Disney’s 24-Hour Party Planning Tips
During the annual 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure are open for 24 consecutive hours from 6 am until 6 am! Despite being a holiday weekend, Memorial Day is not too busy. This 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, making it the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. (Note: the 24-hour party has yet to be confirmed for 2016 as of April 3, 2016, and there’s some speculation that it’ll occur in June this year.)
We are biased. I’ve made trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World for every one of these parties. I love them. Not everyone does. Several readers have written to us sharing their negative experiences, so your mileage may vary. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!
Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from the “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event or last year’s Memorial Day Walt Disney World Trip Report. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the events! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the parties since.
Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our 24-Hour Party tips!
1. Take Photos!
This is probably a no-brainer, right? Well, more specifically, take photos of things most guests wouldn’t normally see. It’s rare for Disneyland and Walt Disney World guests to be able to photograph a sunrise, and most guests also aren’t in the parks at 3 or 4 am to take photos, either. Take advantage of these opportunities and grab some unique photos. Photograph the sunrise from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority or over the castle! Grab a photo of the clocks on Main Street at 5 am! Get shots you normally couldn’t get (for photo ideas from past events, check out my Disney photos).
If you’re using an iPhone or other camera phone to take your photos, I highly recommend downloading the free Snapseed App. It’s really the only app you need for editing photos on the fly at Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
If you want more tips, check out our Disney iPhoneography Guide for tips on using a smartphone to capture moments in the park. If you’re more serious about photography, check out my Photography Guide for tutorials, equipment recommendations, and more.
Many restaurants in the parks will be offering special menus, test items, and foods that were long-ago retired, and after the smash success of these special menus during One More Disney Day and Monstrous Summer, we expect even better (and more) options for the 24-Hour Party. With some many delicious menu items, you actually won’t have enough time to try everything!
Restaurants will be open until fairly unprecedented hours, so avail yourself of the opportunity to have a Dole Whip in the middle of the night and eat at a table service restaurant after midnight! We have so many different foods on our “want to try” list that I suspect if we eat them all, we’ll gain around 38 pounds each! For our restaurant suggestions, check out our Disney Dining Reviews Index.
I’m not big on constantly using social media when in the parks, as I already spend enough time taking photos, and I want to actually experience the moment I’m experiencing, not document and share it, but the 24-Hour Party should be a really fun opportunity to share the fun with others at home who weren’t crazy-enough to book a last minute trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland when the event was announced on New Year’s Eve. I expect that a lot of people will be experiencing the events vicariously through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media (I know that’s what I’ve done for the past two D23 Expos!), so have some fun with them!
On Twitter and Instagram, Disney will have an official hastag (likely just #DisneySide or maybe #RockYourDisneySide), so find out what that will be and tag all of your posts with that hashtag. Some websites are even planning on covering the entire event in fun ways! Plenty of Fan Pages on Facebook also will likely be sharing, so try to determine in-advance who is going to be there, and subscribe to their updates or “Like” their fan page. We will be posting live updates during the party on Twitter @DisTouristBlog, on the Disney Tourist Blog Facebook page, and on Instagram. If you’re going to be posting updates from Disneyland or Walt Disney World, please feel free to post links to your blog or social media accounts in the comments to this post!
4. Bring the Right Supplies.
If you’re going to be Tweeting and Facebooking the day away, you’re going to need juice, or at least an outlet. During “One More Disney Day,” we saw a lot of people standing around just using outlets in the park. This looked absolutely no fun, but we didn’t have to do this, because we brought an external battery for charging our phone on the go. This is probably the best piece of advice in this article–spend the $20-40 on a nice external battery; it’s worth the money, as standing around charging your phone at Walt Disney World or Disneyland is no fun. Make sure you have plenty of memory cards and batteries for your camera, too. Beyond batteries, come prepared for all types of weather.
Why not throw a $.99 poncho in your bag for peace-of-mind? Bring some protein bars and vitamins to keep you energized. From what I’ve gathered from various television commercials, there is this amazing product on the market called 5-Hour Energy that gives you a boost without any “crash.” What a miraculous invention! 😉 For other things you should bring, check out our Disney packing list.
6. Experience the Un-experienced!
Ever done every ride in the Magic Kingdom in one day? Ever experienced Tomorrowland Transit Authority once every hour for twenty-four straight hours? Ever done Splash Mountain at 3:59 am? What about Haunted Mansion at 4:59 am? Have you seen Fantasmic at 1 am? What about Captain EO at…errr…let’s just skip that one all together. The point is that being in the park overnight affords you all sorts of crazy and unique opportunities to say “I did ________ at __ am!” The photo above is a pre-dawn photo I took of Sleeping Beauty Castle. One of my favorite experiences on “One More Disney Day” was just standing in this tranquil spot in the early morning after all the craziness had subsided, waiting for the park to close. When the clock finally hit 6 a.m., the remaining guests on Main Street cheered loudly, and it truly was one of those “chills” moments, as we had all managed to stay in Disneyland all night long.
