An Atlanta engineer rode every Disney ride in the world in 12 days. Here's how he did it.
It seems like an impossible vacation: Go on every ride at every Disney park in 12 days.
That's 216 rides, 12 parks, four countries and three continents.
But an Atlanta man named Nathan Firesheets appears to have conquered the feat this month, gaining a modest global following as he documented the journey in a series of exuberant selfies, always giving a thumbs-up.
The 34-year-old audio-visual systems engineer had no sponsors, not even Disney (he said they never called him back). Firesheets is simply a man who loves amusement parks and wanted to spend two weeks of his vacation time doing something remarkable.
Here's what you need to know about his epic journey, including how much it cost:
'The craziest Disney challenge ever conceived'
Firesheets began the journey March 8 at Disneyland Paris, where he pinned a sign announcing his quest on his backpack.
"I'm riding every ride at all 12 Disney parks in 12 days," it read, along with the hashtag, #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge.
Someone snapped a photo of it and soon it was posted to Twitter.
It didn't exactly go viral with nearly 70,000 views. But Firesheets said his followers pretty quickly jumped from a couple hundred to a couple thousand, a number that continued to grow as he documented his quest on Twitter and YouTube, where he called his goal "the craziest Disney challenge ever conceived."
My sister just saw this at DLP 👀 #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge @A_Coaster_Story pic.twitter.com/WDYQObTK6U
— Mercedes Lois Gleeson (@mercedeslois) March 8, 2023
"Sounds chaotic. I’m intrigued," wrote one user.
"That can’t be consecutive days right?" wrote one incredulous man. Another simply said: "This makes me feel tired."
Firesheets' journey got enough attention on social media that he said a couple cast members and tourists even recognized him during the journey.
"They were like, 'Keep going. This is awesome!'" he said. "When you're exhausted and you've got just this throng of people just cheering you on, how can you not keep going?"
How he did it
Firesheets started planning the journey last summer. He had already done much shorter Disney challenges and mastered a lot of expert tricks to knocking out every ride in a day at various Disney parks, such as getting early entry, prioritizing busier attractions and using FastPass to avoid long lines.
The biggest challenge turned out to be just booking the flights. When Firesheets began planning the trip, tourist travel was severely limited to Japan and China because of the pandemic.
"At that point it was a waiting game and just sitting and watching travel restrictions," Firesheets said.
Japan was first to open up in October. When China opened in January, it was all systems go.
Disney Genie+: I saved more than 6 hours using Disney Genie+ at Disney World. Here's why it's worth it.
Firesheets then had to factor in other restrictions. Air France was only running three flights a week between Paris and Shanghai, for instance. And Hong Kong Disneyland was still closed Tuesdays and Thursdays. He also would have to get a COVID test before flying to China, while his quest already was underway.
He didn't mind all the hoops he had to jump through to finally get the flights booked.
"I'm an engineer, so I love the logistics and problem-solving aspects of it," he said.
Firesheets said he was lucky to not encounter any major travel issues but a couple problems did crop up.
His original flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo got canceled a couple weeks before the trip so he had to rebook on an earlier flight at greater cost
And then when Firesheets was in Paris, a transit strike began. He needed to get to the airport and back to take a COVID test. So what would have been a $20 train ride 10 minutes away became an $80 taxi that took an hour.
And then there was the physical challenge of the journey.
Firesheets anticipated wear and tear on his body so made sure never to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row and he'd always have a spare pair of socks.
Sleep-wise, Firesheets said he managed to get between four and six hours a night. But by journey's end, he was so tired he slept through four alarms in Anaheim, California.
That botched his plan to knock out all the rides at California Adventure in under four hours and catch a 2 p.m. flight to Orlando. It ended up taking Firesheets about nine hours, and he had to rebook his flight for a red eye.
Luckily, Firesheets was still able to finish the 12-day challenge at the Magic Kingdom on March 19.
In all, Firesheets said the journey cost about $12,000, nearly $100,000 cheaper than a Disney-run trip to all 12 parks.
That trip, which starts at $110,000 and next leaves on July 9, also includes stops to the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and the Eiffel Tower.
Despite the sometimes frantic pace, Firesheets said he had the time of his life.
"There's so many great rides at these parks," he said, adding that his favorite new discovery is Tokyo Disney's Beauty and the Beast because of astoundingly realistic animatronics.
So, what's the next challenge?
"I don't know that there is a next," Firesheets said. "Like, what is bigger than every Disney ride at every Disney park in 12 days? I have no idea but it feels very surreal to have gotten here."
More coverage from USA TODAY
Ready to live in Disney's magic 24/7? Here's Cotino, Disney's first residential community
Disneyland: He visited Disneyland every day for more than 8 years. Here's how he got started and his tips for your visit.
Happiest place in the Caribbean?: Disney Cruise Line to open Lighthouse Point island destination
Roundup Rodeo BBQ: Disney World's new Toy Story restaurant serves up nostalgia and more
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How one man went to all 12 Disney parks around the world in 12 days