Theme Park Insider

Disney 24-Hour Party Crowds Lead to Frustration at Disneyland (*With Updates)

May 22, 2015, 4:09 PM · Final Update: Disneyland reopened between 2 and 3am, more than 12 hours after being closed to new entrants. California Adventure guests got in first, followed by people waiting at the bag checks.

Update 3: (7pm) While it appears that Disney is officially keeping California Adventure open, access to it is extremely difficult, with clogged roads, closed parking, and large crowds in and around the esplanade. Disneyland is closed to all guests and expected to remain that way until at least 10pm, when the parade and fireworks will have concluded. We recommend watching the live feed online or read our reviews of the new events:

Update 4: (11:30pm) Disneyland remained closed as midnight approached, even though reports from inside the park suggested moderate to light crowd levels.

The official @DisneylandToday Twitter reported no more parking spaces anywhere at the resort as of 10pm, and crowds continued to mass outside the bag check areas. Cast members were heard saying to guests that the park's president had ordered Disneyland kept closed to entrants for the remainder of the event, though this could not be confirmed.

* * *

(4:09pm) Two Disney theme parks at the same resort never have hit capacity at the same time. But we might be close to that historic first at the Disneyland Resort.

At about 1:50 this afternoon, Disneyland closed to new entries, due to the crowds of visitors at the park for the start of the Diamond Celebration and the 24-hour day.

Disney began sending all guests seeking to enter the parks for the first time today into California Adventure instead. With massive after-school and after-work crowds expected to hit the resort in the next few hours, cast members are facing the possibility that both parks will have to close to new visitors, which could set off a chain reaction of traffic jams in the area as incoming visitors have nowhere to go.

We've heard that the Mickey and Friends parking structure closed temporarily earlier today, and Disney is saying that access to the garage is "intermittently available." Fans have crammed the esplanade between the two parks.

At the original "One More Disney Day" 24-hour party in 2012, Disneyland hit capacity in the early evening, creating traffic jams thoughout the area as fans tried to cram into the resort. (California Adventure closed at 8pm on that day, compounding the capacity problem.)

Needless to say, if you're not already at the Disneyland Resort and were thinking about visiting, may we suggest that a visit later in the weekend might be a better idea?

Update: (4:35pm) As of 4:15, Disneyland is closed to re-entry by returning guests, as well as to guests seeking to enter for the first time today.

Update 2: (5:30pm) While DCA remains open, officially, good luck getting to it. Disney's parking people in the old RV lot at the corner of Harbor and Bell now, which is pretty much the last nearby lot Disney has left. Cast members have been telling guests in the esplanade that Disneyland readmissions might start around 10pm. So if you're not already there, stay home and watch the livestream.

Replies (33)

