One of the most beloved traditions for South Florida high school students has been Grad Nite, held annually at Walt Disney World since 1972. The premise of the event is as such: for one night Walt Disney World closed down the Magic Kingdom to non graduating seniors and instead hosted an all-night party, where graduating seniors could enjoy their childhood favorite rides one last time while surrounded by friends and Disney characters.
However, Walt Disney World has just announced that this year, the 2011 Grad Nite will be the last one being celebrated by the park and Florida seniors. What is the reason for this?
Disney has cited that there are too many spring visitors to the park in recent years – it’s getting harder and harder to close the park at night due to the overload of out of town revelers. South Florida has become an increasingly popular place to go over the past ten years, and while the boom in business has definitely made Walt Disney World and its affiliates happy as a whole, it means that it becomes harder to honor traditions like the Grad Nites.
As a consolation, Disney now offers Florida school groups a special one-day, one- park ticket for $55 valid any time during the year. Alternatively, Disneyland Resort in California will continue to offer Grad Nite to California graduates, and Universal will continue its Grad Bash, which is a similar program.
The students, of course, are disappointed. Many are trying to lobby for Grad Nite to return, while others are signing up for the Grad Bash offered by Universal as a substitute.