24 Hours in Disneyland – Part 3

The epic conclusion to our 24 Hours in Disneyland you’ve been waiting on pins and needles for is finally here—not that you doubted it would come.

Just think of this like you might Jurassic World; 20 years for a worthy sequel isn’t really that long to wait. Either that or a fine wine. It’s nice to pop the cork, get a whiff, and try a sip, but then you need to let it breathe.

In reality, it wasn’t our plan to let this series “breathe” for so long. Michaela started a wonderful new job a couple of weeks ago and that means playing Schedule Tetris, filling available time slots with blocks of need-to’s, want-to’s, and don’t-really-want-to-but-have-to’s. You know—life.

We’ve almost adjusted to the new schedule and plan to use this weekend to get ahead with projects, photos, and posts.

If you haven’t seen Part 1 or Part 2 of our Disney 24 excursion, be sure to check them out!

Part 2 left us at twilight, when the lights of Sleeping Beauty Castle come on. Unfortunately, due to the crowds, we didn’t find a decent spot for the first Paint the Night parade or the Disneyland Forever fireworks. Instead, we made our way to New Orleans Square for reinforcements—coffee and beignets from the Mint Julep Bar! It’s making me hungry just thinking about it… It was a welcome respite to regroup a little for the next 10 hours.

After watching bits of the fireworks through trees from the French Market’s patio, we caught a ride on the Disneyland Railroad to make our way back to Main Street and find a spot for the second showing of Paint the Night. It was a decision that paid off for us as the crowd had thinned dramatically.

Standing in the same spot for an extended period is not one of my favorite things in the world. It’s not even in my top 214. When the lights dimmed and the music started, it was worth every minute of standing. The Paint the Night intro began with a nod to the Main Street Electrical Parade and something happened that hasn’t happened for me since I watched World of Color for the first time – I felt like a kid again. I was transported back to the half-watched parades of my early childhood when I’d fall asleep in my stroller on Main Street after playing hard all day in a “World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy.”

Sometimes those blissful moments aren’t matched by what follows but when the floats came out, we were mesmerized.

Little Mermaid float from Paint the Night parade at Disneyland

Buzz Lightyear in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland

Cinderella waves from her float in the Paint the Night parade at Disneyland

Anna and Elsa wave from the Frozen float in the Paint the Night parade at Disneyland

Sorcerer Mickey finale from the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland

We enjoyed the parade so much that we watched both showings and shot a lot more photos the following evening. We’ll share those when we publish a new Paint the Night post on Monday!

After the parade, we met up with some friends for a ride on the newly enhanced Matterhorn, which turned out to be amazing. The next stop was a karaoke party in Mickey’s Toontown. Don’t judge; it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Exhaustion was setting in and it was setting in hard. We found ourselves sitting at the Princess Fantasy Faire, pleading waiting for the sun to show and questioning if sleep deprivation still qualified as torture if self-inflicted.

Around 4AM, the sky began turning blue and helped us to quickly forget how tired we’d become. First we headed to the Mark Twain on the Rivers of America.

Mark Twain on the Rivers of America at daybreak in Disneyland

Then we made our way to Big Thunder Mountain.

Big Thunder Mountain hoodoos at daybreak in Disneyland

And returned one last time to the castle, where we found 20 other photographers hoping the sky would dazzle us.

Sunrise over 60th anniversary Sleeping Beauty Castle

60th anniversary castle at sunrise in Disneyland

In the end, it was worth it. It’s a special sort of magic to be in Disneyland as the sun rises on a new day.

Before we knew it, the Disney 24 event had come to an end and it was time to say goodbye. We walked down Main Street with the last guests to leave Disneyland and slowly made our way back to our room for a few hours of sweet, sweet sleep.

Guests leave Disneyland as the Disney 24 event comes to a close on Main Street

We’ll be back with new posts next week, including a Paint the Night post on Monday. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

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About Matthew Hansen

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