Disney's Grad Nite
(sometimes in early years termed "Grad-Nite") is an exclusive event hosted in April, May, or June for graduating high school senior classes who can gather for an exclusive, all-night party at Disneyland
and at Walt Disney World
's Magic Kingdom
(moving in 2009 to Disney's Hollywood Studios
) featuring live performances by some of the most popular contemporary artists. There are also optional Blast Off Parties
that begin prior to the main event, and create a full day of activities for students. Grad Nite originated at Disneyland in 1961 for local area students. Walt Disney World first held Grad Nite in the Magic Kingdom on June 9th and 12th, 1972.
Grad Nite doings
With various pre-parties, Disneyland or Disney's Hollywood Studios is generally open to seniors by 8:00 p.m. The park closes at 2:00 a.m. The usual background music is replaced by loud contemporary music, which is played by a DJ who urges the seniors to attend the live shows.
There is a wide selection of parties for seniors to attend while inside of the park. While the parties vary from year to year, and from park to park, a "party boat" has had three departures and arrivals during the night which take the students aboard a steamboat which circles through the park's water interior partying for about 20-25 minutes. A foam zone party, with lasers, strobe lights, and techno music, and of course foam jets shooting out large amounts of foam into the crowd. The biggest party that night is in the heart of Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, one of the largest venues resembling a large "bumping" night club.
On Space Mountain at Disneyland, which features on-board audio and advanced in ride effects, seniors are treated to the Rockin' Space (or RockIT) Mountain effects. These have been implemented since the 2005 redesign and rehab.
At least one dance floor is opened, with another DJ. At Disneyland this is the Tomorrowland Terrace. Most of the major rides are opened except for some smaller ones, rides that involve passage over water, and theaters. Special T-shirts and other merchandise is available. At Disneyland, prizes including new cars from event sponsor Honda and gifts are given away.
At midnight, there is a special fireworks show, set to top 40 hits replacing the current fireworks shows. As of 2008, the fireworks displays are Wishes at WDW and Remember... Dreams Come True at Disneyland.
In addition to the students, chaperones are also present in the park. Schools are encouraged to bring junior class leaders to "sell" the upcoming senior class on Grad Nite. Security is generally heavy, and the students are not permitted to leave early without making special arrangements.
Each year, various performers have provided live entertainment for Grad Nite. In recent years, artists have included: Ryan Cabrera
, Kevin Lyttle
, Simple Plan
, Fall Out Boy
, The Fray
, and Cassie
. For the 2008 events in Orlando, Ne-Yo
was the headline attraction, joined by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
, The Last Goodnight
and Cheskob. Disneyland events were held May 15, 22 and 29 along with June 5, 11, 12 and 19. Confirmed for the 2009 event in Orlando are Metro Station
and Katie Perry
thus far. Other past performers over the years include Oingo Boingo
, The Aquabats
, and Suburban Legends
By comparison, in 1963 at Disneyland, performers included The Elliott Brothers Orchestra, The Strawhatters, The Spacemen with Kay Bell, Jimmy Henderson and his Orchestra, Ward Singers, Young Men From New Orleans, Firehouse Five Plus Two, Gonzales Trio, The Yachtsmen, Royal Tahitans, Folk Singer, and Folk Duo.
A similar event for graduates of middle/junior high schools, called "Disney's Eighth Grade Jam" is held at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. The event was held on May 2, 2008.
Blast Off Party
One blast off party is Disney's California Adventure (5-8PM) for California.
Grad Nite is considered a special school event and a dress code is enforced. Attendees of both the Blast Off Parties and Grad Nite must adhere to the dress guidelines or will be denied admittance. Offensive or revealing clothing along with school-related jackets, non-Disney hats and heelys
(sneakers that have roller skate wheels) are not allowed, nor are weapons or drugs (excluding inhalers). Schools have gained notoriety for being excluded from Grad Nite for failure to follow the rules.
Dress code examples include, wearing polo style shirts, jeans (allowed as long as they are in good repair), and basically any other semi-casual nice clothing.
In earlier times, the dress code was significantly more stringent, requiring jacket and tie for boys, and similarly "dressy" attire for girls.
In the past, both Disney parks have seen their share of unfortunate events happen. Disneyland has seen three deaths from the carelessness of attendees (or in one case, a would-be attendee)
, students have been turned away from the gate for possession of alcohol or drugs, students have passed out in attractions, shows, or around the park from lack of sleep, and students have taken over attractions such as Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland. Disney has adjusted its policies on which rides to open. Attractions such as "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
" have been closed, as students will use them for romantic getaways or to sleep. Generally, the rides that involve travel across water have been closed.
, began their own similar program, Grad Bash. Grad Bash is more informal than Grad Nite (although both events are quite popular). While the Saturday night dates for Grad Nite are more popular than Fridays, and attract schools from further away, both are relatively uncrowded by comparison with a normal weekend day.
In California, Six Flags and Knott's have tried to market parties for graduating seniors or teens but no longer do so, as they were markedly less successful than Disney. Six Flags Magic Mountain still holds Grad Nite for graduating 8th graders.