Interview with Nathan Firesheets: #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge

Hannah WilsonTheme ParksLeave a Comment

Over the past few weeks, DisTwitter has found their new hero. Nathan Firesheets took our community by barnstormer when he completed the #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge, which took him on every operating ride in all 12 Disney theme parks in only 12 days.

Nathan has been documenting park challenges of all levels on his YouTube, A_Coaster_Story, prior to taking it global. As fans watched and cheered him on in his greatest feat yet, the challenge became some viewers’ Micky filled dream, and others anxiety fueled nightmare. Just talking with Nathan makes it clear that this is a labor of love. Sure, it has its tough moments, that’s what makes it a challenge — but it gives a unique view into these parks that so many of us call home.

Read on to hear from Nathan about his experience with park challenges, and how the #GlobalRideChallenge compares.

What inspired you to start doing park challenges, and then finally take it global?

My first time doing a challenge wasn’t even an official thing. I had known about the Parkeology challenge at WDW and that the Main Street Vehicles tripped people up. And one day I walked into Disneyland 15 minutes after rope drop and saw a Main Street Vehicle, jumped on it, and decided to try to see how many rides I could ride that day. I had no plan. Didn’t know the challenge rules. Didn’t even know how many rides there were. And I managed to do 50 of the 51 rides that day, only missing out on Radiator Springs Racers because it broke down late in the day and didn’t reopen.

That was summer of 2018, on my 3rd or 4th ever visit to Disneyland. I then went back that November and did a proper challenge run, successfully, and then followed that up the next day by doing it again.

Then I bought a WDW AP so I could start trying to do it there in the spring/summer of 2019. Got my completions in August. And during that time did more challenges at DLR as well. Did Coast-to-Coast in October 2019 and really thought that was the pinnacle.

Then, the pandemic hit.

Cut to last summer. I’d spent three weeks doing a coaster-ing tour of Germany and was starting to think through what I wanted to do for my big trip of 2023… I landed on the idea of trying to visit all the Disney parks in 2023… But China and Japan were still closed off at that point, so I couldn’t do any real planning.

I kept my eyes on the ever-changing entry requirements/COVID restrictions in the hopes that things would lighten up enough to make this possible, and in early January, the last major impediment dropped and I was able to start planning in earnest.

Do you have a favorite Disney park? Did this challenge change your answer, or help confirm it? 

Confirmed my prior favorite: the OG Disneyland [Anaheim, California]. It’s got the most rides with a huge variety, from classics to the latest and greatest. It’s got the most history. It was Walt’s park. Still has 11 opening day attractions. It’s got the best vibe. Intimate park layout. Two completely different nighttime spectaculars. And another park with some top-notch rides just a two minute walk across the Esplanade away [Disney’s California Adventure].

Do you have a favorite Disney ride? Did this challenge change your answer, or help confirm it?

[I] have a lot of favorites for a lot of different reasons.

For experience… The [Enchanted Tale of] Beauty and the Beast ride at Tokyo Disneyland is the coolest new international ride. But I also really enjoyed TRON [Lightcycle / RUN], Shanghai Pirates [of the Caribbean Battle of the Sunken Treasure], Paris Pirates [of the Caribbean], and Big Grizzly [Mountain]/Mystic Manor in Hong Kong.

Domestically, I love DCA’s [Disney California Adventure’s] Guardians [Mission: BREAKOUT!] and [Radiator Springs Racers]. Space [Mountain] at DL [Disneyland]. Rise [of the Resistance] is great. Really enjoyed Guardians [Cosmic Rewind] at Epcot, too.

Were there moments that you felt like you weren’t going to make it through the challenge?

The Disneyland/DCA leg was definitely the most challenging. The night I was doing Disneyland, the crowds just weren’t dissipating like I needed them to. I had to save Fantasyland for the end of the night, and I really needed a bunch of those rides to be walk-ons, but it was 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 pm, and everything was still 15 to 30 mins. I tried to be selective… but things weren’t looking promising. And then at like, 11:30, people just started leaving and the waits plummeted… And then Toad’s Wild Ride broke down, so I had to go do Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, but when I got off Snow White and walked back over to Toad, I got there just as it was reopening and was the second person in the queue. Then got right off that and into line for Peter Pan’s Flight with a mere four minutes to spare before midnight. That was a crazy sequence of events to experience for sure, but it ended on an incredible high note.

Aaaaaaand then I slept through all my alarms the next morning and wrecked my Disney’s California Adventure stint. And what should have been done in like three to four hours took almost ten. It was miserable. But I pivoted to the red-eye and got it done.

But the support and encouragement of everybody following along is what helped keep me going. Definitely helped me recover from the low points. That, and eating a nice brunch from Lamplight [Lounge].

What advice would you have for fans who want to complete their own ride challenges? 

Make sure that you’re picking something that you think you’re going to enjoy and have fun doing. It doesn’t have to be anything super crazy. Just try to ride all the Mountains. Or the 11 opening day rides at Disneyland. Or visit each of the four parks at Walt Disney World in a day and do a ride and meet a character or something at each. Or try to see how many rides you can do the first hour the park is open but relax to a normal pace after that.

Really, the only limit is your imagination. But remember, challenges are a way to enhance your park experience; if you’re not having fun doing them, do something else instead! The whole point is to have fun. You’re not going to get anything more than internet points for doing it, so make sure you’re happy just to do it. And have [a] sense of accomplishment afterwards when you succeed at what you set out to do.

And don’t push yourself too hard. Eat. Stay hydrated. Use sunscreen. Rest when you need to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking breaks. I certainly do!

What’s next for A Coaster Story? 

Well, I’ve got my April Fools joke!

Nathan then sends over this tweet from April 1st, 2023: 

 

“Ever since I completed the #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge, everybody’s wanted to know one thing:

What’s next?

Well, how about every operating adult-rideable roller coaster from all 54 chain-operated theme parks in the United States?”

A lot of his Twitter followers fell for this, and Nathan worries about disappointing those that did. Realistically, his plan is to finish visiting all 50 United States, with upcoming visits to North Dakota and Montana. While several followers will be surprised that relaxing visits to the mountains are what’s truly next for A_Coaster_Story, — it’s a massive testament to Nathan that so many were fooled. The #GlobalRideChallenge seemed nearly impossible, a mere pipe dream of so many parks enthusiasts. 

And if Nathan can do that, what can’t he do?

You can follow Nathan Firesheets on Twitter, @A_Coaster_Story, and via his YouTube channel of the same name.

I highly recommend checking out his various twitter threads breaking down things like pricing and meal qualities across the parks.

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Hannah WilsonInterview with Nathan Firesheets: #DisneyGlobalRideChallenge