Leap Day at Disneyland
Disney kept its theme parks open 24 hours straight on February 29th, a promotion they called One More Disney Day. Upper management estimated that Disneyland in California would see about 44,000 visitors that day, and planned accordingly. When Leap Day came, twice that many showed up, and when you add those who first entered Disney California Adventure, the total number was around 106,000!
The event moved from unique to legendary very quickly in the early evening when hordes of the 900,000+ Annual Passholders started getting off work and headed for Disneyland. By mid-evening the southbound lanes of the Santa Ana Freeway were backed up for several miles and all surface streets around the Resort were nearing gridlock. But unlike at Christmastime when Disneyland faces these types of crowds with massive armies of Cast Members and an executive team that has hourly conference calls on the status of all Resort departments, the entire Resort was only staffed for a 44,000 day and the executive conference calls weren’t on the radar.
It was mid-evening when things really began to come apart at the seams, and anyone above middle-management had already gone home and the CM’s left in Anaheim were going to be on their own for the next 10 hours. Not that anyone could have come in to help if they wanted to, as by 9:00PM all the major streets around Disneyland were entirely gridlocked, and even the Cast Member shuttle buses were taking up to 45 minutes to drive the 7 blocks from the employee parking lot on Katella to the drop off area on Harbor Blvd. The reinforcement Cast Members who had been called in to work earlier that evening in a panic were stuck in the traffic like everyone else, and literally couldn’t get on to property after parking their cars.
(Image credit: Flickr user Lucy Lang)