Thursday, May 21, 2015

24 Things You Should Do at Walt Disney World's 'Coolest Summer Ever' 24-Hour Summer Kickoff + 1 Thing You Shouldn't Do



Full disclosure: this post wasn't my idea. I love it, but it wasn't mine. In fact, I stole it from Touring Plans who posted this version for Disneyland.

But if you look in the comments on their post, someone asks for a WDW version. The author of the article offers the idea up to anyone who is interested; so here we are. (My post isn't affiliated with Touring Plans in any way. Which is a bummer, but hey, any TP folks reading this, feel free to contact me!)

So with that, here are my picks for 24 things to do (and one thing not to do) during the 'Coolest Summer Ever' 24-hour day on Friday, May 22nd at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

1. Watch two sunrises in the Magic Kingdom - One of the highlights to the 24 hour event is the opportunity to see the sun rise over Cinderella Castle not once, but twice. This is a rarity in itself, so be sure to arrive at rope drop on May 22nd and be there again for the sunrise on May 23rd. Not only are these wonderful photo opportunities, but there's something even more magical about seeing the parks bathed in the soft dawn light. 


2. Take a picture of a 'weenie' in each land - No, not those you pervert! You may or may not be aware of the intentional 'weenies' placed throughout the parks to draw guest attention to a particular area. Make it a mission to photograph one from each land; some may be more obvious than others, and there's not right or wrong answer, so use your imagination and be creative.

3. Try to ride EVERY attraction in the park - My friend Tink and I did this during my first 24-hour day back in 2013, and it. was. AWESOME! It can be done, it just takes a bit of planning and strategy. And take into account that many attractions go down at some point in the 24 hours for maintenance and such. 

4. Have a waffle with Washington Irving -  Start your day with a Nutella and fruit waffle from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, which is modeled after the Hudson Valley home of Washington Irving. There are other options of waffles as well, including a few lunch sandwich options. Either way, you've got an entire day, so make it a point to try at least one. 

5. Explore Tom Sawyer Island - One of the few '+1's' WDW has over the enchanting Disneyland park is the original reincarnation of Tom Sawyer Island. While Disneyland's version has been taken over by the popular pirate franchise and renamed 'Pirates Lair,' WDW's has blissfully stayed pretty much the same as when it opened. Take some time and relish this retro goodness. 

6. Ride the train around the park -  Do this a lot! Not only is a great break for your feet, it's just a really nice time and tour of the park. Plus, you'll get to ride at night which is always a plus.


7. Take a ride on the Liberty Belle at night - It's fairly rare that the Liberty Belle runs after sunset. Take advantage of this opportunity. 

8. Take a rocking chair break -  If you're staying the full 24 hours (come on, you can do it!), you'll have to factor in some down time. One of my favorite things to do is to sit and watch the World go by; see some of my favorite spaces here. The rocking chairs on Tom Sawyer Island are a great option, as are the two rockers outside the Hall of President's exit. There are also three rockers on the raised boardwalk area along the Frontierland walkway. All are shaded, as rockers should be ;). 

9. Catch all the shows you might otherwise skip - it's going to be a hot one, and what better excuse than to sit in a cool, air-conditioned room and watch an attraction you might otherwise leave off your to-do list. I'm thinking Hall of Presidents, County Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and the Enchanted Tiki Room (although all of these should be on your regular 'must-do' list anyway because they're fairly original and retro and just so 'Walt.' )


10. Make an ADR for a sit down meal at least once in the day - this is especially important if you plan to stay the full 24 hours. Taking a lunch break in the heat of the day will be a lifesaver; likewise, a nice leisurely dinner will recharge you when you need it most. Last year, my party walked up to Be Our Guest just after park opening and scored a 4pm dinner reservation. Sure, it sounds like an early time to eat dinner, but when you've been up since 5am and in the parks for almost 12 hours already, it's great!

11. Climb every Mountain -  Loosely translate a tip from Julie Andrews and ride every Mountain in WDW. You've got Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, but could also include the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train since technically, it's built into a mountain. 

12. Watch people get their first glimpse of Cinderella Castle - Stand at the corner where Main Street USA makes the turn from Town Square and watch as people see Cinderella Castle for the first time. Parents point, kids squeal, some tears are shed. It's really a cool moment to witness. 

13. Do some shopping - Sure, there'll be plenty of exclusive 24-Hour Day merch to scoop up, but take this opportunity to really check out all the little shops and stores in the park. One of my favorite sources for sundresses is Zanzibar Trading Company in Adventureland. The Space Mountain gift shop has some neat retro space stuff (astronaut ice cream, anyone?!). Not only is the Briar Patch gift shop next to Splash Mountain charmingly themed to a rabbit warren, but it's got some neat little treasures. And the Philharmagic gift shop is your one-stop shop for all things Ducky. I always find some Donald item just begging to come home with me. Don't forget to have your packages sent up to the front of the park so you don't have to schlep them around all day. 

