The Weidner/McGufficke family (Graeme 46, Karla 44, Megan 15, and Ian 12) has been visiting WDW since 1997; their latest trip was their sixth. Though as their children grow older their focus may have changed over the years — more Space/Splash and less Dumbo — the Weidner/McGuffickes have always loved the totality of the Disney experience. They currently live in the mountains of western North Carolina.
A couple of months ago the Weidner/McGufficke family decided to do some volunteer work in order to earn a free day at a Disney theme park. We volunteered at the Health Adventure in downtown Asheville as docents and really enjoyed the experience. But we weren’t sure when we would be able to use our free Disney passes as vacation time was going to be hard to schedule. And afford.
And then Megan and I started to talk about possibly attempting the Magic Kingdom Ultimate Challenge — see info on the challenge here — which requires that you experience all of the core attractions (rides, parades, major live shows, etc.) along with as many bonus attractions (character greetings, minor live shows, etc.) as possible in one day. And Saturday June 12 was the selected day.
We drove down on Friday June 11 and headed straight to Downtown Disney for a huge dose of pixie dust. Megan — the ultimate Disney fan — made many purchases and then we checked into our hotel. [The Holiday Inn Maingate East is only ten minutes from WDW and we got rooms — with bunk beds for the kids — for $50 per night.] Dinner that night was at a place called King O Falafel and the meal was great! If you are in the area and enjoy middle eastern food then give this place a try!! (Yeah, it may be in an old Quizno’s and looks a bit sketchy, but the Palestinian folks serving and making the food are great!)
We tried to get a good nights sleep but were awoken by a cellphone alarm at 1:30am. So when the real alarm went off at 5:30am we weren’t all that well rested. But we all got dressed and trooped out to the car and on to a nutritious breakfast at IHOP. We entered WDW property at 7am and were so early that the entry gates were not yet manned so we didn’t have to pay the $14 fee. We parked in the Contemporary Resort parking lot and walked over to the main Magic Kingdom gates. [You may ask, “Why did they arrive so early?” There were two answers: (1.) We had to exchange our Give A Day, Get A Disney Day passes and didn’t know how long that would take, and (2.) we wanted to be first in line. Duh.]
It was going to be a very hot day — forecast was for 93F/34C — so we stayed in the shade as much as possible while waiting the next hour or so. Megan and I spent the time reviewing our plan while Karla and Ian spent the time complaining about how early we had to get up. (To be totally honest, Karla and Ian were really great and supportive of our challenge attempt! And I was really glad that they had a great time at the park while Megan and I were racing around.)
Arrived at MK around 7:15 and waited until park opening
The crowd got thicker and finally the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show #1 started at 8:50am. By the time the countdown began we were both pretty excited and ready to get started!! When the rope was dropped we were off at a gallop, heading down Main Street towards Cinderella’s Castle and then on to Dumbo. Our second stop — and first inside the park — was to take a photo of one of the murals inside Cinderella’s Castle #2. This took just a few seconds but my first attempt was blurry so I had to take a second. By this time the crowd had gathered at the second rope at the border of Fantasyland. Since we needed to be on the first Dumbo run we had to step it into high gear and pass a bunch of folks pushing strollers. We wound up third and fourth in line and had huge grins on our faces!
8:55AM — Main Street
Dumbo the Flying Elephant #3 was our first real ride at the Magic Kingdom but our third stop on the challenge. We enjoyed our air-time as it now felt like we were really in the middle of things. We had a short worry as the ride stopped after one rotation but we were soon back in the air for the full Dumbo experience. Our carriage stopped right next to an exit so we were soon out of the gate and headed towards Peter Pan’s Flight #4. After our trip to Never Land we zipped over to Tomorrowland and the Astro Orbiter #5 as it is one of the slower loading rides with low capacity. We had one of our longer waits here — nine minutes — and definitely our most uncomfortable ride as we both got into the same carriage. We laughed the entire ride and were very glad to have this ride completed. We then dashed over to get FASTPASSes for Space Mountain and then hightailed it back to Main Street to ride a Main Street Vehicle #6. Definitely one of the rides most folks ignore Megan and I jumped onto a horse-drawn trolley for the ride back to the hub. It was nice to be resting for a bit, even though we had been going less than an hour. (I was already sweating something awful.)
Our next stop was at a character greeting in Toontown, but along the way we tried to get an autograph/photo with Cinderella’s stepmother and step-sisters and then Alice in Wonderland but the lines had been closed just seconds before we arrived. Oh well. These two stops had made us late for the rope drop at Toontown — which doesn’t open until 10am — so as we approached we saw the mass of humanity already ahead of us and steaming towards the Toontown Hall of Fame and the Fairies and Princesses character greetings. Megan and I did a great job of ducking and weaving, and we wound up about tenth in line to see the Fairies. (You may ask why we tried this so early in the day, and the reason is that historically the wait times to see the Fairies is 45+ minutes with the Princess line 30+ minutes. We only needed to wait in one time so thought if we were near the front of the line we could get this completed quickly. As it was we only waited seven minutes.)
