It was just over a year ago that I attended the event where Disneyland was open for 24 hours. That was on Leap Day 2012, and Disney named the event "One More Disney Day." Because of work, I wasn't able to go until that evening, but make it into the park I did - eventually - and it was a cool, novel experience.
But what a mess getting there! Disney did not anticipate the evening traffic gridlock on the I-5 and the neighborhood streets around the park of folks deciding to go after work and on into the midnight hour, gridlock I found myself in. What usually was a forty minute drive tops trip from home to the park took me three hours that evening! So while I did make it into the park and enjoyed being there to see the sunrise over Disneyland, I wasn't entirely convinced Disney would try the same "stunt" again.
But, a year later, Disney decided to go for it. This time, at the start of this past Memorial Day weekend to kick off the summer and also promote their next theatrical Pixar release. And I was there. Again. But this time, for longer than just the "graveyard shift."
This time, instead of just one park on the west coast, Disney announced they'd have both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure open for the 24-hour event. And while rumors about a second overnighter hit Disney chatboards in March, Disney didn't officially announce it until April, and just one month before the May 24-25 date. As someone who experienced One More Disney Day, I was surprised they were giving this one more Disney shot, and on Memorial Day weekend to boot. But by announcing it so late, they assumed that by the time of their announcement, many potential attendees (i.e., local annual passholders) couldn't make it now because they'd already put deposits down to travel elsewhere that weekend.
When I talked to friends who work at the park about the event, they told me the word was that cast members were planning to arrive two or more hours before their shift, to avoid getting stuck in any potential gridlock that happened to cast members last year, and just hang out or watch a movie until they had to clock in. Also, Disney planned to use Angels Anaheim stadium for cast member parking, bussing them in, to free up more local parking for guests.
Now last year, I went solo. But this time, some friends wanted to go too, my Naboombu All-Stars teammates from MouseAdventure, a scavenger hunt-like game put on by MousePlanet that we've competed in a number of times and won twice! MousePlanet announced they were going to run a non-competititve version of MouseAdventure titled UP All Night, handing quests out during the all-nighter. No prizes but we want to play too. So we all planned to hook up there when we could. Again like last year, I was too busy to go until mid-afternoon.
I picked up a friend and we took advantage of the carpool lane, not that traffic was crazy at two in the afternoon. We got there fine and made it into DCA first. And no long lines to get in - whew! Unfortunately, the next new quest wouldn't be handed out until 6pm, so we spent the next few hours meandering the park until one more friend arrived and we could play our first quest together.
Unlike the normal conditions of playing MouseAdventure, which is that all teams randomly start any of several quests received at the start of game play, this time all the teams present (there were about four or five there at six pm) were handed the same quest and started it at the same time. So completing the quest was more like a mad dash rally race than anything else. And we felt the pressure!
How did we do? We solved the first half of the quest just fine. It involved using the DCA park guide map to locate the correct words to cross out from a provided word search, leaving the unused letters to spell out a sentence explaining what we need to find and tweet a photo of to complete the quest. Unfortunately we tweeted the wrong "Storytellers" reference. Instead of the Storytellers Cafe, the correct answer was the new Storytellers statue of young Walt and Mickey on Buena Vista Street. Dang it! On the plus side, we took pride in knowing we were just seconds behind the winning team in tweeting our photo. We were just at wrong location.
Humbled, we looked forward to playing the next quest which would be handed out around 9pm at Disneyland. We tried out the Oozma Kappa Nacho Dogs for dinner before crossing the promenade to enter Disneyland for the first time today.
The lines to enter weren't crazy during the evening hours, and while Main Street USA was pretty full of guests walking into and out of it, the rest of the park wasn't too crowded. This all-nighter was shaping up to be a pretty successful event on Disney's part.
When we picked up our first quest, we also picked up three quests that were distributed earlier in the day. We worked on the Disneyland ones to bide our time until it was time to get that next quest.
My friends and I are annual passholders, and when we visit the parks together, more often than not most of our time is spent hanging out, usually at a restaurant, rather than riding every ride with a short(-ish) line. And the same went for today. After finishing the quests, we headed for the Village Haus to chill out and also to use the outlets there to charge our iPhones.
When 9pm rolled around, we headed for Main Street Station where teams were handed our next quest. But the quests themselves needed players to search for images and phrases in Tomorrowland. At 9pm, not only was Main Street USA becoming crushed with guests holding spaces to watch the evening's fireworks show, but congested even further with guests arriving at Disneyland for their first time as well as those wanting to leave. Rushing to Tomorrowland was impossible! Oh, the anxiety!
Once inside Tomorrowland, we traveled to restrooms, restaurants and food carts to find the essential words that answer several questions, and those answers would somehow dictate which parts of a lightsaber we would need to assemble inside the Star Trader. Once assembled, we'd need to tweet a photo of it with the Jedi Knight associated with this particular design.
