Grad Nites at the Magic Kingdom

2011 Disney Grad Nites

The Magic Kingdom will be hosting this year's Grad Nites on April 29 and 30 and May 6 and 7. The special evenings are private, after-hours parties for high school seniors from around the country, which means the Magic Kingdom closes early to the general public on these nights. UK-born singer Taio Cruz and duo 3OH!3 are scheduled to perform on each of the Grad Nite dates.

NOTE: Walt Disney World Resort recently announced that this year's Grad Nite events, a 39-year tradition, will be the last held in Orlando. The reason given for doing away with the event is the changing business environment. Grad Nites will continue to be held annually in the Disneyland Resort.

What are Grad Nites at the Magic Kingdom?

Grad Nites are special hard-ticketed private parties for graduating high school seniors, which begin at 10 p.m. and run until 4 a.m. The Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. on those nights in order to set up for these parties.

Admission to Disney Grad Nite is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Senior class advisors should submit a completed application well in advance to reserve tickets for the night of their choice. Visit the official Disney Youth Programs siteto learn more.

Disney Grad Nites – Dates: April 29-30 and May 6-7, 2011.

High school senior classes will gather for an exclusive, all-night party in the Magic Kingdom, featuring live performances by UK-born singer Taio Cruz and duo 3OH!3.

Once the gate opens, seniors have exclusive use of the Magic Kingdom and get to enjoy:

* Unlimited use of select Magic Kingdom attractions
* FREE Play Arcade Games
* Live concert performances
* Live DJ Dance Party Zones
* Karaoke Party
* All-Suds Foam Dance Zone
* Special Fireworks
* Access to a wide variety of Walt Disney World values for the ultimate senior class trip

Dress Code: Disney Grad Nite is a special school event. Proper dress/attire for students and chaperones is required. All outfits must remain intact for the entire Disney Grad Nite event and for all Blast-Off Parties. Students and chaperones not meeting these guidelines will not be admitted. Participants will be asked to adhere to the guidelines if not dressed appropriately.

Acceptable for Her:

· Dresses
· Skirts
· Blouse or Top
· Shorts
· Casual pants (including Khaki style or jeans)
· Comfortable shoes (including tennis shoes, dress sandals, and boots)

Acceptable for Him:

· Casual pants (including khaki style and jeans)
· Shirts with collar (golf style shirts, dress shirts)
· Sport jackets
· Dress suits
· Comfortable shoes (including tennis shoes, dress shoes, and boots)

What's Out

· Clothing with holes or shredding
· Clothing with obscene or offensive language or graphics
· Backpacks of any type, size, or style
· Visible undergarments
· Clothing that exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate at a school function, e.g., bikini tops and bottoms

Unacceptable for Her:

· Tops that show the midriff

Unacceptable for Him

· Tank tops
· Undershirts

What's a Grad Nite Like?

Read what a Grad Nite is like in these firsthand reports OR Submit your own experience HERE!

by Janis P., Class of '05

This might be a bit late, but I had the great chance to attend Grad Night 2005 and had a few tips to share with some of your readers that might be going to Grad Night the next few years.

First things first, decide on your group before you go. I had a group of 5 (including myself) then split off later in the night to allow some repeat of certain rides. I wouldn't get a group bigger than 6 and 4 is the desirable. Trust me, its not as busy as normal days, but still it's a more enjoyable experience with a little group. Second, once you have your group either on the bus or when you arrive, decide your "game plan." In my case, my group and I decided against the concerts and parties so we could just enjoy the rides. Now, it's totally up to you guys. I just didn't really want to spend time being moshed at the Yellowcard concert nor did being shoulder to shoulder on the river boat party. But, that doesn't mean you don't need to shy away! Third, decide when you want to eat. We got vouchers for a free meal (at which point I squealed with joy knowing I wouldn't have to spend some of my own money on the food) and they had Cosmic Ray's open as well as Pecos Bill. Though we ate at Cosmic Ray's, Pecos had a MUCH better spread. So, scope them out before you use the voucher. Anyway, decide when you want to eat. If you eat the second you get there, you will be hungry around 2-3am and probably then put down the $8 on a chicken finger basket. So, I would eat a big dinner or meal before you get to school so you won't be hungry when you get there. Fourth, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE WHEN IT COMES TO SHOPPING! It is the most scary thing ever to see a bunch of kids running from store to store trying to get that perfect souvenir.

