I was joined by my fellow Disney addict-partner-in-crime, Vinnie, to tackle the 24 hour marathon event as Disney marathoner rookies (makes us sound like runners....she is but I'm not!). We didn't make it there for 6:00am rope drop time but arrived early in the morning, fresh faced and ready to see what the Diamond Celebration experience will bring!
1. ARRIVE EARLY. This may be a no brainer for many Disney addicts and hard core fans but may not be so obvious for ones who are not as familiar with Disney fanatic events. Particularly for this year, this 24 hour event was even more special and memorable as it was the kick off to the Disneyland Diamond Celebration activities and attractions! People began lining up at 10pm on Thursday night. By 2:30am, there were over 7000 in line. Crazy?? Not for Disney fanatics who wanted to be present for the 6:00am rope drop and receive a special commemorative Disneyland 60th Mickey ears.
(We were not there for that part of it but we have connections! Special friends with exclusive behind the scenes access who was kind enough to permit me to share his photos. Thanks David/coheteboy! )
3. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. We didn't have any specific plans. We didn't know what to expect and we had no idea what to prepare for and how to prepare for an event such as this. So we thought we would "wing" it and see what would happen. Well, without dining reservations, you simply don't get to eat any meals. You could stand in line for the numerous quick service kiosks and stands but one can only eat so many churros and Dole whips before the need for real fuel is required!
We were extremely fortunate to bump into local friends who are diehard Disney addicts, David and Caitlyn, who know all the ins and outs of everything Disney and gave us a personal tour of Disneyland chock full of history, little tidbits and fantastic tips and suggestions! On top of that, they invited us for dinner with them as they had dinner reservations and their friends could not join them. We jumped at the opportunity because it meant we could eat a real dinner! And have the chance to actually sit down after standing in lines and walking around all day long...:)
4. FAST PASSES. Get your FAST PASSES when you can as they will run out. FAST PASSES give you the opportunity to return to the attraction at a specified time so you are guaranteed to experience it without waiting in line. This gives you the opportunity to check out another attraction in the mean time. FAST PASSES make life a little less stressful and line ups a bit more manageable as you don't have to wait in line for every single ride. Especially for the extremely popular rides. FAST PASSES do run out and if they are gone for the day, there are no more to be had. The new World of Color show was premiering that day and viewing was only available with a FAST PASS. Although we were generously offered World of Color FAST PASSES by our secret insider access contact for the 3:00am viewing, we regretfully declined (age and parent factor coming into play!) It just means I have to ensure I catch it on my next trip in a few months! This time, I will purchase a dining plan option to get premium viewing seats for the show!
5. DON'T LEAVE! While having a park hopper option allows you to go back and forth between the parks, or leave the parks for a break and return later, it does not guarantee that you will be permitted to re-enter at a later time if there are capacity issues. Disneyland reached maximum capacity levels around 2pm and did not permit entrance again. They re-opened the gates at Disneyland at 2am. While the crowd levels inside the parks seemed manageable, apparently the crowds outside the gates were pretty crazy and many were redirected into Disney California Adventure instead (if they are lucky enough to make it through the line to get to the gates!) We had hoped to hop over to California Adventure but didn't want to risk not entering Disneyland again so we stayed until after the evening festivities were over and made it to California Adventure about 11:30pm. We still had our Minnie ears, a little more tired and weary but still smiling and happy!
6. BATTERIES, CHARGERS AND ALL THAT JAZZ! We were armed with our phone chargers and a mobile battery (which provided to be useless if you don't properly charge it ahead of time...*face palm*) but your mobile phone battery takes a huge beating during the day if you are using it to take photos, post photos, text/call, etc...And while we had phone chargers with us, outlets for charging are scarce and probably more difficult to find than Hidden Mickeys in the park! With the amount of people in and around the parks for that particular day, reception was poor and probably ate more of our phone batteries than usual. Charging lockers are available to rent from Disney but were all gone for the day. Again, thankful for our secret-access-Disney-saviour who carried around a mobile phone charger that carried a full 5 phone charge and allowed us to recharge our phones so we could continue to capture more of the Disney experiences! (Oh and in case anyone wanted to call us for emergencies or something...)
7. CHANGE OF SHOES. Regardless of the shoes you choose to wear for the day, your feet will take a beating, We walked over 20, 000 steps that day! By the end of the evening, we were exhausted. Our feet and our legs were more worse for the wear than anything else. We likely could have made through another couple of hours if we had the foresight to bring a change of shoes just to give our feet something different to walk around in and give our feet the "second wind" it needed to continue on the marathon.
8. ENERGY. Going to Disneyland is exciting and the energy is overwhelming! Even past the point of pure exhaustion, it's amazing the amount of adrenaline and energy from Disney can fuel you for more experiences! I thought I would need a lot of caffeine to help me get through the day but surprisingly, it wasn't required. The positive energy from Disney addicts who appreciate the wonder of Disney and collectively share their love of Disney provides you with the energy to go on and do more! While I have been to the parks before for different Disney experiences, a Disney marathon is something different and unique altogether.
As much as we would have loved to actually do the whole 24 hours from 6:00am to 6:00pm, the sad reality is that we are not as young as we used to be and the age factor and parent factor comes into play much stronger. Sleep is necessary and required. With her three kids up before 7:00am up in the morning, we had to make some difficult choices when it was time to leave.
Leave Disneyland?? It was so hard to leave.....but the longer we stayed, the less sleep we knew we would get! We managed to hang on until 2:00am and were pretty satisfied with our overall 24 hour Disneyland marathon experience! This may have been my first 24 hour event, but it certainly won't be the last!! It was so much fun and definitely worth the experience! (And yes, her kids were up before 7:00am the next morning! :)
Disney is an addiction and now that I've done this one, I can't wait to go back! Who wants to join me for the next 24 hour event?? Let me know!!