Theme Park of the Day: Knott's Berry Farm

Disney attacks Antarctica with a 24-hour invasion

April 25, 2013, 7:40 PM · Disney announced tonight in Orlando that it will keep theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando open for "One More One More Disney Day," another 24-hour operating day this May 24 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando and Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim.

Disneyland crowds
Thousands lined up before 6am in Downtown Disney in Anaheim to get into Disneyland on February 29, 2012.

If that May 24 date sounds familiar and significant, it's because that's also the date when SeaWorld Orlando is unveiling the biggest investment in that chain's history, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

That sets up a bit of conflict for Orlando-area theme park fans, and visitors who'll be in Central Florida at the start of this year's Memorial Day weekend. Do you head over to SeaWorld for the debut of its multi-million-dollar, high-tech new dark ride and penguin exhibit? Or do you hit up the Magic Kingdom for another Disney marathon? Or do you hope that the crowds flock to those parks and head to one of Orlando's other theme parks, instead?

In Anaheim, Disney's got no competition for the day. Knott's is opening its new wild mouse coaster the next day, and Magic Mountain's Full Throttle won't be ready until later in the summer. (Universal Studios Hollywood won't have anything new this year, as Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem isn't scheduled to open until 2014.) It's telling that Disney's opted to include both parks for this go in California, while leaving the event in just the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The original One More Disney Day drew tens of thousands of fans to Disneyland, overwhelming local streets and backing up traffic for miles on Interstate 5, as Disney had to close the park's gates as after-work crowds swamped the park. The larger Magic Kingdom actually drew fewer guests, as the Orlando area simply doesn't have anywhere near as many local Disney passholders as Southern California does, and late February isn't exactly prime time for tourists in either place.

But Disneyland's largest tier of annual passholders -- owners of the lowest-priced SoCal Select pass -- will be blocked out of the parks this time. And Memorial Day is a huge attendance weekend for tourists. So I'm wondering if the Magic Kingdom won't end up the more crowded park this time. Unless Orlando-area visitors opt for SeaWorld instead, of course.

What would you choose? Let's make that our Vote of the Week.

Let's hear your thoughts in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading Theme Park Insider!

Replies (18)

April 25, 2013 at 7:44 PM · FIRST VOTE!!!!!!!!!!

With that out of the way, I'd choose MK. Antarctica will be swamped the whole day, plus how often can you see a sunrise over the castle?

April 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM · Excellent! Disney is doing one of it's "24 hour HOLY S*** SPACE MOUNTAIN IS FOUR HOURS" party!
April 25, 2013 at 8:31 PM · I would choose MK. I've always wanted to do the 24 hour event. Seems like so much fun! I'll get around to Antartica some other time, because the event at MK is only once a year.
April 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM · Haven't done a 24 hour at any park, but an overnighter at DL comes close - that'd be my Grad Nite, only...uh...a bunch of years ago. It was fun, I left satisfied, but I was certainly ready to leave. I voted SeaWorld.

Which doesn't mean that I might not try the May 24th at DLR...

April 26, 2013 at 1:08 AM · I'd actually like to spend 24 hours in Seaworld!
My vote is for Seaworld (always) and Antartica.
April 26, 2013 at 2:44 AM ·


April 26, 2013 at 5:08 AM · This seems like a strange move on Disney's part. Staying open for 24hrs on leap year kinda made sense... but I can not find the logic in doing it this year. Actually there is a large sense of irony in this announcement seeing how Disney's promotion this year is Limited Time Magic. There is nothing limited about staying open 24 hours... again.

This whole promotion date makes me MORE interested in going to Antarctica. Is Disney that worried about SeaWorld taking away a significant amount of business? I doubt it; however if they are willing to pull promotion like this then they must think that SeaWorld has created something special with Antarctica, and I can't wait to see it!

April 26, 2013 at 6:15 AM · It's not a "strange move" at all -- and I doubt that it has anything to do with Sea World's opening of their new attraction.

To borrow (and then alter) Mr. Niles' words "if that May 24 date sounds familiar and significant, it's because that's also" the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

By scheduling the rare, 24 hour event on the Friday, visitors who planned to hit WDW over the long weekend will start arriving the Thursday night before -- increasing resort rooms booked and money spent during those typical "night-before-the-parks-Downtown Disney forays."

Brilliant move by the folks at Disney.

April 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM · I did the 24 hour event last year and while it was fun, it was tiring.
The Magic Kingdom...with nothing new since my last visit, or an all new attractions grand opening? Hmm...Antarctica all the way!
April 26, 2013 at 9:23 AM · Ultimately, anything that gets more people to book trips to Orlando is good for all the theme parks there. And perhaps the extra hours at the Magic Kingdom might encourage more people to head over to SeaWorld for part of the day, as the MK will be open later. But that depends upon whether people are willing to burn both a SeaWorld and Disney ticket on the same calendar day.
April 26, 2013 at 2:11 PM · I'll be going to Seaworld and will be expecting a wonderful day in that beautiful park. I fell in love with Seaworld some years back and have been a loyal visitor ever since. Seaworld does so many things right that the choice for me is a simple one. I will have many opportunities to visit Disney's flagship park and the number one theme park in Florida this summer and that allows me to be a bit more picky as to the days I attend.
April 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM · If an event occurs yearly I would argue that it is less "rare" and more annual. I also find the timing of the announcement odd-- less than 30 days before the scheduled event. In contrast 'one more day of Disney' was announced Jan 1 for the Feb 29 event. With such short notice this year less out of area travelers will be able to change their plans to fully accommodate the promotion. Maybe that is how this can fall into the 'limited time' promotion!

I will be out of town that day, but if I was here in Orlando I probably would visit both SeaWorld and MK.

April 28, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Odd that the park hours calendar doesn't show these hours yet. I've got a flight out of LAX Saturday morning at 6AM. So this is going to be one long night for me!!!

Those that are planning on going to Disneyland resort, please note that last time, they hit capacity around 9pm once everyone was off from their day jobs. So whatever park you are in at around 8pm, that's where you'll be staying all night.

I have a feeling more people are going to flock to CA Adventure this time around.

April 28, 2013 at 2:05 PM · My husband and I were In the parks this weekend discussing why it would take Universal only a few months to complete a new attraction yet Disney is taking a long time to finish the final stage of New Fantasyland. We thought that maybe Disney is trying to hold back on completing Seven Dwarves Mine train to have it open at the same time Universal opens the Harry Potter expansion. Disney's 24 hour day competing with Antarctica's opening reinforces our hypothesis. I'm curious what everyone else things about this.
April 28, 2013 at 5:09 PM · I find it difficult to believe that Walt Disney World's business model is ever directly based upon the actions of another Central Florida theme park. I believe that Disney maintains a complete (total) understanding of its target demographics and makes its development decisions related to parks, resorts, food, merchandise, activities, entertainment accordingly.

April 28, 2013 at 6:58 PM · In response to

Universal has construction crews on-site almost 24/7. What would normally take 3 years can be done in just 1. Potter 2.0 is moving at incredible speed compared to the first land at IOA.

April 29, 2013 at 5:33 AM · TPI announced the rumored Potter project on New Year's Day 2012. It is said that it will open in the summer of 2014.
April 29, 2013 at 10:24 PM · I don't know if it's a direct attack on Antarctica because in all honesty I don't think Disney really has to compete with Sea World. The real "threat" to Disney (if you can call it that) is Universal.

I do see Disney beginning to somewhat compete with the other parks. Disney usually sets the standards, if it continues to try and beat competitors, it's just a slippery slope. I pray that they see this before it's too late.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Get News, Discounts