We proved to be less than well-trained Jedi Knights this evening. Ugh!!
The next quest would be handed out at midnight. But after meeting up with a cast member friend who'd just gotten off work, we decided to take the Monorail out and head to Trader Sam's for dinner and drinks. Over a period of three hours, I'd actually dropped by here twice! The first time was with this time. The next time was when our final Naboombu All-Stars teammate arrived. While my other friends took a little break, I returned to Trader Sam's for a little pick-me-up, this Irish Coffee.
After midnight, we headed back to Disneyland. Now, remembering that this was about the same time I arrived last year for One More Disney Day, I was a tad nervous that I'd find the park gates closed with hundreds and hundreds of guests in lines all over the promenade like last year. However, I was only "a tad" nervous. Throughout the day, both parks weren't crazy crowded, and as it turned out, entering the park at one am was no problem for us at all.
Now obviously, we'd missed the hand out of the midnight quest. The next quest would be handed out at 2:45 am outside Café Orleans. So we just meandered around the park until then. I wanted to check out what was going on at Mickey's Toontown, so we headed there. It was cool what we found there. Disney characters were dressed up in their pajamas for photo ops, Disney animated shorts were projected in the dining area in the food court for families to enjoy, and karaoke was available outside Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin where we saw mainly young adults enjoying.
When it was time to head for New Orleans Square to pick up the next quest, we found Sleeping Beauty Castle flooded with lights and a portion of the front area roped off. Later that morning we saw Rachel Smith being filmed there. It was for a live feed for the east coast of Good Morning America Weekend Edition.
The next quest took some patience and extreme attention to detail. We were given the lyrics to a song. I don't have the quest with me, but I think it was to "Stay Awake." We were also given a series of numbers. What we had to do is start with the first number and count the number of letters in the supplied lyrics to reach a letter. The letter we reached was the first letter of the quest's question. Continue with each letter, using the remaining thirty-odd numbers to determine the question. Some numbers were one or two digits, but a couple were three! And counting a 143 letters to reach the next letter was a bit stressful at three in the morning. But we managed to solve it and get the question, about naming the special of the day at the Jolly Holiday Bakery. Trouble is we solved it about 30 seconds too late as someone else tweeted the correct answer before us. Stymied once again! With just one quest left to compete for before the park closed at 6 am, we decided it was time for breakfast.
As soon as I'd learned about the Bananas Foster French Toast being offered during the all-nighter, it was a goal of mine to try it, so that's where we headed. Compared to last year where it was a crowded and pretty much booked for the entire morning, Café Orleans was a walk in experience as we got seated in the patio area right away. Even getting served our French toast didn't take long at all.
Dining at four in the morning in New Orleans Square, with sea shanties performed by the Bootstrappers nearby and a peaceful calm resting over the area, was like a vacation moment. So peaceful and relaxing.
After breakfast, it was time to head for the Mad Tea Party to pick up the last quest of the UP All Night. By now, the nature of rushing through each quest as we got them was entirely different from the way the normal MouseAdventure games are played. But we couldn't not try! So we picked up the final quest.
It involved drawing a line between a list of phrases on one side of the sheet to their correct match on a list across the page. Between them were an assortment of words that the lines would intersect. Matching the columns of words correctly would intersect the correct words to form a clue telling us what to find and tweet in as our answer.
The list on one side was filled with phrases taken from the upper floor windows on Main Street USA. The list on the other side were location names and addresses on Main Street USA. As we started connecting lines, we started to figure out the first half of the clue. Then, we managed to figure out the rest of it without needing to solve the last two matches. We needed to find a window with a specific phrase, and I knew EXACTLY where that window was! We walked speedily over to the storefront above the China Closet, found the right window and texted it...texted it before we received any text saying there was a winner yet.
And in seconds, we got The Tweet.
You got it! We saved the toughest for last - great job!
Now that's the way to end the All-Nighter, right!
When our minds popped out of competitive mode, we noticed cast members were lining the street and hi-fiving guests on their way out of the park. That's when we realized it was five-thirty in the morning. Thirty more minutes before the park closed and this Monstrous Summer All-Nighter officially ended.
As six am neared, Mickey and his friends surprised all of us by appearing on Main Street Station, and the sight of them pumped us up again! Dressed in their PJs, they waved at us as the speakers started to play the Mickey Mouse Alma Mater. We all sang along. "Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company..."
Arriving just before three pm, I was here for fifteen of the twenty-four hours. And it was fun! The quests, while frustrating at the beginning, were something cool to look forward to, trying the exclusive food options were a treat, and being here with friends made it a lot easier to stay up all night. Can't wait to do again! And maybe next time, I'll go for twenty-four.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!