"Go to my happy place."
As a 26-year-old man, I can honestly say I've lost my sense of adventure. I'm a shell of a man with the emotional range of a dusty sheet of Xerox paper. Long gone are the days of awe and wonder...
One day, I rummaged through a broken toy bank my parents bought me when I was a kid. In it, I kept a list of things I wanted to do before I die — a list I wrote when I was about 8. There was one particular item on the list that kept drawing my attention:
"Go to my happy place. Ride every single ride at Disneyland."
As luck would have it, Disneyland was celebrating its 60th anniversary by keeping the park open for 24 hours. If I could get this one thing done from my childhood days, maybe I could gain back some of that childhood spunk I used to have. Maybe I could find my sense of adventure.
I arrived at Disneyland at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, May 22, 2015.
My girlfriend Aly was there to provide coffee and moral support, as well as photographic evidence of my "magical" journey. We used a Park Hopper pass to get into the parks.
At exactly 6 on the dot, fireworks went off to signify the opening of both parks. And so the clock started ticking...
1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (1/45 rides)
2. Splash Mountain (2/45 rides)
3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (3/45 rides)
Is that what I think it is?
YES! YES! YES!
We found a Hidden Mickey on the table at Haunted Mansion.
5. Indiana Jones Adventure (5/45 rides)
I saw Sleeping Beauty's Castle and took a CASTLE SELFIE!
6. Space Mountain (6/45 rides)
7. Star Tours (7/45 rides)
8. Autopia (8/45 rides)
9. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (9/45 rides)
Around 1 p.m., I made a strategic decision to leave a crowded Disneyland and switch over to California Adventure.
First act of business in California Adventure was...
10. Flik's Flyers (10/45 rides)
11. Francis' Ladybug Boogie (11/45 rides)
12. Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (12/45 rides)
13. Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies (13/45 rides)
14. Radiator Springs Racers (14/45 rides)
15. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (15/45 rides)
At this point, my mind was hyped, but my legs were just killing me, especially my heels. So, I switched shoes.
16. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (16/45 rides)
They were both in the video that plays on the old TV that plays before the ride.
And there was one disguised as a bell above the elevator while the narrator is speaking.
18. King Triton's Carousel (18/45 rides)
19. Silly Symphony Swings (19/45 rides)
20. Jumpin' Jellyfish (20/45 rides)
21. California Screamin' (21/45 rides)
22. Mickey's Fun Wheel (22/45 rides)
23. Goofy's Sky School (23/45 rides)
24. Golden Zephyr (24/45 rides)
Also, it was in the Little Mermaid where I found the fifth hidden Mickey, in the form of coral.
26. Grizzly River Run (26/45 rides)
As we were hurrying over to get to Disneyland, we saw Mickey Mouse taking photos near the entrance of California Adventure.
So, we tried going back to Disneyland around 7:36 p.m., only to find the entrance was roped off to EVERYONE.
27. Soarin' Over California (27/45 rides)
Show: World of Color
As we were waiting in line for Toy Story, we saw the fireworks display going off in the distance.
28. Toy Story – Midway Mania (28/45 rides)
By the time 10:30 p.m. came around, we were officially FINISHED with all the rides in California Adventure. Now, all we needed to do was wait for Disneyland to reopen.
Since we had seen the fireworks display from California Adventure, we figured the crowds at Disneyland would die down. We would wait in between parks until midnight when the park would presumably be open.
Once we exited California Adventure, we noticed that the entrance to Disneyland was still roped off.
I decided to ask a park manager what the deal was...
Me: So, when do you think the gates will open?
Manager: Disneyland is closed for the night, sir.
Me: Wait...for the night?
Manager: Yes, sir. Unless pigs fly, Disneyland is closed for the night. I would suggest going back to California Adventure or leave the park entirely. I'm sorry, sir.
I returned to California Adventure with my head down...
Animation Studio (aka Nap Zone)
My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I wasn't anywhere near done with my mission. I felt REALLY sad. The energy and optimism I built throughout the day was swept from under me. I felt like Cinderella when all the magic wore off at midnight. I was...crestfallen.
Aly: Are you...crying?
Me: ...No. (sniff)
I didn't know what to do.
I decided to lay down to think. The time was 11:10 p.m. I waited for some miracle to happen.
A miracle that didn't exist.
My legs were killing me. I had blisters on my feet. I was getting sleepy, and I could feel my sinuses and my throat swelling up. I was also feeling a bit feverish.
Around 1:45 a.m., I knew my mission was all but dead.
Unless by some miracle, a pig flew.
Around 2:13 a.m., this appeared on my Twitter feed:
Aly and I gathered our things and briskly made our way out of California Adventure and into Disneyland.
By the time we entered Disneyland, the time was 2:22 a.m. It was crunch time.
29. Pinocchio's Daring Journey (29/45 rides)
30. Snow White's Scary Adventures (30/45 rides)
31. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (31/45 rides)
32. Astro Orbitor (32/45 rides)
33. Jungle Cruise (33/45 rides) and...
On my way to Toon Town, I found Chip 'n' Dale chillin' on a stoop.
YES, THIS COUNTS.
34. Gadget's Go Coaster (34/45 rides)
35. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (35/45 rides)
36. It's a Small World (36/45)
37. Storybook Land Canal Boats (37/45 rides)
38. Mad Tea Party (38/45 rides)
39. Dumbo the Flying Elephant (39/45 rides)
40. King Arthur Carrousel (40/45 rides)
41. Casey Jr. Circus Train (41/45 rides)
42. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (42/45 rides)
43. Alice in Wonderland (43/45 rides)
The clock hit 6 a.m., and a cheerful voice over the PA system congratulated all the visitors who had endured the 24-hour experience.
• Rides: 43/45. Unfortunately, there was no time for Pirates of the Carribean and Matterhorn. By the time I re-entered Disneyland, both rides STILL had high wait times.
• Food: 4/5. All the shops closed by the time we finished Alice in Wonderland. Stupid me.
• Photos With Disney Characters: 3/3.
• Hidden Mickeys: 5/5.
• Fireworks Display: 1/1.
• Castle Selfie: 1/1. I still hate selfies.
• Fantasmic or World of Color: World of Color.
Sure, I didn't complete the mission. I could blame Disneyland for throwing a wrench into the works, but you know what? That's life. Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to, so you adapt and hope for the best.
It was time to go home, drink some Throat Coat, and sleep like Sleeping Beauty. I developed a fever and coughed up a storm for the following three nights. I had blisters all over my feet, and my knees and calves hurt for a couple of days after.
I put my body through hell but every minute of this was worth it. And I would do it all again in a second.