By Madison Kelly
To me, nothing sounds better than spending 24 hours at the place you love the most. A day, in all its entirety, of happiness and joy in knowing that you were somewhere you love to be. For me, my “Happy place” happens to be happiest of them all, Disneyland.
At the end of May each year, Disneyland holds a 24 hour event in which guests have the ability to stay at the park from 6 AM to 6 AM the following day. And for the first time, a large group of my friends and I went May 22, 2014. Being the huge fanatics we are, we absolutely could not wait to spend such an excessive amount of time running amok and experiencing everything Disney has to offer. Not only that, it was the first day of summer before freshman year and we were beyond ready to let loose and have fun.
Weeks of preparation proceeded before the 22nd, we coordinated outfits, planned definitively where we would eat inside the park (which easily became a lengthy, grueling list), arranged transportation (a difficult task considering we were all unlicensed and only a select amount of parents are willing to step foot in Disneyland let alone spend their day there), and even set up a sleepover for that night.
The morning of May 22 was very easy breezy; My clothes were laid out, my Disneyland pass was within visibility, and my wallet was filled with just enough cash to get me through the day. The weather was typical of SoCal; a beautiful sunshiny day with dabs of white clouds littering the sky. In no time, I was out the door and on my way to my friend Cassy’s house. Her mom was the only brave soul out of our seven sets of parents who was more than willing to accompany us. After we all congregated at her house we loaded up in her mom’s old Excursion. In the process of doing so, we realized that we were short a passenger seat. As a solution, one of my friends volunteered to chill in the trunk of the vehicle with no precautions of safety other than her death-gripping the headrest in front of her when we hit a bump on the freeway.
When we got into Anaheim, we had to journey into the square mile of twisting roads and confusing street signs surrounding Disneyland. In attempt to locate guest parking, we snaked around the park and wound up in the staff parking lot which suspiciously empty and was fenced in completely except for the toll booth entrance and exit, which, also suspiciously, weren’t manned. Realizing we were in the complete wrong place and had no way of getting out, we had no other choice but to grab our things and hop the intimidating chain-link fence. While doing so, I managed to scratch a pretty large gash in my leg as a result of me toppling over top it, all while getting tangled up in the straps of my backpack that had gotten caught on one of the metal links. But despite this minor hiccup, we treked on.
After a bit of walking, we reached one of the southern entrances to California Adventures, Disneyland’s second park. Immediately we scurried around to all of our favorite rides. In just a few hours time, inevitably, our group of seven split into multiple smaller groups of just two or three girls together, seemingly without notice. I was left with my best friend Sj, my partner in crime. However, despite being separated from the other, still I hate had no complaints. We were, after all, at the Happiest Place on Earth, or so I thought.
As hours flew by and the bright, sunny day fell to a nearly chilly, hazy night, we began to attempt on regrouping at a common place; a task proven to be difficult by fault of the iPhone’s incredibly short battery life (which, to me, seems to be selective against your favor–it seems to die most easily when you actually need to use it. But I digress…). However, thanks to the literal thousands of electrical outlets available for use around the parks, we were all able to meet up.
At around midnight, we gathered together at the brilliant lawn on the north side of Disneyland that, without fail, displays a massive image of Mickey Mouse simulated out of flowers. Though the picture itself differs slightly throughout the year, it never seizes to amaze me. The others, however didn’t seem too impressed. Everybody’s face shone a look of acute annoyance, quite a different tone than the visible giddiness their countenance had earlier expressed. Sj and I both turned to each other in confusion over the uncalled-for attitude of our counterparts. Despite their odd behavior, we continued on.
Earlier in the day, we had gotten Fast Passes for the Indian Jones ride. A Fast Pass is card that allows you to enter a separate, much shorter line than the regular one. By inserting your Disneyland ticket or annual pass into the Fast Pass machine, it will print out this card with a designated time slot in which you are supposed to get in line. Our passes displayed “1:15 AM – 3:15 AM”. At about one, we headed toward the ride. While in line, the group’s average exhaustion reached its ultimate apex. Five incredibly grouchy girls amid a line of hundreds of other people whose moods all fell somewhere along the spectrum of Red Bull Induced Beatitude and So Help Me God If I’m Not Gone From This Forsaken Place In The Next Fifteen Minutes.
The overall tone of the night quickly turned even more dreary after Cassy, in all her irritable glory, began to bicker with one of the other girls, Jordan, who accidentally stepped on her brand new shoes; understandable considering the tight space we were allowed by the other Disney-goers in line. Cassy, however, wasn’t so forgiving. One would have Jordan attempted purposely start a fight by her reaction of unrelenting condescending remarks and not-so-subtle jabs. But after several minutes of brutal silent treatment, both girls apologized to one another and our night continued.
After we rode the Indiana Jones ride, the others decided they wanted something to eat, Sj and I, however, just decided to wait up for them to return. It started to become cooler and more cloudy than it had been only a few moments earlier. Even worse, we sat on the crisp stained cement ground against a building directly across from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, we waited for a half hour before we started to grow concerned. Realizing both of our phones had died and we had no other way of contacting them, another ten minutes passed before we tried to hunt them down. We got up from where we were sitting and began to look for them in all of the surrounding restaurants and food stands. After twenty minutes without success, we returned to our previous resting place where, to much of our surprise, we found the rest of the girls waiting right where we had been. At this point, it was two in morning and even I was started to feel the effects of a 16-hour day. After a barrage of griping and complaints from the others, we headed to the car and started home. When we finally got back to Cassy’s house, it was 3:30 and we were all beyond ready to crawl into bed and sleep. Except, for the girls spending the night at Cassy’s house, not only could we not cuddle into our own beds, but she didn’t see it necessary to share her queen-sized bed with ANYBODY else. I began anger-texting my mother to see if she was awake and willing to come pick me up, despite my doubts about both. After a while with no response, I eventually drifted into sleep while scrunched into a fetal position in the corner of Cassy’s room.
As morning filled the room with an incredibly irritating light that disrupted each of us and our much needed slumber, we all began to reminisce on the night before. We were all disappointed in how the night turned so sour despite our high expectations for unrelenting fun and happiness. Regardless of the trip’s turbulence, we set plans on attending the following year. Ironically, my pass was blocked the date of the 24 Hour in 2015. At first I was upset that I wasn’t able to go again. But now, I’ve concluded that Disney had my back in trying to preserve my unbreakable love towards the park.