It started with a tweet: Can I get a follow back, @TTAallday? I’d like to DM.
Here’s what I knew: two men, known to me only as @TTAAllDay, were planning to break the Guinness record for hours spent riding a theme park attraction by leaving their butt-prints on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (TTA) during One More Disney Day.
Here’s what else I knew: I had to talk to them.
A few DMs later, I found myself waiting for “The TTA Guys” – better known as Shane Grizzard (@ShaneRedHat) and Kirk Anderson (@DotPluto)– next to the Metrophone in Tomorrowland. They were using one of their few Guinness-sanctioned breaks to meet with me.
After introducing myself and passing on my gift of 5-Hour Energy, Grizzard and Anderson whisked me off for a star-guided tour of Tomorrowland and a great story …
Grizzard and Anderson have always loved the PeopleMover. And they’d always talked about riding it from park open until park close. So when One More Disney Day was officially announced on January 1, 2012, the two immediately knew that this was their opportunity to make it happen.
With just six weeks to prepare, the two Disney fanatics ran themselves through the paces, going on hours-long trial rides and testing bathroom routes to find the closest ones. Luckily, they had some seriously heavy-hitting help in the form of Len Testa and Scarlett Litton from Touring Plans.
“They were great. We couldn’t have done it without them. Each week, they set goals for us to help us prepare, and they helped us set up our support team, too,” said Grizzard. But, eventually, all of their planning was at an end, and it was time to get down to actually riding the PeopleMover.
On February 29, the two were on the first loop, armed with their iPads, phones, e-books and movies. They rode around and around and around and … around. And, after 15 hours on the ride, the two were still finding little surprises.
“We’ve been on it a thousand times, but today we noticed lots of new things. Things we’ve never noticed before,” said Anderson. “And the twist as you exit Space Mountain still gets me every time.”
One time around Tomorrowland accounts for one mile, and over the course of 24 hours the pair logged enough miles to get from Orlando to Gainesville. “We can ride six times an hour,” said Anderson. “That’s how we’re logging it: by hours on the ride, not by miles or loops.”
The ride did go down a few times throughout the day, but the bigger problem was the lines. Grizzard and Anderson weren’t given any special treatment, and the regular rules were in effect: once the ride line backed up, Cast Members wouldn’t allow them to continue their loop.
In fact, our interview ended when a very kind cast member kicked us off the electromagneticly-run train. “It’s okay. We just get right back in line and are on again in no time,” said Anderson. “The Cast Members have been good to us. If you’re good to them, they’ll be good to you.”
We fit quite comfortably in the car for two rides around Tomorrowland, but how do two grown men manage to spend hours sitting in one of those tiny little cars? “We sit on opposite corners and mirror each other,” said Anderson. “If he puts his feet up, I put mine up. We have to adjust our positions in unison.”
And, as I mentioned before, they did have some breaks. Guinness allows for a five minute break for every 60 minutes on the ride, so the guys saved up their breaks and used them for visits to the bathroom and meals. During one of his Guinness-approved breaks, Kirk ate a hot dog standing up.
On the ride, they kept themselves entertained the good old fashioned way (conversation) and by turning to their various electronic devices, kept powered by Zagg Portable Battery Packs. Anderson was reading The Hunger Games. And both were looking forward to watching “The Help” in the wee hours of the day.
Grizzard and Anderson put so much time, effort and thought into planning, and they tackled the day with such positive attitudes, it’s hard to believe that they did it all with no hope of claiming the Guinness record.
That’s right. No record.
There were several factors that prevented their run at the record, but the biggest was the record itself.
Turns out, the actual Guinness record for riding a theme park attraction is 24 hours and 30 minutes. Luckily for Shane and Kirk, the rules allow for a second ride, meaning they could ride TTA all day, spend the last 35 minutes on another ride and still meet the requirements for breaking the record.
But what other ride would be open after 24 contiguous hours??
“The monorail,” said Grizzard, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. And, once you think about it, it kind of is. Sure, the monorail is simply a way to get from Point A to Point B, but it’s also part of the magic of arriving at the Magic Kingdom. It’s absolutely an attraction!
Guinness, unfortunately, didn’t agree. And that’s where the story ends. Sort of.
“In the end, it just didn’t work out,” said Grizzard, the grin leaving his face for only the briefest moment before lighting back up. “But we’re not giving up. We’re going to break some kind of record. Eventually.”
To quote their March 6 Tweet, “Still here! Planning …”
Many thanks to Shane and Kirk, who are absolutely delightful and didn’t even seem to mind when I snapped their photo a million times. You two are awesome, and when you take a second run at the record, I’ll bring more 5-Hour Energy. Maybe I’ll even ride along with you.