Well, yesterday was the highly anticipated Disney24 event “One More Disney Day.” Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA and The Magic Kingdom at WDW in Florida were open from 6am on the 29th of February to 6am this morning for the leap year… and we have questions.
Did you get in?
We here at RSP tried, like much of the rest of Southern California, to go for the night after work yesterday and we were met by gridlocked traffic and a lot of “shave and a haircut” horn-tooting with other frustrated Disneyland hopefuls. Since we had to work both yesterday and today, we planned to head down after work for a few hours, have some dinner, catch the 1am Fantasmic! show with some friends, and head home around 2am. We, however, sat in 3 hours of traffic while – on the resort grounds – a worse picture was being painted by the twitterspere.
Long lines, capacity signs, and the almighty APs all met for a pow-wow in the esplanade between DCA and Disneyland at 8pm and it never seemed to die down from there. Ticket booths were packed, cell phones were dying, and, as I can imagine, people were really upset. “One More Disney Disaster” was a potential headline thrown out by a few Disney-fan twitter feeds. Had we planned on staying until 6am, we may have stuck it out, but it was 11:15 and we hadn’t crossed Ball Rd. yet after exiting the 5.
Not everyone was waiting in 3 hours of traffic though. “[We got there at] 11:50pm. Took [an] hour to park. We bypassed the [trams] and walked to the park. My pass was scanned in around 1:10am” says annual passholder Tiffany B. “Would I do it again? Probably not. Its been crossed off my to do list.” Jenene C. from Los Angeles said, “I got there at 9 o’clock tuesday night… we waited outside for about 9 hours. The only real problem was with the charging lockers. [They] malfunctioned and people’s phones were stolen.”
Why wasn’t DCA open?
I just don’t understand what the logic here was? Perhaps it was a staffing shortage to have both parks fully staffed for 24 hours straight with normal operating park days bookending the event, but one would think one would have planned for that when planning an event of this magnitude. One park guest said, “The real insanity started after 7pm a lot of people came after they got off work to stay the night, the wait times more than doubled in a matter of minutes…” This is when DCA closed and just as all the APs and SoCal residents coming straight from work descended upon the resort. Keeping DCA open just makes sense. From what I read, people were left in the esplanade with nowhere to go but home while waiting for the chance of the park to re-open to first-entry guests.
And by many accounts, the ticket booths were still crowded at 2am! Everyone wanted to take part in the promotion whether it was for a few hours or the entire 24 hours and whether they were APs or not.
Why did we all want to go?
This isn’t something new — at least it wasn’t for me. In fact, I remember when the #disney24 tweets started and there was a great video promotion and whispers of a great announcement. Robert tells me, “They think there’s going to be a 24 hour party at Disneyland.” To which I responded, “That’s the stupidest promotion I have ever heard of.” Cut to: 2 months later, I am sitting in 3 hours of traffic only to turn around and go to In-n-Out in La Mirada, CA. What was the draw? I wasn’t excited about any of the mercy or food or pins, I just wanted to go to Disneyland overnight. But where have I heard of that before?
Oh yeah, Gradnight. High school, people! Still, Tiffany B. says of one of the highlights “…it was awesome to see the sunrise from the park!” But Disneyland also did a similar event when Star Tours opened in 1987 — the park was open for a full 60 hours just so guests could ride the new attraction.
So if we all have passes, go to Disneyland whenever we want, and for the most part have been to Gradnight or Disneyland at night, what was the draw? The merchandise? Why did we all feel the need to take part in this event which, for some, was so disastrous? Some guests weighed in on the subject. “it wasn’t worth the hype, just like a crowded Disneyland trip that started at 1a versus 5pm”, “it doesn’t seem like they were prepared enough for the huge crowds”, “people began to clear out of the park after [Fantasmic!] at 1am then again around 4am by 6am there weren’t that many people left in the park for the sunrise over the castle.”
But to some, it was a different story. “It was something different to experience.”
What was open and what was closed?
I haven’t been able to get a solid answer on this one yet. One of our biggest peeves with the park here at RSP is how early the restaurants close. Last night, we were to meet up with friends at the Café Orleans for a 12:20am “breakfast” which was awesome to be able to go to eat that late in the park — but what else was open and what was closed?
One of our friends in the park said, “They should have kept more food places open because the ones that were open had very long lines for them as well.”
Was all the hustle and bustle worth it?
Among the list of offerings from the park for this event were special edition mouse ears, a t-shirt, sweatshirt, watch, pin, and food stops. With all that said, it seems a majority of the people came after all of these offerings were gone. “In all my time at Disneyland for this event seems much like a very crowded summer day at the park.” says Alexandria who drove to the park that evening to only get in after 1:30am. “Was it worth it for me to go? Sure!… [however] I would have to pass [on] any kind of future event like this. I’ll just stick to going on Sundays during the fall/winter with my pass.”
“I don’t feel like they focused on making people happy because I don’t think anybody enjoys being at the park when it’s that crowded.” says Michelle H. who travelled to the park from the Santa Clarita Valley. “I don’t think it was worth it at all. I wouldn’t go again.”
The most consistent take-away we got from the 10-or-so people? “Any cast member I interacted with were quite friendly.” It’s their job and even with all the craziness, they should all be commended. I am sure the angry crowds outside didn’t make it easy to wear a smile all night.
Were you there? Did you try to go but gave up? How did it go for you?