Our most recent Walt Disney World trip was to celebrate Brooke’s 10th birthday. For her actual birthday we planned to do something we’ve never done (and probably won’t do again for a long time)–4 parks in 1 day!
We talked about trying this for several years, but never had the opportunity. We all loved the idea of having photos in each park on her actual birthday.
Over the years we’ve listened to podcasts dicuss going to all 4 parks in 1 day and read several threads about it on DisBoards. We knew that a solid plan would be needed.
Our first decision was what to do in each park. With limited hours in the day, and limit hours we would last, we wanted to have some set goals for each park.
Here is what we decided to do in each park.
- Photo with a character
- Photo with the park icon
- Meal or snack
- Grab a park map and times guide for scrapbooking
- At least 1 attraction
- 1 pin trade
- 1 360 photo (like the ones I’ve done before)
Now we needed to decide the order of the parks. Magic Kingdom would be last because it stayed open the latest. Hollywood Studios could go anywhere since Brooke doesn’t ride Tower of Terror or Rock-n-Rollercoaster.
So we made the decision on this order:
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Magic Kingdom
Epcot’s attraction had to be Test Track because it is Brooke’s favorite ride at WDW. To help us get on Test Track without using our whole day in line, we used our FastPass+ reservations in Epcot. We scheduled Test Track for mid afternoon. We also schedule an early dinner at Garden Grill.
Here We Go – 4 Parks in 1 Day
We knew that one of the biggest challenges would be transportation. And the days started off showing us just how challenging that would be!
The bus from Wilderness Lodge to Animal Kingdom was delayed. When it finally arrived it was standing room only. We crammed into the space next to the back door. Then this full bus headed to Grand Floridian!
Ok, let me go off on a bit of a rant here. Who thought pairing Wilderness Lodge with Grand Floridian was a good idea? Wilderness Lodge is actually closer to the Contemporary or Fort Wilderness. The bus also goes to WL first. If I was a paying guest at GF, I’d be pretty ticked at having to get on full buses every morning! For that price, I would expect a seat!
Anyways, we arrived at GF and they squeezed in another 10-15 people. Not everyone at GF was able to get on that bus though.
And then we headed too…NOT Animal Kingdom. Nope in another Disney Transportation FAIL, we took the 7 people (yes we counted) to Blizzard Beach. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the other several dozen people to Animal Kingdom first?
We finally arrive at Animal Kingdom after over 45 minutes on the bus. We walk as fast as possible to the safari worrying that we lost the early morning wait times. Fortunately, we only had to wait about 20 minutes.
After all that work of the bus ride and sprint to the safari, we needed our first snack of the day. It just so happens our favorite snack cart is in Africa! The Harambe Market offers great fruit and cheese snacks and we love them!
Now off to find a character. Usually you can find several characters around the Tree of Life. That had been our plan. Of course, no one was out! As we were rounding the tree heading to Asia, we saw the line for Mickey and Minnie was less than a 10 minute wait–SCORE!
We grabbed our other photos and headed back to the buses.
The bus from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios wasn’t the fastest to arrive. But not as bad as the morning bus!
Our plan at Hollywood Studios was to jump on The Great Movie Ride. That attraction rarely has long wait times. For us, of course, it did! Posted wait time was 30 minutes. Much longer than we are used to on that attraction. But at least most of it was in the air conditioning!
We then headed for Animation Station for some characters. Mr. Incredible and Frozone had the shortest line.
After some photos and lunch on Sunset Blvd, we were off to Epcot.
We headed down to the boat dock to find our second transportation challenge of the day. All boats had ceased running. There were about a dozen people that had been waiting 30+ minutes before a Cast Member posted a sign alerting everyone to the problem- thunderstorms and lightening in the area! Don’t you just love Florida weather?
Ok, so we’ll take a bus. After 20 minutes of sitting in direct sun waiting for the Epcot bus, we decided to jump on the Magic Kingdom bus because it was there! So Hollywood Studios to Magic Kingdom via bus, and Magic Kingdom to Epcot via Monorail. We actually needed the downtime to recharge for the 2nd half of our day.
We arrived at Epcot within a few minutes of our FastPass to Test Track. We were able to grab a quick photo with Pluto and then off to ride!
But wait! It’s Florida, and the same problem that cancelled the boats caused Test Track to close–lightening!
That’s ok, we’ll go to the Land Pavilion and hope it will open later. Garden Grill was able to sit us early for dinner.
Dinner was fantastic! Great food, great characters in a fun, revolving setting. We even had a birthday cake for Brooke.
Test Track had re-opened during dinner. So we rushed over and got in the FastPass line. Right after we designed our vehicle, the ride was closed again for about 20 minutes. But we did eventually get our turn on the track! And our design won!
Now back to Magic Kingdom to finish the day!
Another challenge we anticipated was getting a character photo in Magic Kingdom. Most of the characters in Magic Kingdom have long wait times. Finally luck was with us and as we entered Main Street USA. The posted wait time for Tinkerbell was 15 minutes. It ended up being closer to 30, but no problem. We got our photo!
Then we needed to decide what attraction to go for in Magic Kingdom. Our instinct was to head toward Adventureland and hope that Pirates or Jungle Cruise would have short wait times. Pirates was only 30 minutes so we decided to wait.
We grabbed a snack from one of the food carts.
The first parade was set to start in just a few minutes. We grabbed the last train heading out of Adventureland. They only went to Fantasyland. Brooke was able to sit in the back and call out “All Aboard” on the mic. Some more great birthday magic!
Storybook Circus was pretty quiet since it was getting late and during a parade. We were able to walk onto Dumbo.
Our exit from the park was through the B route down Main Street USA. We’ve seen this being done, but never had the chance to use this exit. During high crowds, they open a route behind the Main Street shops that puts you out at Town Square.
Whew! We did it! Happy Birthday Brooke!
We had been tracking our steps all week and hit a high on this day!
Total Steps – 22,279
Elevation – 103 Feet
Distance – 11.26 Miles
I also tracked the entire day using the MapMyWalk iPhone app.
You can click the link below to see our entire route.
Our total day consisted of 46.94 miles. The total time for the day was 13 hours 26 minutes!
So will we do it again?
Of course! But not anytime soon!