Grad Nite, a long-running Walt Disney World tradition, is being re-incarnated as an event at the resort's Typhoon Lagoon water park next year.
The after-hours, separate-ticket event tailored to high-school seniors started in 1972, the first spring that the Magic Kingdom was open. It ran there annually through 2011, with the exception of a one-year stint at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in 2009.
"We’re always looking for ways to help guests celebrate their special milestones, and we know our guests like to celebrate their high-school graduation at Walt Disney World Resort," said Andrea Finger, a Walt Disney World spokeswoman. "With this in mind, we are reimagining this special event and introducing a new way for high school seniors to celebrate their achievements with friends and classmates."
In its day, Grad Nite featured the big-name musical acts of their eras. Performers included Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band, Peaches and Herb, Run-DMC, Miami Sound Machine, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Ne-Yo and dozens of others. The final Disney World Grad Nite performers at Magic Kingdom were Pete Wentz, Taio Cruz and 3OH!3.Although considered a rite of passage by many Central Floridians, increased theme-park attendance during spring had made it difficult to schedule the event on multiple evenings, Disney said after suspending the event in 2011. As an alternative, the company then introduced the "Disney Senior Class Trip" deal to Florida school groups: a one-day, one-park ticket for $55 valid anytime during the year. Grad Nite continued at Disneyland Resort in California. Universal Orlando has a Grad Bash event on multiple evenings as well as a version for middle-school graduates. The revived event, dubbed Disney Grad Nite H20 on the Disney Youth Program website, would include dance parties, appearances by Disney characters, food and unlimited drink (in souvenir mug) and the option for a "specially priced" theme park ticket.Event dates will be Friday evenings: April 7, 21 and 28, 2017. Tickets will be $55 per person. Sales will be arranged through students' high schools.