May 22, 2015 at 5:20 PM · My CM#1 family member is report that WDWMK is packed ... CM#2 family member is due home any minute ... Will report back.
May 22, 2015 at 5:24 PM · Ooops! ^ that was me.
May 22, 2015 at 5:58 PM · Crazy. A month's worth of admissions at my home park, Worlds of Fun, in just one day. Amazing.
May 22, 2015 at 6:36 PM · The boy came home quoting Bob Dylan ... "It's rough out there .... High water everywhere."
May 22, 2015 at 6:36 PM · There is nothing about that that looks fun to me. Waaaay too many people to really enjoy the park, so what's the point?
May 22, 2015 at 6:53 PM · ^I guess it is to just be part of the event, to say, "I was there." Most of them are locals, so it is something different, right? I'd go if I was a local. Looks like a grand party. Been watching all six livestreams at once just wishing I could move the darn cameras around! ;)
May 22, 2015 at 7:04 PM · Community spirit?
May 22, 2015 at 7:13 PM · it is rough out there. We managed 12 hours but enough was enough. People were staking a claim on Mainstrert for the fireworks and parade at 9AM
May 22, 2015 at 9:53 PM · Wow, that crowd (esp the esplanade) is huge! Happy to get to watch the live stream on the east coast. It was blurry, which was almost better, as it made me want to see what seems to an amazing fireworks-and-so-much-more show when I visit later this summer. Kudos to DL on another amazing kiss goodnight!
May 22, 2015 at 11:10 PM · Staking a claim to watch a parade 12hours in advance. Words fail me . I was there today and had better things to do all day than wait for a parade . For the price of a ticket I guess a lot of people have a lot of money and nothing better to do . We left late in the afternoon mistakenly thinking we could come back later. We left on the monorail so we did not see the esplanade madness until we tried to cross to get back to our hotel. Had we went out the front gate we may have reconsidered if we saw the crowd and they probably would have told us the park was closed. Missed the parade and fantasmic but oh well. Just looked up from the hotel for the fireworks but they did not seem too different than the last couple nights. I have four fast passes for space mountain for 2:45-3:45.anyone want them ?
May 23, 2015 at 4:00 AM · My husband and I have been going to Disneyland for 20 years. We have been Disneyland Annual Passholders for the last 15 years or more. This event broke our hearts. We are Vegans and couldn't get food in the park due to capacity. So we were told that a Disney restaurant in the hotel had a vegan meal and that if we got a hand stamp we could get back in the park. We went and had a great meal, but when we returned they would not let us back in to Disneyland. We went from 7pm to 2:30am trying to get back in the park. No one helped us, or the countless others that had hand stamps.

It is sad that a place we loved so much did this. They lied to us and countess others, and did nothing to solve the problem. The 24 hour event was a nightmare. We saw none of the events we went to this event to see. We watched countless exit the park and heard the streets were empty, yet we stood outside the gates and would not be let back in.

After 20 years we are going to give up our season passes. This was a rude awakening to how little Disney cares about the people that make them great. Their loyal fans. In the end it was tough to realize that Disney is just a business and nothing more. Magic Gone.

May 23, 2015 at 4:31 AM · Disneyland is always packed to the gills, definitely opportunities for price raises.
May 23, 2015 at 8:47 AM · The Magic Kingdom in Orlando is nowhere near this bad at the event there.
May 23, 2015 at 8:58 AM · ... And then we wonder, and some people complain, why Disney raises their admission prices every year. Imagine if prices were lower!?
May 23, 2015 at 9:13 AM · To 207:

Good riddance. You knew exactly what you were walking into. If you are vegan and couldn't find a meal, that's your own problem. You were not lied to. You left the park and it filled to capacity. You left at your own will, and you chose to attend yesterday... at your own will. You are also vegan... at your own will. If your dietery needs can't be met in the park, you should have brought your own food. If you wanted to see all the events... You would have stayed in the park.

No one will miss you not renewing your season pass.

May 23, 2015 at 9:43 AM · Seeing the parade and fireworks on live cam was good enough for me. Had a good nap in comfy bed.
May 23, 2015 at 11:09 AM · You heard the streets inside were empty? Ha! After 20 years of going to Disney I would have guessed you would have been the most educated on how impacted the park gets and that you were shocked you couldn't get back in. Disney still cares greatly for their guests but having to deal with extremely large masses of people they have to follow city ordinance laws and have to close their gates if full capacity is going to be reached (for safety reasons) it's not Disneylands choice but it's the law. You can't bash on Disney because you and thousands and thousands of others showed up to a popular known annual event. They probably thought you would be able to get back in but if the Fire Marshall deems that no more guests can enter, Disney must abide by the law.
May 23, 2015 at 11:27 AM · Court,
There is no need for personal attacks on this site. 207 was expressing frustration at what many seem to feel was an unreasonable and even almost dangerous situation. What is there in that post to disagree with? It was a personal expression of opinion. Your response, an attack on that poster's character, is completely uncalled for. This is not that kind of site.
May 23, 2015 at 11:57 AM · I feel your pain 207. We were lied to. Has anyone else figured out what really happened? The "invited guests" from Friday night were also invited Saturday. They arrived in the park via monorail which was marked for hotel guests only. Also through underground parking for club 33 guests. Fine. We're used to being jerked around Disney, but this was a new low. My family drove down from Oregon for this event. We stood in line with a family from Australia who also never got in. After three hours in line the only ride we got on was the parking tram!
May 23, 2015 at 1:38 PM · It's not a personal attack. That person chose to visit that day and chose their dietery lifestyle. If you had a bad time cause you visited on a day that was expected to reach capacity extremely early in the day, that's a personal problem. Not a personal attack. Your dietery needs aren't Disney's problem either. They offer food for the masses, if you think you'll run into problems finding food to fit your lifestyle, bring your own.