After being shrunken in size to enter Pixie Hollow we were finally lead into the greeting area we saw that there were three fairies — Fawn #7, Iridessa and Terence. We told one of the fairy wranglers that we only need an autograph/photo of one of the fairies and were told that the other fairies would be very upset if we left without meeting them. We apologized, said that we really did want to meet the other two, but that we had to go. And we rushed out. Laughing all the way. (We are likely to spend some time in Disney Purgatory for that…)
But time was a wastin’, so we zipped across the street to ride The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farms #8, which is a personal favorite of ours. Only 63 seconds long but still loads of fun! We then headed back to Fantasyland — as we ran along someone asked us if we were doing the challenge — and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh #9 where Megan complained that I was taking too many photos. (I wanted to make sure that we could prove that not only did we visit the entrance to a ride but that we actually rode it too. This practice lead to the untimely demise of my two Blackberry batteries by 4:30pm. I’m pretty sure that Megan gave me a few “I told you so” looks.) Anyway, we survived the Blustery Day and Heffalumps and zipped over to The Haunted Mansion #10.
10:25AM — The Haunted Mansion
This became the first of many stops where we timed it perfectly and slipped in the door just as it was being closed. Once inside the stretching room we worked our way to the correct side so that we could be some of the first out and onto a Doom Buggy! (See! We aren’t just incredibly good looking.) Photos were tough to get inside the Haunted Mansion but Megan got a good shot of us with our ghoulish friend. On our way out of the mansion we were asked by a Disney cast member — for the first and only time today — to not run but to walk. Which we did. At least until we rounded the next corner.
Our next stop was going to be the Hall of Presidents, but when we arrived at the door the greeter told us it would be seven minutes, so we decided to zip through the Swiss Family Treehouse #11 and then come back. But we got caught by some slow moving tourists oblivious to the importance of us getting through the treehouse quickly and it took us six minutes to complete our tour. But just in case we ran back to The Hall of Presidents #12 where the greeter was yelling at us to hurry as the door was about to close. We slipped in at the last second and the show — with a new President — started. Morgan Freeman was a great narrator! We were planning on spending some of the time inside drinking and snacking but that was explicitly banned, so we reapplied sunblock and enjoyed the show.
From Liberty Square we zoomed over to pick up a FASTPASS for Splash Mountain and hop onto the Walt Disney World Railroad #13 if it was sitting at the Frontierland Station. Megan checked on the train while I got the FASTPASSes, but I kept on getting “This is not a FASTPASS. You can get your next FASTPASS at 11:10am” messages. It was 11:08am. While I was getting frustrated about having to wait Megan came back down the train station’s stairs and yelled that the train was about to go. Should I stay or should I go? But we needed the FASTPASSes, and the train would take 20 minutes to do a complete circuit. I kept trying to get the passes until I was finally rewarded. Grabbed them and rushed up the stairs. We were again the last folks in the door and the train took off.
The train ride was very relaxing, and we took the time to rehydrate and eat some snacks. (The Granny Smith apple I ate was great!) We discovered at the next station that eating/drinking was not allowed while on the train. Oops. Upon completing the circuit we alighted at Frontierland Station and raced to get onto the rafts for Tom Sawyer Island #14. Our timing here was again pretty good. We were required to remain on the island for 15 minutes and had to take three photos — shooting a rifle at Fort Langhorn, at one of the caves, and on the barrel bridge. Once all tasks were completed we wound up waiting for the return raft voyage so took our first potty stop. It was about 11:40am and we had gone through a bunch of bottled water already.
We were headed back to Main Street for some scheduled attractions but had time to have some target practice at the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade #15. I aimed and Megan pointed in the general direction. We still had a little time to spare so doubled-back and picked up FASTPASSes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. [Potential disaster occurred here: Megan went to get the FASTPASSes and I was apparently supposed to stay put. Which I didn’t. Megan got back to where I was supposed to be, and I wasn’t. And I had her bag with her phone. She wound up borrowing a phone to contact me. We linked back up and all was well. I begged Megan’s forgiveness.] Then we raced back to Main Street where we bumped into the the Mayor of Main Street #16 and the Dapper Dans Barbershop Quartet #17. A few minutes later we were watching the Main Street Trolley Parade #18, where we were walking right down the middle of Main Street USA. Next we tried to see if the step-sisters were back in place — which they weren’t — but Megan spotted the Fairy Godmother #19 emerging from a secret door and on her way to a character greeting, so we asked if we could join her and were the first ones in line.
