Recap: One More Disney Day


So now that the 24 hours of One More Disney Day have passed, and I’ve had the chance to catch up on my missed sleep, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos and impressions of the experience.

Deb Wills and I got up around 4 a.m. the morning of February 29, Leap Day, to begin our “One More Disney Day” adventure. We really had not planned to spend all 24 hours in the park, but we knew we HAD to be there for opening and closing, and figured we’d pop in periodically throughout the day to see how things were progressing.

Deb had booked a room for us at Bay Lake Tower so that we could walk over to the Magic Kingdom easily, but our plans to park there early in the morning were foiled by the crowds already backing up at the guard gate at 5 a.m. I got out of the car and walked over to the park, leaving Deb to deal with parking.

Though I’d been in Magic Kingdom after midnight several times in the past (remember the old E-Ride Nights?), I’d never been there so early before! It was extremely foggy — I mean, so foggy it was the lead story on the news — and it gave the whole area a very spooky atmosphere. The place seemed deserted, which was surprising to me. I had been expecting a huge crowd for the opening.


As I approached the entrance, though, THERE were the people! Hundreds pressing in around the turnstiles — that’s what I’d been expecting.


As we entered the turnstiles, we received a special set of One More Disney Day Mouse Ears and a commemorative button. (Thanks, Mike Scopa, for being our model.)


We huddled around the Mickey Floral display in front of the train station to await the 6 a.m. kick-off. From where I stood, I could just barely see Mickey and Minnie, in their pajamas, as they greeted their fans.


I already shared my video of the opening ceremony HERE. Sorry for all the Mouse Ears and tops of people’s heads in the video — but that’s generally your view when you’re as short as I am (5’1″)!

After the opening — which really wasn’t that different from the Magic Kingdom’s opening ceremony on any other given day — we all shuffled into the park to see what 24 hours of Magic Kingdom madness had in store for us. As you can see, Main Street was thick with people.


We noticed that the line for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom registration at the Firehouse was almost instantly out the door — and it pretty much stayed that way all day. There were numerous characters out and about and lines forming for them right away, as well. In fact, the wait for the Princesses in Town Square Theater shot to 20 minutes within a half-hour of the park opening.

As we made our way up Main Street, we stopped and asked people where they were visiting from, and if they had made the trip to Walt Disney World expressly for the “One More Disney Day” event. Interestingly, to us at least, nearly everyone we spoke to that early was a local — the furthest journey anyone had made was a two-hour drive. As the day wore on, though, we encountered quite a few folks who had come from further afield, and many of those HAD come just for Leap Day.

As we reached the Hub around sunrise (7 a.m.-ish), the fog had cleared a bit and the day was brightening, but there was no chance of snapping a shot of the sun coming up over the castle as we had hoped. It was still beautiful, though.


From there, we just meandered around the park, checking wait times and riding a few rides when we could. We also spent some time watching the progress on the New Fantasyland.


We held an AllEars.Net meet at Pinocchio Village Haus at 9:30, and we were so thrilled at the turnout. Several of our readers came from out of state just for One More Disney Day — we met people from all over, including North Carolina, New York, and Virginia (that I can remember — sorry, if I forgot anyone!). Thanks so much to all who came out to say hello!






After the meet, I walked around the park with a friend and we were able to ride Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and several other rides, all with short waits of 15 minutes or less. While definitely not empty, the Magic Kingdom was not what I’d call over-crowded at all at that point. In fact, the longest lines I saw continued to be those at the character meet-and-greets, like Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook (25 minutes 1 p.m.) and at the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom portals. It seems that many people had come for the opening ceremony, then had quickly left again — probably to return later in the day.

After a late lunch at Columbia Harbour House (love that Lighthouse Sandwich!), I decided to leave the park myself for a break — and possibly a nap. On my way out, I passed the Main Street Bakery, where they were showcasing special One More Disney Day treats.



And as I left, I snapped a shot of the nearly abandoned turnstiles, which had been the scene of so much activity just nine hours earlier.


When I returned later in the evening, after watching Wishes from the California Grill (where we had an absolutely amazing meal!), that same location was again buzzing with people entering for the evening.


There was a serious exodus of people after the 10 p.m. parade, and walking up Main Street was like swimming upstream. Still, the park was by no means empty. In fact, I think it was even more crowded than it had been early in the morning. Characters were still out in force, and there was plenty of live entertainment to keep everyone not riding the rides occupied.

