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  1. #1

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    Disney World to end Grad Nights

    The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that today Walt Disney World announced that this spring will be the end of Walt Disney World's Grad Nights. The story is as follows:

    By Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
    4:54 p.m. EST, March 9, 2011

    This spring will see the last Grad Nite celebrations at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World announced Wednesday.

    Disney World says the increase in theme park attendance in the spring has made scheduling the after-hours, separate-ticket event for high school seniors increasingly difficult. As an alternative, Disney will offer Florida school groups a special one-day, one-park ticket for $55 valid any time during the year.

    "Over the years, we've signficantly increased the frequency and types of programming offered specifically for students," Walt Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger said. Sports competitions, performing art workshops, festivals and educational programs give students access to Disney "virtually any time of the year," she said.

    Live performances have been a hallmark of the event. Musical acts have included Britney Spears, Miami Sound Machine, Katy Perry, Oingo Boingo, Ne-Yo, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, Paramore and Boys Like Girls.

    Set for the 2011 and final version of Grad Nite are Pete Wentz, Taio Cruz, and 3OH!3.

    The Magic Kingdom event began in 1972, the first spring that the theme park was open, and has continued there annually with the expection of a one-year stint at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2009.

    "Attendance has varied throughout the years, but that being said, Grad Nite has remained a rite of passage for high-school seniors over the years, and we have been pleased with the attendance," Finger said.

    The announcement caught some Grad Nite "alumni" off-guard.

    "It was a little shocking, but without knowing their full reasoning I can kind of look at it and go 'That kind of makes sense," said Matt Cross, an Orlando resident who attended the Magic Kingdom event in 1988. "I think today's high school students don't look at it as as big a draw as maybe it was 20 years ago."

    He said he understood the move from a business standpoint.

    "That's a chunk of money that Disney loses from their normal resort guests, having to shut down Magic Kingdom," Cross said.

    But he has fond memories of the experience, which included performances by Exposé, Run DMC, Michael Bolton and others. He said he remembers being in the Haunted Mansion attraction — and being able to hear Run DMC playing at the foot of Cinderella Castle at the same time.
    Heidi Tandy of Miami Beach also was there in '88, but she was "rabidly avoiding the musical talent," she said. (She found Bolton to be "unenthusing.")

    Her memories of Grad Nite revolve around her classmates.

    "To go on Peter Pan or go into 'it's a small world' and sing at the top of your lungs because no one is going to get angry at you is really a fantastic send-off to your childhood, especially for Florida kids who grew up going to Disney World," Tandy said.

    She regrets that her son won't have that chance.

    "I would have loved to send him off to his own Grad Nite at Disney World, maybe with the pin I have that says 'Grad Nite' '88 on it," she said.

    Bonnie Upright of Jacksonville has similar regrets for her daughter. She attended Grad Nite in 1987 (musical guests: Wang Chung, Ready for the World, Glass Tiger).

    "It was one of my favorite high-school memories," Upright said.

    For years, a strict dress code was adhered to for Grad Nite. Tandy said girls weren't allowed to wear dresses that exposed their shoulders. And Upright said the buzz — perhaps urban legend — indicated that Disney had ways of dealing with improper behavior.

    "[The rumor was that] There was an underground Disney jail you'd be taken to for the night if you misbehaved or were drinking somehow or behaving inappropriately with the opposite sex," she said.
    Disneyland Resort in California will continue its Grad Nite program.

    Universal Orlando has a similar event for high-school seniors called Grad Bash, which is held at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks.

    "Right now, we are focused on making this year's Grad Bash great," Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said Wednesday. "But I can say that Grad Bash is a very popular event for us and for our guests — and we don't see that changing anytime soon.
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  2. #2

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    Having worked Grad Nites at the Disneyland Resort, I am happy that it is ending because how the students treat the park. I am not happy that it is ending because it is a traditional thing and it is one that a high schooler looks forward to.

    Let's see how much this affects WDW before they bring it back.


  3. #3

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    Here's my two cents on this: I, a fan , sees it as an example of "Declining by Degrees" because they, TDO could (and can) keep this type event; also, I, as a Guest , see this as being a foolish business mistake. (I do have more to say, but I will let the other Micechaters give their say on this.)


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  4. #4

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    With this whole "OneDisney" campaign, I sincerely hope DLR does not end the Grad Nite program. Grad Nite is a tradition, a sort of rite of passage for High Schoolers, especially in the So Cal area. My parents did it, I did it; it would be sad to see this go.





  5. #5

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    Quote Originally Posted by kronos View Post
    With this whole "OneDisney" campaign, I sincerely hope DLR does not end the Grad Nite program. Grad Nite is a tradition, a sort of rite of passage for High Schoolers, especially in the So Cal area. My parents did it, I did it; it would be sad to see this go.
    I agree with you. I attended Grad Nite back in 2005 and had an amazing time (even though I was dead tired by 6 AM! ). However, I have to agree with Kritter on how some (not all) seniors treated the park. I wouldn't use that as an excuse to discontinue the program though...

  6. #6

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    As far as I know, Universal Studios in Orlando has a similar thing too, so although my school is doing the last Disney grad nite this year, they'll just switch to Universal's next year. Somehow, I can't really imagine this being a good business decision. Every year, the student council has the seniors pick between WDW and Universal, and every year it's always Disney. It's a shame it won't continue, but then again, I'm relieved I'm the last year to go.

  7. #7

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    Disneyland will continue with Grad Nights as it is easier to clear the park of guests at night...

  8. #8

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    Gee, Disney suits deciding to turn their backs on tradition in order to save a few pennies? There's a shocker.

  9. #9

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    Re: Disney World to end Grad Nights

    That is to bad for WDW, but i hope they don't do this at DLR.

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