It’s 11 p.m. You are at Disneyland and it is crowded. You have ridden only four rides all day and the park closes in an hour. You had to sell a kidney to afford tickets, it’s almost two hours in rush hour traffic down Interstate 5 to get there and it’s so crowded that you had to wait 45 minutes just to buy dinner, which you had to mortgage the other kidney to afford. It would all be worth it if you just had more time to spend in the park. After the fireworks, the park clears out a bit and the lines aren’t as impassible so you can actually get some things done. But 10 p.m. to midnight is just not enough time. What if you had six more hours? What if you had a full 24-hour day in the park? Once a year, that’s exactly what is available.
Started in 2012 for Leap Day (Feb. 29, which only occurs once every four years), Disneyland gives guests one full day in the parks, from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m., to do everything they want to do. Usually you can’t see both parks in one day if you have never been. I always tell people to leave two to three days if you want to see the Disneyland Resort in its entirety. But not for this event. It gets crowded, with over 100,000 guests in the park for this event, but there’s nothing like spending a night in Disneyland and going on every ride you can, all while trying to stay awake for more than 24 hours straight. If you play it right, you can hit every attraction in those 24 hours.
In 2013, the Leap Day event was moved to Memorial Day weekend to kick off the summer celebration. Last year’s theme was Monstrous Summer, playing on the release of Pixar’s summer tent pole, “Monsters U.” This year, the official theme was “Rock Your Disney Side,” encouraging guests to come in costume to the park and choose a side – heroes or villains. Despite the “Disney Side” hashtags everywhere, it felt like there was more of a push for “Maleficent,” due in theaters May 30. Maleficent horns were the order of the day, both purchased in the shops as plush headdresses and given away as paper crowns to attendees. Each guest received a Maleficent button with the villainess on it proclaiming “Rock Your Villain Side.” And even the official event T-shirt, which through the years is becoming like a rock concert shirt, worn by Disney aficionados as a totem to show that they were there, was emblazoned with a huge Heroes and Villains logo on the front and a small “Rock Your Disney Side” lettering on the sleeve. And who was the villain in the Heroes and Villains logo? You guessed it – Maleficent. Now granted, she is among the best Disney villains, but it all seems a bit convenient.
Overall, the event was really fun. I made it from 5:15 a.m. Friday to 5:15 a.m. Saturday. I wanted to make it all the way to the 6 a.m. cutoff, but I was hallucinating from exhaustion. I heard my teeth talking to each other and said out loud to them, “Guys, slow down, I don’t speak tooth very well. I can’t understand you.” This was my cue to go home and get some well-deserved rest. But I will be back at the park soon, and I await next year’s event eagerly.
Let’s hope they promote “Avengers 2” next year as much as they did “Maleficent” this year.