One More Disney Day: The Recap – Part 2

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Today we continue through One More Disney Day with Tom Bricker, who was in Disneyland, and Brian McNichols, who was in Walt Disney World. Tom and Brian will be trading stories, experiences, and good-natured barbs through all 24 hours. Read Part 1 of their miraculous and incredible journey on “One More Disney Day” here.
 

The sun rising at about 6:40am. There is a castle down that street somewhere.

Walt Disney World

Following the initial flood of people into the Magic Kingdom, it actually seemed very calm in the park. Now, I’m no Tom Bricker (in all the best ways possible), but I feel I’m handy with my little camera. Therefore I was highly anticipating seeing my first sunrise from the inside of a Disney park.

As you would expect, the sun rising over the castle was beautiful…probably. That sunrise was unfortunately obscured by a very, very thick layer of fog. Okay, so no sunrise pictures for me, then what? Hmmm…I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t really go into the day with a plan other than to write a better recap than Tom (mission accomplished by the way), so I just sort of wandered around in a fog (literally…ha).

Looking back down Main Street...I think.

I got to meet quite a few people that I knew previously only from chat, Twitter, or blogs and thankfully Tom was not one of them (I’m kidding, I missed him so much it hurt). Eventually my family came and joined me and we did our typical Fantasyland rides, but that would get prohibitive starting at about 10am.  That’s when wave #2 of the crowd came.

11:30am. Beautiful sky, but thicker crowds.

In addition to all of the crazy people that were hunkering down for a long stay in the park, there were still all of the families and tourists coming.  These poor people  seemed almost oblivious to the intensity and quantity of Disney fans on hand that day.  These “normals” mixing with the rest of us were starting to make for a congested park.

Through all of this the wait times were still relatively low though, and that is how the story would stay throughout the remainder of the afternoon and into the evening, when Wave #3: The Big One came (foreshadowing!).


Disneyland

Given the initial influx of approximately 11,529 people (give or take up to around 10,000) in the first twenty minutes of Disneyland’s operation, it seemed like it was going to be a really busy day. In fact, if that pace kept up, the park would likely hit capacity by 9 am.

9 am rolled around, and the park wasn’t at capacity. In fact, it seemed just as light as it was at 6:30 am. Either the attractions had absorbed the initial rush and not a ton more people had come since then, or Brian McNichols had arrived and was standing out front, scaring guests away.

As I mentioned in the previous installment, my camera took hold of me during those early morning hours. When I came to, it was around 9 am and I found myself with a Coca-Cola IV drip at Tomorrowland Terrace. My wife, Sarah, who is a little too sane to wait in line at 4:15 am for a theme park opening, had arrived and we were beginning to start our non-photographic day in Disneyland out some much-needed caffeine. We had opted against going to the new Jolly Holiday Bakery because the Standby wait for that was approximately 80 minutes, and it appeared that all FastPasses had been distributed for the day.

Before we started doing any attractions, we needed to figure out just how, exactly, we would handle the “Unlimited Free Caffeine” TouringPlans meet that was scheduled for 11:05 am. Well, we knew how we would handle it, but we were sort of dreading preparing for it. We had to go to Market House and stand at the cash register while we purchased dozens of individual receipts for individual cups of coffee (since the Market House offers free coffee refills all day if you have a receipt from that day; so to fulfill the “unlimited” promise of the meet, we had to have receipts for each person who showed up at the meet). The Cast Member who assisted with each of these separate transactions was incredibly nice about it, although I think he was pretty happy to have the opportunity to increase his stats with so many consecutive transactions. While Sarah completed these transactions, I got in the standby line for Jolly Holiday Bakery. It had died down to only about 40 minutes by that point.

Disneyland In Bloom

The 11:05 am meet went well (what Brian McNichols-less meet wouldn’t?!) thanks to some assistance from Dan and Robbie, who were attempting to conquer every Disneyland attraction during “One More Disney Day.” After that, we spent most of the day wandering around, sampling the many glorious special menu items prepared specifically for “One More Disney Day” at Disneyland and experiencing attractions.

Even though crowds were not at capacity, it certainly wasn’t like a light February weekday wait times-wise, so we made it a leisurely day rather than a Commando Touring Plans day. Whereas Brian brought the nasty weather with him to Florida, I brought the beautiful weather with me to California. (You’re welcome, Californians; sorry on Brian’s behalf, Floridians!) In Disneyland, it was a wonderful day with mild weather and the kind of puffy white clouds you don’t normally see in California, so we didn’t really mind just wandering around, soaking up the ambiance.


