Extra Fun in the Parks
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the July21, 2009 Issue #513 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
There are some wonderful Walt Disney World guidebooks out there that tell you everything you need to know regarding how to plan your Walt Disney World vacation. These books will help you decide what's best for you. I am talking about helping you decide when to go, how long to stay, where to stay, how to tour the parks, and in some cases how to make the most out of your vacation dollar.
Walt Disney World guidebook authors recognize their audience as being either the infrequent traveler to Orlando or possibly the first time visitor to the Walt Disney World Resort… someone who really needs some guidance in the planning process so that the vacation can be as memorable and as much fun as possible.
But what about those who are frequent visitors to the land of talking mice and ducks? What about those WDW fans who travel at least once a year to Central Florida or sometimes more than once per year? What about those travelers who meet up with several friends for a few days of Disney Magic?
These are the guests who perhaps don't get that much out of the basic guidebooks because obviously they are WDW veterans who know the parks and the resorts rather well.
These are the type of guests who look for that something extra to do in the parks.
These are the folks who have frequented and enjoyed the attractions over the years so much they could step right in as a cast member and work the attractions.
These are the folks who will find that, after a day or two in Orlando, they are looking at themselves in the mirror and saying, "Now what?"
If you are one of those frequent travelers to Walt Disney World then you may find the following discussion quite interesting.
I mentioned the WDW guidebooks and they are truly a labor of love and give you a wealth of information regarding planning your trip… and then there are those books that take it one step further.
In no particular order I am referring to:
— Hidden Mickeys: Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best-Kept Secrets by Steve Barrett. Steve Barrett has spent countless hours searching and verifying those hidden Mickey symbols all around Walt Disney World. It's a wonderful idea to pass the time in a park searching for Hidden Mickeys… especially on a crowded day.
— The Walt Disney World Trivia Book by Lou Mongello, the king of WDW trivia, is a most entertaining book and a lot of the information in this book can spawn some adventures in the park, looking and perhaps checking out the facts.
— Tim Foster's Guide to the Magic of Walt Disney World: The Lost Journals is the first of its kind regarding what is best described as a Walt Disney World scavenger hunt. Tim has compiled all sorts of ideas to help veteran visitors do some pretty interesting things in the park.
— Kim Button's Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook is a godsend for parents who need help in keeping the kids occupied while waiting 75 minutes to ride Splash Mountain. Kim's ideas on games and such while in those long lines is a welcome answer to many parents who may find it difficult to, at the drop of a hat, come up with ideas to help make the time go fast while in line.
Now all of these books have carved out their own niche and serve their audience well. I'd like to take this one step further and introduce to you what is called "The WDW Olympics".
This is a concept I've been tossing around in my head for the last two years and it involves some fun you and a number of friends can have in the park beyond visiting the attractions, watching the parades, enjoying the fireworks, and eating in the restaurants.
Now the concept here is really two-fold. First and foremost the idea was to come up with something different to do in the parks. At the same time the goal is to make it a little competitive and fun as well.
Anyone can design their own WDW Olympics, but if you do, you must be ready to list some specific rules. Here are some suggestions:
— Come up with a list of at least six and no more than 10 "feats" to complete in the Magic Kingdom. They should not be overwhelmingly challenging but should require some creativity.
— Each feat, when completed, must be proven in some manner or form with such physical evidences — perhaps a digital photo or piece of paper.
— Determine whether you want a time limit by which you must complete the feats or that the goal is to accomplish them in the fastest time possible.
— Determine a prize — it could be a snack, a meal, a souvenir, anything that all the participants agree upon.
— Finally, decide on a place for all participants to meet to discuss the outcome.
Let me start you off with my own specific plan for such an event in The Magic Kingdom. My event will be composed of just eight feats that must be completed as soon as possible. If at the end of six hours no one or no team has completed the feats then the team with the most completed feats wins. My feats must be proven by physical proof — something I can hold or look at to prove the feat was completed. Four of my feats must have physical evidence other than a photo; the other four can be proven by a photo. For this particular Olympics the prize that goes to the winning team will be a Magic Kingdom treat — either a Dole Whip or a Mickey Bar. The meeting place at the end of the game will be Adventureland's Aloha Isle.
Now that we have the rules let's come up with some feats. Feel free to use any of these tidbits I've come up with.
1. Each participant must either have his/her hair colored or cut at the Magic Kingdom barbershop. A photo would serve as proof — as would of course green hair with sparkles in it.
2. Each participant must present a photo of him/herself with a princess.
3. Each participant must present a FastPass from each of the four lands — Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland.
4. Each participant must present a photo of him/herself with a villain.
5. Each participant must present a receipt from a counter service location proving they have eaten something there.
6. Each participant must provide an autograph by someone other than Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, or Pluto.
7. Each participant must provide a photo of him/herself with a cast member who is NOT a character.
8. Each participant must present a special button/pin from the park, but it cannot be purchased.
So let's think about strategy here. You need to obviously plan how you are going to get your FastPasses and in what order.
Also, you need to figure out where you can best get the required photos and autographs.
Finally determine when and where to eat.
All these tasks are doable but the question is how fast they can be done.
The first person or team having completed all tasks and returning to the designated meeting spot, in this case Aloha Isle, will be the winners.
If you have any ideas about some tasks you would include in your WDW Olympics please share them with me and others.
The books mentioned in Mike's article can be found in the AllEars® Amazon Store: http://astore.amazon.com/debsunoffiwaltdi
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net:
Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.