With a major live attraction approaching at 12:30pm we then zipped over to the Tomorrowland Arcade #20 for a game of Centipede [Our scores totally sucked.] before picking up FASTPASSes for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and then wound up back on Main Street to watch a glassblowing demonstration #21. The Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party #22 was next and lasted way longer than expected, but we drank and ate and headed back to Tomorrowland to find PUSH, the Talking Trash Can.
We totally lucked out here again and spotted PUSH #23 as he emerged from a side street, so were able to be the first folks to talk to him and get his autograph. (He rolled his track over our autograph book. Cool!) We then headed to Toontown to zip through three attractions in less than four minutes — Minnie’s Country House #24, Mickey’s Country House #25, and Donald’s Boat #26. We then had just enough time to get back to the Fairytale Garden for Storytime with Belle #27. (I didn’t feel too out of place here as I was with my 15yo daughter. But I can just imagine teams of two adult males attempting the challenge sitting here feeling just a little uncomfortable.) We rested. We drank. We ate. And then we headed to Frontierland.
12:51PM — Push, the Talking Trash Can
This time it was for the Country Bear Jamboree #28 which Megan had not seen since she was almost three. She wasn’t incredibly impressed. But it was air-conditioned.so we were happy. We then moved to Adventureland to pick up our FASTPASSes for the Jungle Cruise and finished off our last arcade stop with Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats #29. We had brought quarters for the three arcade stops but this one only took dollar bills. I raced to a vendor and changed quarters into a dollar bill. And we then discovered it was $2. So Megan raced back over to the same vendor and changed more quarters. The experience was pretty lame as the boat didn’t really do anything. But it was another stop off of our list.
Back to Frontierland we happened to bump into the Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob #30 playing their banjos and a tuba. I asked Megan to go stand behind them so I could take a photo, and one of the guys beckoned Megan to join them, and she happily sang “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” with them. Awesome!
1:45PM — Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob
It was almost 2pm and we decided to ride some major attractions so we headed to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #31. The wait time was listed as 30 minutes and we waited only 5 minutes so the FASTPASSes really helped us. The entire Weidner/McGufficke family enjoys this ride! Megan and I only rode it once today but Karla and Ian rode it 5-6 times. Our FASTPASS experience with Splash Mountain #32 didn’t work out well but with a 40 minute wait we were still happy only waiting 12 minutes.
The 2:30pm departure of the Liberty Square Riverboat #33 was imminent so we hightailed it over there, and were again the last folks on board a ride before departure. We again took advantage of the shade and time to drink, eat, and rest. The afternoon parade was fast approaching but we had enough time to stop by The Magic Carpets of Aladdin #34 on the way.
You are required to watch parades in their entirety but are allowed to start at the beginning and walk towards the end. So we timed things so that the start of the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade #35 was already well down Main Street by the time we got there, took the required photo, and then took only three minutes to walk the full length of the parade so that we could take a photo with the final float. We may have missed a couple of details on some of the floats, but we were both very impressed with our speed and efficiency!
Back to Adventureland we had a few minutes before Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial #36 so Megan used the restroom facilities. My bladder of steel was doing fine. The Johnny Depp look-a-like was very Johnny Depp but we were soon heading towards the Pirates of the Caribbean #37, where we totally bumped into Karla and Ian! We chatted while waiting in line, got caught up on what each group had been doing, and then went our separate ways when the ride ended. (I am pretty sure that Megan and I were moving much faster, but then we had somewhere to be.)
We used our FASTPASSes to get onto the Jungle Cruise #38 a few minutes faster than had we not used them and then survived the next nine minutes of stand-up comedy gone wrong. (If you have ever been on the Jungle Cruise you know what I mean.) Escaping from the boats we hit The Enchanted Tiki Room #39 at just the right time and pretty much ignored the show. It just isn’t our favorite thing at the Magic Kingdom.
We then tried to cross almost the entire park in order to see when the next showing of Carousel of Progress would be; Megan ran ahead and I walked fast. But my eye was caught by a very short line for Dole Whips — soft-serve ice-cream. So I got in line. When Megan texted me to see where I was, and I told her I was buying ice-cream she about blew up! And my delay caused us to miss the next showing of Carousel of Progress. But the Dole Whips were great! [And I begged Megan’s forgiveness.]
4:25PM — Dole Whips!
Since the Carousel of Progress wait was now too long, we hit Stitch’s Great Escape #40 — another of the Magic Kingdom’s not-so-great experiences. But it was inside and air-conditioned so we endured it well. From there we headed to Main Street and were lucky enough to see Winnie the Pooh and Tigger #41 with a very short line. After that we were right in place to watch the Flag Retreat #42. (This is a practice that has occurred every day and is the lowering of the flag with due pomp and circumstance. An honor guard is in place and an Honored Veteran helps every day.)
