Many folks have tried speed dating, but who would be up for a turn at speed parking?
If you want to hit all 47 rides at Walt Disney World in a single day, you better have comfortable shoes and a plan. That's the advice I gleaned from Shane Lindsay and Ted Tamburo, who attempted a complete day of mechanical Disney ups and downs last month.
My first question for them: Why?
For Lindsay, the inspiration was rooted in annual childhood vacations from Indiana. His parents only allotted one day of the trip for Disney, so he would intensely study park maps and make a plan.
"I wanted to see as much as I could," says Lindsay, who's 39 and lives in Davenport. "I guess that carried over to my adulthood."
Tamburo, a frequent Disney parks visitor from Chicago, was more carefree about the adventure but was up for the challenge that many friends claimed impossible.
"I like doing silly things. … It kind of lets you hold on to your youth a little bit," says Tamburo, 45.
The friends made a plan and some ground rules, a key one being that they would not "cheat" by having co-conspirators claim FastPasses for them or accept back-door entry from friendly cast members. They wanted to see if an ordinary guest could pull it off. And they limited the exercise to rides, not shows. (If it moves and Disney lists it as an attraction, it counts.)
If you're playing along at home, you might be planning your own strategy. My initial thought was to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom first because it generally closes earliest, then do Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios, then end at Magic Kingdom, which generally closes latest.
But my plan, Lindsay points out, has a tragic flaw in the form of a ride Disney lists as "the Main Street vehicles" — a horse-drawn street car, jitney, fire engine or omnibus. They only operate from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at Magic Kingdom.
"You've got to start there and knock them out or you're going to immediately commit yourself to failure," Lindsay says.
So the Lindsay-Tamburo plan included a lot of park hopping: From Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios to Epcot to Animal Kingdom, then back to Studios, then Epcot and wrapping up at Magic Kingdom, where they started.
Luck, good and bad, followed them. At Animal Kingdom, nature worked against them on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, putting a kink in their plan, which they say they planned down to the minute.
"These rhinoceroses — like five of them — got in the middle of the road and they held up the trucks. It turned a 20-minute safari into 40 or 45 minutes," Lindsay says. "After that, we were feeling very pressed for time."
But later, at Hollywood Studios, they unexpectedly walked straight onto Tower of Terror, making up that lost rhino time. The pair dodged most ride closures, although there was a delay while sitting in an elephant car of the Dumbo ride and a close call getting onto a riverboat for Tom Sawyer Island.
The duo posted to Twitter along the way and have recapped the day on their website, Parkeology.com.
Not to spoil the ending, but let's say that their mission was disrupted by a common Florida foe: the thunderstorm.
After enduring many naysayers, Lindsay says he considers his plan a success.
"My goal was to roll into our last leg with the goal still possible — and not have it fail four hours earlier because we missed something that closed on us," he says.
It wasn't easy.
"The physical wear and tear of basically running for 16 hours, I think, was a surprise to both of us," Tamburo says. "At the end of the night we were hobbling around like 95-year-old guys."
But finally: Would they do it again?
"If we're going to do it again, it's got to be bigger," Tamburo says. He has an eye on hitting every Disney World ride, then flying to California to go on every ride at Disneyland, all within 48 hours.
"That might be a game for a 20-year-old. … But we like a challenge," he says.
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The fast friends
Ted Tamburo and Shane Lindsay have been friends for years, but they never met until just before their all-day, all-rides adventure at Walt Disney World. Their first encounter was over an old Disney message board on AOL.
"Somehow over that 18-year time span, we became friends," Tamburo says. "Oddly enough we never spoke over the phone. It was all Internet-based."
Finally meeting added to the all-rides motivation.
"It seemed like we needed a big monumental event to finally bring us together," Tamburo says.
Having a like-minded partner made it easier, Lindsay says.
"We kind of pushed each other during the course of the day," he says. "I think if it had just been me by myself I might have at a few points just given up."