24 Hours in Disneyland – Part 1

We did it once before and said never again but they were empty words. When we heard everything that Disneyland was planning to kick off their big 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration, we got a little excited. Okay, maybe more than a little.

A new fireworks show.

A new nighttime parade.

A new World of Color.

The Hatbox Ghost finally back in the Mansion.

A new Harold (the abominable snowman), in a revamped Matterhorn.

A 24 hour event to kick off Memorial. Day. Weekend.

What could possibly go wrong?!

It wasn’t the easiest decision, given the mayhem that was sure to take place, but we bit the bullet and decided to go anyway.

We were fortunate enough to be offered a room at the Grand Californian by a friend who’d booked a room but wasn’t able to make it. We took it as a sign that maybe there would be plenty of sunshine headed our way.

Knowing that people had begun lining up to get in the night before and that Disneyland would bring guests into Main Street at 4:00am, we decided to sleep in until 5:00am in hopes that the congestion would ease up by the official park opening of 6:00am.

We woke to gloomy skies that quashed the excitement of an epic sunrise and made for slow going getting ready for the day. We decided to forego the security checkpoints at the esplanade and used the Grand’s entrance to DCA. It was a brilliant move that got us straight into the park at 6:40am.

We walked briskly through the newly re-themed Grizzly Peak Airfield, taking a few photos along the way. (More on this wonderful new area in an upcoming post!)

The newly re-themed Grizzly Peak Airfield entrance at Disney California Adventure

Naturally, we had to stop and take a few pictures of Carthay done up in its 60th anniversary decor before heading over to Disneyland.

Carthay Circle Theater dressed up in diamond decor during the 60th anniversary Disney 24 hour event

It seems that no matter where you go at the resort, diamonds will find you. The esplanade flags are no exception.

Diamond Celebration banners in the esplanade celebrate Disneyland's 60th anniversary

It only took us 10 minutes from the time we entered Disney California Adventure and photo-walked our way across the esplanade to pass through the turnstiles and into Disneyland. Despite the heavy cloud coverage, it seemed that sunshine was indeed headed our way.

Diamond Celebration decor on the Main Street Depot at the entrance to Disneyland


Diamond Celebration entrance tunnel decorations


Diamond Celebration decorated City Hall at Disneyland

After a couple of stops on Main Street, we headed for Sleeping Beauty Castle to see what she will look like for the next year or two (or three…). The last time we’d visited Disneyland, the castle’s makeover was only halfway completed.

The Diamond Celebration makeover of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland

In pictures I’d seen online, the “diamonds” on the castle looked off to me, sort of plastic-y and cheap. In person was a different story, having more an appearance of glass, and they quickly grew on me.

The castle looked just as impressive from the back as from the front. In our opinions, this is one of the most underrated views in Disneyland.

The back side of Sleeping Beauty Castle during Disneyland's Diamond Celebration

And that is where we will leave you. We’ll return soon with Part 2!

About Matt Hansen

Matt is a photographer and designer based in San Diego. When he’s not working, he's charting his next adventure over coffee or craft beer.
View All


  1. Great pictures! I too, was leery of the castle being done up, but, was VERY surprised at how gorgeous it is. The shocker, how amazing it looked at night! I really wish they would take this approach at Christmas time. The 24 hour event was a blast and we got in line at 11:30pm Thursday night. We’re planning on doing it again next year! 😀


    1. Thank you, Casey. We were also impressed with how great the castle looked at night. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but we were pleasantly surprised.


  2. Wow – what a great tour. Amazing!


  3. For those of us who couldn’t attend the 24-hour event, and aren’t sure we’ll get to the 60th, thank you. You provide an amazing service. As always, the pictures are stunning. I can’t wait to see the rest of your coverage.


    1. Thank you, Rick. They did a great job with the nighttime entertainment and we’re looking forward to sharing photos of that soon!


  4. Hehe, thanks Sean! I bet you had some amazing photo opportunities though (assuming you reentered that morning). That always seems to be the best time to go. I was tempted to push on for 48 hours, but I could barely see you as we waved goodbye. Blurry vision does not make for great photos!


    1. Oh Yeah, after every 24 hour event I meet up with the most epic Disney nerd you’ve ever met. We always get breakfast at White Water Snacks after each 24-hour event and then re-enter the park for an hour. Its such great way to wind down in that rustic setting next to Redwood Creek. I thought about inviting you and Mathew for breakfast but you guys seemed pretty tired and rightly so considering you guys championed the full 24 hours in the park. Seriously, my hats off to you guys. Hopefully we can meet up in the park again sometime.


      1. That sounds like a really nice morning; thanks for the thought! It would be nice to meet up again and have a conversation that’s not driven by delirium 😉


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *