The Four Park Disney Birthday Challenge

January 31 has always been a day fraught with peril for me.  Some birthdays I’ve wanted to be with friends.  Others I’ve just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  While others still I watched in horror as my mother pulled out the baby pictures to show my guest.  This year, I decided to take my birthday by the proverbial bull horns and really have a blast.  In order to do this, I devised a challenge which involved going to ALL four Disney parks in Walt Disney World in a single day.  With rules for what we had to accomplish in each, my husband Carl and I woke up at the crack of dawn ready to seize the day and have the best birthday ever!  Want to know how we fared?  Well then read on my friend.  But beware, because of the nature of this challenge, this post will be extra long and full of fun times, pictures and food pics!



To any good challenge, there must be rules and requirements.  Herein are the rules we set for ourselves.



  • Take a photo in front of the park Centerpiece
  • Take at Least One Magic Photo (This was added after our frist park, where we were treated to our first Magic Photo EVER!)
  • Ride at least One Ride
  • Meet at least One Character
  • Eat at least One Dessert

With the rules in place, we started our challenge!


While I think this challenge could be fairly simple, we wanted to challenge ourselves to try as many new things as we could throughout the parks.  Our plan to do this started early with Magic Kingdom.  As we entered the park, pre-official opening time, we made sure to grab a photo in front of the Castle.



Okay, truth time.  I have ALWAYS wanted to get one of these magic photos but have never lucked out.  Well, thanks to my birthday pin, I think the Photopass Gods took pity on me.  After our first, though, we were obsessed, and willed ourselves to get one at ever park.  We actually didn’t ask for ANY of them.  They were offered.  It was sort of a challenge within the challenge.  Here, we caught our first glimpse of Tinker Bell.



We got to the park at the rope drop and quickly made our way to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  This is a ride I’ve always wanted to do but never was able to as the wait time is often well over 2 hours.  By the time we reached the ride, the wait was already up to an hour, but we knew we wanted to finally see this popular ride, so we waited it out.


I really love that this ride has a lot to see and do throughout the wait time.  From playing with gems in a digital water slide to spinning buckets of gems, there was something fun waiting for us around every corner.


The ride itself is quite fun.  It’s not scary at all, but a cool coaster in that the mine carts you ride in rock back and forth as you go.  In the middle of the ride, it switches to a slow ride which takes you through the mines, seeing all of the dwarfs working away, before sending you back into a roller coaster.  It’s not hard to leave this one whistling High Ho!



If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I am a huge fan of the Disney animated television show, Elena of Avalor.  Because of this, I knew that I wanted to meet Elena for my birthday.  With tons of young children all around, we waited in line at Princess Fairy Tale hall to meet, arguably, my favorite princess.


Elena was very cool.  She offered to let us come to Avalor and fly on Jacquins and even laughed along with us when we asked if we could text her sometime.  She was stunning in her read dress and really knew the world of Avalor backwards and forwards.


She took a long time to chat with us and even made a believer in how amazing Elena is out of Carl who left wanting to watch the show!  Win!


We also met Cinderella.  Though it was brief, she was kind enough to invite us to the castle for a ball for my birthday.  Plus, she said that the fairy God mother could help out with the festivities so that was pretty cool.



It was time to leave the park and move on to the next, but we couldn’t head out without first grabbing a dessert.  I know, I know, the dole whip was what we were told by EVERYONE to get.  But never fear, Dole Whip was most certainly in our future.  For now, we grabbed the delicious pineapple float which was a wonderful way to start the day.


I think Carl extra enjoyed this one.  Though as the day went on, I came to realize that Carl is super excited for ALL desserts.


With all our goals complete, we set off for our second park of the day.


Funny story, this was supposed to be our LAST park, but due to me not knowing where the bus left Magic Kingdom from, Epcot became more of a matter of time saving and convenience.  Nevertheless, we were high on life and copious amounts of sugar as we entered the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.


We quickly found a photographer and, much to our surprise, were offered the chance to do ANOTHER magic photo!  We were elated!


This time around, we were surprised to find Pascal hanging out on Carl’s arm.  Hey buddy!  Want to come do a Four Park Challenge with us?  After asking him this question, he immediately remembered having a ‘previous engagement.’  Likely story Pascal.