The risks were well known and well reported before anyone went to the parks. You may not get in or back in.

Had the rides all been breaking down and the fireworks caught the Matterhorn on fire, yes Disney would be at fault. Visiting on a high capacity day is a personal choice.

Empty threats posted on a forum to not renew a season pass are laughable. Maybe it was a slight dig, but I'm a realist and will call it out.

May 23, 2015 at 1:10 PM · While I don't necessarily agree with Court's wording, I do agree with his sentiment. Visiting an any theme park is a choice, and while normally risking a capacity reach (new or re-entry) is a non-issue, an event like 24-Hour does contain risks. Given the premieres associated with the party, it was only inevitable that the park(s) would reach capacity. Now one can debate how Disneyland was able to functionally handle the capacity issues, but logistics involved to communicate exactly what is happening to staff and guests (in the park and out) is astronomical. Not to mention that the resort's lack of space compared to Florida guarantees traffic problems. Robert provides some good practical suggestions in his latest posts on how Disney could have handled the event better, but the fault is not only Disney's. Guests need to educate themselves on what exactly attending an event of this magnitude entails. It was never going to be an average crowd level.
May 23, 2015 at 1:28 PM · Oops! Got my days mixed up. I meant the invited guests from Thursday night were also invited yesterday, Friday. I'm on a Walley World vacation. Easy to forget what day it is.
May 23, 2015 at 1:56 PM · We were there and yes, due to dietary choices we did bring our own food. However, didn't do us much good when it was stuck in a locker in DL and we were stuck in DCA! We tried to retrieve our food several times which turned out to be a waste of time. Didn't get back to our locker until 4:00 am..
May 23, 2015 at 2:19 PM · Yes, I was there. Heard park was to capacity. Hundreds or more left to go to DCA and they let us all in. We heard they kept disney closed even when they monitored all the people who left. They were guests leaving, not trying to allow 1 for 1 or any type of re-entry. As we left the side to the drop off they were selling tickets of dowtown disney side those people were being held off. They blocked off the entire center of the promenade between the parks. Also had some other crazy blocks to get to the tram forcing exiting guests to have to go through the downtown disney guests waiting in line to get back in.
Was a horrible experience of all the times we have gone. Seemed like disney either didnt care or was making some bad calls.
May 23, 2015 at 2:29 PM · Court or Rick were either of you there?
May 23, 2015 at 2:56 PM · 76 I was not there, no. I tend to stay away from Events of that size because I know how busy it can get. To me, the crowds are not worth the novelty of a 24 hour event. I don't think that anything in my post alludes to me being there. It's just a general commentary on crowds and what to expect.
May 23, 2015 at 4:19 PM · Its the same thing every year at these 24 hour parties. Why anyone subjects themselves to such craziness is beyond me. I'll visit next week and actually enjoy my experience.
May 23, 2015 at 10:56 PM · I was at the one last year. It was awesome fun and manageable. It was NOTHING like the epic fail of yesterday.
May 24, 2015 at 10:52 PM · I actually made the event enjoyable for myself when I PLANNED in advanced. I did get to the park at 1130pm Thursday after parking at the Pumbaa parking lot. Then I got into the park at around 420am after getting my keepsake hat. I stayed in Disneyland til 1030am to eat and returned on monorail at 12:30. Went to California adventure around 4pm and spent my rest of my time there. Yes, I saw the mass of people waiting when I left California adventure and I saw their frustration. I prepared to maybe get locked out, but my plan was to stay in the park and leave once I'm done. And it worked, however I had to do things really early to make it happened. I almost thought about coming later, but when I thought about the event, I said no and just show up to make the best of it. Like the merchandise I bought at Disneyland, I wore it so didn't have to carry it or get a locker. Even when I waited that Thursday, I only had the clothes in my back, no blanket, no tent, no nothing. I figure the less I had, the better. I would say it was a sacrifice or planning or maybe luck. But I knew what I was getting into when I went to Disney.