14. Get pictures with the characters in their pajamas -  Because it's cute. Check the Times Guide for when and where they'll be out. Even better if you're wearing your pajamas in the picture.

15. Be kind to the Cast Members -  Chances are, they're working extra long hours to provide for this extra long day of fun for you. Be kind, respectful, and appreciative. 

16. Take the Dole Whip/Citrus Swirl challenge - Grab one of each and have a taste-off. Be crazy and put a scoop of each in your mouth at the same time. Whaaaaa?? 

17. Ride the Main Street Vehicles -  These are only out for a small amount of time before the park gets too crowded. More than likely they'll be running first thing in the morning. If we're lucky, they'll run during the late night hours (hey, a girl can dream). Make it a mission to ride each one available. 


18. Sit up on the train station platform and people watch -  Even better if you time this around the Flag Retreat at 5pm, or for a parade. 

19.  Take a tour of the park -  You can do an official WDW sanctioned tour, such as Marceline to Magic Kingdom, Magic Behind Our Steam Trains, Key to the Kingdom, etc. Or go it on your own and do an audio walking tour of the different lands. Lou Mongello has some good ones

20. Eat something crazy for breakfast - When you've been up for 24 hours straight, you get a little loopy. Embrace it and eat something for breakfast that might otherwise make you squirm. This girl may or may not have had corn dog nuggets from Casey's Corner at 6am on her first 24-Hour Day. Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? I think the phrase is YOLO, or something like that? I'm not really sure. 


21.  Charge your phone -  Most of us know about the charging stations in the Tangled bathroom area. But did you know about the covered seating area back in Storybook Circus that's chock full of outlets?? I didn't until just recently. It's located in a big tent just in front of the Fantasyland train station, next to Pete's Silly Sideshow and Casey Jr.'s Splash and Soak. 

22. Pack your patience pants - It's going to be hot. It's going to be crowded. Lines will be long. People will be stupid. You know what you're getting in to, so leave Grumpy at home and put on a happy face. 

23. Take a picture in front of the clock on Main Street when you enter and leave the park - Double points if the clock says 6:00 am both times!


24. Wait for and watch the 'Kiss Goodnight' - As if this little show isn't tear-inducing already, watching it after an exhausting 24-hour day as the sun begins to come up is something beyond belief. What a perfect way to cap off a memorably magical day. 

25. DONT make like a bum and sleep on the ground -  I get it, you're tired. It's late (or early?). There are plenty of places to catch a cat nap, but for the love of Walt, please don't sprawl out on the ground and sleep. This goes for the benches too. It never fails, every year around 1am or so, the park begins to look like a war zone as bodies are strewn about in stupor. It's kind of off-putting and just, well, strange. Nap on the train, in a show, on the TTA, at a table, in Philharmagic, on the Haunted Mansion. Jump on the monorail for a few loops. Or better yet, if you have to sleep, go back to your hotel room and catch a few winks. At least don't get mad at me when I accidentally step on you on my way to Space Mountain. 

5 comments:

  1. This is the best. Bucket list item for sure!! xo

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  2. I wish I would have read this BEFORE I attended the 24 hour event....I am a little behind on catching up on your blog posts. Okay, number 2, I do not know of these weenies you speak of; may have to research exactly what I would be looking for..? Number 12, have ALWAYS wanted to do this; do you sit at the Confectionary?? Number 17, ugh, I WILL rope drop one of these days and ride these vehicles; I mean when I worked on Main Street as a cast member, of course I ALWAYS saw them out, but sadly never rode them. Number 19, have you taken any of the tours before? Would love to know your reviews. Here's to next year's 24 hour event! :) Kari

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    1. As far as weenies go, that was basically Walt's term for something that drew you into the land/area- Cindy's castle, Tree of life, Spaceship earth, Astro Orbiter, Splash Mtn, etc. It came from a reference when he used to give his pet dog a hot dog 'weenie' when he'd get home in the evening, and how it attracted the dog to come to him- like he hoped the 'weenies' in the park would attract the guests to come to the land.
      Yes, Confectionary or at the opposite corner near the Emporium. It's so magical.
      And YES, you HAVE to rope drop. It's the best best best!! Attractions are basically walk ons, crowd levels are low, everyone's still in a good mood. It's my favorite and worth the lack of sleep!
      Thanks again for reading Kari. You're so supportive and I appreciate it SO much. XOXO

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