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.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.
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.
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.