Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
Walt Disney World is said to be “Where Dreams Come True” but, let’s face it, navigating the parks can be daunting. But two stay-at-home moms, Kristina Hawkins and Keli Weston, were up for the challenge and upped the ante.
Yesterday, they attempted to ride all 47 attractions at four Walt Disney World parks in one operating day! They chronicled every twist, turn, and drop via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with real-time posts.
This magical (um, crazy) feat is a phenomenon known as the WDW47 Challenge. And it’s the brainchild of Shane Lindsay and Ted Tamburo, who, for two decades, were acquaintances in a theme park-focused chat room. In 2013, they finally met face-to-face to take on every ride … but came up two short because of weather-related ride closures. Ouch! On their next run, however, they conquered them all and became legends among Disney enthusiasts.
The duo, who also posts off-beat Disney content on Parkeology, has quite the fan following, including my neighbor Hawkins, an Orlando mom of four boys. She loves Disney’s “over-the-top customer service and the intricate details of every ride.” But what inspired her to want to take on WDW47?
“This is considered the most difficult Disney challenge ever created! Completing it or even doing well definitely gives you credibility among the Disney community,” she explains.
Hawkins and her challenge partner Weston, a Seattle mom to Sully (yup, like Disney’s Monster Inc.), prepared for months. We’re talking daily FaceTime sessions to calculate ride schedules, park-to-park transportation, and strategic FASTPASS use. Not to mention, physical training.
“It is physically grueling. You’re on your feet all day, in Florida heat, walking literally the equivalent of a marathon throughout 17 or 18 hours — usually with only snacks and power bars to get you through. This is not something to try as a lark while on vacation,” Lindsay explains.
Up until this week, only 14 out of 125 attempts have successfully finished. Why so few? Well, we have to factor in line wait times, attraction maintenance, traffic, and other delays.
Challengers follow specific game rules, such as sticking together and tweeting a photo (#WDW47) on each ride. With low crowds, good operating hours (including Extra Magic Hours), ideal seasonal weather, and every ride operational, Parkeology deemed December 6th as the “perfect storm” (labeled #Parknado). This motivated 15 teams (the most ever on one day), from all over the country to participate.
It was here that Hawkins and Weston competed as @epic_disney.
“Keli and I started Epic Disney Escape [via social media] with the idea that every Disney trip can be over-the-top and amazing,” says Hawkins.
So, was it epic? Well, the moms were the first team to complete a park with nine rides at Animal Kingdom! Then, they finished Disney’s Hollywood Studios with four rides including their favorite, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Epcot with nine rides. With 25 rides to go at Magic Kingdom, these mamas were set to win … but unfortunately, time ran out.
They finished 46 of the 47 rides, missing the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train by just five minutes. Ugh! Perhaps Grumpy had something to do with it.
And they would have made it, too, had they not been stuck and delayed on two attractions. Were they bummed? Nope! They were proud, actually.
Hawkins and Weston loved the experience and magically rocked an impressive 46 rides. “A great attempt and, though they did not win, they earned all of our respect,” Tamburo affirms. Lindsay says, “It’s cliché, but the thrill of the challenge is in the journey, not the end destination.”
Of the 15 teams that competed yesterday, there were four winners (the most ever in one day), which included three that had previously tried and one rookie.
If you’re wondering whether Hawkins and Weston are already dreaming about a future attempt, they are! As the beloved Walt Disney proclaimed, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”