I want to make something as clear as Cinderella’s glass slipper from the get-go: I love Disneyland. Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland has been a constant in my life, an almost yearly excursion that I always look forward to and enjoy with a childlike zeal. So I was obviously stoked when it was announced that all of the Disney Parks — Disneyland, California Adventure, and Walt Disney World — would be holding a 24-hour event called Rock Your Disney Side, in which the parks would be open from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following day.
Since this isn’t a common Disneyland event, I knew I had to experience it for myself, and with some convincing — OK, barely any — I was able to finagle my wife into joining me. But I didn’t want to just stay inside Disneyland for 24 hours, which would be easy in the sense that we could just sit there. No: I foolhardily came up with the idea that a challenge of some sort would be best. Something that on any normal day at the parks would be near impossible.
The task I settled upon was this: Ride every ride and attraction in both Disneyland and California Adventure in 24 hours.
1) Ride every attraction in both parks.
2) This includes all kid rides but not shows.
3) If a ride is closed for whatever reason, oh well.
4) If we ride everything before the 24 hours is up, we can go home.
With the rules in place, we set out to conquer the greatest amusement park in the world. Unfortunately for us, there is no conquering the unconquerable. Here is what happened.
6:20 a.m.: We decide to start with California Adventure first. It is the smaller of the two parks and we figure that Disneyland will be busier. As soon as we get in, we get a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers, which is a Cars-themed ride. The pass isn’t good until 10 a.m. I already feel like this is a bad idea, since I’m already exhausted and feel a cold coming on.
6:40 a.m.: On the 3D It’s Tough To Be a Bug! attraction, we sit in our seats, which usually vibrate and shake around, and are shown instead an extended sneak peek from Disney’s new movie Maleficent. It looks good, but at this early in the morning, not even Angelina Jolie can wake me up.
6:55–7:20 a.m.: We ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and King Triton’s Carousel. The fact that we haven’t had any coffee yet dawns on us and we immediately regret not stopping for some earlier.
7:30 a.m.: We get in the swinging gondola in Mickey’s Fun Wheel. There is a Japanese couple paired with us. Both are dressed in matching Kermit the Frog–inspired green clothing. They happily scream every time we swing. I hate them because they look like they remembered to have coffee.
8:00–8:28 a.m.: We blast through California Screaming, Silly Symphony Swings, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Redwood Creek Trail Challenge. If we keep making time like this, we’ll be done in no time.
8:40 a.m.: On Soarin’ Over California and I immediately fall asleep as the fragrant orange scent is pumped into the room. I dream of a large coffee that wants to make sweet love to me.
9:00 a.m.: We finally get coffee and I start to feel like a human again. The feeling lasts only a second, then I realize we have only been here about three hours and still have potentially 21 more to go.
9:23 a.m.: I take the character quiz in the Sorcerer’s Workshop and get Mickey Mouse. This pleases me.
9:50 a.m.: We get on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and realize it is our 13th attraction so far. Eeeth too spoooooky. There is also a group of teens wearing serapes and sombreros in front of us. I look at them disapprovingly, but they don’t care because they are young, full of life, and Annual Pass holders.
10:00 a.m.: Radiator Springs Racers is broken so we have to come back later. Why is this ride always broken? I knew there was a reason I hated Cars.
10:05–10:30 a.m.: We head to A Bug’s Land to knock out the kiddie rides. Flik’s Flyers, Tuck and Roll’s Drive “Em Buggies, Francis” Ladybug Boogie, and Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. I feel like the adults with kids are looking at us like weirdos, wondering what we could possibly be doing riding these rides when we obviously didn’t have to. I want to scream, “IT’S FOR A POST!” but realize that out of context that would sound crazy.
However, in line for Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, there is a kid whose face is covered in churro sugar. I decide he is my spirit animal.
11:30 a.m.: Toy Story Midway Mania is our longest wait so far, at 45 minutes. The coffee high has worn off and I feel like a turd.
11:45 a.m.: Goofy’s Sky School. I hate this for no apparent reason, save for having to ride it. Plus, now my butt itches but I am too self-conscious to scratch it.
12:20 p.m.: We finally ride Radiator Springs Racers and it is a blast. There is a woman in the car next to us who keeps waving, which neither my wife nor I reciprocate.
12:30 p.m.: My wife almost steps on a bird.
12:40 p.m.: Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! Bleh.
12:50 p.m.: We try to find the stupid trolley to ride it but find it being used as a prop as dancers dressed as Newsies perform in front of it. I consider this a sign from the Lord that it is OK if we don’t ride it.
At this point we are done with California Adventure and I couldn’t be any happier. At the rate we are going, my wife calculates that we might be done by midnight. This gives me the courage and strength to continue. I also finally scratch my butt.
1:00 p.m.: We walk into Disneyland and it is three times more crowded than California Adventure. The wind is immediately let out of my sails and I contemplate throwing myself onto the railroad tracks above the entrance.
1:17 p.m.: Starving, we split a Mickey head pretzel and contemplate our next move. My legs and feet are throbbing as the sounds of motorized scooters encircle us like fat land sharks.
1:42–2:39 p.m.: We ride the Mark Twain Steamboat, The Haunted Mansion (which I nap on), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and finally we take the raft to Tom Sawyer Island. When we step off we are greeted by a woman sprawled asleep for all the world to see. I am green with envy and want nothing more than to join her.
2:47 p.m.: Each step up Tarzan’s Treehouse hurts. Plus, this will always be the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in my heart, so choke on that, Tarzan.
3:15 p.m.: We grab a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain and a fried green tomato sandwich. The sandwich is delicious and tastes like Jessica Tandy made it herself.
