“One More Disney Day” at Disneyland began with us arriving in Anaheim at 9:45 pm on February 28th, 2012 after flying into the Orange County airport from Indianapolis. As soon as we checked into our hotel, I wandered over to Disneyland to see how things were looking. At 10 pm, there were already hundreds of people–if not over one-thousand–lining up to get in the line for “One More Disney Day” ear hats. It was a cold night and the hats looked unimpressive to me, so I wasn’t exactly interested in waiting in a line overnight. This was especially the case given that I planned on spending a full 24-hours in the park the next day. I needed all of the rest I could get. That said, I can’t say I blame these people for staying out overnight. They were undoubtedly part of a spectacle and experience, and for them the journey of waiting overnight was likely more fun than the reward of receiving the mouse ears.
The next morning started for me at 4:30 am, as I entered in the already-huge line to get in the park. The line snaked a few times, but even with that, I was still back by Tower of Terror. One of my big goals with “One More Disney Day” was photographing the sunrise at 6:19 am, and given this line, I was worried that I’d still be waiting to get through security at 6:20 am. The line began moving around 5:30, and erupted when the clock struck 6 am and guests were allowed into the park. At 6:08 am, I was finally inside. I don’t have time to chronicle the whole day here right now, but suffice to say, it was a lot of fun, especially through the wee hours of the night when the crowd seemed to really, oddly enough, come alive. There was a real energy on Main Street USA at 6 am on March 1, 2012, when it was announced that “One More Disney Day” was over. I never had heard such an excited reaction from guests being told that the operating day of the park had concluded. As I was one of the last guests to walk down Main Street towards the exit at 7 am, it was fun to see Cast Members in a receiving line high five guests as they walked towards the exit. After Security finished cleared Main Street, even they ran down the receiving line giving high fives to the other Cast Members.
As I walked home, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t all that tired. Sarah and I both remarked that we felt energized, and we agreed that it was our best-ever day in Disneyland. This wasn’t unique to us. Despite the lack of sleep, throughout the day and night, everyone was in a chipper mood, as guests reflected back on other such similar experiences as the opening of the original Star Tours, Grad Nights, Captain EO re-opening, various New Year’s Eves, and opening of Indiana Jones Adventure. Although my experience is entirely anecdotal, I didn’t encounter a single person who was no enjoying the festivities of the day, and I did engage a fair number of random guests. The general sentiment regarding the day was that it was an awesome, unique experience, with many feeling that it was something Disneyland should do every week. I think Park Operations would probably shutter if they heard that last sentence.
I still couldn’t sleep when we got back to our hotel room, so I checked Twitter, expecting to see others sharing their positive sentiments regarding “One More Disney Day.” I was a bit shocked when I saw a lot of negative comments about the event. Comments ranged from dubbing it “One More Disney Disaster” to a criticizing it as a colossal embarrassment for Disney and a waste of time for guests. Unsurprisingly, many of these comments were from people thousands of miles away from the actual event. I am a bit puzzled how someone who wasn’t even in the state, let alone the park, is qualified to declare Disneyland’s “One More Disney Day” as a disaster. This is something that seems endemic in the Disney fan community, and the same sentiment coming from the same vocal minority gets tiring. To be sure, there were legitimate reports of some issues, but much of the complaining was seemingly done by those “fans” who are eager to find any faults with anything Disney does. I think constructive criticism of the Walt Disney Company is very important as a check on the Company’s actions, but condemning an action or offering of the Company in a snide and contemptuous way serves no beneficial purpose. The individual doing the condemning may feel some misplaced sense of joy or satisfaction, but it is in no way actually productive.
Nothing in life is perfect (I know I’ve never taken a perfect Disney photo!). This is especially true when you take a first of its kind event and add a record crowd to the mix. There will be some snags along the way. To fixate on the imperfect does a disservice to the wonderful, albeit slightly imperfect, aspects of life. It doesn’t take much effort at all to reflect upon the wonderful aspects of “One More Disney Day” at Disneyland. Like I mentioned at the outset, it was my best day ever in Disneyland. I’d rather focus on the amazing aspects of that day, but that’s just me. I’ll focus more on those wonderful aspects of “One More Disney Day” in the coming weeks, but for now, as I wait at the airport to head back to Indianapolis, here’s a photo that offers a taste of what we experienced on “One More Disney Day” at Disneyland.