After watching the 11 p.m. showing of “The Magic, The Memories and You”, we wandered around to see what rides were still available. Posted wait times for most rides had climbed — 20 minutes for Pirates of the Caribbean (though it looked longer), 50 minutes for Space Mountain. Even “it’s a small world” had a 15-minute wait, but we made sure that we didn’t miss that!


There was another showing of the Main Street Electrical Parade at midnight, but there didn’t seem to be the wave of people leaving afterward as there had been earlier.


Shortly before 4 a.m., I returned to a few of the spots I had photographed earlier, just for comparison’s sake.

The turnstiles:


Looking down on Main Street from the train station:


The Main Street vehicles were all parked neatly around Town Square, and it was fun to be able to climb aboard and try them out. The kids (young and old alike) were loving it.


I was surprised at how many people were still in the parks at 4 a.m., and even more surprised at the number of children still going strong. I really had thought crowds would dwindle in these wee hours, but I was proven wrong.


We ran into a family on Pirates of the Caribbean who had just been in the park since the evening before and the daughter, about 8 or so, was urging her parents to take her to Universal after they were “done” at the Magic Kingdom! Ah, youth…

The energy emanating from the dance party in front of the castle was irresistible, and as I walked toward the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! floats that were stationed around the Hub, I noted that many of the participants here were twentysomethings who were clearly spending, if not the entire 24 hours, then at least all of the wee hours in the park. I thought this was a great idea for those die-hards. The enthusiastic DJ, high-energy music and familiar dances — the hokey-pokey, a conga line — were just the ticket to jolt you awake if you were feeling drowsy, and the characters joined in the fun.


Dancing in the streets! on Twitpic



Even though there were still plenty of people in the park, lines at the attractions were practically nonexistent by 5 a.m. I guess maybe everyone had had their fill of rides by then. A number of rides had closed by that time, but we walked right on to popular attractions like Snow White’s Scary Adventures and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I mean, when can an adult ever spend time playing in the queue at Pooh? There are normally so many kids running around, you couldn’t even if you wanted to.


We also took a spin on the Carrousel, and walked right on to the Speedway — that never happens!



But, somewhat surprisingly, there were STILL lines at the portals for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game!


Shortly before 6 a.m., we realized that One More Disney Day was drawing to a close, so we made our way to the front of the castle. The DJ wrapped up his dance party and the floats paraded down Main Street as he signed off, thanking everyone for spending One More Disney Day in the Magic Kingdom. The remaining park-goers waited, as I did, for something to signal the end of the event. But there was… nothing. It was all rather anti-climactic. No fireworks, no big HUZZAH… The regular Main Street atmosphere music (tunes from The Music Man) began playing. It was over, and I must admit, it was a bit of a let-down. All that hoopla for what amounted to little more than a slightly enhanced regular park day.

As I stood there talking to some friends about whether my trip the World for this event had been worth it, the lights around us gradually went down, and the music started for the “Kiss Goodnight”, the little send-off that often ends the day in the park. And so I think that’s an appropriate way for me to conclude my “One More Disney Day” report.

Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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12 Replies to “Recap: One More Disney Day”

  1. My ear hat off to you, Debra! One More Disney Day sounds like it was a blast. Fabulous that you were able to ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures before it finally leaves Magic Kingdom. The quiet send-off at the end of One More Disney Day would have let me down too, but sounds like the night of excitement more than made up for it. 🙂

    Thank you for the recap!

  2. Thank you for this fun and honest review of One More Disney Day! I have been moping around since Leap Day because I could not swing the 7 hour drive to The World from Augusta GA, but seeing the blogs, videos, and photos has made it feel like I was there… sort of! 🙂 I now see that taking 2 days off from work and driving 14 hours round trip may not have been worth the experience, especially since I’ll be there in 4 weeks for Spring Break!!! I can sleep a wee bit better! I hope to meet you at an Allears Meet one of these days. Thanks, again, for ALL the great information!!!

  3. My mom and I went to WDW from NC just for the 24 hours celebration. We flew down Tuesday and flew back home Thursday. We both enjoyed meeting up with the AllEars group. (We are the ones in your pic of us wearing red minnie mouse shirts and ears and we are also the ones from NC) Our family has been following AllEars for years. We did the entire 24 hours at MK. We arrived around 5am and left at 6am. We rode lots of rides and met a lot of our fellow Disney friends who we have never met in person. Meeting you guys and all our other Disney friends was the highlight of our day. Me and my mom felt like we were meeting movie stars when we met all of you. I have nothing but good to say about yall. Hope to be able to meet yall again.

