’ve been to Disneyland.
Parkeology: Now you live down in the Central Florida area. Or at least close enough that you can travel to it.
Scott: Palm Beach area. I was born up in Canada. My parents moved down when I was eight.
Parkeology: And then at some, you got interested in doing some of these challenges. Like the Parkeology Challenge and others.
Scott: There used to be a website called Orlando United. Basically they had a bunch of small challenges, like visit so many parks or get a picture with every princess. Or, you know, take a shot inside Seuss Landing sitting on Horton’s egg.
The Parkeology Challenge
Parkeology: What attracted you to the idea of doing the Parkeology Challenge, where you try to ride every ride?
Scott: I actually found you guys through a different blog [Passport 2 Dreams]. I was just clicking through different links. And yours was one of the more interesting ones that came up.
Parkeology: What were some of the things that you were surprised by when you ran it for the first time?
Scott: Well, the very first time I did it, I was doing it with a friend and his daughter. I think she was like six years old at the time. But the interesting thing was, she went on the Twilight zone with me and my partner did not. I think we did maybe three parks that day. I don’t think we completed any of them. In the older versions of the challenge, you’d have to worry about [long rides like] the Universe of Energy, the Great Movie Ride. I know the Great Movie Ride screwed me at least twice. One night when everything else was like five, ten minute waits, for some reason the Great Movie Ride was 75 minutes. That was our last ride at the Studios, but that extra 75 minutes was enough. So we couldn’t complete,
Parkeology: So was there anything during those first few runs where you were surprised that you had prepared for a certain situation?
Scott: There’s always things that you think you’re prepared for. One of the things I’ve done several times is getting between the Aladdin Carpets, and then getting on the Liberty Square Riverboat. It depends on how the timing works out for the cycle. I’ll usually go around 9 45 on the Carpets. And if I’m off at the right time, I can get right onto the 10:00 Riverboat. It doesn’t always work out. The Riverboat will sometimes let you on all the way up to 10:00. Sometimes they’ll cut it off a few minutes early.
Parkeology: As you would do more runs, what were some of the things that you found yourself improving upon each time?
Scott: The biggest thing is just the distance between rides and the order that you would do them. I’ve learned there’s a way you can do Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. You can knock those out both in the morning if you do it right. And two of the most annoying rides are in Tomorrowland with the Astro Orbiter and the [Tomorrowland Speedway].
Parkeology: Is there any particular ride that you just really dread?
Scott: The one I really, really hate is Kali [River Rapids].
Parkeology: Because of the water? Because you’re one of those guys that always does it with no poncho.
Scott: Yes. The worst was when I was riding it and there was one of those Florida downpours. There was no lightning, so they were still running the ride. But I’ve never been more soaked in my life.
Parkeology: Is there a ride that you actually look forward to during the day? Because you know, a lot of times on these challenges, you’re not really even paying attention to the ride.
Scott: Yeah. There’s some times when I was like, “Did I even ride that? Yeah, there’s the picture.” But I don’t remember riding that. I like riding Peoplemover as long as there’s no line. When I first started these challenges, Peoplemover was still mostly a walk on. But I guess people have discovered that, oh yeah, Peoplemover is a great ride.
Parkeology: It’s a nice 12 minute break to just kind of sit there and enjoy it. Now I know you said that your first run was as a team. But you actually do a lot of your runs solo, right?
Scott: I would say probably 85, 90% of them have been solo. I’ve run with four different partners overall.
Parkeology: Do you change your approach at all when you’re running with a partner versus when you’re solo? Are you usually the one deciding how you do it?
Scott: Most of the time, I’m the head of it. But like when I ran with Kendall, we both knew what we were doing. We just screwed it up at the end. That’s one of those where we got through to the Astro Orbiter. I’ve gotten screwed on that one a couple of times. Because it’s basically a double load. It’s got a load for the elevator and again once you’re up there. Like the last time I did it, I had to wait three cycles once I was up top.
Parkeology: You finally got that completion. Is there any one thing that you think finally put you over the top?