3:35 p.m.: My wife’s least favorite ride ever is Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes. While we’re in line, they announce that they are about to close and that not everyone in line will be able to get on. Unluckily for my wife, we make the cut.
4:35 p.m.: While in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, it breaks, and droves of people start to leave. We are almost at the front, so we decide to stay because fuck that. It eventually starts again and I get on and take another nap.
5:00 p.m.: This is my first time ever in the Enchanted Tiki Room and my wife asks how that is possible. I tell her I never had a reason until now. I still don’t get the appeal, especially the quasi-racist parrots.
5:45 p.m.: In line for the Jungle Cruise, I forget what ride we are waiting for. I really need some sleep. Also, the guide/captain/whatever they are called keeps talking about how happy she is since she gets to go home early and I want to push her into the open maw of the fake hippopotamus.
6:25 p.m.: We finally get on Splash Mountain and hate every second of it. Neither of us want to get wet but are placed at the front of the log as if being punked by a spiteful deity. My wife wears the sweater she brought to shield her from the inevitable. We both emerge soaked and miserable.
7:00–7:30 p.m.: Snow White’s Scary Adventure and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. I suddenly realize that neither my wife nor I have pooped yet and begin to worry.
7:35–8:20 p.m.: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, King Arthur Carrousel, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. My wife’s contacts are starting to eat her eyeballs and we start to feel like calling it quits.
8:40 p.m.: In line for Space Mountain. The smell of pizza wafts up from the restaurant below and I cry a bit.
9:16 p.m.: While waiting for Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, a teenage girl sees two Stormtroopers walk by and says to her brother in all earnestness, “Look! Daft Punk!” It takes my whole being not to strangle her.
9:50 p.m.: We ride Star Tours, which used to be my favorite ride since I love Star Wars. However, this new version, although awesome, has too many prequel bullshit scenarios, and every time I get one it bums me out and reminds me that Jar Jar Binks was not indeed a fever-dream hallucination. This time is no different and I curse the gods.
10:30 p.m.: Big Thunder Railroad was recently redone and I really like what they did. I’m not quite sure what they did, but I still like it. My stomach is rumbling and I realize it has been a while since we last ate.
11:00 p.m.: We get dinner at the Carnation Cafe and we both hit the wall. I drink my weight in coffee and inhale fried pickles and a vegan burger. Later, while enjoying sitting for an extended period of time, I sneeze the sneeze that says, “In case you were wondering, you are now officially sick.”
12:00 a.m.: Resigned to the fact that we are not going to finish any time soon —ah, the hubris of the afternoon! — we get another coffee to go and get on the Disneyland Railroad.
12:10 a.m.: We ride the train for a while and unfortunately remember that we haven’t even touched Toon Town, which is the gristle to the rest of the T-bone that is Disneyland.
12:20–12:45 a.m.: There is a very talkative little girl in line for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. We have no idea where her parents are, or if she is an actual Disney street urchin, living in the walls and only coming out at night like the fabled Disneyland cats. We then do Chip N’ Dale’s Treehouse and Gadget’s Go Coaster and are officially done with Toon Town.
1:00–1:40 a.m.: It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, and the Disneyland Monorail. From the Monorail I see a nearby Mimi’s Cafe and wonder if I will ever escape this place and rejoin actual, non-Mickey-eared society.
2:05 a.m.: The cars full of teen girls next to us on Autotopia keep bumping into each other and I want to scream, “CAN’T YOU READ? IT SAYS NO BUMPING!!!!”
2:30 a.m.: I always forget that the rockets are actually named Astro Orbitor. I don’t think anyone has ever called them anything but the rockets in the history of Disneyland.
2:34 a.m.: It dawns on me that I haven’t brushed my teeth since 5:00 a.m. yesterday morning.
2:45 a.m.: In line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats, my leg starts to twitch uncontrollably.
3:01 a.m.: Casey Jr. Circus Train. Another ride I have never been on and never will again because I now associate it with sleep-deprivation torture.
3:30 a.m.: My wife makes the observation that “everyone is smelly at 3:30 in the morning.”
3:35 a.m.: Peter Pan’s Flight. There are so many people in line with small children who NEED TO BE IN BED. What is wrong with these people?
3:40 a.m.: We head to the Matterhorn Bobsleds and find that they are closed. I don’t know whether to scream with joy or cry since we waited too long to ride them.
3:45 a.m.: On our way to Indiana Jones Adventure, an exuberant gay youth yells at a dancing girl, “Get it, girl!” I pretend he is talking to me and the “it” is sleep.
3:50 a.m.: We arrive at Indiana Jones Adventure and see that it is a 65-minute wait. We stand in front of it for what seems like an eternity. The thought of waiting in line for an hour is overwhelming. My legs are on fire and I still haven’t pooped. I finally turn to my wife and meekly say, “I can’t.” She looks at me with a smile in her eyes, the look saying, “Oh, thank the sweet baby Jesus!”
4:00 a.m.: We walk out of the park.
4:10 a.m.: One last ride: the ride home.
So, we failed. But so what? At the end of it all, we crossed off 51 attractions in 22 hours, which is no small feat in itself. Yet, would I recommend spending 24 hours at Disneyland? No, but the same thing goes for spending 24 hours at any theme park. Would I encourage trying to ride everything in one go? Hell to the no. Take your time and enjoy yourself. They’re called “amusement” parks for a reason.
What I can say is that no matter what, Disneyland will forever be one of my favorite places in the world and I can’t wait to go back. Just not for a straight 24 hours, mind you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I finally feel that poop coming.