I'll be conducting the challenge next Monday, October 29. I have been spending countless hours optimizing my route to avoid as many lines as possible, and so this challenge can be successfully completed.
I used yesterday as a dress rehearsal of sorts - I looked at wait times throughout the day (using Disney's "My Disney Experience - Walt Disney World" app, which has real-time updates of wait times throughout the day). Why yesterday? Simply enough, October 22nd was a good proxy for October 29 crowd-wise:
- It's a Monday - same day of the week
- The park hours were the same for all four parks
- Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was scheduled for the day before and after, same as next week
- It's the same time of year
It's reasonable to assume that crowd patterns on October 29 will be at least somewhat similar to October 22. While I already have a good idea of the crowd levels and how the crowds usually flow, I need an even greater level of precision for this challenge to make it possible.
So here's what I have learned from my dress rehearsal:
1) No surprise, but visiting Hollywood Studios first is a very good idea. Much as I expected, the only way to get on Toy Story Mania without a long wait is to head there first. Fastpass won't work, because Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania disappear so quickly. So the first part of the plan is unchanged.
2) The original plan was to head to Epcot second and finish off that park. However, somewhat surprisingly, I saw that crowd levels were extremely high in the mid morning (and I anticipate arriving mid-morning - around 10:45). And yet, the crowd levels faded in the later afternoon. I suspect this is due to the Food and Wine festival at Epcot - people get to the park early and ride the rides, then head to Food and Wine when it begins.
Therefore, I'm making a change in my strategy - I'm still heading to Epcot and getting a Soarin' Fastpass (aiming for a return time around 3:00-4:00 - if it's earlier than that I'll experience one attraction and then get the Fastpass). After I get the Fastpass, I'm heading to Animal Kingdom, with a plan to return to Epcot later in the day.
3) Animal Kingdom appeared to have very light crowds. I anticipate I can finish this part of the tour in a few hours and then head back to Epcot.
4) Epcot in the mid/late afternoon is the next stop. I don't anticipate major waits (and have a Fastpass for Soarin')
5) Final stop is Magic Kingdom, hopefully arriving by 6pm. Disney has added an hour to operating times - the park is now open until 1am (including the three extra magic hours). Crowd levels really died down by 11pm - I anticipate I should be able to complete all of the Magic Kingdom, though I may be running around at midnight to get it done!
Conclusion - it will pay to be flexible!
One thing that's notable about this exercise - flexibility will be key. Crowd levels do change dramatically in the afternoon, and there is high variance. I usually have my customers avoid afternoons in the parks - the mornings and evenings have lighter crowds (and are more predictable). However, when trying to visit all four parks in a day, this simply isn't possible - I need to spend every moment I can in a park. So I'm going to have to check wait times and adjust on the fly much more so than normal.
The one other thing I noticed - even though I wasn't actually walking/running around - I was just checking wait times throughout the day - I still got mentally exhausted by the end of the day! Adding in 12-15 miles of walking is going to make this a difficult endurance challenge! And I haven't built in meal times. Hmm... may need to go back to the drawing board on that one!
Be sure so follow along on Twitter on next Monday - I'll be posting photos and updates throughout the day!