Grad Nite At Disneyland

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It’s that time of year! The return of Grad Nite at Disneyland theme parks! High school students are graduating, and Disney is hosting Disneyland Grad Nites. Disneyland park hosts Grad Nite events to honor high school graduates every year. During Grad Nites, the graduating kids get exclusive access to an after-hours party in Disney California Adventure park.

Every year, I get messages from people who realize their Disneyland vacation is over a Grad Nite and are worried it will affect their vacation! Feeling panicky because you’ve discovered your Southern California trip is happening during a Grad Nite? Stop it! Don’t freak out! Everything will be fine. I’ve got your complete Surviving Grad Nite At Disneyland Guide!

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Grad Nite Info

Grad nights are held at Disney California Adventure on select dates. These after-dark events are for graduating seniors at participating schools and their chaperones. You need a special event ticket that school groups can purchase through special Disney youth programs. There are special ticket prices and several ticket options available to graduates. Some Grad Nite tickets give kids access to just California Adventure. Some provide them with access to Disneyland, too, via a full-day park hopper ticket. There are several Grad Nite Ticket options, but event tickets are required for the party.

Typical operating hours are different on Grad Nites. World of Color will be shown at 9:00 pm (usually). After the show, California Adventure will be turned over to the graduating teens for this popular event, and all the other guests will be asked to leave.

During this rite of passage, senior groups will enjoy a dance party, graduation gear, amazing treats, and fun photos! There will also be exclusive Disneyland Grad Nite merchandise. Local high school seniors(and some students from out of town) gather to celebrate a final night of high school memories with their graduating class.

Grad Nite Event Dates 2023:

Grad Nite will be held on the following dates in 2023:

May 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 30 and 31

June 2, 4, 7,9,14 and 16

Grad Nite Crowds

Both parks will see higher crowd levels on Grad Nite dates. However, it’s still doable. I promise. I’ve got lots of tips to help you handle crowds here. The parks will start getting noticeably busier in the afternoon/evening as the high schoolers arrive for their Disneyland resort Grad Nite experience.

I’ve attended Grad Nite at Disneyland a time or two and have been pleasantly surprised. In my mind, I was sure the parks would be overrun by packs of wild, disrespectful teenagers who were hell-bent on turning my beloved Disneyland into some drunken, drug-filled rave. I have an active imagination. I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best. 

Anyway, it was nothing like that at all! All the kids I saw were kind, respectful, and well-behaved. Of course, they were excited to participate in Grad Nite celebrations but weren’t causing any trouble. The parks were more crowded, this is true. Because we had a good plan and followed my tips, it was completely manageable.

Grad Nite Tips

1. Arrive early! Teens like to sleep in. Get to the parks in time for rope drop, and you’ll have short lines for the first part of your day. You can read all about rope drop here, along with tips and strategies here. This way, you get all your fun in before they arrive. It will get quite crowded in the late afternoon.

2. Use Genie Plus! I know it costs extra, but use it if you can. I’ve got info on Genie Plus here. This will be your best friend on a Grad Nite. It would be best to maximize your time; Genie Plus is a great way to do that.

3. Download the Disneyland app before your trip. Then, you can use your mobile device to check wait times, see the entertainment schedule, and mobile order food.

4. If you have a park hopper, hit California Adventure first. Grads with park hoppers will most likely hit Disneyland first because they will have the run of California Adventure later that night. When it starts feeling too crowded, skip on over to Disneyland! You could also call it a night since you arrived early and beat the crowds.

5. Book a hotel with a great pool with my partners at Get Away Today. Ditching the crowds for the pool is always a good idea! Plus, they have discounted park tickets!

6. If you don’t have a park hopper consider spending the entire day at Disneyland if you want to stay past 9 pm.

7. Have a good attitude. That will take you a long way. Be patient and flexible with the kids all around you.

8. If you notice a teen who isn’t behaving suitably, notify a cast member. There are behavior guidelines that guests attending the private Grad Nite party are expected to uphold. Notify a cast member if you see an issue. They can help you.

I hope these tips help! Surviving Grad Nite at Disneyland is pretty easy. I’ve never had a bad experience at a Grad Nite. You can still have a wonderful experience at Disneyland even if your vacation falls over this annual event. The party happens on select nights, so if you’re worried, you could rearrange your trip, but that’s usually unnecessary. Even though it was a bit more crowded, I still thought it was the happiest place on earth.

I’m thrilled that Disneyland Resort theme parks choose to honor the grads with this exclusive Disneyland after dark experience. I never attended as a graduating senior, but the themed food, dance parties, and exclusive private party experience sound like so much for these deserving kids! Let me know if you have any questions! 

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