We then headed back to the hub to watch the Dream Along With Mickey #43 show in the Castle Forecourt. This is really a great show with lots of characters involved. We watched from the shade and ate, drank and rested. Once this show was over we headed to Frontierland yet again to watch the Frontierland Hoedown #44, which is another enjoyable show! It is especially fun to watch near the end when cast members wander into the crowd to pick guests — mainly kids — to join in the hoedown! We stayed on the outer edges of the crowd so as to not get picked.
Back to Fantasyland we got into the it’s a small world line but soon jumped out of it as the line was simply not moving. We then hit Mickey’s Philharmagic #45 show which is just great! I have seen it a number of times but I keep forgetting how good it is! We then hopped onto the newly re-named Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel #46 for a short ride. Megan opted for a noble stead while I slumped into a carriage. I was worried about the elevation change.
Snow White’s Scary Adventures #47 was next on our list, and we weren’t all that happy with a 12 minute wait. But it was getting late in the day — 6:15pm — and we couldn’t be too choosy. Then we backtracked to it’s a small world #48 and had only a 10 minute wait.
We had planned to eat dinner at Casey’s Corner, where hot dogs and fries are the main feature. Why there? Because at 7:00pm there was supposed to be someone playing the piano that would count as another stop for us. But he/she/it never showed so we wasted 12 minutes there. But the food was very good so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
6:58PM – Casey’s Corner Pianist
Our next stop was at the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor #49 which we totally enjoyed! The technology is great and the jokes — though a little lame — keep everyone laughing! (And I was NOT “that guy!”) Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin #50 was next on the list — where we had another group ask us about the challenge — and Graeme totally smoked Megan’s score! We then finally got to watch Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress #51, with its great big beautiful tomorrow. We stayed in Tomorrowland to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority #52 and enjoyed not walking, not running, eating, drinking, and not sweating as much.
We were feeling really good as we were very confident about breaking the record and we still had three hours of park time to go. Space Mountain #53 was next up and we both really enjoyed the new and improved ride! I think it is a much faster ride now. We then hit another restroom stop — Megan’s third and my second — before heading towards the Tomorrowland Speedway #54. Waiting in line here was the low point of our day. After the Speedway we only had one more ride left to go; the rest of the stops were live shows and character greetings. That last ride was the Mad Tea Party which we could see from the Speedway line. And it wasn’t in operation. Without riding that ride we wouldn’t have ridden all of the core attractions that were operational that day so even had we posted a higher number than the previous record it wouldn’t count. We were not happy campers as we “drove” around the speedway track.
We walked up to the Mad Tea Party and asked a cast member if it was closed for the night. and were incredibly ecstatic when she said that it should be open in the next 30 minutes! What a reprieve!!! We thanked her effusively — I might have even proposed — and zipped off to Toontown for some character greetings.
Our first stop was to the Princess line at the Toontown Hall of Fame, but the line was at least 30 minutes long so I sent Megan over to the Judge’s Tent to see if the line for Mickey and Minnie was shorter. Which it was! We relocated and it took us just an 11 minute wait before we were in the presence of Mickey and Minnie at the Judge’s Tent #55.
9:20PM — Judge’s Tent
We then made our way back to the Mad Tea Party #56 and really enjoyed that last ride! Our next stop was Cinderella’s Castle to experience the “Kiss Goodnight” #57 where the castle goes through a bunch of color changes sometimes accompanied by Roy Disney’s speech from the park’s opening in 1971.
We then returned to the Princess line at the Toontown Hall of Fame #58 and were surprised — and elated — to see no line at all! Since we had lots of time left we decided to go ahead and get all three princesses autographs Princess Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. The princess wrangler was amazed at our data sheet and showed it to everyone in the room.
It was 10:00pm and time for the Summer Nightastic Fireworks #59 show. Definitely impressive! Karla even admitted to crying a little. We then had almost an hour to wait for the final parade so wandered back to Tomorrowland as we had picked up an extra Space Mountain FASTPASS just in case. On the way we stumbled into Stitch’s Club 626 Dance Party #60 which wasn’t on the official list but wound up counting as a stop towards the challenge. We then rode Space Mountain and headed back to the hub to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade #61 with Karla and Ian
The parade was awesome and the day was awesomer!! Megan and I completed 61 unique attractions in thirteen hours and 39 minutes. We were tired and sweaty but happy and proud! Thanks go out to Karla and Ian for supporting us in our attempt!! And an especially huge thanks to my partner in crime — I couldn’t have done it without you Megan!!!
11:30PM — The whole family back together at the end of the day!
That night back at the hotel Megan said to me, “I haven’t gotten married or had kids yet but this will always be one of the best days of my life!” My favorite part of the day was watching my 15 year old’s face being transformed again and again into that of my 8 year old daughter’s. And finally, records are made to be broken but the memories from this day are forever!
Have you attempted an Ultimate TouringPlan? Tell us about it in your comments!