Only crazy Disney fans would find joy in such bragging rights, but if you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a crazy Disney fan! So do some crazy-things about which you will someday be able to tell your kids or grand-kids. Even if you don’t plan on staying in the park for all 24 hours, there are a lot of fun things you can do that are unique to the 24-Hour Party. If you know you won’t be able to make it all 24 hours, we recommend going for the overnight portion, as it will be the most unique. Participate in the many meets taking place in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Have fun!
Unlike last year, this is not going to be to be a 24-hour version of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up. These parties draw Disney fans, making it the perfect time to Disneybound. When planning your outfit, remember that this event is occurring at the end of May, which in Florida is a notorious time for hot and humid weather. In other words, that heavy coat of fur that your Beast costume has may not be such a good idea.
A popular costume Sarah wore previously that we’ve shared on here is the “Cute Minnie Dress” costume (here’s more info about what she’s wearing). This is the type of thing we recommend going for: inexpensive, lightweight, and pretty conducive to a FULL day in the park. Thrift shops and eBay are great places to find inexpensive outfits.
A day when the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure are all open for 24-consecutive hours doesn’t happen very often, so if you’re considering going, DO IT! Trust us, it’s a lot of fun. You may experience heavier crowds than normal and longer waits, but the experience and ambiance of the parks more than makes up for the crowds. It’s something unique that you’ll remember for a long time.
I know that when I tell our kids about the 24-Hour Party sometime in the distant future, it won’t be a 24-hour event,” it’ll be “an epic 72 Hour Disney Party,” and we’ll have stayed in the park for all 72 of them, battling 0 degree temperatures, snow, sleet, hail, and rain, as we experienced every single attraction 48 times each. By the time I get a chance to tell my grandchildren the story, you better believe that it will include my fighting a T-Rex with my bare hands and riding Splash Mountain with ALF. Half the fun in these types of events is the memories and stories you can later tell, and like any sage adult, I will embellish the heck out of all my stories! 😉
Did you do One More Disney Day or Monstrous Summer, and if so, did you enjoy them? Are you doing the 24-Hour Party this year? If so, please share your thoughts and plans in the comments!
I must ask again, which park will you be attending? 🙂
I so want to do this but the date doesn’t work with my schedule this year 🙁
Obviously no one knows if/when there will be a similar event in 2016 but any guesses? Was it leap day the first year and then memorial weekend subsequent years? If so any educated guesses on the timing for 2016 since there will be a leap day again?
My guess is that they will do it Memorial Day again in 2016 as it’s nice to kick off a summer promo that way, but with that being a Leap Year, I’d think that’s in play again, too. I’d still put money on 70/30 Memorial Day/Leap Day.
Great tips! This happens to fall in our trip this year, and we even extended a day after the announcement yesterday so that we can take full advantage of the 24 hours. Can’t wait to ride Splash Mountain and have a Dole Whip at 4:30 in the morning. The float has pineapple juice, so that counts as a healthy breakfast, right?
I do realize that I am very late in terms of what this article was for and when it was posted but, I really wanted to know if this 24 hour event is now a tradition or if its only something they do every-so-often like a few years in a row and then its done. Or is it a yearly thing that they do now because I really wanted to attend the 2014 party but I couldn’t due to my softball team schedule so, I was planning on going to the 2015 party; unless there is no 24 hour event in 2015.
Thanks and sorry for the long and late question,
There has been no official announcement of an event, but there are rumors of another one Memorial Day weekend 2015. There also might be a *60* hour event to kick off Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary.
With 2015 a great success, any rumors of a 2016 event, possibly to wrap up the Disney Diamond Celebration year?
So a quick question about the 24 hour day at disneyland. We’re planning on going early friday morning and staying until late afternoon, then going back to the hotel to rest for a few hours before going back for the night. If we leave and get our hands stamped will we be able to get back into the park at 6 or 7 at night? how does that work if the parks are at capacity? will it be any easier to get into california adventure compared to disneyland?
How early should I get to the park? I was thinking like 4am. When do they begin selling tickets??
You should definitely buy your tickets *before* the morning of the event. As for when to arrive, depends on whether you’re visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World. One hour in advance for Disneyland, 30 minutes for Walt Disney World. Have fun! 🙂
Tom, forgot to ask, does everyone wear costume? Just curious if that is required in order to attend. Thanks.
You are not required to wear a costume in order to attend. I’m guessing 50%+ of guests will not wear costumes.
I know Magic Kingdom had a new rule, if you are over a certain age now, no costumes. I want to say you have to be 8 or younger, could be lower in the age. Definitely call and check. Hate to see you go and you get turned away because you’re in a costume.
So happy I found your site. You answered so many questions. Planning to attend with my husband, leaving our 11yr and 6yr old with grandma. Celebrating my 40th bday!!! Most think its a silly way to celebrate such a momentous bday….but if you’re reading this, you totally get it…..its a Great way!!! Can’t wait!!!
