Next Friday, May 24, Disney prepares for its massive -- dare I say "Monstrous" -- All-Nighter at three theme parks -- Magic Kingdom® Park at the Walt Disney World Resort, and Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in California. Yep, that's 24 hours of non-stop magic -- from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. -- as part of Disney's Monstrous Summer promotion (led by Mike and Sully, of course).
No doubt, many of you Disney fans are thinking this would be a most amazing experience, and we have to agree! We had the good fortune of experiencing One More Disney Day in 2012, in which Magic Kingdom® Park and Disneyland were open 24 hours for Leap Day, and so we wanted to share a few of our favorite tips to help you prepare for this amazing event!
A Word About Crowds
Before we dive into the tips, I wanted to touch a bit on crowds. While we can't say for sure what the turnout will be, we can tell you Magic Kingdom® Park was busy during One More Disney Day, especially at park opening and in the early evening through the wee hours of the night. We would expect the All-Nighter to follow a similar pattern.
Because the All-Nighter also coincides with Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, it's likely that many folks will spend their day there (or in another park) before heading over to Magic Kingdom® Park.
One big difference between the last 24-hour event is that the end of May is considerably more crowded than the end of February, AND it's the start of a holiday weekend.
If you want to ride the attractions with the very shortest waits, we recommend the early morning hours through the afternoon. Expect to see more crowds starting around 4 p.m. and building through the evening as locals get out of school and off of work, and the rest of the world prepares to spend the night in their favorite theme park!
Tips for a Successful All-Nighter
1. Get there early.
Since guests don't often get to experience the park at 6 a.m., it's an occasion worth savoring. And because it's so early, you're likely to be surrounded by the most dedicated Disney fans on the planet. The opening ceremony starts at 5:50 a.m. All that Mickey cheer is sure to be contagious!
2. Don't forget the camera.
The odd hours will present photo opportunities not normally seen at the theme park -- such as the Disney characters decked out in the their PJs during the early morning and late night hours at Town Square or guests sleeping in weird places! Shutterbugs will want to be in the park at opening to capture the potentially glorious sunrise. I say potentially, because Magic Kingdom® Park was blanketed in fog at opening of One More Disney Day, foiling many a photographer.
2. Pick up a souvenir to mark the occasion.
Commemorative merchandise will be available for purchase, and we do recommend buying that special something as you see it, since the limited-edition items could sell out. You don't have to lug your purchases around with you all day -- have them held at package pickup or sent to your room if you're staying on resort. You'll find the largest selection of items in the Emporium along Main Street.
3. Pace yourself and plan ahead!
Remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. Don't wear yourself down traipsing all over the park early on, or you may find yourself hitting the wall too soon! Make sure to pack in your own water and snacks, and be sure to drink and eat before you think you need to.
4. Take breaks.
We don't recommend spending all 24 hours at the park if you have young children. Enjoy the day, and then call it a day. You can always come back if the kids get their second wind. Even the warriors among you will find you need breaks and possibly a nap. Don't worry if you fall asleep sitting up -- you won't be alone. Hopefully, you'll wake up recharged and ready for more!
As mentioned previously, you can expect large crowds between 4 and 9 p.m. as locals arrive to the park and guests who have spent the day in other parks settle in for the All-Nighter. If you can, avoid arriving between these times, as you're likely to encounter longer lines at the gate. It's also worth noting if the park reaches capacity, guests will not be allowed in. This happened at Disneyland around 10 p.m. during One More Disney Day.
While we don't recommend over-caffeinating (especially too early in the day, re: tip no. 3), a little strategic pick-me-up in the afternoon or evening might just sustain you through the night. While Main Street Bakery will not yet have reopened for its Starbucks conversion, guests will find Joffrey's gourmet coffee has been rolled out at some quick-service locations.
If you're OK with a quick break (and the park isn't near capacity), the coffee at Kona at the nearby Disney’s Polynesian Resort is largely regarded as the best at Disney World, and is just a hop, skip and a jump over the Seven Seas Lagoon by boat or monorail from Magic Kingdom® Park.
There will be limited-edition eats and drinks created just to mark this special occasion, so why not indulge in some of the monstrous specialties -- or one of Lily's personal favorites! You'll be burning a ton of calories as you make your way through the park, trying to stay awake. During One More Disney Day, a number of quick-service restaurants served breakfast from 3:00-6:00 a.m. for the early morning munchers, and we'd expect the same for the All-Nighter.
8. Expect lines.
We're not saying the Nine By Noon at Magic Kingdom® Park will be impossible on May 24, but the odds are less in your favor. Be sure to download our app, which now includes Fastpass return times for the iPhone, to see current ride wait times.
By now, you've probably figured out that the park isn't going to be empty at 3 a.m. If you want to experience Space Mountain® Attraction at that time, you should expect a sizable line. Of course, that line will be filled with the most dedicated Disney World fans that have ever graced Magic Kingdom® Park, so you'll be in most excellent company!
So, who's pulling an All-Nighter? Share your tips for making it the most magical day (or night) ever!