30 for 30
It’s been six weeks since I asked people to weigh in on their favorite Disney attractions. I’d like to thank those of you who took this call to action VERY SERIOUSLY. If any of you ever need advice on what to do, what to eat, where to be and who to see before your next Disney trip, call me. I have a collection of information that will make any WDW vacation information website hang its head in despair.
The trip was everything I wanted it to be. I vacationed with my friends Stephanie and Connie. They are Disney Dorks like me. I highly recommend traveling with people who truly love the parks and can recite animated movie quotes by heart. These are the people who help you shout for Prince Charming to turn his head your way during the afternoon parade. They are the ones who understand that standing in line at the Frozen ride for an hour is not only logical, but necessary. When one suggests that we only eat foods in the shape of Mickey heads, the others immediately agree.
Stephanie and Connie are young whipper snappers who live life to the fullest. I love that they let me tag along. That’s why I thought it was important to do something special and outrageous to celebrate Stephanie’s 30th birthday while we were at Disney World: 30 rides, four parks, one day.
What’s that? You think that’s a crazy idea?
Dear friend. You are correct. But Stephanie, Connie and I wear our crazy like a badge of honor.
This is the tale of a woman who tackled a challenge with as much gusto as she could muster. Although my friends have more than a decade on me, I’m proud to report that we conquered our task without me throwing up, passing out or sitting on the rocking chairs in Liberty Square with all the grandparents. Victory!
Our day started at Animal Kingdom because this is the park that had extra magic hours. That’s a fancy way of saying anyone staying at a Disney resort can get into the park a full 60 minutes before the normal folk. We made a beeline for Expedition Everest. As we hung a right at the Tree of Life, we heard someone on a walkie talkie inform a dude in slacks (read: he worked there) that the roller coaster was down.
Of course it was.
We decided to head over to the rapids. The weather was a miserable grey, misting mess, so why not go ahead and take our changes on getting all the way wet? Good plan. Guess what else was closed? The rapids. It was a unanimous vote that we actually count Expedition Everest as the first of our 30 attractions since we rode it three times our first day on vacation. That’s not cheating, right? Ride 1 — DONE!
We left Animal Kingdom in a rush to get to EPCOT by the time they opened for the day. We had yet to experience the Frozen ride because the wait time was longer than the DMV on its worst day. We knew we had to run from rope drop (park opening) in order to enjoy the ride at all.
You’d think our spirits would have been dashed with that slight Animal Kingdom glitch. I mean, we had been out and about for an hour and the only thing we had conquered was the bathroom in Dinoland. But we persevered and rolled up to EPCOT with time to spare! Another victory.
When the cast members let us inside the park, a wave of people ran past the big golf ball, laughing at the silly people who stopped to take a picture in front of said golf ball. Bless those hearts who actually went inside the golf ball to ride Spaceship Earth. FOOLS!
Since running is strictly forbidden, half of the crowd briskly walked right toward Soarin’ while the other half ran half walked to the left toward Frozen. Stephanie was our leader. It’s a well known fact that the best way to negotiate large crowds is by using a serpentine system. We walked one behind the other like ducks. Sadly, we continued to be thwarted by the evil double stroller. At one point, Connie snapped a picture of two dads passing us who had TODDLERS on their shoulders. This was not a good sign. It was time to book it to Arendelle.
Norway is halfway across the park. How we were 738th in line is still a mystery to me. It was roughly 10 minutes past the hour and the sign read that Frozen was a 90 minute wait. How did this happen? Of course we stuck it out. It was a full 60 minute wait, but it was worth every second. The ride is full of warm hugs and a bunch of grown adults singing “Let It Go” to the top of their lungs. #Magical #Ride2DONE
By the time we got out of Frozen, Soarin’ was a 45 minute wait. We all wanted to ride the new version again, so we stood in line and made friends with a group of retired married people who were drinking around the world. I kid you not. They had t-shirts and everything! For those of you who don’t know, the backside of EPCOT consists of makeshift replicas of countries from around the world. One merges into the other as you walk along the path. Visitors can experience authentic dress, souvenirs, food and booze from 11 different countries. I believe the phrase you’re looking for is squad goals?
I asked if any of these adorable souls had available sons who were going to join them for a tequila in Mexico? No such luck. But they did recommend nice bordeaux in the French pavilion. Noted.
After Soarin’ (Ride 3) we scooted over to Test Track’s single rider line. Before we knew it, Ride 4 was DONE and we were on a bus to Hollywood Studios. Connie suggested we grab a Mickey pretzel to eat in line while we waited for Tower of Terror. Brilliant!
Luckily everyone’s food had digested enough not to come back up. It was the best Tower of Terror sequence we had ever experienced and we have the picture to prove it.
Notice that the little girl on the front row isn’t scared of the ride. She’s horrified by the crazy women in matching shirts who are screaming their heads of. Ride 5 — DONE. We hopped next door to ride Rockin’ Roller Coaster’s single rider and just like that, Ride 6 — DONE!
It’s important to note that it was early afternoon at this point. I began to get nervous that there were only a handful of precious hours left in our day and 24 rides to complete in Magic Kingdom. This didn’t seem to faze my compadres. Ah, the YOLO generation.
