I recently had one of my most fun days at Disney by attempting the four-park-in-one-day challenge, and I would highly encourage you trying it if you’ve been to Disney a lot and are looking for a new way to enjoy the parks. But, before you head off on this great adventure, here are a few tips to help you have the best Disney day yet!
1 – Make your plan beforehand
Disney four-park challenges can come in many forms and you can make the “rules” however you want to make them. You can add in additional challenges or leave some out. I find I enjoy activities like this when I have clear goals at each destination. For my four-park day, my goal was three rides in each park, one iconic snack available only in that park and one meet and greet, located generally only in that park. I had to meet all of those requirements before I could leave a park and travel to the next.
Once you’ve determined the “rules” of your game, map out your course. Your best bet is either to go from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot to Magic Kingdom or reverse that route. Disney transportation can take up a huge chunk of your time, so plan accordingly. For my day, I rope dropped Disney’s Animal Kingdom, left by 9:30am to take the bus to Hollywood Studios, stayed there until about 1 PM; took the boat to Epcot (entering World Showcase’s International Gateway entrance is super quick and makes up for the longish boat ride), stayed there until about 5pm (ate a meal there); and then took the monorail to Magic Kingdom (no need to go through security again), arriving at my final park by 6 PM.
As soon as you can, book your FastPasses for the day, but be flexible. For me, I chose to book my FastPasses for once I hit Hollywood Studios since that’s when the crowds and lines pick up. Once I used those three in Hollywood Studios, I booked my fourth FastPass on the boat ride to Epcot for Soarin’ and continued booking each FastPass after that.
2 – Dress for Success
Now that you’ve planned everything out and the big morning is here, get ready! If possible, get a shirt or have a Celebration button created saying “four parks in one day”. People love to talk to you about it on your way. I had some great conversations with some people doing their own challenges all day and it was fun to compare notes.
Obviously, you’ll need either an Annual Pass or the Park Hopper option added to your ticket, so make sure those are good to go before you arrive. Remind yourself ahead of time that your goal is to not see the whole park, but to get in, get the challenge done, and move on. I sadly had to completely forfeit Pandora at Animal Kingdom, World Showcase at Epcot, and Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom to succeed in this challenge. Just another reason why if it’s your first time to Disney, this is probably not a good challenge for you. Wait until you’re in your double-digits of visiting the parks.
Be ready for whatever weather may come and pack accordingly. There’s no going back to the resort on this day, so make sure your day pack has everything you need. The day I did this challenge was a HOT June day with temps in the 90s and a heat index that danced in and out of the hundreds. I made sure to have plenty of sunscreen with me, my water bottle, a hat, and rain gear plus my most comfortable rain-ready sandals.
3 – Stay Healthy
Keep yourself healthy on the day. I’m a 52-yr-old woman doing this on one of the hottest days of the summer. That meant I had to drink lots of water and make sure I took plenty of breaks in air conditioning. Praise Disney for creating so many air-conditioned rides and transportation. While I was at Epcot, I hit my physical wall and literally, found a back booth at Sunshine Seasons and took a 25-minute nap until my Soarin’ FastPass. And don’t forget to eat! It can be so fun running from ride to ride and park to park, but you’ll need a good, high energy meal or two to get you through. I had the protein-packed chicken salad right before I took my little nap, and let me tell you, I came out of The Land Pavilion a newly energized person!
4 – Run, Run, Run!
When you get to your last park, relax and celebrate because you’ve basically completed your task (unless you didn’t get there until 30 minutes before close so you better hurry!). Ending in Magic Kingdom is definitely the best way to end this challenge for several reasons: 1) it offers the most walk-on rides and short-wait rides so you can find something to ride even if you didn’t snag a FastPass; 2) It’s often the latest opened park so it gives you some extra hours, and 3) if you get there early enough, they shoot off fireworks to celebrate your success (ok, maybe that’s not the purpose of the fireworks, but that’s what I like to pretend).
I closed Magic Kingdom on my challenge day – that was 16 hours of park fun! I was exhausted, my ankles were swollen, and I had a blister on one foot, but I told myself I felt like a marathon runner that had trained, prepped, and then completed the task.
3 – Relax and bask in the victory
Plan a quiet, relaxing day for your day after the challenge. You’re going to need it! The Disney resort hotels offer plenty in this area like white sand beaches and lounge chairs, pools, and dining. I spent my day on the beach at my resort.
Four Disney parks, one day: Would you take the challenge?