A Disneyland Grad Night Forty Years In the Making June 12, 1973 To June 12, 2013
Imagine going to Disneyland and riding the Bobsled in a dress and nylons! Sorry girls, hot pants and jeans were not allowed and men, there would be no sandal-wearing and leave the turtlenecks at home-it was jackets and slacks for you. The big-name entertainment of the night was none other than Ricky Nelson himself of “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Garden Party Fame” playing throughout the night on the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage. As for rides-we had unlimited access all night long! Keep in mind that was 40 years ago was the era of the Disneyland ticket books where you only had 5 E-tickets so choose wisely.
It was a time where the only mountain was the Matterhorn-Splash, Space, and Thunder Mountains were still in the future; Critter Country was still Bear Country, the Haunted Mansion and Pirates were still new and Toontown and Indiana Jones weren’t even on the drawing boards. The Electrical Parade had just premiered the year before and you could actually order hot dogs, hamburgers, and French fries all in the same spot.
The date once again was June 12 and the event Disneyland Grad Night. Who in their wildest imagination could ever dream that 40 years to the day of their own Disneyland Grad Nite that you would once again be at the Happiest Place on Earth only this time celebrating the night and all that it represents, with the youngest of your five children? This year Grad Nite was held at Disney California Adventure Park. Like the Grad Nite’s of days gone by, from Park closing until the wee hours of the morning, the Park was ours. The dress code had changed just a bit as had the musical entertainment with a wide variety of music playing in the Pacific Wharf area, Cars Land and of course the all-night rave at the Mad T Party.
Wine Country was transformed into a chaperone’s paradise with an all-you-can-eat buffet and it was not an uncommon sight to see weary adults sprawled out sound asleep on the chairs. But for this adult, this was a night to be shared with my son who turned down the chance to invite his friends so he could spend the celebration with his mommy. Yes, pass the Kleenex box, please.
It is said that you only have 18 summers to spend with your children so make sure each one of those 18 summers counts. Forty years of time had finally come full circle except in 2013, you still could find me skipping and giggling arm and arm down the middle of Buena Vista Street, but this time I was arm and arm with my son. There are no words that could ever begin to describe the overwhelming emotions that came over me as we closed out Grad Nite 2013 watching a special production of World of Color, arms around each other, and my son leaning over and kissing me on the cheek whispering, “I love you, mommy. Thank you for a night that I will never, ever forget!” But if you’re a parent, there’s no explanation needed.