Ultimate Guide to the Disney Four Parks Challenge
I recently told you about the Disney Mountain Challenge, a quest that adds a bit more spice to a Disney theme park visit. Amazingly, it’s not the only task you can attempt at Walt Disney World. There’s another one that is somehow more straightforward but also more challenging. Here’s a guide to completing the Disney Four Parks Challenge.
What Is the Disney Four Parks Challenge?
Walt Disney World hosts four different theme parks. When you visit Orlando, you’ll have your choice of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Believe it or not, you could feasibly enter all four parks on the same day. THAT is the Disney Four Parks Challenge.
How Does the Disney Four Parks Challenge Work?
This challenge is precisely what it sounds like. You need to manage your time such that you have enough time to visit all four parks and ride a few attractions at each place. Beyond that, it’s open-ended.
How much time you spend at each park is entirely up to you. As long as you ride something at each place, you can hang the Mission Accomplished banner on your shelf. In fact, Disney sometimes surprises guests with certificates. These awards state that you finished the Disney Four Parks Challenge.
Of course, that’s the basic answer. The reality is that you’ll want to define some parameters for your challenge. You’ll need to decide how many rides and other attractions that you must ride to count as a full park visit.
For most people, the answer is somewhere between three and five. This means you’re committing to 12-20 rides/shows during a single park day. That’s a full park day for most.
Presuming that the parks are open at least 12 hours when you visit, you’re targeting 1-2 attractions per hour. Plus, you’ll need to allow time to eat, take breaks, go to the bathroom and all of the other mundane parts of a park day. Also, you’ll have travel time between the four parks. It’s a full day for sure.
What Kind of Ticket Do You Need?
Obviously, you’ll need admission tickets that entitle you to access multiple parks on the same day. You must buy the Park Hopper option on standard tickets.
Alternately, you can buy an annual pass with multi-park benefits. Most annual passes include this benefit, although you may have blackout dates, depending on the pass that you buy.
Your best bet is to contact a Disney expert at MickeyTravels to book your reservation. Their services are free to you, and they’ll ensure that you have the ticket you need to complete the Disney Four Parks Challenge.
What Are the Basic Challenge Tactics?
Here’s the fun part. You’ll develop your own best strategy for the Disney Four Parks Challenge! You’ll decide what works best for you, and you may have so much fun trying it that you do the challenge regularly.
The general rules are what you’d expect. You should plan to spend virtually the entire day at Walt Disney World. You should also research which park is hosting Extra Magic Hours. Sometimes, Disney has one in the morning and one at night. These are the best dates to attempt the challenge.
An early morning Extra Magic Hours offering will give you a chance to ride three attractions before the park officially opens. The same is true at night, which means that you can knock out a quarter of the challenge this way. When Disney has Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night, that’s half the battle won!
You’ll also want to schedule a lot of FastPasses. You can only book them at one park at a time. However, once you’re done at your current location, you can search for FastPasses at your next park.
For example, let’s say that you are at Epcot. Once you’ve used your last FastPass there, you can check for available FastPasses at Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, or Animal Kingdom.
In fact, the availability may determine where you go next. If you see Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has a FastPass, jump on the boat (or gondola) to that park! Flexibility is an essential component of completely the Disney Four Parks Challenge.
What’s the Best Order for Park Visits?
The best strategy is to use proximity to your advantage. Magic Kingdom and Epcot connect via the monorail. Epcot and Hollywood Studios connect via the Friendship Boats. As of September 2019, they’ll share the Disney Skyliner, too.
Plan to visit three parks in some order to save on travel time. Because of this advice, I’d suggest that you start with Animal Kingdom. I say this for two reasons. The first is that the other three parks of the challenge are approachable in sequential order. You’ll be off on an island, so to speak, at Animal Kingdom.
The other reason that Animal Kingdom is an excellent place to start is its popularity divide. One area of the park, Pandora – The World of Avatar, is vastly more popular than the rest. As such, you should probably skip it on your challenge day. The only exception is when you have a FastPass.
Let’s say that you arrive at Animal Kingdom in time for Rope Drop. You could easily ride Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, and use a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris within two hours. Then, you could take a bus to your next location and likely arrive by noon!
How to Approach the Second Park
During your bus ride, check for FastPasses at the next park. I would suggest Epcot since most of its Tier 2 FastPasses don’t book quickly. Plus, you can eat lunch at one of the wonderful Quick Service restaurants here!
On the FastPass front, you may feasibly get one for Spaceship Earth and then walk over to The Seas with Nemo & Friends to wait in line. Afterward, stay in the same vicinity and ride Living with the Land and Journey into Imagination with Figment.
I would estimate that you’re done with Epcot by 2:30 and ready to go elsewhere.
How to Complete the Rest of the Challenge
At this point, a boat to Hollywood Studios is your best bet. I say this because this park tends to clear out in the afternoons.
Even after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, I still expect that you could get a FastPass for Star Tours and then wait in line at Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Afterward, you could get into the Single Rider line at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Catch a show afterward, and you can rest up before the final leg of the challenge.
Now, you’re ready to take a bus to Magic Kingdom. You should have plenty of FastPass options here since this park doesn’t use a Tiered system. Plus, you’ll have plenty of dinner options via Mobile Ordering.
I highly recommend that you lean toward counter service rather than Table Service dining during the challenge. I’ve done the latter and can say from experience that it adds an unnecessary level of difficulty to the process.
After dinner and a bus ride, you should still have at least 90 minutes at Magic Kingdom and possibly three or four hours. It depends on the operating hours when you visit along with whether the park has Extra Magic Hours.
Whatever the case, you’ll have no problem riding stuff at Magic Kingdom. This park has more than 40 attractions to enjoy. Several of them will have short waits and/or FastPass availability, especially at night. That’s why I suggest saving it until last.
Presuming that everything goes well, you’ll complete the challenge and feel a strong sense of accomplishment. My family tries to do the Disney Four Parks Challenge at least once per trip. We find it thrilling, and I believe that you will as well.