We also got a chance to see me get carried off by balloons.  This is important to note because, while Carl was happy to save me here, he wasn’t so keen on it later.



Once again, we were excited to meet a character that we had never met before.  While the wait was long, it was well worth it.  We also had the extreme fortune of meeting Amethyst, a new cast member who led us to our character meet.  She was super friendly and so in love with working for Disney, despite it being her fifth day.  In many ways, her warmth and kindness was one of our favorite memories of the day!  Joy took to Carl quickly as they both had a lot of energy while I stuck with sadness who moved at a little slower pace.  They were both super fun regardless of the emotions.



To be fair, Soarin’ is a ride we’d done before but it is easily my favorite ride at Epcot and always leaves me with a sense of wonder.  It’s so moving and inspirational and if you happen to find yourself in Epcot, it is not to be missed.  For those who don’t know, the ride lifts you in front of a huge screen and simulates flying over the many wonders of the world.  It is absolutely breathtaking.



I asked my many Disney channels on facebook and here on the blog to chime in with Dessert ideas for our challenge and the message was loud and clear.  School bread in Norway is a favorite for many and for good reason.  A delicious pasty coated in cream, this tasty treats also houses a yummy cream filling.


Carl and I, but mostly Carl, savagely consumed the dessert.  And yes Internet, you were right.


We laughed, we cried, we saw the world and then we ate around the world.  It was time to leave Epcot and head to our next park.  Though, our wait for the bus was so long that Carl took to posing.



Animal Kingdom is my second favorite park, right being Magic Kingdom.  The design and feel of the park are so amazing and I love the look of the tree of life, which is just amazing to behold.  I had meant for this to be our second park, but regardless of the mix up, I was super happy to arrive.



We actually spent time with two photographers at Animal Kingdom, one at the entrance and the other further into the park, and they were both super fun.  The first took several pics of us in front of the tree and then a magic photo or two, but we really loved our magic photos from the second one, whom we told about our Four Park Challenge.  With no one waiting in line, she was happy to give us a little photo shoot.  Carl was having all sort of animals show up on his arm.  This time, Iago joined us for a spell.


Then, I got carried off by balloons once more.  Only, this time Carl was less cooperative when it came to saving my life.



We actually couldn’t decide who to see, but we knew that both Tarzan and Flik were fairly close in proximity.  We started with Flik as he was fairly easy to find.  This is an interesting character to me because despite this being an older, less beloved film, the line to meet him was still quite long.  You go Flik!


Then, for our Animal Kingdom dessert, I suggested we find Tarzan!  Though this required asking a cast member where to find him as he wasn’t as obvious as our Ant friend.


Aww, isn’t he adorable?  I’d happily be invited back to that tree house.  Oh, sorry, children might be reading this.  Let’s get back to business, shall we?


I’d heard from several folks on the internet that the Elephant Ear, a croissant type pastry with chocolate on the tips, was worth a try so we headed to Africa to find one.


If you’re wondering, I’d say this was our least favorite treat of the day.  Perhaps it just wasn’t our thing.  But what WAS our thing was a tip I received from a Facebook friend who told us to skip Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom and grab one in Animal Kingdom where we could have rum added to it.  This, my friends, was one of the highlights of our day.



I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this ride.  It is easily my favorite ride of the Disney parks, just narrowly passing by Space Mountain which is a close second.  I love the theme.  I love the drops and I love the screams.  The idea of ascending Everest only to be attacked by Yetis is one that always leaves a goofy grin on my face.  Also, fun fact, see that Mom and Son behind us?  We convinced them it wasn’t that scary.  Hehehe.



At last we reached our final park of the day.  While Hollywood Studios is currently a shell of what it should be due to the closure of most of the park to make way for Toy Story land and Star Wars land, there’s still a great old timey feel and plenty of Star Wars fun to be had.  We started things off, as was second nature at this point, with a photo or two.



This photographer was sly though.  He manged to sneak Mickey and Minnie into our photo without us even realizing it.  This made for a wonderful surprise later on.



There aren’t a whole lot of options for rides at Hollywood Studios at the moment, but given that Star Tours is always fun and was a super short wait time, we simply couldn’t resist blasting off and becoming part of the rebel alliance.


