HolyCoast: The Final Disneyland Grad Night

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Final Disneyland Grad Night

The end of a tradition for thousands of Southern California high school kids:
A five-decade rite of passage for millions of high school seniors will come to an end early Saturday when Disneyland finishes hosting its final, private Grad Nite party.

Starting next year, the overnight, private parties will move to Disney California Adventure for the 2013 high school graduates.

Seniors are able to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during regular park hours. But the most prominent part of the Grad Nite experience – the late-night parties – will move across the esplanade.

Disneyland's last Grad Nite party is scheduled to start Friday night.

"Plans are to make the expanded Disney California Adventure park available for Grads in 2013, allowing them more time to experience all their favorite attractions ... but also to experience "World of Color" and the all-new Cars Land," said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a statement.

Disney has hosted more than 5 million graduates from thousands of high schools, mostly in Southern California, since the tradition began in 1961.
My wife's class in Santa Paula went to Grad Night at Disneyland in 1972. My class went in '74 but I didn't join them (I wasn't very social in high school...or since). My kid's high school did their own Grad Night, so they never did the Disneyland thing, but thousands of other kids - some from more than a 100 miles away - have done Grad Nights every year at the park.

I'm afraid California Adventure is going to be a letdown for future seniors. Even with Cars Land there's just not that much to do there, especially when it comes to the kind of rides high school kids will want to take. All the open space may make for a lot more opportunities for mischief.

I can see why Disneyland would make the move - it takes fewer people to run California Adventure than it does Disneyland. It's probably more economical for them to shut the old park down and keep the party in the junior park. The kids may never know the difference, but I think the experience at California Adventure won't be quite as much fun as they would have had at Disneyland.


Laura said...

I went to Disneyland for Grad Night, and also worked Grad Nights for several years, and like you, I lament the passing of this tradition.

That said, California Adventure is vastly improved and I think there's plenty for the kids to do there over night, especially if Disney throws in a World of Color show or the non-alcoholic aspects of the Mad Tea Party (dancing, games, etc.); there's Midway Mania, California Screamin', Soarin', Tower of Terror, the Fun Wheel, and the new rides in Cars Land, especially Radiator Springs Racers, which is one of the best Disney rides ever.

Or maybe I'm just thinking it sounds really good compared to my son's Grad Night last year. The school and parent committee refused to say in advance where Grad Night would be, ostensibly to prevent pre-planting of booze. The cost was $150, of which my son paid half out of gifts and odd jobs. When the busses headed toward Knott's Berry Farm, the kids were excited, but alas, it turned out Grad Night was at Adventure City on Beach Blvd. Yes, the place in front of Hobby City with a handful of kiddie rides that 6'4" students like my son can't fit on. They threw in a couple pool tables. They also shuttled them in buses from West GG, rather than taking them all at once or allowing parents to drop students off, so that some kids didn't get there till 90 minutes after it started. I kid you not. What a disaster! The principal and committee head certainly got an earful from me. I still get mad when I think about it!

Best wishes,

Rick Moore said...

Adventure City?? Wow, my kids outgrew that place when they were 10. I can see why you'd be mad. My kid's high school also wouldn't announce where they were going, but it didn't matter because neither one of them attended. They later heard from their friends that they hadn't missed anything. Saved us a bunch of money, that's for sure.

Laura said...

Our oldest daughter skipped Grad Night, and after her brother's experience I think our younger daughter will be skipping it next year as well! LOL. Better just to get together with some friends and not pointlessly spend a ton of money --

Best wishes,