Now, one of the "popular" things is the Mickey Ears on the mortar board with the tassel. Personally, I opted not to get one as I didn't see myself spending $20 on a hat that I would only wear about 2 or 3 times. So I opted to just take a cute picture with the hat. Now, I lucked out because we were on the last night, so some of the things where on sale half off. You either had to look or ask. In my case, I opted to spend $5 on a Grad Night 2005 water container which I got early in the night. I, in true mother fashion, kept it full at every chance I could and made sure my group stayed hydrated. Yes, you can get dehydrated at night… In the end it's your money, but I say find something you utterly love and can't live without.

Finally, a few last points: Grad Night is what you make of it. Stick with people you know you are going to have fun with. Don't go in saying your going to do it all because you won't be able to. Try to hit what you want. Don't be afraid to voice up what you want to do and I even suggest spliting up toward the last hour or two (after you eat) to redo or maybe go to that party you wanted to. Grad Night is truly a one of a kind experience, especially for those of us that consider ourselves "Disney Experts." Enjoy yourself and remember to take your camera! Because nothing is cuter than you and your best friends all on the Carousel in Fantasyland.

by Laura Scaglione, Class of 2004

First, I have to say that 18-ish year olds don't exactly think the Magic Kingdom is the hottest place on Earth. (I even heard a few, "Why don't we go to the party at Universal?"s!) (Blasphemy!) But I am pleased to announce that every single football player, homecoming queen, honor roll student, newspaper editor, and everyone in between had an awesome time!

The party was set up a lot like most other after-hour ticketed events like the Halloween and Christmas parties. The biggest difference was that there was a lot of loud music playing, plenty of lights flashing, and a whole lot of visible security guards. And it ran from 11pm-4am.

Busses were funneled through the backstage area where we unloaded behind Main Street/Tomorrowland. Everyone entered through the Tomorrowland theater (where we were subject to a security check) and found Tomorrowland aglow, probably because it was renamed "Strobes" for the night. There were, obviously, strobe lights streaming into the sky above Tomorrowland.

Fantasyland was appropriately named "Suds," due to the foam party that was being held there. Adventureland was "The Jungle," where jungle-themed parties were held, and Frontierland housed a rock climbing wall and was dubbed, "The Peaks." Each land had its own themed party, which was pretty much just loud music and dancing.

The Liberty Square Riverboat was parked at its loading dock and was called the "Glow Boat," because, you guessed it, it glowed. There was another dance held there, and I just thought it was funny to see the charming Riverboat all "pimped out!"

All the rides were open, or at least the main ones. There were big 'ol lines for the mountains, but of course we all had to visit them. Many of my classmates had not visited the MK since they were kids, so the classics were a must. Most Fantasyland rides were open as well, but they did not have as many takers as Space Mountain and the like… as you might expect.

Picture spots dotted the park like they do at other parties. Cast members took free photos and sent them in the mail… just like normal. I believe they were even the same locations as usual… Hall of Presidents, small world, etc.

There were three performers at the party as well. Stacie Orrico and Simple Plan put on shows at the castle and Monica performed in Tomorrowland. My classmates and I weren't too interested in the performances, though. Honestly, I had never heard of Monica or Stacie Orrico, and I could only recall one or two of Simple Plan's songs. It turned out I wasn't the only one. There wasn't a very big crowd at their concerts.

I was nervous that people might think it was dumb to spend the night at the Magic Kingdom, but everyone I saw and talked to had an absolutely wonderful time. The magic really does appeal to all ages, but I guess the music, lights, and foam help the appeal factor for the younger generation. It was an absolute blast and Disney really did throw an awesome graduation party!

by Regina Mayorga

It's been more than a year since I have attended Grad Nite, and now as I look back on it I think of the good fortune I had to be able to attend it, because not only was I going to my favorite place in the world, but also because it was fun! I realize perhaps many of the readers may have never heard of it before or have little knowledge of it. That's OK folks! Here I am to enlighten you on what my friends and I experienced during our long field trip and hopefully I will be able to bring the fun to you as I look back on it, and maybe bring a little nostalgia for those who were fortunate enough like me to attend it.

On to our first stop… Pleasure Island!

Pleasure Island
We arrived at Pleasure Island for our "Blast Off" party, and what can I say? We shook our groove thangs shook our groove thangs yeah yeah! Sorry, got a little distracted there. So, anyway, in a short amount of time, our group went in and out of clubs and we finally found and settled on a club called Motion. There we got free drinks (don't worry parents, just sodas!) and we danced to music provided via music videos on a large screen. This was apparently the place to be because it was packed to capacity and there was still a long line waiting to get in outside.

