Twenty-four-hour happy people

When a friend asks you if you want to spend 24 hours straight at Disneyland, the answer should naturally be a resounding “yes”—especially if you're already an avid fan of “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

And so on May 23, I attended the park's 24-hour Rock Your Disney Side event and had the most incredible experience of my life. As my traveling companion and I walked through the security checkpoint at exactly 4:02 a.m., we were handed one of the coveted exclusive lanyards given to the first 2,000 attendants. We'd later learn from another early riser that, by 5 a.m., the lanyards were already gone.

This was all before the park even opened; we waited in the Esplanade—that stretch located between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure; it was filled with die-hard attendees who slept, sat or danced to the music being piped through the early morning air. We filled our gullets with energy drinks as we waited for the gates to open. Finally, at 6 a.m., a small display of fireworks lit up the sky, and we entered the park. Most of the day would be spent just like any other here: Early on, we practically walked onto the big rides, but by 11 a.m., the average wait time grew to about 20 to 30 minutes.

We also stuffed our faces with exclusive event treats, such as Sweet and Spicy Hot Dogs and Black and White Ice Cream Sandwiches.

The real fun, however, started after dark. At 9:30 p.m., the “Magical” fireworks spectacular kicked off the beginning of a night filled with bright lights and big sounds. We made our way to the rooftop of Space Mountain as the night sky lit up. From our vantage point, we could see the crowd below. Mouse-ear-capped heads filled every inch of space on Main Street, U.S.A., as thousands poured into the various lands. The average wait time grew to more than an hour. By 10 p.m., dance music filled the park as the deejay played family-friendly pop songs in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We danced our way from one land to another all night in order to keep our energy up. At 11 p.m., we lined up for street tacos and then headed to Main Street for a very special engagement of Mickey's Soundsational Parade, which was scheduled to start at 12:30 a.m. The park burst at the seams with late-night revelers until about 3 a.m., when many attendees finally threw in the towel.

But we were still raring to go—and on our third energy drink of the day—so my companion and I pushed forward, riding nearly every single ride in the park. In fact, we packed as much as we could into the entire day, visiting all the major attractions and events we could fit in. We even spent time in the parts of the park we'd normally skip, such as the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln attraction—highly recommended, by the way.

As the sun came up at 6 a.m., the second time in our one-day visit to Disneyland, we headed to the last ride with sore feet and sleep-deprived brains. The only think I could think as I sped down the track of Space Mountain was: “We did it.”

I cried real tears throughout the entire three-minute ride.

We did it.