Once More Around the Parks: Taking the #DisneyParksChallenge

With apologies to Roger Angell, author of my favorite baseball book, Once More Around The Ballpark, I'm embarking on my own #DisneyParksChallenge this morning.

My goal is to visit all four Walt Disney World Parks — Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT — and ride the three best rides in each park, between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM.

I'll be at the Magic Kingdom in time for the opening at 8 AM, because it takes the longest to get from the parking lot to the front gate, and I don't want to spend 30 minutes of my day just trying to get to the front entrance.

You can follow my progress on Instagram and Twitter (@edeckers).

Of course, I have to make a couple modifications to my itinerary. For one thing, I can't ride Space Mountain because I have osteoarthritis in my neck, and blindly whipping around in the dark causes serious problems. And two, I don't want to wait half a day to ride Pandora: World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom.

So my schedule is as follows:

Magic Kingdom
  1. Haunted Mansion
  2. Thunder Mountain
  3. The WeWay People Mover (Honestly, this is my favorite ride in Magic Kingdom, so I'm doing this instead of Space Mountain.)

Animal Kingdom
  1. Expedition Everest
  2. Dinosaur
  3. Kilimanjaro Safari (I may swap out the Primeval Whirl, because I like that one better. I'm doing this one instead of Pandora.)

Hollywood Studios
  1. Rock and Roller Coaster
  2. Tower of Terror (I absolutely HATE this one! But I have to go since I'm wimping out on Space Mountain.)
  3. Star Tours

  1. Soarin'
  2. Test Track
  3. Mission: Space

Two or three years ago, my final ride in EPCOT would have been the Norway ride, but Disney absolutely ruined it when they replaced it with Frozen. And that, coupled with the loss of all the live performers throughout the various parks, has signaled a significant downturn of what made Disney so great.

Over 25 years ago, when my wife and I got married, she talked me into going to Disney World for our honeymoon. I thought it was dumb, but after about 2 hours, I was hooked. We went back for many years, first by ourselves, then with her family, then with our own kids.

Our love for Disney is what brought us to Orlando in the first place; we could have moved anywhere, but we picked Orlando for Disney World.

And now that magic is gone. Friends of ours have been laid off as their street or live performances have been cut. Good rides are being replaced with Frozen and other movies. EPCOT's World Showcase is nothing more than a large shopping center with a few movies (China, France, Canada), a couple of live performers, and TWO rides, Frozen and Mexico's Three Caballeros. Everything else is just shopping and restaurants.

So this is our last week with our annual passes, and we're letting them go. Instead we got annual passes to Universal, and I'm taking one last look around the parks before we move on. Hopefully I can do it all in one day.

The 3rd edition of Branding Yourself is now available on Amazon.com and in your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.