Experiencing One More Disney Day – Part 2
After spending the first two hours around the hub and castle shooting every possible subject from every possible angle, it was time to take a break and get some breakfast. The day was approaching normal operating hours and for me that meant I could slow down with the photography. We would wait until the next round of unique opportunities after midnight and early morning before the next sunrise. For the most part the rest of the day was like any other. We would enjoy the park the way we normally do, riding a few rides and take a few pictures here and there. Gregg Cooper and I took a few more photo walks throughout the day, but we were really taking mental notes of locations to revisit for sunset, at night and early dawn.
The park was not nearly as crowded as we expected during the day. It was a little busier than normal for the time of year, but felt much like a typical day during the week in the summer. One thing that surprised us was that the ABC television show Modern Family was recording an episode. We thought it was strange they would choose to shoot on a day where crowds were expected to be higher than normal. They blocked off sections of the park during filming creating a bit of a bottleneck at times. At one point we decided to check it out and see if we could see any of the stars. They were shooting over at Splash Mountain where Sofia Vergara and Ed O’neill were acting out a scene. I walked by a couple of times and snapped a few photos before being scolded for having “pro” equiment. Oops!
Before we knew it, we were losing daylight and that meant it was time to figure out where to shoot the sunset. We had some unusual (for So Cal) puffy white clouds throughout the day but unfortunately they didn’t stick around for sunset. After shooting the sunset with some with our usual group of friends/photographers, it was time to think about charging camera batteries and phones. We found a quiet location by Carnation Plaza where we found our friend Sam (Disney Resort on flickr) and we hung out for about an hour. I noticed that my cell phone service was starting to become unreliable which is normal when the park gets busy. Tucked away in the corner, we were unaware of how crowded the park was. I finally got enough service on my phone to get Twitter updates about the mess out front. The park had reached capacity and some 40,000 people were out front trying to get in with all roads around the park jammed. We couldn’t believe it. However as bad as it sounded on Twitter, it never felt that chaotic inside. At least, not to me. But as the night went on, wait times for the rides reached unbelievable levels. The craziness that I expected much earlier in the day had finally come.
The overnight experience was full of energy like I have never experienced at Disneyland before. Every hour past 8pm (the usual park closing time), an announcement was made and music blasted turning the entire place into a high energy frenzy. It was so bizarre that by 3 or 4 am, the place was still buzzing with tons of energy. We ran into a couple more celebrities…Leonardo DiCaprio at Big Thunder Mountain and Olympic Snowboarder, Shaun White at Star Tours. According to Tom and Sarah Bricker, who we spent much of the day with, the entire cast of Modern Family was out playing in the park. There was so much going on, it was impossible to feel tired.
Slowly but surely, the day the adventure was coming to an end. Around 4:30am we began setting up for blue hour and sunrise. Gregg decided to go to the Rivers of America and I, once again, chose the hub. Blue hour was INCREDIBLE!! I have never seen anything like it at the park. It was probably the highlight of the whole experience! As the sky got brighter and the sun began to pop up from the horizon, I scrambled back and forth from Partners to Sleeping Beauty Castle and back to Partners. What was truly remarkable was the amound of people standing in the hub, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, just staring forwared in awe with their phones and cameras pointed ahead. The only other thing I can compare it to is a crowd waiting for fireworks, except this time there were no fireworks planned. Everyone was just admiring the beauty of the morning. You could sense the anticipation of the sunrise, as if it was the finish line signalling the end of a long journey. When the clock struck 6, the final announcemnt was made that One More Disney Day had come to a close. It was time to head out.
I slowly made my way to the front. All along Main Street, Cast Members were again lined along the street with their smiles and their Mickey hands waving goodbye, thanking us for a wonderful experience. Maybe I was just overly tired, but it almost brought a tear to my eye…almost. I had completed a 24+ hour journey inside the gates of Disneyland. It had finally come to an end. I snapped one more photo of the second consecutive sunrise from inside the park, and then I headed out. What an incredible experience!
Many assume they will get another chance to do this in four years. We will see if it becomes a Lear Year tradition. Or perhaps it was such a success, Disney will find more ways to celebrate with a 24 hour event. Either way, I would do it again in a heartbeat! However, I don’t think anything will be more special than this first experience.