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."
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.