September 30, 2007

my ultimate MK attempt

There are two basic ways to approach a day at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
  1. we'll just go and enjoy the things we can
  2. we are going to conquer this kingdom and suck every last bit of mirth out of it until we can hear Mickey cry "uncle!"
The interesting thing is that both camps generally go away after the fact very satisfied with their results.
  1. "Oh, we had a great time, even though we may have missed a few things."
  2. "Oh, we had a great time, even though we may have beat ourselves close to the point of death."
The adherents to Camp 2 have a kindred soul in Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. His crack team of researchers consistently evaluates the queueing in the World, analyzing wait times and attraction load capacities, and producing touring plans tailored to different groups of people visiting each of the four theme parks. These are published in the aforementioned book, and online (via subscription for most plans) at
The Magic Kingdom is probably the most challenging of the four parks to tour, because of its popularity, and because of the sheer number of attractions in the park. Many of the touring plans are "two day" plans for families, older couples, etc. But there is one... one plan to rule them all... the Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan.

The goal of the Ultimate plan is to see "all" of the Magic Kingdom in one day. I say, "all," because a big part of the "all" of the Magic Kingdom is the charm, ambiance, and people watching times. These are not covered in the plan. What is covered is every show, every ride, every ceremony and every parade that happens in the course of a day at the Kingdom.
It is not intended for families, first-time visitors, or for anyone simply wanting a nice day in the Magic Kingdom. It is designed for physically fit theme park veterans looking for a unique challenge.

So, of course, I had to try it.

I didn't make this an "official" attempt because I knew we'd have a couple of challenges. First, it was a gametime decision. I didn't know whether it would fit in our schedule, or our dining reservations. As it turned out, the Sunday of our trip was the day that worked the best. Since I didn't print out the plan before we got to the park, I was sneaky and used to send it to the Pop Century fax machine. Second, to make it official, you have to have a cell phone in hand and let Len know in advance. The third reason was that Lydia's current "condition" prohibits her from some attractions, and I didn't want her to feel like she was letting me down on an official try. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't try for an official one. This attempt taught me a couple of things.

The first thing on the plan after "get to the park 30 minutes early" is "ride Dumbo." If you're familiar with the Magic Kingdom attractions, you might quickly be thinking, "Dumbo?? What about Space Mountain? What about Splash Mountain? Haven't you seen the line to see Mickey? Start with Dumbo?" Dumbo is a cycle ride, which means that it cycles on and off. Load up with sixteen to thirty-two riders, run for a minute, unload sixteen to thirty-two riders. The ride is actually NOT in a ride cycle more than it is... it takes a lot longer to load and unload passengers. Contrast that with something like Buzz Lightyear where there are 90+% of the vehicles going through the ride at any given time. Combine the cycle ride fact with the fact that Dumbo is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and it makes it one of the least efficient rides in the park.

So we got to the park early, and to our surprise, they were already letting folks in. We re-checked our schedule... yep... evening extra magic hours... so we're not supposed to be in until 9:00. Maybe they're letting folks in early for rope drop. We get to the castle, and it's open.

We get through... and Fantasyland is open. Woops. I guess because we didn't check in with any preschoolers, we didn't get the memo. There goes the plan. We had to wait 20 minutes to get Dumbofied, and by the time we got through, we were "off plan" for the rest of the day.

Luckily, because the crowd levels were fairly low, I did manage to get a lot of the tour done. The second lesson of the attempt was to work early viewings of the shows in to the plan. I was all set for the 4:05 "Storytime with Belle" so that I could make the 5:00 flag retreat ceremony, and the heavens opened, replete with lightning. When I got to Belle's storytime spot, the cast member there was telling a six year-old that "Belle had decided to go to Mickey's ToonTown where she could be out of the rain."

I'm sure there will be a "next time" (maybe when our child is somewhere in the eight to ten year-old range...) and I'll achieve the Ultimate!

Attractions experienced (36):Dumbo, Tomorrowland Speedway, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, it's a small world, Snow White's Adventure, Mickey's PhilharMagic, The Mad Tea Party, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Barnstormer, Toontown Hall of Fame (w/one character autograph), Mickey's Country House, Minnie's Country House, Space Mountain, Ariel's Grotto, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean, Tom Sawyer Island, Fort Langhorne, Enchanted Tiki Birds, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Afternoon Parade, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Country Bear Jamboree, Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Tomorrowland Arcade, Flag Retreat, Carousel of Progress, Stitch's Great Escape, Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, Exposition Hall on Main Street (photo), Jungle Cruise, Evening Fireworks, Woody's Round-up

Closed or not scheduled (5): Hundred Acre Wood, Donald's Boat, Swiss Family Treehouse, Character Greeting at Diamond Horseshoe Revue, Evening Parade

Missed (8): Cinderella's Carousel, one of the Main Street Vehicles, WDW Railroad, Liberty Belle Riverboat, Hall of Presidents, Story Time with Belle, Dream Along with Mickey, Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats


Anonymous said...

So, how long did this take you? I notice the record is 47 unique attractions in 11 hours 20 minutes.

Angela wants to know how many MK restrooms Lydia worked into this touring plan:)

Patrick said...

The day was 8:30 to about 9:00, so no time record either. Lydia left for about three hours in the middle to nap.

We did have a couple of detours, and if I had been alone, I wouldn't have taken the time to sit down to eat... I would have been walking and eating and finishing in a line somewhere (or watching a show... or riding a Main Street vehicle.) But I am a nice husband. :D

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I'm most definitely of the "we're here to have a good time, not kill ourselves" camp.

I'm glad you had success, but I'm also glad I'm not going with you any time soon. ;-p