We were planning our trip to Universal and I couldn’t get my mind off of Disney. I needed to go to Disney, but we only had time in the schedule for 1 day. HOW was I going to decide which park to visit? So my sister-in-law suggested we try the 4 Park Disney Challenge! My husband wasn’t really on board, but after some begging he agreed. We were committed to the 4 Park Disney Challenge and even a LITTLE excited!
What exactly IS the 4 Park Disney Challenge?
There are a lot of variations out there on what actually qualifies as the 4 Park Disney Challenge. You may also hear it referred as 4 Parks in 1 Day Challenge as well. Basically you have to visit all 4 of the Disney theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, & Animal Kingdom) and ride one of the most popular attractions all in ONE day.
I had created the Lau Family Travels 4 Park Disney Challenge (in my mind) that I wanted to successfully complete, but it didn’t happen. These were my criteria:
- Rope drop at the 1st park
- Take a selfie with an icon of the park (Cinderella’s Castle, Spaceship Earth, The Tree of Life, & The Tower of Terror)
- Do a Facebook live video from each park
- Eat one food item at each park
- See the fireworks at the last park
I also wanted to make sure that I got a lot of pictures and videos for the blog.
Planning the 4 Park Disney Challenge was exciting, yet stressful!
There was so much information out there about this challenge and I got a little obsessed about how I should do it “the best” way. I wanted to make sure I picked the right order, and the right rides, and have everything planned out perfectly. You do know by now that I’m a type A personality right?
I decided to rope drop at Hollywood Studios (it opened at 9am), then go to Animal Kingdom, then Magic Kingdom, and end our night at EPCOT. We had never seen IllumiNations at EPCOT before so I thought that would be the perfect end to our night.
I scheduled our FastPass+ options for Animal Kingdom since that would be our second park and the lines would start to be getting longer by that point. I booked Dinosaur, Everest, and Navi River Journey! The plan was after using those three FastPass+ that I would be able to then get some more for our third and fourth parks.
I went back and forth about which order I wanted to tackle the parks. I really wanted to see IllumiNations, but the thought of missing out on Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom was making me weepy. At the end of it all I decided to stick with the original plan!
All of that planning for what?!
The day had come. May 30th. Time for the Lau Family Travels 4 Park Disney Challenge. We were already exhausted by this point from our Universal trip that we didn’t know how we were going to make it. Not to mention the sky had opened up and there were torrential downpours. I couldn’t believe it. I had been watching the weather the whole week prior and May 30th was the ONE day that didn’t look like rain…
But it was okay. We had our ponchos ready from The Dollar Tree and we were trying to keep a positive attitude no matter what.
I tried to stay positive at Hollywood Studios.
We arrived at Hollywood Studios right on time and got right into the park when it opened. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was first on the list and we only waited around 10 minutes to ride. After that we went to the Tower of Terror for another 15-20 minute wait.
My son really wanted to find a Porg so we decided to go find one. He had saved up all of his birthday money and this was all he wanted to buy. We went to the Star Wars Launch Bay and then they sent us to Tatoonie Traders only to find out they have been sold out for a week. This was all in the pouring rain. And we were already getting grumpy.
So, I decided it was time to leave Hollywood Studios. I did a quick live video on Facebook (which was choppy and awful) and we went back to the car to drive to Animal Kingdom. We didn’t get anything to eat. And we forgot our happy family selfie in front of the Tower of Terror. We failed before it was even 10:30am!
Animal Kingdom derailed ALL my plans!
We got to Animal Kingdom earlier than I had planned so we went right to Dinosaur after taking our selfie in front of The Tree of Life. It wasn’t raining and we were feeling a little better about this whole 4 park Disney challenge thing. We got some popcorn and a soda from Trek Snacks and waited for our Fastpass+ for Everest. A few minutes before our time it started raining again. And then the rain got harder. I looked like we were about to ride Everest in the pouring rain… and we did!
