Disney, Disney Springs, Family Fun

A Disneyland Grad Night Forty Years In the Making June 12, 1973 To June 12, 2013

Could my Disneyland Grad Night on June 12, 1973 really, truly have been FORTY years ago? They say time passes in a blink of an eye but was it really 40 years ago that I was attending my Grad Nite at Disneyland? Where did the time go and yet the reality is, it seems like it was just yesterday.   Our high school actually wasn’t scheduled to go to Disneyland for Grad Nite. You can imagine my devastation that there would be no magical trip to Disneyland to celebrate my senior year but luckily, the rival high school across town overestimated the interest in their students attending this event and suddenly 25 of us were being whisked away with “the enemy” to the Happiest Place on Earth. That night it didn’t matter if you wore orange and black, or red and grey for on June 12 we wore black, red, white with a touch of yellow-at least in our hearts as the dress code was-well, a real dress code.

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. 

Disneyland Annual Passholer Program Is Ending
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.

Disneyland Resort Disney California Adventure Park Grandma and Me Family Trip Disneyland Hotel -
The thing I will always hold close to my heart was putting on my Mouse Ears and skipping down Main Street arm and arm with my best friends; the people I had gone through most of my life’s journey with, and to this very day are still there when I need them to share the good times, and the trials and tribulations that life can bring. The sound of their giggles and laughter and all us feel like we were 5 years old-priceless. I thought nothing could ever, ever replace those memories and feelings. Fast-forward 40 years.   

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.


Disneyland Annual Passholer Program Is Ending

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. 
Thanks to Disney and its continuing traditions through the generations, I have been allowed to keep the most important parts of my childhood-curiosity, enthusiasm, and the willingness to be silly and live in the moment. Disneyland allows me to believe in the magic unconditionally. It is my place where I can make wishes and dreams and hold those memories in my heart forever. However, more importantly, thanks to Disney, I’ve been able to pass on my childhood memories and traditions to my children and I know in my heart, that someday, they will be able to do the same.