Crowds flood the late hours of One More Disney Day at Disneyland

March 1, 2012, 12:18 AM · In the words of Ron Burgundy, "Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast."

At 7pm, I waited 10 minutes to ride Big Thunder Mountain, and when I exited, I noticed the line had gotten shorter than when I'd gotten on.

By 9, the line for Thunder was well over an hour, snaking around Frontierland.

At 8, I saw that half the rides in Fantasyland I still had yet to do for the day were walk-ons, so I started with them, waiting for the longer waits to go down. After two rides, I saw that the lines weren't getting smaller - they were getting longer. And fast. I switched plans, and got in line for Snow White and Pan, saving the castle and the carousel for my final rides of the day. By then, the carousel was a four-ride wait.

After then waiting another 15 minutes to buy a churro (!), I pushed my way down Main Street, against a flood of people coming into the park. When I exited the park, I saw every window open at the esplanade ticket booths, and the entire queue filled with people waiting to buy admission tickets.

Late night ticket buyers

At 9:45pm.

Disneyland had just announced that the park was now full - and that it would not admit additional visitors until more people had left the park.

That wasn't stopping the hundreds of people queued at the security tables from waiting. Or the three full trams of people we passed on the drive back to the Mickey and Friends parking garage.

Or the cars (and school buses!) that filled every lane entering Mickey and Friends. Or the cars that backed up all the way to Ball Road. Or even the cars that backed up all the way onto Interstate 5.

Yeah, that escalated quickly.

Perhaps we should have known when many of us started see tweets from Orlando describing huge crowds there in the mid-evening, after reports of few or no crowds in the Magic Kingdom all day.

Several readers had asked me during the day how the crowds at Disneyland were. And I reported the same thing that all the other people Tweeting in the park were saying - the park's got lots of people in it, but they're moving through the park well and the wait times were minimal.

Perhaps all those reports encouraged many Disney fans who'd been on the fence about One More Disney Day to come on down. Well, it appears that they all did, and in doing so, blew the whole thing up.

By 8pm, people were laying down blankets along the Rivers of America for the 1am Fantasmic! show. At the same time, more than a couple dozen others were queued up already for the 200 spots in the 11:45 "midnight snack" at Big Thunder. And while you couldn't find a wait time over an hour all day before 8, after 9 it was hard to find any attraction with a wait under an hour* (Okay, there were some - see the comments).

So I guess I got out in time - having accomplished my mission of riding every attraction at Disneyland (save for the ones down for refurbishment, of course.) If you stayed at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom overnight, please leave your observations in the comments. I'd love to hear how it went.

Replies (11)

March 1, 2012 at 1:32 AM · I was just at Disneyland. We watched the 10:15 parade and after tired to get back into tomorrowland and after 15 mins of going through the crowds, decided to leave. But I agree. The lines were only about 15mins all day.
March 1, 2012 at 7:42 AM · I made it in to the park on your way out, just moments before the cutoff. Although the MouseWait app was useless once inside the park since there were so many people on the AT&T network, I was watching the "park index" rise on the drive down from Hollywood. Starting at 78% at about 730pm, by the time I entered the park around 930pm, it was at 100%.

I only went on a few rides, as it was more about the social atmosphere and taking in the scene. I did Nemo, Small World, Pirates & Haunted Mansion. Of those, Mansion had the longest wait of about 30 minutes.

The wait times for some of the e-tickets were very long. Space Mountain was about 115 mins at 230AM. Indy held steady around 80min all evening, but closed from about 130am-230am. Big Thunder took a 75min just after the 1AM show of Fantasmic.

A great night and a wonderful experience. Even when I left at 3am, guests were still trying to get in, which was possible after the mass exodus after the 1AM Fantasmic. The security checkpoint was down to one tent w/3 lanes. And some guests were still in line to purchase tickets at the gate, which raised a thought.

If someone bought a one day ticket and entered the park AFTER midnight, thus March 1, could they return after the park closed (6AM) and reopened later?

March 1, 2012 at 8:49 AM · They said it was going to be just like "Grad Night", so why are you surprised? It sounds like everyone showed up on time. Grad Night does typically start at around 11 pm.

Honestly, what was the point of going for the day portion? The novelty and real story was the overnight stay.

March 1, 2012 at 9:30 AM · The super-early, dawn start was fun, too. A lot of people liked "camping out" at Disneyland, and "high four" greeting was a nice touch - literally.

And in between? You had a wide-open day with a fun, high-energy, knowledgable crowd and a lot of extra food options to enjoy. Definitely better than an "average" day.

March 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM · My husband and I came down from Seattle as my birthday celebration. We thought we planned well - got a good night sleep at the Disneyland Hotel, spent the day at Grand Californian, back to the hotel for a nap and then thought we'd spend the night in Disneyland hitting all the rides - WRONG. We entered at about 10 pm and the sheer numbers of people was nuts. People were queued for rides way out into the walkways, others were camped out for parade or show seating. All in all, it made for rivers of people that, once you were caught in, there was nothing you could do but flow with the current, save yourself from getting trampled. After we couldn't find a single spot to eat, we left and went back to the hotel to follow tweets about crowd level. We braved the park again at about 4 am and it was much nicer. Wait times for all the big rides were still 1-2 hours but the park had cleared considerably but the mood had dipped. The number of drunken people was saddening at the happiest place on earth and witnessing drug use in ride lines was really disappointing. Though I would never consider attending an event like this again, all the distress was nearly worth it at 6 AM when the theme park crowd joined the PA announcement in singing "M-I-C See you real soon. K-E-Y Why? Because we like you. M-O-U-S-E"
March 1, 2012 at 11:53 AM · Yeah, we watched the line for space mountain at MK jump from 25 to 50 minutes in the space of 2 minutes around 8:30 after wishes ended and it didn't get any better before we left at 1. Everyone got off school or work and ate dinner then headed to the parks. The one thing I really liked though was that by 11 there were very few children in the park - the lack of the shrill screaming present in every line earlier in the day made for a great evening.
March 1, 2012 at 1:24 PM · I had my doubts on how well this event would go. It was mid week, not hugely advertised and overshadowed by HP and Universal announcements. But I'm glad it worked well.
March 1, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Let's also not forget that California Adventure closed at 8pm last night, and a lot of people with annual passes had been spending time over there before coming back to Disneyland at that hour.
March 1, 2012 at 3:44 PM · OH MY GOODNESS. Before I left at 2 PM, I had about ten rides left to accomplish. I went back at about 7 PM. It took ALL NIGHT to do those ten rides. Doesn't help that I waited an hour for Fantasmic, when I'm used to walking up when it starts. It was worth it though for the alternate ending. And yes, the closing goodbye song made the whole night worth it. Once I finished doing all the rides at about 4:30 AM, I just did Star Tours [my home base =)] until the sunrise, which was all I was still there for at that point. I had tons of fun, but I would NEVER do it again. All noisy college kids, so many drugs, and the liiiiiiiines.
March 1, 2012 at 6:08 PM · All I can say is.... yikes. Sounds like everyone had a blast at the most crowded place on Earth.
March 2, 2012 at 8:38 AM · I will add this. I would do it again, the exact same way if I have to. It's a great promotion.

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