    DebK replies: Thanks so much, Lynn! It was a pleasure to meet you and your mom, too!

  4. I was only able to do a day trip for the 29th. I figured what better place to spend an extra day, even if I couldn’t be there for opening or closing. And I had a great time (glad I ran into you Deb!). I know for the 40th anniversary I was hoping the fireworks would be more on the level of New Year’s Eve, instead of the perimeter fireworks at the finale only. So I’m not surprised by the lack of a big finale. Also, maybe there are noise ordinances that prevent 6:00am fireworks???

    DebK replies: It was good to see you, too, Sue! And you may have a point about the noise ordinance — hadn’t considered that. But still… wish there had been some sort of special ending.

  5. We travelled from Maryland to celebrate one more disney day…it captured my 12 year old’s imagination. It was amazing to enter the park before sunrise and we enjoyed just being able to see tons of attractions without waiting. We were also very excited to stop by your meet and greet…anytime my son wants to know something Disney he says, “I’ll go check Deb’s.” We had already done 1am to 4am xtra magic hours before, so the early opening was the highlight for us.

  6. Sorry, guess I could do a little research instead of asking, but was MK the only park open for Leap day?

    DebK replies: Magic Kingdom was the only park open 24 hours at Walt Disney World. At the Disneyland Resort, Disneyland park was open 24 hours.

  7. Thanks for the blog and photos! I was super excited to attend my very first Team Allears meet after many years of following your adventures. I was one of the lucky few who lingered at the end and also got to see the Kiss. We were sad when it didn’t seem to be happening at first, but whooped with joy when it finally did. Great to have met you all!

  8. Thank you for sharing!! I so wish I could have been there. I think I would have pulled an all-nighter!! Looking forward to my trip at the end of August! Keep up the great work!!

  9. Like you, I was there for the opening and then returned later in the day for the closing hours. In fact, we must have been missing each other by mere feet at times, because I had a lot of the same experiences you did upon first entering the park and exploring Main Street shortly after 6 AM. I was sorry I couldn’t do the meet-up at Pinocchio’s Village Haus, but I had to meet family members for our 9:30 AM breakfast reservation at Ohana.

    I also expected more of a slam-bang finale then we actually got, but I didn’t even realize there was a “kiss good night.” I waited a few extra minutes, just to take in the atmosphere of hundreds of pajama-clad guests marching toward the exits and taking last minute pictures, and then was out of the park by 6:05 AM. So when exactly did the “kiss good night” happen?

    DebK replies: Sorry to have missed you, Bob! The Kiss Goodnight didn’t start until about 6:15. We were waiting for it and had actually given up hope that it would happen, but it eventually did.

  10. I must say I agree that it seemed like a let down. My husband really wanted to go to celebrate that day down there too(we just went the first week of Dec. when the Christmas day parades were taping so that was not an easy request). I would’ve thought by the way they advertised it that there would have been more of a grand hoopla going on. The hats were cool and very nice to just give them out to people coming, but if I had traveled from PA to go there specifically just for that day, I would have been upset. Glad you still were able to ride some rides without wait!

    November can’t come soon enough for this Disney family!

  11. I remember sitting by the television December 31 waiting to hear the great announcement Disney was about to make. I was full of anticipation. A new ride? New show? New park!? No. They’d be open for 24 hours.


    I tried to make the best of it and decided that since I would have an annual pass I’d try and make it for even a few hours. So after I finished a test I headed for the park and arrived at around 11:15. I was all excited for a great memory that night and already planning on going home to purchase my commemorative t-shirt.

    But it turns out that the bad idea had an even worse execution. It seemed that when I was there was when they decided to shut all the rides down for maintenance. Way too much hype for an event like this. Around 2:30 I decided I was bored and headed for the monorails, taking all too long to get on one because they only had 2 trains running. They should have planned for a larger crowd.

    What should have been fun and memorable turned out to be the worst Disney park experience I have ever had. A total waste of a couple hours that I wish I could take back. I didn’t buy a special edition shirt and I don’t regret it.

  12. It does sound like a bit of a dissapointment. It seems as though once they got the idea to stay open all night they didn’t put any more thought into the project at all. (However, if I find out that I’ve won one of the vacations in the One More Disney Day Sweepstakes I’ll chance my mind completely!)