The combination of this being the start of Disneyland's 60th Anniversary celebrations, the debut of three brand new nighttime entertainment spectaculars, a Friday to Saturday event, and the start to a major holiday weekend meant that this 24-hour day was the busiest on record. Attendance records were shattered, as Disneyland closed its gates to new entrants before 2pm and completely locked down shortly after 5pm, and even Disney California Adventure saw maximum capacity and actual gate closure for possibly the first time in its history. Lines outside the Esplanade stretched all the way through Downtown Disney and out onto Harbor Blvd, and many guests literally waited for several hours just for the chance to get in. It wasn't until 3:00am that both parks resumed normal operations, and that was after Disneyland Park enjoyed a very quiet period between 10:00pm and 3:00am, when no one new was being admitted, but many guests were leaving following the Paint the Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks show.
|Disneyland stands quiet at the ending morning of a turbulent 24-hour day.|
I didn't arrive until 4:00pm yesterday, and though I was fortunately able to enter Disney California Adventure after "only" a 35 minute wait (two of my friends were not as lucky; they literally waited in great excess of two hours), it was clear that this was an extraordinary attendance day. Guests being turned away from Disneyland were being funneled to DCA, and guests held up outside of the security bag check quickly built up frustration. As reports filtered from eyewitness accounts, social media photos and videos, and observations from Disneyland's own live web feeds, outrage spread at the apparent mass chaos of the event. I personally witnessed several instances of tense standoffs, as irritated guests went off on the poor Disney Cast Members who, while admitted were being given conflicting information, nonetheless were trying their hardest on an already stressful day. And while I agree that anyone who was ambitious enough to come to Disneyland on a day like today should have expected a lot of complications, crowds, and strained operations, I think that the degree to which things unfolded, especially late at night, exceeded reasonable expectation.
Fortunately, for those willing to wait long enough, things seemed to eventually get resolved late into the event, after the mid-early morning resumption of normal park operations. But I can certainly understand the frustrations of the guests who had to endure these inconveniences. For me, the disorganization was enough to prevent me from riding the newly refurbished Matterhorn (which was closed as scheduled at 2:15am) and seeing Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever. While I wished I could have experienced these attractions, at the end of the day, I'm fortunate enough to be able to return. Not all the guests are so privileged to have Annual Passes, so I do feel bad for people coming to have a good time, only to be denied that very goal. Even worse, to see this happening hours after Disneyland had clearly quieted down must have been quite frustrating.
|There were moments were the sunrise seems promising, but overall, the clouds ended up dulling it out.|
All of that said, once I was able to get into Disneyland, I was still able to have a great time. And when morning came, I met up with several photographer friends and photographers I admire and follow online, and we photographed the coming of the light. Sunrise once again proved to be somewhat underwhelming, with the sun never really showing up. But this was the best May 24-hour day sunrise thusfar. So after all of that work and an undeniably rough night, I still have to say... I had a good time. I was ultimately able to hang out with great friends, and I ended the experience with some nice photos of the 60th Anniversary decorations. Within all that pressure, I still had a gem of a time. And so even if there are the occasional headaches (migraines in this case), I'll still keep coming back.