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The MoreJStu YouTube channel spent 24 hours in a fort they built inside a Walmart. The Stephany and Jesus channel tried staying overnight at a Toys R Us and spent what appeared to be a miserable night of unrest. The AldosWorld TV channel galavanted at the world’s largest McDonald’s all night long.
If you’ve ever had any desire to spend 24 hours at some random business, you don’t have to. Instead, you can live vicariously through dozens and dozens of YouTubers who have experienced, filmed, and posted their own 24-hour overnight challenge experiences to get social media recognition.
They play hide and seek at Home Depot. They jump around at midnight inside indoor trampoline parks. They engage in Nerf wars at McDonald’s.
And they’re apparently not having such a great time of it.
“It was one of the worst experiences of my life,” Christian Perry, an Indiana college student, told the Wall Street Journal.
After all, what is there do to once the lights are switched off and you have hours of darkness, uncomfortable sleeping accommodations, and boredom before the sun rises again?
If you’re Lucy and CeCe, YouTubers with 378,000 subscribers, you make a fort out of packaged dog food at Walmart.
If you’re the Ireland Boys with 1.6 million subscribers, you try to avoid breaking your leg at an abandoned waterpark.
If you’re ImJayStation with 1.9 million subscribers, you try to avoid being seen by the janitors at a luxury movie theater.
And that’s just the beginning. If you type in “24 hour challenge” into YouTube’s search engine, you get 52.4 million results. If you type in “24 hour challenge chuck e cheese,” you get more than 69,000 results.
Here’s a sampling (with all the requisite clickbait headlines).
So, what are YouTubers doing overnight in a Chuck E. Cheese? In a video that received 10.6 million views, the guys who run AldosWorld TV recorded themselves hanging out in the bathroom until the indoor playground closed, climbed slides to avoid detection, interacted with the animatronic animals, and slept in the indoor playground.
But these challenges are apparently not exciting or intense as they seem.
“My legs are literally asleep, I can’t move them,” Jesus of the Stephany and Jesus channel said during their Toys R Us video as he tried to find a comfortable place to sleep. “I’m so uncomfortable. My back hurts.”
“It was very uncomfortable,” Michael Manfre, who spent the night at a McDonald’s, told the Journal. “We tried to make the best of it.”
YouTube stars like Jake Paul and Logan Paul were participating in overnight challenges in 2016 and 2017, but as the Journal reports, the trend continues onward unabated, even though police departments have warned YouTubers against engaging in such activities.
The stores are aware, as well. Chuck E. Cheese told the newspaper that some of the YouTubers were helped by people who worked for the company; basically, it was an inside job. Meanwhile, the brands are also quick to say that some of the YouTubers are faking the challenge and not actually staying in the store after the doors close for the evening.
Viewers, though, obviously love these videos. They get millions of views, which is probably why there are millions of videos. And it’s probably why this trend shows no signs of ending.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.