Today we offer the final part of our Leap Day recap series with Tom Bricker, who was in Disneyland, and Brian McNichols, who was in Walt Disney World. Tom and Brian have been trading stories, experiences, and good-natured barbs through all 24 hours. For the start of this miraculous and incredible journey on “One More Disney Day,” see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Walt Disney World
I’m going to be relatively brief in my tying up of the neat little package that was One More Disney Day at the Magic Kingdom. The end of my night was fuzzy and I didn’t quite make it to the end of the 24 hours so relaying details would be a losing effort. While everyone ended the night exhausted (guests and Cast Members both), I was happily surprised to see that good moods vastly overwhelmed the bad. All the general happiness even made my heart melt a bit, although if Tom was there I’m sure it would have just confused his non-emotionally driven programming.
Overall, as an event, One More Disney Day was fantastic. There wasn’t a lot that I could specifically point at throughout the day but rather a feeling that permeated everything, especially in the earliest and latest hours of the day. It’s hard to explain but I think it radiated from so many people sharing such a unique experience. Although the park was busy (and, at times, almost unbearably so) there were a lot of people just having a good time. Many didn’t care if they rode anything or caught the parade, they simply wanted to be there. That relaxed atmosphere along with the constant commitment to awesomeness of Disney Cast Members and fans made this much more than just one more Disney day (that was pretty corny…but I’m leaving it so Tom has more ammo).
As late night gave way to early morning, surprisingly, the crowds didn’t seem to lessen. Disneyland was still packed, and the atmosphere continued to be lively. We easily ate more in one 24-hour period than we ever have in our lives, as we kept stopping here and there to try random “special” treats. All in the name of research, as Lou Mongello would say.
When the clock passed 2 am, I had a serious problem. Fatigue began to set in. I fell asleep on an attraction, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d make it. Sarah encouraged me to go back and take a nap until 5 am, but I was unwavering in my opposition. Twenty-two hours in the park wasn’t 24. Then, something magical happened.
We were standing off to the side of Sleeping Beauty Castle, and a young couple asked me to take a photo of them jumping in front of the Castle with their phone. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. So I told them I’d take it with my camera and email it to them. I dialed in the correct settings and fired off a few shots. Nailed it. It seemed like a fun idea, so I passed off my camera to one of the other photographers in our posse and had him take a photo of Sarah and I doing the same. Sarah and I, apparently, aren’t very good at timing our jumps, because it took us about 20 attempts to get correct. After this, however, I was magically full of energy. It was as if that jumping had given me my second wind! I wasn’t tired again for the rest of the event. (It might also be worth noting that I had a cup and a half of coffee about a half hour before this, and I never drink coffee; that jolt of caffeine might have played a small role…although I prefer my “magical” explanation!)
At some point around 3 am, the crowds started to break. The park was still busy, but it wasn’t chaotic. Wait times subsided, and there was a lot more walking space, in general. This trend continued until around 5:30 am, when we found ourselves in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, just taking in the experience. The darkness of the overnight hour had given way to a twilight hour deep shade of blue as the sun loomed under the horizon. Many people were still growing strong, and a rather sizable crowd had gathered on Main Street, USA. There had been little countdown announcements every hour, and the crowd expected 6 am to be no different. The cheers were so loud when the announcement started playing that I couldn’t hear exactly what it said, but I can’t say I’ve ever experienced people cheering when the park announced that it had concluded its day. It was really something.
Being crazy by nature, I didn’t head for the exit after I heard this. There was another sunrise about to happen! Instead, I rushed off to the Rivers of America and started taking photos. Then, I hurried over to Tomorrowland to do the same. A few table service restaurants had seatings until after 5 am, and attractions like Space Mountain and Star Tours had 30 minute plus queues at 6 am, which meant that the park wouldn’t be cleared of guests until at least 6:30 am. I took full advantage of this, grabbing as many photos as I could of my second sunrise of “One More Disney Day.”
Finally, just after 7 am, I made my way down Main Street to a line of Disneyland managers, who were high-fiving guests and Cast Members in a line as we headed towards the exit. Every one of them had a smile on their face, and they seemed simultaneously ecstatic and relieved to have made it through the day. As the last of us guests made our way through the line, Security Cast Members ran down it, giving high fives to all of the Cast Members on their way out. At approximately 7:11 am, I finally walked out the gates of Disneyland and they shut the gates behind me.
I’m not going to give Brian any guff for his corny concluding comment. Because he’s exactly right. To someone who didn’t go, it may seem like it was just another day, albeit one during which the Magic Kingdoms were open for 24 hours and were incredibly crowded. It was so much more. The energy during the event, at least at Disneyland, was palpable, and it was truly an incredible experience.
As I walked back to our hotel, I was filled with excitement and bursting with energy. It had been our best-ever day in Disneyland, bar none. It’s almost impossible to articulate why we had so much fun. (Since a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps someone should put together a collection of photos–a photo book, perhaps–to properly articulate how amazing the day was. Hmmm.) Sometimes, with Disney, the best explanation you can offer for something was that it was “magical.” One More Disney Day at Disneyland was Magical times 23,043.
Did you attend One More Disney Day? Do you now wish you had attended? Would you attend a similar event in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments!