Skip To Content

    I Tried Doing Disneyland For 24 Hours And This Is What Happened

    Disneyland. Twenty-four hours. One mission: Find my sense of adventure.

    Charlotte Gomez for BuzzFeed

    "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.

    Charlotte Gomez for BuzzFeed

    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)

    Twitter: @NorbertoBriceno

    First order of business was to get a Fastpass to Fantasmic, located near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (this is what you're always supposed to do). Since we were already there, it was only logical that we make it the first ride on the list and get it out of the way.

    Nothing like a high-speed roller coaster through an exploding cave to get your adrenaline going in the morning.

    2. Splash Mountain (2/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    So, even though it was a cold, overcast morning, I looked over at Splash Mountain and noticed the wait time was FIVE MINUTES. So I hopped on what I consider a fabulous LSD-inspired re-creation of the South with lots of water and singing animals.

    I will say, a couple of zip-a-dee-doo-dahs and a river plunge are indeed better than a cup of coffee.

    Speaking of food...

    Aly Mendoza / Norberto Briceño

    Not gonna lie, a turkey leg at 7:13 a.m. was a bit too greasy for my taste.

    3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (3/45 rides)

    Creative Commons / Flickr: toursdepartingdaily

    I don't like Winnie the Pooh. In fact, I HATE WINNIE THE POOH (I can't explain it — he's always irritated me, even as a kid). But when you're at Disneyland, you love everyone. EVERYONE. It's like, a magic spell or something. This ride made me really happy.

    4. Haunted Mansion (4/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    While waiting in the portrait gallery (the "stretching room"), everybody knew the script by heart, as they were talking along with the narrator:

    "Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination, hmm?"

    As our Doom Buggy rode along the dining hall of the mansion, I spotted something interesting on the dining table...

    Is that what I think it is?

    Aly Mendoza

    YES! YES! YES!

    Aly Mendoza

    We found a Hidden Mickey on the table at Haunted Mansion.

    Aly Mendoza / Norberto Briceño

    Made out of a large plate and two little teacup plates.

    5. Indiana Jones Adventure (5/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    By around 8:30 a.m., I was impressed that I'd gotten through five rides (four of which were extremely popular). So far, everything was going according to plan.

    The universe was on my side and all was well... too well...

    I saw Sleeping Beauty's Castle and took a CASTLE SELFIE!

    This is a Castle Selfie. There are many like it but this one is mine. #Disney24

    I hate selfies. I only did it for the mission... and because there's something about Disneyland that makes you really want to take a selfie in front of things.

    21:20:15 left until close.

    6. Space Mountain (6/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    After getting Fastpasses for Star Tours, I came across my first big hurdle: Space Mountain, with a 55-minute wait. It had to happen at some point so this was no surprise. Aly and I tag-teamed it. I waited in line while Aly went to get us some coffee. After all, it was a 55-minute wait.

    Apparently, the line for coffee was way longer than the one for Space Mountain. While Space Mountain was 55 minutes, the coffee line had a wait time of a little over an hour. That's right... coffee beat Space Mountain in terms of popularity.

    And to top it off, Space Mountain broke down just as I was about to board the rocket ship.

    Whatever. Space Mountain was still awesome.

    7. Star Tours (7/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    While waiting in line for Star Tours, we found our SECOND HIDDEN MICKEY. It was shadow cast on a wall.

    At this point, the balls of my feet were a little achy. But it was nothing I couldn't handle.

    8. Autopia (8/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The wait time for Autopia was way longer than it had to be. At 11:35 a.m., this was the point when my optimism started waning. The car in front of us broke down, so we were sitting ducks out on the road for a bit.

    I was getting hungry.

    9. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (9/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The coffee that Aly waited an hour to get was starting to wear off. I found myself daydreaming about a nice power nap while intergalactic mayhem was happening all around me.

    No time for daydreaming. Had to keep moving. I was on a mission.

    I kinda wanted a corn dog...

    Aly Mendoza

    I've always hated corn dogs. I had a bad experience with them once in elementary school (long story). But these corn dogs were just...perfect. They were delicious and just what I needed.

    I caught my second wind.

    Around 1 p.m., I made a strategic decision to leave a crowded Disneyland and switch over to California Adventure.

    Norberto Briceño

    After stepping on two people's toes, I realized that Disneyland was just too crowded.

    So, here was the new plan: Go to California Adventure, complete as many rides as possible, and return to Disneyland just in time for Fantasmic at 9 p.m. (we had Fastpasses to the show, so we practically had reservations). I thought after the fireworks display, around 10 p.m., the crowds would die down a little and wait times would go down as well.

    This is a strategic decision that I would regret. More on that later.

    First act of business in California Adventure was...

    Aly Mendoza

    It was sweet and crunch on the outside, and soft and warm on the inside. As an added bonus, there was no line for the churros.

    10. Flik's Flyers (10/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    Someone gave me a judgmental look, saying, "Are you really going on this ride? IT'S FOR KIDS, YOU FATASS!"

    Whatever. I was a man on a mission.

    11. Francis' Ladybug Boogie (11/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    I'm going on the record: Spinning rides are awesome. If it spins, it wins.

    12. Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (12/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This was a slow ride, clearly for babies. That is until you get to the candy part, and you get a HUGE whiff of cotton candy. It was pleasant.

    13. Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies (13/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza/ Norberto Briceño

    I felt bad bumping into other little kids, so I just drove around in circles.

    At this point, I'd gone through four rides and a churro in less than an hour. My optimism levels were pretty high, and I was confident my mission would be completed with time to spare. Eight-year-old me would've been proud.

    14. Radiator Springs Racers (14/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    I kept hearing horror stories about the wait time on this ride. I kept hearing 75, 80, 90, even 100 minutes one time. People apparently go early to California Adventure just to get the Fastpass to this ride. As I approached the Radiator Springs, I noticed the Single Rider line. Wait time: 10 minutes. I looked over at Aly.

    Aly: It's OK. We don't need to ride together.

    Radiator Springs Racers was in the bag and I felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders.

    15. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (15/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride was terribly uncomfortable. Also, my feet were starting to hurt real bad.

    At this point, my mind was hyped, but my legs were just killing me, especially my heels. So, I switched shoes.

    Norberto Briceño

    Now I understand why Mr. Rogers switches shoes at the beginning of every episode. I got a much-needed boost of energy.

    16. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (16/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The new-shoes tactic wore off pretty quickly because my feet were really killing me. I sat whenever possible, even if was on the floor. The wait times were starting to take their toll on my body.

    Must keep positive... must keep positive...

    17. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (17/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride broke down just as I was about to get on it. It turns out that one of the seat belts came loose, so that particular seat was decommissioned, but the ride was good to go. Props to that kid in blue for using the decommissioned seat in his photo op.

    Also, I found TWO Hidden Mickeys.

    They were both in the video that plays on the old TV that plays before the ride.

    Aly Mendoza

    Here, the little girl is holding a Mickey Mouse doll. AND THAT TOTALLY COUNTS.

    And there was one disguised as a bell above the elevator while the narrator is speaking.

    Aly Mendoza

    This bell can be seen only in the video, NOT on the ride itself.

    18. King Triton's Carousel (18/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza / Norberto Briceño

    I saw a girl fall on her face as she was getting off the seahorse. A cast member helped her out. This made me sad. I hope she's OK.

    19. Silly Symphony Swings (19/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    All it would've taken was one loose chain for me to be thrown into the air and toward my gruesome death. One. Loose. Chain.

    20. Jumpin' Jellyfish (20/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride takes you up and down. It's a kid's ride but it did provide a lovely view of the park.

    21. California Screamin' (21/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    Did you know that Neil Patrick Harris is the voice of California Screamin'? Once I knew that valuable piece of information, it eased my fear of roller coasters. NPH makes everything better.

    22. Mickey's Fun Wheel (22/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The plan was for Aly and I to take a quick power nap at Mickey's Fun Wheel. But that was not meant to be. We talked to the people sitting across from us, who gave us some interesting news.