Scott: Well, the big thing was the year before I got my completion. I was there for the opening of Slinky Dog. And I did just a test run, trying to see how fast I could do the Studios on an opening day of an attraction. I completed the Studios in under two hours when Slinky opened. That’s when I knew, whenever the next big attraction is going to open, that’s going to be the day to try to do a completion
On Riding Mad Tea Party
Parkeology: Recently you’ve done challenges where you tried to get a lot of rides in in a single day. I know there was one time where you rode Mad Tea Party, I don’t even know how many times
Scott: The challenge was ride 100 rides, and it didn’t matter what attraction you rode. I first actually attempted that with Everest, and I got around 50 rides. Have you seen that Defunctland [FastPass] video? There’s a possibility that I was Rider 39 [in the Shapeland simulation].
Parkeology: For me [Everest] is the worst ride. I can’t handle that ride in the best conditions.
Scott: You know, Everest takes the PhotoPass picture. So I was getting so bored doing it over and over every time. I knew there was a PhotoPass picture. I did a bunch of different poses as we went through.
Parkeology: So rollercoasters or Mad Tea Party don’t mess you up? You don’t get motion sickness?
Scott: No, on the Mad Tea Party, the only time I got motion sick was early on, like the third or fourth time. I felt a little dizzy, but I kept going and actually it just disappeared.
Parkeology: So on the day that you did the Mad Tea Party, did you actually get to 100 rides that day?
Scott: Actually I got to 101. I got 10 rides on the Main Street Vehicles because they start before the rest of the park. So that was, “Okay, I can ride back and forth.” I got about 10 rides there because I needed the Fast Passes for the Mad Tea Party. You had to ride at least three different rides [with FastPass+]. So I also rode Winnie the Pooh, Space Mountain and Dumbo. Because you had to use those first three FastPasses.
The Incredible Rise of the Resistance Record
Parkeology: On [September 29, 2021], you decided to try to ride Rise of the Resistance as many times as you could in a single day, right?
Scott: Yeah. That was because of the amazing period between when there was no boarding groups and the Genie Plus had not been activated yet. So basically it was standby only for everything.
Parkeology: And how many did you get on that day?
Scott: I got 10, but I’m pretty sure I could have gotten 14, because I didn’t stay in a Disney hotel. I was about an hour behind the early entry people. So my first ride was actually the longest wait of the day. While it was posted at 100 minutes, I think the actual wait was 65. But then there were a couple of points in the day when I got stuck where the stormtroopers are. I got stuck there for about an hour. I got to see some of the backstage, because [the Cast Member] was like, “Oh you need to use the bathroom, you can go back here.” And then right towards the end of the night, right around 8:30, they were like, “Everyone run, you must get out of the building now.” And there were a bunch of fire engines and stuff. So I’m not sure what was going on.
But the thing is, because the park hadn’t closed, I went and rode Mickey’s Runaway Railway because that was a 5 minute wait at the end of the night. And then on a whim, just decided to walk back to see if Rise had reopened, which it did. So I got to get one more. That last ride kind of sucked because all the work lights were on while I was riding.
Parkeology: Wow. I’m actually surprised that they would have had some sort of emergency like that so close to park closing, and then still reopened it in time for you to ride again.
Scott: When I went back to the entrance and they were like, “Yeah, we don’t think we’re going to open again” because of whatever happened. And you know, they never tell you what happens.
Parkeology: And was it pretty much that whole day? Was it just ride it, then get right back in line?
Scott: Yeah, except for when the ride broke down. The first time it broke down, one of my other friends was in the park. She wanted me to come down and have lunch. I was like, okay, I’ll go have lunch with them. I ended up watching a little bit of the Cavalcades that went through while we were having lunch.
Parkeology: When you were initially thinking about doing it, how many rides did you think you had a shot at getting?
Scott: I was thinking around 15. But you learn as you’re going through the line, you’ll know exactly how long the wait’s going to be. As soon as you enter the building after about three or four times through you’re like, “Okay, this is gonna be a shorter wait.” “This is gonna be a longer wait.”
Parkeology: And riding it that many times in a single day… I mean, you mentioned it with Everest. You get bored with the ride after a certain number of times. But with the ride being that new and that detailed, were you picking up on stuff that maybe you’d never noticed before?