And to top it all off, we looked pretty amazing in our 3D glasses.



We actually planned to meet Buzz and Woody, but on the way to them, we saw a sign for Moana, and being that we listen to the soundtrack ad nauseum, it seemed like a chance encounter.  We headed in.  We told Moana about our day and even asked her if she knew this other princess we knew named Elena.  She mentioned that she was pretty sure that was in another world created by Maui.


Even so, she had fun posing with us and by the end we promised to make sure the world know that she was our favorite Chieftan’s Daughter out there.  Sorry Pocahontas.



Another recommendation from Facebook, I simply had to try the PB&J Milkshake at 50’s Prime Time Cafe.  We didn’t really know what we were in for at this place, as it was our first visit, but we were starving and the ambiance seemed cool.


It turns out that the diner is set in 1952, when folks had manners, and the waiters are quick to let you know when you’re forgetting yours.  From telling us to put a napkin in our laps to letting us know that we shouldn’t be talking with our mouths full, we found ourselves laughing through our whole meal.  Our waiter was fantastic and the food was super tasty.  But the best part was dessert.  The Milkshake itself was HUGE and easily enough food for both of us.  Not only that, but it most certainly took the award for best dessert of the day!


Our challenge was complete, but with a couple hours to spare until the parks closed, we opted in for a grand finale.  Ready to bring it all home, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom.


NO Disney World birthday is complete without meeting the main mouse himself.  I’d heard tell of a Mickey who actually talked and it was time for us to meet him.  If you find yourself asking which Mickey to meet if you could only meet one, it’s this one.  Located in the theater just off of Main Street, Mickey is the most alive he’s ever been.  From welcoming you in with a warm hug to speaking multiple languages, this Mickey had us in awe.  Of everything at all of the Disney Parks, this may very well be the most magical thing you’ll ever do.  Just look at the joy in Carl’s face.


Mickey chatted with us about my birthday and how he’d never heard of this “Orlando” place we’d just moved to.


And we finished up with a group photo.


We then headed out to Main Street for one last photo to round out the day.


And then we watched the Fireworks show that not too long ago cemented me as a Disney Enthusiast.  Wishes is by far my favorite nighttime spectacular and I can honestly say that it was the perfect end to a perfect day!


Thank you for joining me on this journey and coming along for my Birthday challenge.  We had an absolute blast.  I even wanted to come home and write about as soon as we left the park, but alas, I was EXHAUSTED.  Thanks to everyone for their dessert recommendations.  I hope to try them all one day!  And most importantly, thanks to everyone for their Birthday wishes.  You are all 100% amazing and I love each and every one of you.  From me to you, here’s one big Mickey Mouse hug.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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9 replies »

  1. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your birthday with us. I had a huge smile on my face the entire time I was reading this wishing I could have been there. 🙂

  2. You met Tarzan and Flik?! I am so jealous!!!! I would die to meet Flik. Your post is giving me major inspiration for our next trip. I love all the magic photos too!! And isn’t talking Mickey the best?? Happy birthday!!!

  3. I am so glad you had a wonderful Disney filled first birthday in your home…if tarzan sends out that tree house invite, let me know 😉

  4. Glad you had a great Disney Birthday. We were just down there and I was thinking about you moving to Orlando. We took our daughter to Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom. Recommend it as a must do especially for a Birthday which it was our daughters. We had a blast! And it was like being an outlaw when you walk down through Adventure land and see no one else! My daughter wanted to meet Elena over all the other characters and she was thoroughly in awe of her. Pretty good for an 8 year old who thinks the other characters are just adults dressed in costumes.

  5. Jonesing for a Disney parks fix now. Glad you had a wonderful birthday! Going to have to follow your lead and move to Orlando one of these days.

  6. Congrats. Looks so fun. My son (12) and I are doing a four park challenge next Tuesday! We are super excited and have tried to plan as much as we can! We are doing AK at rope drop, then DHS (with some fast passes), MK, then Epcot which has extra magic Hrs until 11 which hopefully will help. We will do the photos and thanks for the tip on the magic photos. We are going ride heavy so hopefully we can get it all done and survive! We are both pretty energetic and excited so I think we can do it!

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