February 29, 2012 marked a epic day in Disney history. Disneyland and Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme parks announced on New Years Eve that they will be remaining open for a full 24hours for guests to bring in the Leap Year with a full day of Disney Magic. Beginning 6am on Wednesday and closing at 6am the following morning guests could pul an “all-nighter” in either resort park. It was advertised as a 24 hour par-tay. Along with their experience, guests would be greeted by characters dressed in PJ’s , all night DJ parties, and special foods and merchandise for purchase as only Disney knows how.
The line up began the prior evening around 9:30pm. Yes, people actually stood in line from 9:30pm until 6:00am to get into Disneyland. Was I there? Not a fat chance in … errrr… Mr. Toads Wild Ride that I’d wait that long; but I’m a passholder so I can go whenever I want. Believe me, those people were serious about getting in because that night had to be one of the coldest nights I remember in a long while out here in So. Cal. Why were they lined up? To get exclusive Mickey Ears and Commemorative Pins for the first 2,000 guests. Trouble was, there were over 3,000 guests lined up by 10:30, so not everyone received their freebies. Not to worry, there were special hats available for sale inside as well.
From what I could gather by social media terms the day of “ One More Disney Day” portion was rather calm. Cue lines were average for a typical February weekday. People seemed to enjoy themselves rather fondly for the most part. The park even did some filming of ABC’s television show “ Modern Family” throughout the park.
The first sign of crowds didn’t show up until the after work crowds began attending the events. After social media reports from Twitter and Facebook came about the short lines and overall crowd indexes being rather calm, annual passholders began pouring into Disneyland. So much so, that around 10:30pm Disneyland turnstyles stopped and the parking structures were at capacity. For those of you who aren’t quite up on Disney knowledge that’s 85,000 people. There were so many people waiting to get in, the lines extended around the promenade and looped back under the monorail gates (easily a couple thousand people). They even stopped selling tickets at one point. These long lines continued and the park opening and closing off and on until 6am the following morning. What a nightmare for the guests and castmembers. There weren’t even lines at this point, just mobs.
Lets cut to inside the park; these are the hidden tales that Disney doesn’t want getting out. Inside the crowds were so thick it was hard to make out castmembers or security. As the evening grew into the wee hours of the morning, reports on social media outlets told tales of underage drunkenness and bottles of alcohol being thrown into Rivers of America. I am sure it was quite a scene and Walt was probably turning in his grave. They clearly were not ready for this 24 hour charade and needed to beef up security instead of chili dog menus.
Overall, reports were that everyone had fun and ‘twas an overall experience to be had by many. You couldn’t pay me enough Disney dollars to deal with the crowds but that’s because crowds aren’t my fortay. Maybe next time Disney decides to do a day of fun in the park, they may decide to presale tickets or some type of lottery for passholders. The One More Day of Disney Day-saster may be avoided and people may not leave feeling left out of the mix.
On yeah, as of 8am on March 1, immediately 2 hours after the park closed, Ebay had merchandise for sale from the Leap Day celebrations. Currently, a hat and pin combo are going for around $50.00 ; about half the price of a one day ticket. So maybe if you missed out, you can say you saved yourself the hassle of the crowds and cut your costs by purchasing them there.