    New Friends: Yeah, we heard they're no longer letting people into Disneyland.

    Aly and I: WHAT?!

    New Friends: I'm sorry. They're not letting in new people. Re-entries are OK.

    Aly and I: PHEW!

    23. Goofy's Sky School (23/45 rides)

    Creative Commons/ Flickr: lorenjavier

    When it comes to Disneyland, there aren't too many rides I dislike. Even the ones I dislike are still fun. Goofy's Sky School is by far THE WORST ride in the entire resort. It's a terrible ride, mainly due to the sharp and jerky turns that make you feel like your car is going to flip over and fall off the rails. It's the equivalent of someone scaring the bejesus out of you while you cautiously look over a cliff. It's not fun. Just...uncomfortably worrisome.

    Also, my butt was pretty sore after this ride, since the car was VERY tight (especially for a dude my size).

    Onward and upward...

    24. Golden Zephyr (24/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride is simple: You're on a rocketship and you spin in circles. AWESOME.

    25. The Little Mermaid – Ariel's Undersea Adventure (25/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    I'm gonna say it: The Little Mermaid is overrated. But I could not deny the astonishing beauty of this ride. It's slow, but the handsome "underwater" presentation makes this ride well worth the wait.

    My right calf cramped up real bad at the end of the ride and I jumped out before the cast member ordered me to. She gave me a dirty look.

    Also, it was in the Little Mermaid where I found the fifth hidden Mickey, in the form of coral.

    Aly Mendoza

    The picture's angle is a little off, but TRUST ME: THIS IS A MICKEY.

    26. Grizzly River Run (26/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The sun was setting on an overcast day, and temperatures were dropping. As Aly and I walked by Grizzly River Run, we stopped and looked at the wait time: FIVE MINUTES. We hesitated though, since it was getting REALLY cold. But we had no choice: It was now or never. I knew I would pay for this later on. But I had a mission to complete. So, I took one for the team.

    I made it through the entire ride with only a couple drops of water here and there. Nothing too bad. That is until a giant geyser blew up directly behind me at the last second, completely soaking me. Somehow, this was a sign of things to come.

    Next stop: Disneyland.

    As we were hurrying over to get to Disneyland, we saw Mickey Mouse taking photos near the entrance of California Adventure.

    Aly Mendoza/ Disney

    The line was too long, so Aly took this photo of me with Mickey CLEARLY photobombing my picture. So, this counts.

    So, we tried going back to Disneyland around 7:36 p.m., only to find the entrance was roped off to EVERYONE.

    Norberto Briceño

    Disneyland was closed for the time being, due to overcapacity. I talked to a security guard and we had the following interaction:

    Me: So when do you think it'll be open?

    Security guard: You should try coming back around midnight, after the fireworks.

    I was heartbroken. I would be missing out on Fantasmic, WHICH I HAD A FASTPASS TO. I would be missing the fireworks display, which I heard was special given it was Disneyland's 60th anniversary. I would also be losing valuable time that I needed to get through all the rides.

    Aly: Well, we still have two rides to do in California Adventure, so why don't we just get them out of the way and come back at midnight?

    So, we went back to California Adventure.

    27. Soarin' Over California (27/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride is really cool and makes you appreciate the beauty of California. It also gave me a renewed sense of optimism. After going on this ride, I was motivated all over again.

    Maybe this wasn't so bad after all.

    Show: World of Color

    Norberto Briceño

    Having missed Fantasmic, we had no choice but to settle on World of Color... and it was awesome. You can't help but feel like a kid all over again, watching with awe as the fountains shoot up in the air. At one point, a huge tower of fire shot up for the Star Wars portion of the show. It was beautiful.

    This show alone is worth the visit to California Adventure.

    As we were waiting in line for Toy Story, we saw the fireworks display going off in the distance.

    Norberto Briceño


    28. Toy Story – Midway Mania (28/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    The trick to win every time is to NEVER STOP SHOOTING. Shoot fast, and shoot until your wrist hurts. It works.

    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)

    Norberto Briceño

    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.

