If you read the title and automatically thought, “all days have 24 hours, duh”, please bear with me. I do realize that. I’m not trying to start a conversation about time, space, and parallel universes. Instead, since this is a Leap Year, I thought I’d share a memory.
My first Leap Year after moving to Florida was 2012. Walt Disney World announced something exciting for February 29 of that year. They planned to keep the Magic Kingdom open for 24 hours! It was called One More Disney Day. The park was to close at its normal time on February 28, and then open at 6:00am the next morning. It would be open for 24 hours straight, finally closing at 6:00am on March 1. There would then be a couple of turn-around hours, and it would open again like nothing had happened.
I can remember how excited I was when I heard about this idea. We lived close to the parks, but we were going to be moving soon, and this was something that I wanted to experience. I didn’t plan on being there the whole time (even back then I had my limits!) but I thought it would be fun to check it out for part of the overnight. It was not hard to sell this idea to my daughter.
It was around midnight when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, so I guess technically we missed the Leap Day part of it. February 29 was a Wednesday that year, so many people couldn’t stay all night because of work or school in the morning. It wasn’t as empty as a Disney After Hours event, but pretty much everything was walk on. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was one of the busier attractions that we rode. That was because people had figured out that they could stretch out and take a quick nap. We went to Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at probably around 3:30. Even the actors were feeling tired by then, their wit wasn’t quite as sharp as normal. They did have fun picking on someone who slept soundly through the whole show. From what I understand, it was not the first show that the person slept through.
This was back before New Fantasyland opened, so riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train over and over again was not an option. I do remember riding Space Mountain, and updating my Facebook about walking on.
We had a lot of fun, but the night wasn’t without problems. Rides are not meant to run 24 hours continuously, and there were some breakdowns. We got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean, with cannonballs being “shot” over our heads for almost half an hour. We weren’t evacuated, though. The people in our boat were great, everyone kept cracking jokes. When we got to the end, someone loudly said, “we should all ride again!” and everyone laughed. Even if he was serious, we wouldn’t have been able to. The line was closed, and as far as I know it did not reopen the rest of the time.
Originally we hadn’t planned to stay until the end, but then we did. The monorail wasn’t running, the only way back to the Ticket & Transportation Center was on the ferry. Apparently the passengers weren’t the only ones who were tired, because we hit the dock when we arrived on the other side. It wasn’t hard enough for anyone to get hurt, but we did feel it. I hope that the Captain was able to go home and get some sleep.
There were a couple of other 24 hour days that were held after 2012. I’m not sure of the exact number, but I know that they were held on Memorial Day Weekends. We went to one of them. Since it was held on a weekend, the park was packed. We didn’t stay long, we knew it wouldn’t be the same.
People ask me from time to time if I think Disney will ever hold a 24 hour day again. Anything is possible, but I doubt that it will happen in the next few years. There is no need to. The parks are busy, the hotels aren’t empty, and people are visiting in record numbers. There is so much going on right now that they don’t have to do something different in order to get people to visit. If they do decide on something similar in the future, I will be happy to let you know as soon as I hear about it.