May 24, 2015 at 11:36 PM · Hey there all,
I just wanted to say a couple things, as a Disney fan and first time 24 hour party attendee. First off, I had an absolute blast, as did my group of friends. I attribute this to several factors: Doing my homework prior to attending; committing to be at the park(s) for the full 24hr period; understanding that with the expected crowd levels that it would not be a question of if the gates would close, but when; and, as an AP, enjoying the experience rather than trying to run from ride to ride...we've all done that before, and this wasn't that kind of day.
We (5 joined by 3, then 6 more) started with what would be the hardest part of the event: the crazy queue just after midnight, with about 2500 in front of us. Games, laughter, stories, sleep...then by 3 we moved and got through security at 3:45am. We received commemorative ears and headed to claim a locker. Then the 2hr wait standing at the end of Main St (think Christmas tree). DJ blared, announcements made, countdown then finally IT STARTS!!
This is where planning kicked in...one of our party secured a 6:30 res at Carnation Cafe, knowing we'd be hungry from the long wait. Other plans included choose your 'battles'. This was not the day to wander aimlessly. With the crowds and anticipated long lines, it was important to focus on quality and enjoyment than quantity and frustration. Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mtn, Parade, Fireworks, Dapper Dans, unique entertainment, food and photo ops were all on the list. This made 90min for Matterhorn easy...especially after fast passing Haunted Mansion. We snack off peak; some did shopping; had wonderful moments interacting with cast members, who all were FANTASTIC throughout the event.
At about 11am, we did make a locker run (Just outside Disneyland), but not before asking a gate attendant about returning. We were told re entry was possible at that point, but it woulf be changing very soon. We opted to stay at Disneyland and not attempt to cross to DCA until nighttime.
Another in group decided to lay claim for parade spots around 1:30pm, as Main St was beginning to fill for the debut of "Paint the Night". We rotated out accommodating each other's plans for rides, food, etc. I was personally questioned many times by park guests walking by inqiring, Why so early? I simply replied this is part of why I am here. Parade and fireworks did not disappoint...FLAWLESS and TRULY MAGICAL! After parade a beeline to Plaza Inn for Chicken and Waffles; swing band at fantasy fair; shopping, then at midnight headed to DCA for T Party, Carsland, 3am WOC, Frozen sing along..and a couple double espressos at Ghirardelli b4 breakfast at Flo's. Cadt members shared some pretty awful stories of unruly guest behavior, fighting, annual passes being confiscated and general rudeness. Not the place for this, at all.
At 5:45am we, the 6 that made it to the end, crossed over to Disneyland Town Square for a Good Morning wish from Mickey and the gang. At 6 we took the final photos and headed out.

I truly wish everyone could have enjoyed the event in this fashion. Was Disneyland at fault for the many of the issues that late arrivals encountered? I don't believe so. Many whom I spoke with had a plan and thoroughly enjoyed the event. Those who had issues either arrived late, were not prepared, expected just another day and most of all...didn't do their homework.
Learn from your mistakes, don't point fingers or blame others for something you could have rectified yourself

May 25, 2015 at 10:38 AM · "Court or Rick were either of you there?"

