Well this leap year Disney decided to leave the park open for 24 hours. We had previous planned a trip to visit our favorite Auntie and Uncle in February and spend a few days in Disney, so we were super excited to be part of this event!
How was it? Let's just say that after this fiasco Disney owes me ONE MORE DAY and all I got was this stupid t-shirt. Ok, I didn't even really get a t-shirt, but Kenneth and Awsumb did and of course Awsumb's totally proud of his t-shirt. And we earned that darn t-shirt the hard way, which you'll see in my review.
Yes, we did it, 24 hours at Disney! And we received our buttons to prove it! So are you ready for the good, the bad and the ugly?
First I should say we typically visit the park during off season. We are used to a little bit of a crowd on our weekend days and very low weekday crowds. We live in the northwest, yet have been annual pass holders a few years in a row now. We love Disney and feel a type of ownership and respect regarding the park.
When the OMDD promo was announced we were sad because we had already purchased flights and planned a trip at that time and would be flying out that day, but thought we would at least go in at 6am and stay until afternoon when we needed to catch our flight... after a delay on our arrival we ended up changing out flights so we could attend the full event.
THE WEEKEND - I mention our previous days activities for background that we had already been in the parks for days and that we were having a great time. We checked into the Disneyland Hotel on Saturday. Our son was anxious to check out the new pool and water slides and we spend a few hours in the park until late. Sunday we took in a full day at Disneyland. Monday my Father and Aunt joined us and we park hopped giving them a tour of the new and the old. Monday and Tuesday crowds were light and with a combo of good planning and fast passes we didn't really wait for anything much longer than a few minutes. Tuesday we spent at DCA, ending our day early with room service for dinner so we could rest up for the 6am opening.
THE BIG DAY - So Disney was set to open at 6am on February 29th and stay open until 6am March 1st. Disney promised special ears to the first so many people that entered the park. News reports said 1000 or more fans began lining up down the block by 10:30pm Febuary 28th. I didn't sleep well Tuesday night anticipating the crowds and just not knowing what to expect. So we got up about 4:30 and but still didn't make into Disneyland until about 6:30, which turned out to be a good thing as we missed the masses that had waited out all night ... And we wouldn't have ended up with the special Mickey ears anyway.
First impression... LINES... MAJOR lines, lines for every character in main street over twice as long what we are used to, lines for photo pass in front of the One More Day sign, lines into gift shops, lockers, etc... just massive lines.
We had thought it would be fun to do every single attraction in the park. Figuring there would be one or two reprieve's in crowds when we would really get through a group of things fast, gather fast passes and just use our knowledge about touring plans... And that we'd be done early.. have lazy dinner and people watch.. then use fast passes over night when we suspected it could be super crowded and full of young adults.
This was our first mistake. We should have looked at the day more of a hang out day, a people watching day, a day to graze through the parks with snacks and special food options. Instead we ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time ALL. DAY. LONG. We decided to start in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain was down so that really filled some of the other things up like Buzz and Star Tours. It felt like 3pm on a busy day. I hear other areas had walk on or short rides after opening, but we just somehow ended up always in some sort of mess, walking in circles. Our son did get picked for Jedi Training and we were having a good time for the most part.
Someone mentioned Modern Family was being filmed... I think there might have been three different things filmed that day and it seemed like we always ended up in some jam because of this.
At the beginning of the day I felt like the crowd was really excited to be there... lots of Disney fans, people were happy. Later in the day I felt like the crowd changed. it was more like grad night... Crowds were disrespectful, garbage was everywhere, cups and trash tossed into the scene on various attraction, left in vehicles, all through the lines, etc. Lines were being mismanaged by cast member. When they would decide to open things up and rearrange the chains in switchbacks or make two lines as in the Jungle Cruise line they rarely stayed to even things out before the merge, but just let about 30 or so people walk in front of us. People were cutting lines, major GAK abuse, just a mess... I felt like the cast members had no control over crowds... and by late evening became tired and oblivious to lines and were sometimes caught in their own little world gossiping and talking as lines of people were waiting to be seated on an attraction.
And the crowd control issues just weren't in attractions or in lines.. I usually praise Disney for their great planning around shows like parades and such. The way they keep people moving, discreetly take down ropes allowing people to easily exit an area after an event, etc. But it was just like we'd end up in a sea of not moving people over and over again. While waiting by the path in between Adventureland and Frontierland for my DH to meet us back with food he was getting from the BBQ place across from Indiana Jones he was pushed all the way to Main Street before he could return to us with cold food.
And I never really saw special characters... maybe just wrong place at wrong time, but even at 4:30 we tried to figure out the Mickey Pajama Party line and one girl who was still in line and looked like she had at least 30 min. to go said she's been waiting over an hour... by late evening all big rides were like 90 and small rides like 30 -45... just so unimaginable crazy..
Oh and the bathrooms were a just a mess. I didn't think it was funny at the time, but multiple times ended up waiting in a line for a sink, then having soapy hands and a faucet that either didn't spray enough or just stopped working altogether during my turn... so I waited in another line with dripping soapy hands just to rinse and another line as one one or two paper towel dispensers worked. And it was obvious there was not enough staff keeping stalls clean... I am a bit of a neat nick, so these things stress me out. (edited to add specifics like stalls with poo smeared all over the floor, etc.)
By the end of the night we still had a few more things do cross off our list to complete every attraction in the park. We almost gave up because it just wasn't fun anymore. The crowd had changed... But we pushed through and ended up leaving about 4:30 because people were starting to talk about getting out of the park being a nightmare and it sure felt like that was a possibility to us. We had our 10 year old with us and felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
When we left there were still lines of people trying to get in, they wouldn't even stamp our hand (which is our family's special tradition, because getting your hand stamp as you leave for the last time each trip means you can always come back)... And there were huge lines at the ticket booths... I can't imagine if they were still hoping to get in, getting tickets for tomorrow or what?
EDITED TO ADD - Oh and to really tell you how demoralized we were - we left with sets of Fast Passes to Space Mountain, Star Tours and Big Thunder Mountain... We had planned to do a second run through the big rides last thing before leaving the park... And honestly, we just couldn't convince ourselves it was worth pushing through the crowds to use them! Saving these as a keepsake of the day.
Overall.. it was just busy. Like Christmas Capacity Busy WITHOUT all the special decorations and Christmas Cheer. We didn't feel like it was all that special. All we walk away with is to be able to say we did it. But if I had to do it again... I wouldn't! If I had to do it again I might have just gone to DCA for the day and swam at the hotel and had a good night's sleep... then waking up on Thursday and going to the park for a few more hours with no crowds before it was time to catch our plane to fly home.
To top things off... as if we didn't already feel like we were hit by a truck, one our taxi ride to the airport we were in a multiple car pile up... and being the first car we felt every single slam into the pile... We are all ok... I think my neck is feeling a little weird and we are all going to go into see our doctor just in case... As the last car, which was a truck hit the pile he turned and came up along side of us, also hitting the cement barrier. I was worried he was going to push and turn us out into the other lane of oncoming traffic... where my son and I would be exposed... We were not and I realize it could have been so much worse!
Go give your little one's an extra squeeze tonight!
And if you read all that you probably feel like I owe you an hour of your life back! LOL! You deserve a button!
This was a quick review I shared in the middle of the night after returning home…
I still need to post pictures of the rest of the week. We really did have a nice Disney visit. And because we hold season passes we are looking forward to more Disney Days before the year is up!
You also might be interested in reading this article LEAP STORY found on MOUSEAGE