Disney Presents: Grad Nite 2k16

Disneyland is special. It’s a place where, no matter how old you are or where you’re from or what’s going on in your life, you get to feel like a kid again. [Now for the low, low price of approximately $100 a day!]

I guess that’s why my school chose it for the site of our Grad Nite: in this time of transition, when the seniors of America take the final steps into adulthood and independence, everyone kind of just wants to be a kid again. To find delight in the little things, eat enough churros to get sick, and pretend that there aren’t any responsibilities waiting for us the next morning.

Anyway, way back in early June, the day before graduation, my last act as a high school senior was to pack up my camera bag and wallet and hop on a bus for Grad Nite. I [clearly] attended high school in SoCal, so our Grad Nite event was just a bus ride away. I was psyched – I hadn’t been to Disneyland in a couple of years, and it’s a pretty sweet all-night program. Plus, it was pretty much our last hurrah as seniors, since my school’s actual graduation ceremony was apparently depressing as hell. [Not that I know, since I didn’t attend.]


Our buses arrived at the park at around 4 PM. There were security checks galore, but I was kickin’ it up with with #chinacrew, so the wait didn’t seem as long. My friends and I had this whole plan to go around and basically consume as much food as possible, so our first act was to group up and hurry off to our first meeting spot and fuel up before we all started running around. Unfortunately, we’d been plopped into California Adventure, and so running to the right park was a whole big thing.


[I ate a lot and therefore have a lot of pictures of food, but I’m going to save all of that for a future post, so I can include more details about what the food was and where we got it and all that fun stuff.]

We wound up sitting down for much longer than expected. Our group was so big that in the end, we decided to just split off into multiple, smaller groups and try to hit as many of the food stops as we could.

I should mention that around this time period, I had a lot of general anxiety about my life, the future, and leaving school. You know, general ‘what will I do? Where am I going?’ crap. I actually don’t think those fears really went away until a month or so ago, just because I didn’t get any sense of closure from high school itself, and just sort of had to jump straight to figuring out what the heck I was doing. For anyone facing similar anxieties, just try to focus on the next thing, and don’t let yourself sink into apathy, because that’s the worst.

Anyway, we spent a good amount of time just running around getting food, and then decided that Space Mountain would be a good idea. At the time, it was Star Wars themed, and maybe that was part of the reason why the wait was three hours long. Like, to the point where the sun was out when we started waiting… And it was gone by the time we got out…


I didn’t [really] mind, though, because I had friends and they had games like Heads Up, that classic ‘waiting-in-line-for-hours-on-end-surrounded-by-strangers’ game.

After the ride, we hopped out and responded to a call to go to the Plaza Inn. We were moving pretty quickly the entire day, and as the park got darker and my shutter speed got lower, my pictures became progressively more blurry. Still, the neon fixtures that keep the park lit up at night made for some pretty dreamy shots. [And some of the few that weren’t of food.]

After regrouping at the Plaza Inn, we settled in for a little while to watch the Electrical Parade. 


At this point the main Disney park was closing, and every high school senior present for Grad Nite was ferried over towards the other park, California Adventure! We waited in line, I gossiped with my old Psych teacher, and things were good! The rest of the night was a special Grad Nite-only closed park event, which meant that lines were a lot shorter. We took advantage of that and headed over to Radiator Springs Racers for the first time in my life.


After a few more rides in the Cars-themed area and a stop by the Cozy Cone Motel for a quick bite to eat, we’d already eaten up most of our time. The final event of the night was a private World of Colour show out by the waterfront.


We were in a bit of a rush, but we managed to make it in time to get some decent spots! At this point it was completely dark out and past midnight, so the lights of the park had come out full force. Everything felt so whimsical and nostalgic, and the show was short, but amazing, with advanced pyrotechnics and water works leading the way. Plus, we had a sick view.


It was a weird night. With all the constant running around and, admittedly, plenty of crankiness, it was easy to forget that a major chapter of my life was ending. High school wasn’t the greatest time of my life, but I still enjoyed a lot of it and treasure the lessons I learned and the friends I made, and yeah, it does kinda suck that it’s over. Still, I’m looking forward to what’s next for me, and everyone else I’ve shared these past few years with. It’s impossible not to worry, but at the very least, we can linger less on the past and look more towards the future.


As a reminder, I now have an official email subscription list! If you subscribe, you’ll be updated every time I make a new post, and you’ll have access to fun things like virtual postcards, random weird stories, and ‘secret’ photography! Subscribe here!


6 thoughts on “Disney Presents: Grad Nite 2k16

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