2012 is a Leap Year – a year when the calendar contains an extra day that allows the calendar year to remain synchronized with the astronomical year. On January 1st the Disney Company announced that they were going to celebrate the event by keeping two of their parks (Disneyland in California, and the Magic Kingdom in Florida) open for 24 hours starting at 6am on February 29. This is a first for Disney – although they have the parks open for 20 hours at times (at least 3 of those hours are Extra Magic Hours – when only people staying in Disney Resort can ride the attractions).
Leslie grew up in Florida and has fond memories of going to the Magic Kingdom as a child along with being a fan of most of the films. I never went to a Disney park until went with Leslie in 2008, but do have fond memories of the time I spent in them with Leslie and my daughter. Of course having two kids I also was a fan of many of the films.
Since we have been hanging out in Florida for months near Disney World – we got annual passes and have been using them a lot to visit all four of the parks. We have had some long days at the Magic Kingdom and have been in the park at 3:00 (when evening Extra Magic hours end).
We knew we would be in the area for ‘One More Disney Day’ – but never really discussed our plans. The night before we decided that we should get up early and go the opening ceremonies. We wanted to see what they did special, get pictures of Cinderella’s Castle with the sun rise (something that is not easy to do since the park opens after sunrise), and get some of the commemorative merchandise and giveaways. We also decided being in the park for 24 hours would be something that we would not likely be able to do again.
So we got up a little after 4 am to get ready and head over – we were uncertain what kind of traffic and crowds we might encounter. At the Magic Kingdom – you park, take a tram to the transportation center, and then have to take a monorail or ferry boat to travel the last 1.5 miles to the park entrance. We got to the Park Entrance and got in the queue to get in (since we were not one of the lucky 500 that got vouchers online to get the special commemorative ears, we had to wait a little). We were let into park entrance around 5:45 and got into position to watch the opening ceremonies.
The opening ceremonies where pretty much the standard one with mention of the special event and a few fireworks.
We could have gotten the free commemorative ear hat – but did not want to give up our vantage point for viewing the opening ceremonies. As it turns out – we did purchase the commemorative ear hat they were selling (which was nicer than the one they were giving away) and t-shirt (you can see the t-shirt in other pictures below) to go with our buttons.
Although we did get pictures of the castle with the rising sun – they were not as expected due to the dense fog. It was really strange to be walking down ‘Main Street’ and not be able to see the Castle. It was like the guy from Despicable Me stole it.
They did have a number of ‘special events’ – like extra character greeting events, many with characters that are not ‘out’ all the time. Leslie got a few pictures and autographs.
We did get pictures taken in the middle of the night with Mickey and Minnie in their pajamas.
They also had some of the famous Main Street Vehicles for people to see up close and get pictures with.
I was glad we got our picture with the Seven Dwarfs back at the Halloween party – because people were waiting in line for well over 2 hours for a picture with them.
As the night progressed – the event turned more into a ‘Cast Member’ party. Disney has an extensive college intern program and they all came over to play. The lines for the various attractions (otherwise known as rides) got really long and we decided to give up and head back home.
Did we stay for 24 hours – nope we did not make it. I was so tired that we went back to the RV in the middle of the afternoon for a couple of hours. We went back to the park the park was so crazy (the lines were long with the college intern cast members) and we were tired so we left a couple of hours before the park closed. We were in the park for about 19 of the 24 hours.
We are very glad we went – but would not do it again (at least that is what we say now – but who knows …).