    Aly Mendoza

    A miracle that didn't exist.

    As of 12am, many guests enjoying #Disney24. Disneyland park is still not admitting any guests. Updates to follow. #Disneyland60 (3/3)

    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.

    Aly Mendoza

    Aly: If they're not going to open, then why don't we just leave?

    Me: I can't quit.

    Aly: But you're getting sick—

    Me: I...just...can't...quit.

    Yes, leaving would've been the best option. But... come on... after making it this far, I couldn't just drop everything and leave. I need to wait for a pig to fly.

    Around 1:45 a.m., I knew my mission was all but dead.

    As of 1:45am, many guests enjoying #Disney24. Disneyland park is still not admitting any guests. Updates to follow. #Disneyland60 (3/3)

    Unless by some miracle, a pig flew.



    Around 2:13 a.m., this appeared on my Twitter feed:

    Update 2:13am: We are in the process of allowing #Disney24 guests inside Disney California Adventure park to cross over to Disneyland park.

    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)

    Aly Mendoza

    Pinocchio was scary and a much-needed adrenaline boost. I had three and a half hours to get through the rest of the rides at Disneyland.

    30. Snow White's Scary Adventures (30/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    Holy crap! This ride is horrifying. Apparently, they had to tone down this ride at Disney World back in the early '90s because it was TOO scary (it's no longer there).

    Everything was hurting but the adrenaline rush pushed me forward. GO! GO! GO!

    31. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (31/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride is really charming, but I was tempted to place my forehead on the window and fall asleep to the sounds of bubbles and talking fish.

    32. Astro Orbitor (32/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    My butt was too fat to fit in the seat, but I soldiered through the pain.

    33. Jungle Cruise (33/45 rides) and...

    Aly Mendoza

    That's right. I ate a Dole Whip at 3:41 a.m. Even though I had a full-blown cold and a bit of a fever, I ate it AND I ATE IT ALL because I would risk my health for a Dole Whip.

    Yes, it's that good.

    On my way to Toon Town, I found Chip 'n' Dale chillin' on a stoop.

    Aly Mendoza

    So I took a picture with them and completed the "character photo" portion of the challenge.


    Aly Mendoza

    34. Gadget's Go Coaster (34/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    Literally, zero wait time for this ride. That's a magical experience right there.

    35. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (35/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    In this ride, you can control how much you spin around in the car. But my arms were too weary to do anything. So I just sat there...

    36. It's a Small World (36/45)

    Aly Mendoza

    Parts of the park were beginning to shut down. While most people find It's a Small World to be freakishly annoying, I found it rather soothing. It was just the hint of positivity that I needed to keep marching through.

    As we exited the ride, Aly saw a Mickey Mouse-shaped lollipop.

    Aly: You should get the lollipop and count that as your fifth food item!

    Me: We'll get it later! WE NEED TO FINISH THE RIDES!

    I should've listened to Aly...

    37. Storybook Land Canal Boats (37/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    You get to see tiny models on a river. That's about it.

    I had less than an hour to complete the remaining rides. I quickly ran from ride to ride at this point, trying to get everything in.

    38. Mad Tea Party (38/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    As you can see in the background, the sun was starting to rise. And I was getting as mad as a hatter.

    39. Dumbo the Flying Elephant (39/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    While this photo looks blurry, it actually describes my emotional state at the time. A combination of happy/hurt/sad/dark/sick/angry/amused/tired.

    40. King Arthur Carrousel (40/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    I almost fell asleep on the horse.

    41. Casey Jr. Circus Train (41/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    I was a big dude squished in a small cage, riding on a small train. It was a bit painful.

    42. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (42/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    This ride is rather dark, even for adults. I love it.

    43. Alice in Wonderland (43/45 rides)

    Aly Mendoza

    While Aly and I were impressed that we managed to squeeze SEVEN rides in the last hour, we knew this would be the final ride.

    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.

    Aly Mendoza


    • 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.

    Aly Mendoza

    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.

    As for my sense of adventure? Well, I'm sure this guy would be proud...

    Norberto Briceño