One More Disney Day: A memoir by Emily Lenz

Photo Credit: Disney

We have a brand new contributor to our blog: Emily Lenz, another former Castmember! She travelled with another friend of ours, Lisa (the fantastic artist), down to Florida to experience being at a Disney Park for 24 hours. She’s written an amazing overview of her experience at The Magic Kingdom for the One More Disney Day event. In case you didn’t get the memo, The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland were open for 24 hours straight to celebrate the Leap Day. Read on to see if Emily and Lisa lasted for 24 hours in The Magic Kingdom….

Warning: This recount is not for the faint of heart. “One More Disney Day” has been known to cause excessive giddiness, Sleepy Hollow Iced-coffee cravings, the desire to dance with hundreds of strangers in front of Cinderella’s Castle at 3:30 am, dole-whip induced rage and extreme exhaustion.

4:00 am – The alarm goes off in our room at the All Star Sports Resort. Today is the big day – 24 hours in the most Magical Place on Earth!

5:00 am – We make our way to the front desk and naively ask the lone Cast Member “Are there busses running to the Magic Kingdom?” She responds with a tentative “Yes”. We make our way out the bus stop only to find a bus waiting for us…FILLED WITH PEOPLE!

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

5:15 am – We disembark from the Disney Resort bus to find the area in between the turnstiles and the bag check filled with hundreds of people. Lisa and I barely make it into that area when the line backs up past the bag check. Most of the people around us are 20 somethings, like us, and many are cast members, former cast members, annual past holders, bloggers etc. Cameras and news crews are set up on a platform to the left of us and Mickey and Minnie make their big entrance – in their PJ’s!

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

Everyone is given a “One More Disney Day” button which we don with pride. (Apparently these buttons are now going for $80 on ebay).

Photo credit: Lisa Leeman

The only additional décor is a banner which denotes today as “One More Disney Day!”

5:50 am – The Mayor of Main Street USA, Christopher George Weaver, welcomes us all to the Happiest Place on Earth for “One More Disney Day: 24 hours of magic, fun and making memories.” The Main Street dancers greet us with a rousing version of “Good morning, good morning, it’s great to stay up late!”

5:55ish am – They ask us to “please walk slowly and safely to our destination”, which, for the most part, people do. That is, until we get inside and there is a frantic RUSH for merchandise. Disney has created two t-shirts (one for men and one for women) and a watch which you can order specially from Uptown Jewellers on Main Street USA. Lisa and I hadn’t even planned on buying merch but the mob mentality drew us in and we ended up braving the Emporium to pick up a t-shirt each. Totally worth it!

Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

From here we did traditional “Magic Kingdom” day things including, but not limited to:

* Jungle Cruise

* Peter Pan’s Flight (with a 20 minute wait!)

* Haunted Mansion

* It’s a Small World

* Snow Whites Scary Adventures (for the last time, L)

* Pastries at the Main Street Bakery

* Winne the Pooh

* Tom Sawyers Island (for the first time in about 10 years)

* Corn dog nuggets and cheese sauce from Casey’s Corner

And then, ladies and gentlemen, we did the unthinkable. We left the Magic Kingdom. Look, before you bite my head off, 24 hours is a long friggin’ time! When Lisa and I set out to do this we agreed that the only sensible way of managing our day was to take a break…so we didn’t DIE! So, we left at 2:00 pm, napped for two hours and returned to the park around 6:30 pm.

I was shocked by how busy it was when we returned at 6:30 pm. The parks had been pretty much dead all week and when we got back to the park it was almost like being there in the summer. Having said that, we are smart park-goers so we made it work to our advantage. We met with Mickey and Minnie in their new home at the front of the park with only about a 10 minute wait.

Photo Credit: Random Disney Cast Member

After that we hit up the fixin’s bar at Pecos Bill’s for dinner and enjoyed the new/old Tiki Room. At 7:45 pm we watched “The Magic, The Memories and You” from in front of a very crowded Crystal Palace followed by “Wishes” at 8:00 pm. Then it was onto “The Carousel of Progress” which I thought would be the refuge for all of the crazies who wanted to do the entire 24 hours but shockingly, no one was sleeping!

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

Then, more rides, rides and rides followed by another showing of “The Magic, The Memories and You” at 10:00 pm followed by “The Main Street Electrical Parade” at 12:00 midnight.

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

I have to admit, I never thought I would say this about the Magic Kingdom, as it is truly my favorite place on earth, but at this point everything started to blur together. Thankfully, families were staring to leave but they were quickly being replaced by Cast Members who were just getting off work. This shift brought me back to how I felt when we arrived at 5:15 am the day before – I felt as if I was part of a team, it was a sense of “we are all in this together and WE CAN DO IT!” I liked it. J

At 2:00 am we met up with my very favorite Disney podcaster, Ricky Brigante, outside of his (and my) favorite attraction, the Haunted Mansion. The last minute meet-up (which Ricky posted about on his Inside the Magic FB and Twitter pages) brought together over 65 Disney fanatics, many who had been in the park since 6 am. I can easily say that this was the highlight of my “One More Disney Day”. I have been listening to Ricky’s podcast since Episode 1 (he just posted Episode 361 – which I am in!) so meeting him was absolutely wonderful (it helps that he was very nice AND he posted a picture of Lisa and I in our hand painted Haunted Mansion shirts earlier in the day).

Photo Credit: Ricky Brigante

Following our ride on the Haunted Mansion we made our way to Adventureland to obtain the most treasured of Disney treats, the Dole Whip. At this point, it was about 3:00 am and the Cast Members were, understandably, becoming less and less magical. I ordered my Dole Whip float and was given just a Dole Whip, when I mentioned this to the Cast Member she looked at me as if I had three heads.

I swallowed my rage and returned to my friend and travel mate, Lisa, whose body had LITERALLY turned against her. After almost 19 hours of magic she was exhausted and we decided it would be in our best interest to end our “One More Disney Day” a little bit early. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is shocker #2 – we did not stay until the bitter end.

Having said that, from all accounts I have come across, “One More Disney Day” ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Most people stayed for the 5:30 am showing of “The Magic, The Memories and You” and then there was a mass exodus (most likely everyone was trying to get to the bus/boat/monorail first – good luck with that!). A few stayed until the end and there was a smattering of applause when the clock rang 6:00 am but by that time I was snug in my bed at the All Star Sports Resort, dreaming of another magical Disney day.

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

Synopsis: Was it a long day? Yes. Were we exhausted by the end of it? Yes. Would I do it again in a heartbeat? HECK YES! Who wants to plan a trip for 2016?

Photo Credit: Emily Lenz

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