Scott: A few things here and there. The worst thing for me was actually getting stuck on the ride itself, right on the bridge where Kylo and Hux are staring at you. I got stuck there for about 25 minutes. What you don’t realize is that music is only about 10 seconds long. So you hear that same cue over and over and over.
Parkeology: As far as I know, that’s the single day Rise of the Resistance record. I don’t know of anybody else that’s ridden it that many times
Scott: People have tried it on other rides. I know people broke my Mad Tea Party record. Even though I rode 100 [total rides], I actually rode Mad Tea Party 78 times. Literally three days later there were two other teams that rode just the Tea Party. Like over a hundred times, 108 or something like that.
Parkeology: When you’re doing that, I imagine the Cast Members start to recognize you coming through the line so often.
Scott: Yeah, the Cast Members recognize me. There was one really bad thing that happened [during the Mad Tea Party run]. One of the guests started noticing that I was riding while they were waiting in like a 40 minute wait. And one guy actually tried to punch me out. Luckily the Cast Members knew what I was doing. And they got the other guy out of there pretty quick. It’s like if he would just hand me his phone, I could’ve given him a Flight of Passage FastPass.
Parkeology: Exactly. He has no clue that he’s sitting there with somebody who actually has the expertise in the system. And his instinct is to get upset with you rather than to say, “Hey, how are you able to do this?” That is unfortunate that those types of guests pop up. So when it comes to the Rise of the Resistance record, you rode it more in a single day than I’ve ridden it total since it’s been open. Have you had the opportunity to use Genie Plus?
Scott: I was up there about two weeks ago. I didn’t get to the park till about noon. I was at Epcot and I just wanted to test the system, see what I can get. Literally over the day I got two rides: Imagination and Star Tours. There were a couple more I probably could have picked up, but I wasn’t really doing a challenge or anything. I was meeting people, looking at the holiday stuff. And the other thing I was trying to do was, because I spent money on Genie Plus, I’m like, “Oh, let’s see if I can get the special photos that they do.” I got like two of them to work. I’m literally standing underneath the Millennium Falcon. And it keeps saying “You are not in Galaxy’s Edge.”
Parkeology: Do you think that Genie Plus will help people trying to do challenges or you think it really is ultimately not that useful?
Scott: So far from the people I’ve seen that have used it in the last two weeks, not super helpful. The biggest challenge right now is Remy [Ratatouille Adventure]. Trying to either get a boarding group, which means you have to have an Epcot pass. And a lot of people, they’ll get the boarding group and then try to get one of the other parks, which sometimes works sometimes doesn’t because you never know what’s actually available
Scott: I’m going to be doing a challenge Saturday [11-Dec-2021].
Parkeology: So talk a little bit about that. This is the big charity run, right? So it’s going to be a lot of teams doing a challenge for charity. I know you’ve raised a lot. Do you have any idea how much you might’ve raised over the course of doing these challenges?
Scott: Right now from this year, it’s $1,700.
Parkeology: That’s amazing. That’s pretty incredible. So just to wrap it all up, are there any other challenges that are on your radar?
Scott: The one I always want to do is the coast to coast where you do all six parks. And I’ve even had a couple of people go, “Hey, you want to do it with me?” But it’s trying to get the timing. To both be able to get Disneyland tickets and the time off.
Parkeology: Well, as you said, you haven’t been to Disneyland since you were five years old.
Scott: That would be a challenge because I’ve never even been to California Adventure. I have no idea what any of that… I mean, I know, as a Disney fan, seeing stuff on video. But not in person.
Parkeology: Okay. Last question. Out of all the times you’ve been doing these challenges, do you have any favorite memory that stands out?
Scott: That first completion is always the best. Especially since I did it while there [were other challengers in the park]. Nathan Firesheets completed the same day, we completed on the same ride. It was all so amazing being able to finish on Frozen, walk out and we’re seeing what was basically my penultimate viewing of illuminations. Right as we got off of the ride.
We really appreciate Scott sitting down with us for this interview about his Rise of the Resistance record. Be sure to check him out on Twitter and donate to a good cause!