Starting at 6:00 a.m. on February 29th, for the first time ever, in what is being called “One More Disney Day,” both Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Park and Disneyland Park will be open for 24 hours.
When I first heard this announcement I wasn't sure how to react. Maybe this was because I had no plans of being in Orlando that day or visiting The Magic Kingdom. However, over the last few weeks I've become curious about a number of things. I have been in the Magic Kingdom countless times and, thanks to an extended Extra Magic Hour evening, have even been in the park until 3:30 a.m.
However, unlike that Extra Magic Hour evening, this upcoming last day in February is receiving a bit of a promotion and has caused me to wonder quite a bit and think about some questions that perhaps others may be wondering as well.
So let's go through the questions one by one and I'll be happy to stick my neck out and toss out an opinion on what the answers may be:
Q. Will the park reach capacity that day/evening and if so, when?
A. That was the first question that crossed my mind. I don't expect that the park will see Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Fourth of July level crowds because it's not a holiday, it's in the middle of the week (Wednesday), and I'm sure moms and dads with young children won't be out all night with the family. If the park were to exceed capacity, my guess would be that it would happen late afternoon or early evening. I would like to know just how long the park will admit guests through the turnstiles…4:00 a.m.? 5:00 a.m.?
Q. Will there be any special parades or fireworks or special events?
A. Well, like Oct. 1, 2011 sometimes we as guests get caught up in promotions and our expectations go through the roof. There have been no announcements regarding any special events for that 24-hour period so we'll see. The 24-hour period is celebrating leap year so I would not expect much.
Q. Which attractions will be open all night long?
A. If you visit our Extra Magic Hours page http://allears.net/tp/emhour.htm#ev you can find a list of what normally is operating during extra magic hour evenings.
My guess is that is the list for the night with some adjustments. We know that the Liberty Square Riverboat, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Dumbo are closed for a while for refurbishments.
Secondly, it remains to be seen if all these attractions will be run the entire 24 hours. If it's a cold night there may not be many takers for Splash Mountain.
Q. Will there be both sit-down and quick service available?
A. Actually, that is a very important question. Guests will need fuel to help them navigate through the park all night. Normally during Extra Magic Evening hours the Magic Kingdom offers guests Casey's Corner, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, and Pecos Bill Café for places to eat. Thus the feeling is that there will not be any sit-down restaurants open…besides, when would you start serving breakfast?
I would hope that there would be consideration to add Columbia Harbor House and Pinocchio Village Haus to the list I've mentioned above, especially if the crowd levels exceed the estimated 25,000 or so guests that attend such events as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Q. Will guests be able to shop from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.?
A. This is an interesting question. If I were the decision maker regarding which shops to keep open and for how long I think I would seriously think about keeping all shops open until Midnight and then just keep the Emporium open until 3:00 a.m.
The reason for this is to allow the cast members to tidy up the shops and get them stocked and ready for the next day…plus, don't you think most shoppers will have completed their shopping by 3:00 a.m.?
Q. What attractions will be the most popular during this time?
A. I think that Space Mountain and Splash Mountain will be vying for those honors. although Splash's popularity may be dictated by the evening temperatures. I'm sure Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Fantasyland dark rides will be visited quite frequently as well.
Q. What would be the best way to tour the park?
A. Let's assume you arrive at 9:00 p.m. and intend upon staying until 6 a.m. With five lands to tour I would take my time and spend one to two hours in each land. I would either do consecutive visits to an attraction until I was tired of it and go on to the next attraction or mix it up and jump from attraction to attraction. I would NOT jump from one land to another and backtrack. I would get my fill of a land and move on to the next one. I would probably start in Tomorrowland and work my way counterclockwise around the park.
Q. Will there be any character Meet 'N' Greets between Midnight and 5:00 a.m.?
A. I think it's best to say that as the clock strikes twelve the odds of a photo opportunity with a character begin to tumble. If there are any Meet ‘n' Greets, I would guess they would occur in the early evening and BEFORE the last parade performance.
Q. Will there be special merchandise available like they do for MNSSHP and MVMCP?
A. If this was an event that happened every year or several times a year I would say yes but I'm not expecting there will be. Here's another question, if you were in charge what kind of merchandise would you offer and how many items would you expect to sell? It's a gamble and that's why I don't expect there will be any special merchandise.
Q. If the park is to see large crowds that evening, will FastPass be in operation?
A. That sounds like a silly question, but, assuming the park may see high attendance that day, the thought has crossed my mind that the FastPass distribution areas could possibly stay open for an extra hour or two….but that would be a long shot.
Q. If I am visiting Walt Disney World that week should visit The Magic Kingdom during “One More Disney Day?”
A. I think the question is really, “Should I visit the Magic Kingdom that day and stay all night?” To that question I say that it depends upon what you want to get out of the experience. Are you there hoping to get in as many attractions as you possibly can? Are you going to just say you did it? Are you anticipating some special event and don't want to miss it? Are you curious about the crowds, the attractions that will be open, which restaurants will be operating, etc?
Q. Mike, would you experience “One More Disney Day” if you can?
A. Well, full disclosure...the answer is yes. I am curious about so many aspects of this promotion that I caved and decided I had to see what is going to happen first-hand, so I plan to be at The Magic Kingdom that day....and am planning to be at the theme park well before sunrise. If you're interested in what may be happening that day, and to see how these questions will be answered, be sure to follow me on Face Book and on Twitter.
After all, depending upon how things go, we may be doing this all over again in 2016.
The previous post in this blog was Introducing the "New" AAR System at Disney.
The next post in this blog is One More Disney Day: Part I.