Always Openby David Koenig, contributing writer
Disneyland and Denny's don't have much in common, but the casual eateries do have one thing park management is jealous of: their never-ending business hours.
The last couple of years, the resort has stayed open for 24 hours straight as a gimmick to kick off the summer. TDA (Team Disney Anaheim) executives, however, have been so pleased with the attendance numbers, average "spend" per guest, and publicity generated by the stunts that they are now pushing to have the resort keep the doors open all night multiple times this year.
Already approved is again staying open during Memorial Day weekend (to kick off both the summer and Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration). But execs have also compiled a wish list of additional all-night dates: July 17 for Disneyland's birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Nothing more has been approved, but one source said if Disney's ever going to expand the practice, this is the year to try it out. "The dates given have merit as they are holidays, and with the exception of New Year’s Eve, they all fall within a weekend," she said.
Construction of a new cast member parking lot north of Disneyland is on schedule—and can’t arrive soon enough. The new lot, a former RV park at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Ball Road, will be referred to as "HCML" (Harbor Cast Member Lot) and is set to open this March.
Last week, employees were inconveniently directed exactly which space to park in at the Katella Cast Member Lot and next week, many of them will be redirected to leave their cars at Anaheim Stadium for the Stars Wars half-marathon.
If the new lot fails to provide sufficient relief, cast members expect to park at the stadium for the three other races this year, as well as for Disneyland's 60th and the major holidays (July 4, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Eve).
On New Year's Eve, Disneyland may have stayed open an hour longer than Disney California Adventure and boasted bigger crowds, but DCA did draw one unique visitor the Magic Kingdom didn't. That evening, a racoon paid a visit to cast members working around DCA's main entrance.
"They were calling it 'Meeko' and 'Rocket' (a Guardians of the Galaxy character)," shared one onlooker.
The critter hung around the area for about an hour and then disappeared into the night.
Re: Staying open 24 hours - It seems to me that one of the draws of the 24-hour thing is the rarity of the event. If they were regularly open 24 hours, I wonder if the event would still be as popular? Also, besides staying open 24 hours, haven't they introduced special menu items, entertainment options and unique signage, maps, etc? How pragmatic will it be to keep up those practices? As the events become more common, I would expect the cost-benefit ratio to close in? Although, if they focus on already-crowded holidays, or times where they're already providing extra experiences such as Halloween and Christmas, I imagine they would need to provide fewer special activities to bring in crowds.
This reminds me a bit of the special Passholder nights in the 1990s. And we used to have to pay extra for those events. Will that be next? Mix-in and pay extra for the ticket that allows you to stay in the parks between 11 pm and 8 am?
24 hours on Christmas would really be a final straw to me.
Oh, and nevermind the stress these events put on the attractions.