No. I had friends attend the event and they said it was totally fine. They got into Disneyland and stayed at Disneyland. They knew very well if they left they would not get back in. They were there at 4am to line up and stayed nearly the entire time. The fact is the people complaining are all anonymous and either never got into the parks or they left the parks at there own will.

"We were there and yes, due to dietary choices we did bring our own food. However, didn't do us much good when it was stuck in a locker in DL and we were stuck in DCA! We tried to retrieve our food several times which turned out to be a waste of time. Didn't get back to our locker until 4:00 am.."

Why did you leave the park? Once you are in stay there. You made the choice to leave your food in a locker and leave the park. How is that Disney's fault?

Now you have every right to be upset that the crowd control wasn't managed better, or that they shouldn't have allowed people to camp all up and down the sidewalks for the parade... Those are Disney's fault, and those types of things should be managed better... But you not being allowed back in due to capacity or because you decided to to be a vegan and limit your dietary consumption ARE NOT Disney's problem or fault.

People try to bring in these personal dilemmas to try and bring a emotional feeling to their problems and blame Disney (or any other company). The thing is though, it's YOUR PROBLEM. Take some responsibility on the decisions you made.

May 25, 2015 at 12:33 PM · I was there at 4am and while it was crowded I managed , also went to DCA in the afternoon , stayed a few hours and returned to DL with no issues. I saw all three shows , parade , fireworks and world of color. I am an AP holder and I do the 24 hr events every year and will again. I agree it was crowded and the wait for rides and food where long, but I knew all this going in. If you didn't do your homework so you would know what to expect , you can't blame others. I stayed the full 26 hrs and had a great time
May 25, 2015 at 11:05 PM · I've been an annual pass holder for 15+ years, and have attended the 24 Hour Event for the past 2 years, arriving in the late afternoon/early evening to small crowds and being able to jump between both parks without any trouble and having a great time. With so many things kicking off all at once this year, we expected capacity crowds and the gates to close at some point, but hopefully re-open late that night, after the first parade and fireworks. The issue is not with some guests not having a "plan" as others have suggested - um, everyone had a plan, and guests were making decisions based on the information and assurances given to them by cast members, the reason they left DL is irrelevant, and not everyone is a pass holder and knows the ropes - the issue was with DL's mis-management and mis-communication to guests. DL reaching capacity and closing is nothing new - it can happen on peak summer days and every New Year's Eve.

Around 10pm we exited DCA and cast members were not allowing anyone in the Esplanade saying, "We have to clear this area while we figure out what to do." Figure out what to do? A little late for that isn't it? There were nothing but contradictions - some cast members said DL is closed and not re-opening until Sat at 9am, yet other cast members 5 feet away told guests to either go to Downtown Disney or go back to DCA and that those in DCA would be given priority to enter DL. We heard that bag check had been closed as well, and for those who had made it through it had been a 3 hour wait. And it was impossible to re-enter DCA... it was a complete gridlock and a crush of people - no one could get in, no one could get out. And back in DCA, cast members were telling guests they would NOT be given priority to enter DL...! Meanwhile, friends in DL were confirming that DL was practically empty. Despite this, guests were surprisingly patient and trying to make the best of it, and cast members were only doing the best they could with the lack of direction from their mgmt. I witnessed one extremely rude cast member - Natasha from Ontario - she was beyond obnoxious and her behavior was inexcusable under any circumstance.

We left DCA again around 2am, and it seemed like people were starting to line up in the Esplanade for DL to open. But cast members were still insisting DL is closed and not re-opening. We decided to wait and see what would happen. Around 2:30am a cast member literally yelled at us that we MUST exit NOW, DL is closed... as that was coming out of his mouth, they started letting everyone in the Esplanade into DL! And even though we were already in the Esplanade, they would not allow us in, they forced us to go to the bag check re-entry... So frustrating.

Disney is great at planning for handling line ups and crowds the night before special events, but that planning now needs to go into what happens AFTER the initial line up.

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