Even as wait times seemed somewhat high at this point, they weren’t all that bad. The busiest places appeared to be restaurants, so our plan to eat 48 meals (two per hour) during “One More Disney Day” was perhaps the most difficult Ultimate Touring Plan to fulfill. These lines would end up being nothing compared to what the park would see later in the night. Relatively speaking, the daytime hours were the calm before the storm. (Insert ominous music and fog here.)

Were you at either park during the mid-day hours? What was your experience like? Share you thoughts about “One More Disney Day” in the comments!

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Posted on March 13, 2012

8 Responses to “One More Disney Day: The Recap – Part 2”

  • What is that fake blue building on Main Street shown in the “11:30 beautiful sky” picture?

  • by Debbie Wright on March 13, 2012, at 11:30 am EDT

    I made my family wait at the end of Main Street, just before the circle of the castle, so that we could Photo Pass with a Sunrise Castle. We started waiting about 6:45am, as Sunrise was suppose to be at 7. It was getting lighter and lighter, but no sun. Finally at 7:15 we did our usual castle photo and then off to Fantasyland. Quickstop in Liberty Square for a FunnelCake breakfast then Peter Pan. Lines were nonexistent almost. We finished FL in 75 mins and that included PhilHarmagic and riding Snow white, Winnie the Pooh and Tea Cups twice. The Fog did finally lift about 9:30am. Interesting thing from a CM at Pop Century, when I called to check on how early the buses were running, we chatted a little about our strategy. She told me that there were several people asking if the open time on the board for MK was correct. She said more guests than not did NOT know it was 24 hrs. Crazy! I agree that the crowds were not bad until about 5pm then by 8pm there were people everywhere. It felt like a Summer Night, not February. We didn’t make it the whole time with a 4yo and 10yo. We left at 1:30pm. It was over an hour wait at Space Mtn when we left, not sure how the other 5 hours or do faired.

  • Hmmmmmmm, The DL I was in Feb 29th had fastpasses until at least 1PM. I got one for Space at that time (5:50 PM return), and had gotten one for Star Tours at 11AM, and Indy sometime9-10AM. The lines were also minimal to non-existant in the afternoon for many non-FP rides: 10 min for Buzz, 5 for POTC, Splash a walk-on at 5:30. The biggest crowds seemed to be wherever “Modern Family” was filming at any given point.

    • My FastPass comment about Jolly Holiday Bakery was a joke. I’m hoping people realize that the Bakery never distributes FastPasses. Other than restaurants and areas that were closed off by Modern Family, attractions weren’t incredibly busy, but many attractions weren’t as light as a normal February day (as I mentioned).

  • So not FP in general? I guess that’s plausible. Should’ve gone to Julep bar; after eating my 3 beneights, there was still another in the bag.

  • I was a normal tourist who had planned a 3 day surprise excursion for my family well before Disney decided to spring the 24-hours on me. I take pride in trying to experience Disney at the quiet times. I follow the crowd ratings like others follow the stock market. The 3 days I chose should have – would have been perfect! However, I mis-calulated the fanatics. Wednesday was our last day at the parks. We had created a schedule prior to the announcement of 24 hours and I didn’t want to change. So my husband, 2.5 year old and 5 year old arrive as planned to MK at 4:30pm. At first my husband (read amateur) declared the parks to be at a 10. I quickly corrected him and suggested maybe a 5. But it was only a few hours later that we would be at a 10! and for the first time in my years of visiting Disney I was scared and overwhelmed by the crowds. After the fireworks we realized that we were way over our heads and needed to head for the exit. The only problem we could NOT attempt to head down main street (we had been in tomorrow land) we followed a make shift exit sign that brought us BEHIND the buildings of Main Street and we safely and rather quickly made it out. The Disney Fanatic in me was excited to have been a part if by accident and for only a brief time – the mother in me would never want to do that again! All in all my girls had fun – my husband experienced what a 10 really is and I got my Disney fix until we attempt to go to the parks at a quiet time in November – here’s hoping Disney doesn’t decide to do something crazy for the pre-Thanksgiving weeks!!!

  • I can’t wait for “Part 3″! I had the bright idea of heading into MK after Wishes (thinking we’d avoid most of the crowds). Uhhhh…WRONG! Crowded can’t even begin to explain the conditions on Main Street at 10:00 p.m.. Packed like sardines and no one was moving even an inch! My husband, two kids and I eventually bailed out. Since we were with young kids, I actually felt it may be unsafe as people were pushing from all angles and there was nowhere to go. So I’m curious to see how it ended up the rest of the night.