When we got off Everest it was pouring! There was thunder and lightning everywhere. And despite my concern for safety we decided to run to Pandora. Our genius plan was that it was so bad out that everyone would leave and we might get to ride Avatar Flight of Passage without too long of a wait. We got to Pandora and Avatar Flight of Passage was at 110 minute wait despite the monsoon. We made a decision as a family to wait. If the wait was 110 minutes we’d still have 5-10 minutes to get to Navi River Journey for our FastPass+ reservation!
Was the wait worth it?
The wait was NOT 110 minutes. We waited 2-hours and 40-minutes to ride Avatar Flight of Passage. By the time we got on the ride I was thinking in my mind that there was NO ride that would be worth waiting that long for and that I would NEVER wait that long for a ride again. But… it was worth the wait. If I could ONLY ride it once it was worth the wait. With that being said, I wouldn’t wait that long for it again. But it was AMAZING.
Sadly, we missed our FastPass+ for Navi River Journey, but we did our Facebook live video and decided it was time to go to Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom gave us sunshine and happiness.
We parked the car at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. I had gotten a FastPass+ reservation for Splash Mountain while we were driving over and I was tickled pink! Splash Mountain and Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover are my favorite attractions at Magic Kingdom.
We had a little time before our FastPass+ time so we decided to grab a bite to eat at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe after taking our family selfie in front of Cinderella’s Castle! Cosmic Ray’s is one of our favorite places to eat at Magic Kingdom. There really isn’t anything super special about it, but the burgers are decent, there is a toppings bar, AND the view of the castle makes me happy!
Luckily we had gotten that FastPass+ because the wait for Splash Mountain was 65 minutes! We got right on, had a wonderful ride, and then did our Facebook live video. We were in a better mood although we were all considering quitting the challenge early because we were exhausted and tired of being wet (amazingly the entire time we were at Magic Kingdom the sun was out though).
We did our third Facebook live video and decided to keep going! Ashtyn wanted to check out the Swiss Family Treehouse since he saw the movie a week before our trip, so we did that as well before leaving.
EPCOT made me laugh and cry.
I checked the My Disney Experience app and got a FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth and we hopped on the monorail again. We took the monorail back to the TTC and then got on the EPCOT monorail! We had never taken the EPCOT monorail before and the views of the park were amazing!
Our #1 goal at EPCOT was to go to Club Cool and do the Beverly Challenge! I was victorious but my husband said that’s because I’m not a super taster! The Beverly is NOT my favorite drink, but I don’t think it’s AS bad as some people say it is! We had a fun time doing our live video on Facebook from Club Cool and then we sat outside and discussed our next move.
I had wanted to go to at least three of the countries in the World Showcase and watch IllumiNations (on top of riding Spaceship Earth). I had also discussed going on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion. But we were all tired. Really tired. And our feet HURT. My husband and son both told me that they would do whatever I wanted to do, but I could see the pleading in their eyes.
One last ride before the sad monorail ride back to the TTC.
We got right on Spaceship Earth and I was off in space during that ride thinking about how 1 day at Disney was a tease! We had been cheating on Disney with Universal for the past year because we like the thrill rides and the Express Unlimited Passes there, but I was missing Disney World! I missed the memories we had there and the way it makes me feel. There really isn’t any way to explain it!
My husband and son told me one more time that they would stay if I really wanted to, but I was exhausted too. Sometimes it’s okay to fail at things! And in reality, it was NOT a failure. We made it to all 4 parks in 1 day despite our exhaustion and the downpours! For the most part we stayed positive and enjoyed our day together in the most magical place on earth. You can’t call THAT a failure!
We took the monorail back to the TTC and got in our car and drove away. The sunset was beautiful – almost like it was a reminder to enjoy every minute!
Would we do it all again?
Honestly, we would probably never do the 4 Park Disney Challenge again, but I’m glad we attempted it. I learned a lot from hopping from park to park and we have those memories forever! “Remember the time Mom made us do the 4 Park Disney Challenge?” I can already hear his voice…