Hey Tom we will be at WDW. Are you guys heading to DL or WDW? If WDW shoot me an email and maybe we can meet and and say hi.
I’ll be there looking forward to meeting everyone! Tweet/insta me @Phoenixspirit
Hi, I’m LOVING your blog and it’s beautiful pictures and attention to detail! I just went on my first real Disneyland (and DCA) vacation in March 2014 and I had such a bad ‘happiness withdrawal’ when we got home that I planned a trip for May 19-22nd, which I now realize will be right before the 24 Hour Event. I’m wondering if you have an idea of how busy the park may be for the days leading up to the 24 Hour Event? Do most people start their vacation with the 24 Hour Event? Have you ever seen the attendence at the parks the day before a 24 Hour Event? Thanks for all the awesome advice! I especially appreciate your Tokyo information and pictures, and just as you warned, I’m already considering a trip to Japan!
Attending Rock Your Disney Side at Magic Kingdom. My biggest MUST is being there at rope drop. Staying at ASM. Will I get there early enough taking the first resort bus to get a good viewing up front for opening ceremony or should I take an earlier taxi?
My husband and I had to cancel our honeymoon trip to WDW last year (reading your blog has helped to curb some of my disappointment). We decided yesterday to take a whirlwind 4 day trip to attend this event!! We are so excited. Your photos and blog are amazing, keep the magic alive!! Its nice to know there are Disney geeks around my age still out there!! It would be fun to run into you guys if you are in FL for this.
This will be my first time attending the 24 hour party and I’m super excited. I wanted to know if they would let me back in if I leave the park around 10 pm and he’d back in around 3 am? Would they allow me to enter and leave throughout the 24 hrs.?
As long as the park isn’t filled to capacity, and you have a hand stamp or annual pass, you can come and go as you please I believe
Thanks for the great post!
I’ll be there with my family! First trip ever with the whole family, since we’re so spaced out in age (7 kids, 35 down to 10 yrs old). We’re going from May 16 – 24… We were just going to do 6 days at the parks but when the 24hr day was announced again in February, we added the extra day since it actually falls on my sister’s 26th birthday! (Plus it seemed depressing to be traveling home on her birthday when such a fun day would be going on in the park…)
Can’t wait for the whole trip, but especially the 24 hour day. 🙂
I love the tips on photography–does that app work well for taking pictures of the fireworks? I haven’t had much luck with iPhone pictures of fireworks–they mostly turn out blurry…
My family and I will be in WDW, Magic Kingdom, for the 24 hour event! I can not wait. Haven’t decided whether we’ll dress up or not, but I will definitely be toting a camera, my iPhone5 and external batteries. Love to snap pictures in the Parks, but most of all I want that sunrise picture!
Thanks in large part to your Blog, I have convinced my husband we HAVE to Rock Our Disney Side in May! Can’t wait for Disneyland in two months! 24 Hours is going to be AWESOME.
If we arrive after midnight does that count as a ticketed day for Friday or Saturday? I am wondering if it would be a Saturday entry and then we could go to Epcot later on with our park hopper on the same day ticket.
I would check with Disney. If I recall correctly, last year the entire event was considered “Friday.” I’d definitely check before going, though.
Sorry I forgot to mention we’ll be at Magic Kingdom. Thanks so much for the response… we go all the time (live in Jacksonville) so I’m thinking of spending a few early morning hours there then spend the afternoon napping at the hotel to prep for a longer stretch through the night. Besides just staying open 24 hrs are there any special/extra shows or parades to mark the event?
I’m super motivated to try out this 24 hour event but very anxious that I won’t make it through the entire thing without a quick nap… I can’t afford to book a resort so have made reservations at my usual off site hotel, which does not offer transportation to/from the park. Any idea how risky it is to leave the parking lot and come back again? My fear is that I’d go back to the hotel for a nap and not be able to get back into the park =/
Are you looking at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom? If Disneyland, you might have issues. You should be fine at Magic Kingdom, though. I don’t believe they hit capacity last year.
Last year during the 24 hour event at Disneyland, the park never hit capacity. In 2012 it did, but encoder really came close to hitting capacity. I was there 21 hours in the park and honestly it didn’t feel like a holiday weekend.
I went to the Monstrous Summer 24 hr day last year at WDW. As to be expected, it was very crowded throughout the day. However, right around 11pm after one of the fireworks shows, too many people were trying to get in and out of the park at the same time, to the point where it became STAND STILL traffic for around an hour. And I was stuck back by Cinderella’s Castle for most of that time. Definitely not good news for people with claustrophobia issues. I cant confirm if they actually reached their technical capacity, but they were more crowded that I could ever imagine (and I live in FL and go all the time). This is not to turn you away from going (Im even going back this year), rather just a warning for if you leave the park and try to get back in at a later time.