Anyway, a couple of hours passed and it was time to say so long to Pleasure Island and hello to Magic Kingdom where we would spend the rest of the night. Yep, those are going to be some major bags under our eyes when we look in the mirror in the morning! Heigh Ho Heigh Ho, it's off to Magic Kingdom we go…

Magic Kingdom
I can tell you that I have been here about a dozen times and know every shortcut and ride inside out. Sure, I knew whether we should start in Tomorrowland or Frontierland first and where would be the best place to eat, but this trip was a whole new ballgame and a fun new experience. The fact that the park was closed just for us and everything revolved around us, the high school seniors, made me feel like all my hard work in school was being paid off that night. They had the top acts of the day performing at Magic Kingdom, as well as dance floors and DJs all around the park for those who still had the dancing bug from Pleasure Island, and all the merchandise specifically designed for this occasion so we can all have a souvenir of this night. And then of course, were the rides, and the short lines were something to smile about too!

We headed first to Aladdin's Flying Carpets. For our first ride of the night it was fun, and we were the only ones on the ride, so we were offered a second go-around, which we declined because we had barely scratched the surface on this here Magic Kingdom. So onward and forward, Mateys — to Pirates of the Caribbean, and this is where I realized how many times I had ridden it in the past because I got a little bored. Shame on me for riding so much! It got better, though, as we headed to Frontierland. We rode Splash Mountain and the picture alone tells how much fun we had on this ride. We pretty much held nothing back and screamed our heads off (and everyone else's ears off) because half the fun of riding thrill rides is screaming! After getting soaked we decided to dry off on Big Thunder Mountain, and if you know this ride, you know we certainly got dry in a hurry. Next, we headed to The Haunted Mansion and in just a couple of hours we were halfway through the park.

Fantasyland came and went pretty quick, as was to be expected. All we rode was Winnie the Pooh, at my urging, because I figured everyone would like it. Wouldn't you know it, though — a girl in our group who was riding in the next car dropped her camera during the ride, so she had to ride again to retrieve the camera. Guess the excitement made her hands slippery. Most of the group did visit Cinderella's Carrousel before we left (I was not there as I was making my own visit to Tinkletown). Upon arriving at Tomorrowland, we rode Tomorrowland Speedway, which was fun because we raced each other and hit each other from behind like 5-year-olds. After, we somehow got split up and most of us went on Space Mountain, while the rest were watching one of the acts perform on the nearby Tomorrowland Stage. After riding Space Mountain, we were famished and decided to eat at Cosmic Ray's (it was 2 a.m. after all!) while the remaining members of our party rode Space Mountain so they could join us afterwards to eat. The last ride we went on was Buzz Lightyear and we all got a kick out of shooting at the "Z's" and beating each other's scores.

After hours of fun fun fun, it was time to go, and we just realized how tired we were as we walked to the bus. The buses were parked in the "Grumpy" section, and let me tell you, the walk over there sure made me grumpy. It was a bittersweet feeling to finally be on the bus again because we finally got to rest, but then again… Grad Nite had just ended!

I have reached the end of my field trip, and, as a closing note, I'd like to point out a couple of things that were important for us who went and what may be important for those who may go in the future:

1) Around the park there were stations where you could take a picture by yourself or with friends to capture the moment of Grad Nite. Before I get a resounding, "How much did it cost? — Guess what, my friends? It cost… NADA! If that didn't strike a chord, maybe it will in English… NOTHING! Disney offers you this complimentary photo of you and your friends and we all took advantage of this offer because it was F-R-E-E. It didn't take more than 5 minutes to take the picture and fill in our names and address for them to mail it, and in a couple of days we had it in our hands. From my own experience, the picture is very nice and it's something nice to have. I myself have it in a frame in my room so I do appreciate this little token from Disney.

2) We knew ahead of time that there was a dress code being enforced for Grad Nite. The dress code required nice casual attire (no jeans, shorts, sneakers, etc.) and I know a lot of Disney veterans are thinking, "How were you able to walk all of Magic Kingdom in heels?" Well, it's simple… I left the heels at home. I wore very comfortable shoes that weren't heels, but by the end of the night these dogs were barking anyway. Yet I was better off than most girls and their high as heck heels. These girls regretted their decisions, because by the end of the night, Disney made a bundle on their big yellow Mickey shoe slippers. And if you think Disney didn't enforce the dress code, you're wrong! As one of my friends experienced, it can get annoying if they catch you out of dress code. My friend was shown to this table where they provided clothes for you to wear so you can be dressed correctly!

Well, that's all she wrote… or that's all I wrote, whatever. I hope you enjoyed my reliving of this awesome night and as the great Tigger once said, T.T.F.N. (Ta-Ta For Now!).

If you have comments or tips to share with others about Grad Nites in the Magic Kingdom, please email us. Thank you.