One More Day of Disney
When Disneyland Resorts decided that Leap Day meant, “one more Disney day,” the happiest place on Earth turned into the most crowded place on Earth.
Disneyland has been known to reach capacity typically around the winter holidays but this rare four- year occasion forced many to even turn around and go home. Disney’s operating hours were from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29 to 6 a.m. Thursday, March 1, and many Disney veterans, like myself, thought it would be clever to see the park after-hours. What a great idea, right? People have work or school on Thursday, others who went earlier would be burnt out and leave, and most importantly, there would be limited strollers.
It wasn’t clever at all. The two-hour traffic from Katella Ave. to Ball Rd. made that very clear. My roommates and I left UCI around 11 p.m. and did not enter the park until around 1 a.m. But there were many instances where the reality of entering the park at all was extremely slim. Forty-five minutes into our bumper-to-bumper traffic, phone calls and texts from friends inside the park informed us of closed ticket sales and no parking. The stopped traffic was outrageous and seeing many U-turning their way back to open streets looked all too tempting. Inside the car, our music lowered and frowns formed across our faces. But our minds were set, it was too late to go back and our bodies were already shaking from heavy amounts of caffeine. Taking advantage of this one-time opportunity to see Disneyland together on this unique occasion had us blast hits from our favorite Disney soundtracks even louder.
Other than sharing our extra 24 hours of February together, the perks of this big event were what really brought us to the park. Those with annual passes to Disneyland are usually the ones smart enough not to go on a busy day but this was not a typical Disney holiday. There would be free coffee on Main Street, a techno dance floor in Tomorrowland, late night showings of “Fantasmic” and :Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,” limited edition merchandise and many more benefits when finally getting into the park.
Mouse hats with the unique logo saying, “One more Disney day,” were signs of those who were the first 2,000 to enter the park. The line for the free limited edition merchandise started at 10 p.m. Tuesday night but actually opened 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. And the lines grew. My shock at the 140-minute wait for Space Mountain was thwarted as a Star Tours cast member informed me that Space Mountain had reached a 170-minute wait earlier in the day.
After our mere 75-minute wait to ride the ever-popular Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster and our speedy 15-minute wait for Star Tours, our night, as well as the park’s, was winding down. Craving typical Disneyland treats, my roommates and I decided to grab some food from the Tomorrowland Terrace. To our surprise, various breakfast delights replaced the usual hamburgers and fries. Dishes such as French toast, breakfast burritos and egg breakfasts were all to be ordered at the restaurant. The French toast was tasty and although it was nothing special, it was the first time my roommates and I enjoyed some breakfast at Disneyland.
Around 5 a.m. we decided to peruse the shops of Main Street in search for souvenirs. Entering the Mad Hatter, a famous Disney hat shop that sells various hats and other things to put on your head, I noticed about 20 people on the right side of the shop sleeping. There was an open space and it made sense why so many decided to rest there because it was the first quiet place I had come across all night.
Although Leap Day 2012 at Disneyland made my friends and I wait through hours of lines in the middle of night, it was worth it. Disneyland has me enjoying something new about it every time I go and I was glad to have celebrated my extra day of 2012 there.