Jake Doesn’t Sleep For 23 Hours, A Cautionary Tale

As most of my reporting classmates know after two quarters of blogging, I’ve worked at Disneyland for a little over a year. Those that have read my recent blogs know I’ll be leaving Disneyland in two weeks to start an internship with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. If you were really paying attention, you may have noticed I was not in reporting class last night. Allow me to give you a little insight as to why I missed a whole day of school yesterday. 

It all began yesterday, February 29, 2012. You may know it is as Leap Day, a once every four years occurrence. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. because my fiance got up at 6:30 a.m. to work out. I didn’t go back to sleep because I wasn’t tired anymore, despite knowing I had work from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. that evening. I had (have) homework to do and figured an early start couldn’t hurt anything. 

You may know that thirty minutes before I woke up, in Anaheim, California, thousands of Disney maniacs were admitted to the magic kingdom for 24 hours of Disney insanity. Or Dinsanity. Or Disnesanity. You get the idea. 

I spent the day at school, knowing I would be more productive there than at home. Most of my day was spent in the same room our reporting class is held on Tuesday and Thursday nights, working on my article for my magazine journalism class. At around 5:30 p.m. I met a friend for dinner at Brea before meeting another friend at work (Disneyland) at 8:45 so we could get our costumes before work. We were working the 1:00 a.m. showing of Fantasmic! that evening for the first time since the show went dark (refurbishment) in early January.

Traffic around the resort was nightmarish. There was a stream of traffic from Long Beach to Anaheim, and cars were backed up three exits on I-5 South before the resort. The park was at capacity by 10:00 p.m, and it probably wasn’t the first time that day. 

As my friend and I waded through the crowds to reach costuming, we began to realize what awaited us. These guests weren’t bailing out at 3:00 a.m. to get some sleep. No, these guests were going the distance; some of them had been camped out since 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, they weren’t giving up now. 

We clocked in at 10:00 p.m., the earliest Fantasmic! shift of the evening, with the exception of our leads (immediate supervisors), and the ropes were already set up, the seating areas already full. Guests were sleeping on blankets, saving spots for large groups, guests with wheelchairs were near the front of the areas (all strollers/wheelchairs must be collapsed or at the back of seating sections, so they don’t block the view of guests behind them. A wheelchair section is also offered, but many guests prefer the seating sections.), and the Pirates of the Caribbean queue went back towards the Haunted Mansion. It was one of those nights.

For the next three hours, I played counselor to guests who were defending their spots from intruders, making sure everyone remained at some semblance of peace, while also convincing parents that, yes, they need to take their children out of the strollers by 12:30 a.m. to collapse the strollers. Once the show started, I was able to stand and enjoy it. The new fountains look great, even thought it’s safe to say that only the biggest Disney geeks (and those who have seen the show over 100+ times, like myself) could tell the difference. 

I was supposed to clock out at 1:40 a.m., but it was not to be. I had been extended until 4:00 a.m. to help control the Pirates queue. I, along with five or six other cast members, guided guests to the back of the queue, while making sure guests did not inadvertently enter the line halfway through. Time went quickly, and soon my friend and I were heading back to our cars, readying ourselves for the drive home. 

At this point I hadn’t eaten since 8:00 p.m., hadn’t slept in 22 hours and had a hour-long drive ahead of me. So I stopped at the only place open at 4:00 a.m., McDonalds. They were only serving breakfast at this point, so I grabbed my breakfast sandwich and a Coke before heading on my way. 

It was at the 57/60 interchange that I began to grow drowsy. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it home at this rate, so I ducked off the freeway to get some Starbucks, as they had begun opening for the morning. I got four shots of espresso, guzzled them as quickly as I could and proceeded to limp home. After arriving home at 5:00 a.m., I collapsed into bed, readying myself for three hours of sleep before school. It didn’t come. I slept for one hour, and woke up nauseous as I had ever been before. I’ll skip the details, but I wasn’t back in bed until 11:00 a.m., and I was ready to die.

I slept until 7:00 p.m., and had missed the entire school day, including an interview I had set up for The Poly Post. I feel worse about that then missing any number of classes. 

Let this be a lesson to you all. The next time you try to pull an “all-nighter,” or go an extreme amount of time without sleep, think of me. And get off my lawn, will ya?