It’s 3:45am and I’m awake. Why? A friend and I are headed to Disneyland for the 24-hour event kicking off the Diamond Celebration. We were staying on property at the Disneyland Hotel, but we knew we wanted to get there right at park opening.
We got to the park right at 6am. I know people were there much earlier, but as far as I can tell, the only thing we missed out on was the giveaway. They gave early entrants a set of the 60th Anniversary mouse ears. Yes, they were free, but they looked just like the ones you could buy anyway so I didn’t feel too bad. Anyway, it only took about 10 minutes to get through the park entrance and we headed straight to the shops on Main Street.
They were crowded!!!!!! The areas near the 24-hour event and 60th Anniversary merchandise were wall-to-wall people. The 24-hour pins were completely sold out at 6:10am (or earlier). The t-shirts were down to size XS, Small, or 3X only, although my friend did manage to find a Medium laying around elsewhere, which I bought. If you missed out, DisneyStore.com is showing limited availability on the shirts as of this writing. After waiting in a very long line to pay for our purchases, we headed into the park.
The ride lines weren’t too bad that early in the morning. There were some long lines, though. First, there were at least 50 people in line at every popcorn stand for the balloon-shaped popcorn buckets. Seriously! The lines for the popcorn buckets were longer than those for a number of the rides. One also had to carry around those buckets as package pickup was at capacity and not accepting packages and the lockers were booked solid. The longest lines, though, were for the quick service restaurants. All the ones that took reservations were booked solid and with all the people needing breakfast, those lines were long. I’ve never seen anything like it. If you’re familiar with Disneyland or just look at a map, the line to get into River Belle Terrace stretched all the way to the shops across from the Jungle Cruise. Fortunately, we had reservations at Plaza Inn so enjoyed a lovely character breakfast.
With all the people in line for food or popcorn or already camping out for the nighttime parade and fireworks (yes, there really were people already sitting on Main Street that early for an 8:50pm parade), the lines for rides stayed fairly short for a while. We only had a 10-minute wait to see Mickey Mouse.
Since I was concerned about the crowds, I splurged and booked a VIP tour. We met our guide in the afternoon and headed over to California Adventure where we rode a few more rides. On our way over, one couldn’t help but notice that the lines to enter both parks were so long, they were merged in the middle of the courtyard. It was a sea of nonstop people. When we headed back to Disneyland, the entrance was roped off. It was at capacity. Fortunately, our VIP guide could get us in so it worked out OK for us.
By late afternoon, the lines for the rides were noticeably longer, but what was really noticeable was all the people along the parade route. We thought that there must be an earlier parade with all the people lined up so early, but there wasn’t. It made Main Street and the walkway toward It’s a Small World really crowded, but the rest of the park remained busy, but tolerable even though the park was at capacity. At this point, the courtyard between Disneyland and California Adventure was completely closed. There were numerous ropes going across it and no one could enter either park.
For dinner, we decided to stop at Pizza Port. The quick service crowds had thinned and we were able to get in with no line and find a table for all 9 of us. Not too bad for a park at capacity. We rode a few more rides before dinner – Nemo’s Submarine Voyage and Star Tours and a couple after as well. While we had VIP, the lines weren’t overly long for most. Soon, it was time for the part I had been waiting for – the new Paint the Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks.
So, what were the new Paint the Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks really like? I’ll write about those in part two next Wednesday.