Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One More Disney Day...and Night

I've gone open to close at Disneyland many times over the years, but 24 hours straight?  Yeah, I'll take that challenge.

Disney Parks latest promotion, One More Disney Day, gives visitors to Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Florida the opportunity to enjoy the parks from 6:00 a.m. on February 29 (Leap Day) to 6:00 a.m. March 1. You can also enter to win a Disney trip or get special deals on off-season vacation packages, but the real appeal is the all-day, all-night marathon. I'll be there. Will you?

Twenty-four hours straight is unique, but extended hours and late-night parties at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are nothing new. Corporate events, Grad Nites and private functions after the regular guests have gone home have been the norm for decades. Last year, like its three film predecessors, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had its world premiere at Disneyland:

In 1992, Elizabeth Taylor famously rented out Disneyland to celebrate her 60th birthday:

The 1986 premiere of Captain EO, produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Michael Jackson, meant another great Disneyland party...and a cheesy television special:

Captain EO was cause for several after-hours celebrations that weekend, like this one for members of the Magic Kingdom Club, Disney's free corporate discount program at the time:

Can you imagine attending an all-night party at Disneyland today and only paying $11.50?

Late night events at Disneyland are often special simply because, well, they're at night. Everything is lit up. Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Matterhorn and the Mark Twain all take on a special glow. The lights twinkle in the trees and sparkle all the way down Main Street. It's quite beautiful. Walt Disney himself understood the special magic his Magic Kingdom had when the sun went down. He explains it here in this clip from "Disneyland After Dark," an episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color that aired on NBC on April 15, 1962.

Some of my fondest memories as a kid were of late nights at Disneyland long after my sister and I wore Mom and Dad out and sent them exhausted back to the hotel. Terry and I ruled the park at night. The Rocket Jets (high atop the PeopleMover station) and the Matterhorn were always required riding. In 1976, a day or two after Christmas, Terry and I rode the last Mine Train of the night together. It would be the last time either of us would steam through Nature's Wonderland and the Rainbow Caverns. The ride would close a week later to eventually be replaced by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Have you ever rode Big Thunder at night? It's pretty cool too.

I haven't even begun to talk about the special nighttime shows and entertainment at Disneyland over the years. I think that'll be another post for another time. Suffice it to say for now, though, there's a reason my two favorite ring tones on my phone are from Fantasmic! and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

So, as the 24-hour Disneyland marathon beckons next month, I expect it be exhilarating, exhausting and fun. I'll be more than ready for it. After all, half of it will be at night.

No comments:

Post a Comment