I scouted out a place for the afternoon parade (Ride 7) while Connie and Stephanie bought some real food to help fuel our bodies for the remainder of our quest. Man, those corn dog nuggets were good!
The parade was enchanting. The three fairies from Sleeping Beauty were featured and we nearly lost our minds. Then it occurred to me that we didn’t have our Halloween outfits on, so it technically didn’t make sense to the parade performers why we were so stoked to see them. But they loved it! Stephanie shouted, “Make it blue!” while Connie followed with, “Make it pink!” I like to think we boosted the spirits of those girls who probably roll their eyes that the princesses get all the love. PS: We gave all the princesses love. And Flynn Rider. That Rapunzel is one lucky girl.
After the parade, we decided to head to Buzz Lightyear. We waited in way too long of a line, only to discover that it was broken. WHAT IN THE WORLD? Knowing we needed to knock out a lot of attractions in a short amount of time, we opted for Fantasyland. We rode the Tea Cups, met Minnie and Daisy, took a spin on the carousel, walked onto the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (fast pass) and enjoyed Mickey’s Philharmagic. (Rides 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13 — BOOM!)
Side note: Connie decided Fantasyland is where strollers go to die. Amen.
Our next fast pass was Peter Pan. Stephanie made me tell the story of the time when the rather large woman fell on me back when I worked in Fantasy Hell for two horrific weeks before I begged to be transferred to the world famous Jungle Cruise. Ah, memories. (Ride 14)
Then I had the worst idea of our entire vacation. I take full responsibility for what happened next. Every attraction had a long wait time and our next fast pass wasn’t for another hour. So we went to Carousel of Progress like morons. Bless that “attraction’s” heart. It’s as if it has been frozen in 1983. Not in a good way. Silver lining: it was nice to sit down and take nap. (Ride 15)
We scrambled out of the exit and found ourselves in the middle of a dance party with Frozone and Mr. and Mrs. Incredible. Yes, please! It was truly the most fun and a much needed adrenaline boost. The Cupid Shuffle has never been more entertaining. I twerked with Frozone. Opportunities like that come once in a lifetime and I took it. (Unexpected Ride 16)
Space Mountain (Ride 17) was followed by Stephanie’s first Dole Whip (Ride 18), which was documented forever in digital format. She ate it during the Tiki Room (Ride 19). We rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpet (Ride 20) before we headed to the world famous Jungle Cruise.
I’m picky about this ride. As a former world famous Jungle Cruise skipper, I have a problem with cast members who phone in the script. It’s also highly annoying when they don’t understand the cadence of the spiel. IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SARCASTIC. No one believes that’s the actual backside of water. Okay, for the most part, no one believes that’s the backside of water. You have to own the cheese in order to execute the cheese.
I’m happy to say that our skipper was delightful. She made me miss my days in the jungle. And although rumor has it that former skippers have the power to commandeer a boat if they can prove they remember the script, I opted for a photo at the helm of the vessel. (Ride 21) You’ll never guess the name of our boat.
Day morphed into night and we realized that the end was near. We could actually do this if we we were smart! We squeezed in Pirates of the Caribbean (Ride 22) before heading to the castle light show (Ride 23). We ooh’d and ahh’d during the fireworks (Ride 24) and Stephanie flirted with the guy selling balloons in the street, scoring an awesome picture of her holding a massive bouquet of balloons in front of the castle. Happy Birthday to you, Steph!
We watched the Electrical Parade (Ride 25) and were sad to learn that it’s the last time it will be flowing down Main Street U.S.A. It has since retired. We gave our condolences on the way to Dumbo (Ride 26).
I remember thinking, as we left Barnstormer (Ride 27), that we may not make it. The park was closing in 30 minutes. How could we get to three rides in that amount of time? And why are all these people still here? GO HOME SO THE LINES WON’T BE LONG!
Fortunately, Under the Sea (Ride 28) was a ghost town. We walked right on. My lower back loved sitting down for nine minutes, but I dare not tell the others that I was fading fast. Our last stop before park closing was It’s a Small World (Ride 29) because we aren’t monsters.
Needing only one more item to check off our list, we thought about the obligatory castle pic (Ride 30) but were delighted to discover that Mickey Mouse — THE TALKING MICKEY — is so cool that he shuts the park down. I’ve never run so fast in my entire life. My lungs were in my throat. It felt like that time the large woman fell on me at Peter Pan. We also may have knocked a few kids down who were in our way. It’s okay, though. We made it! Ride 31 in the books. One to grow on.
Our reaction to meeting Mickey Mouse is one of my favorite memories of the entire trip. I’m actually holding my hand to my heart. Stephanie’s face is pure joy. And Connie is trying really hard not to cry.
This is why we visit Disney World as adults. We get to escape the reality of our lives, deadlines, schedules and anxieties. For just a few days, we are kids again. We settle into the joy, bask in the happiness and wipe away a few silly tears. It truly is a magical place.
If you want a play-by-play of our experience, check out Connie’s Twitter page. She live tweeted the entire thing. God bless the millennials of the world!