Grad Nite is a special after-hours event held each summer at the Disneyland California Resort as a graduation celebration for high school seniors. The event is one of the Disney Youth Programs set up by Disney Imagination Campus.
Running since 1961, Grad Nite has become an important annual tradition amongst high school seniors in southern California and surrounding states. The once-in-a-lifetime experience features an exclusive evening party just for graduates, with after-hours access to a Disney park, live music and entertainment, and lots more.
For its first 50 years, Grad Nite was held at Disneyland. But in 2013, the event was moved over to the Disney California Adventure Park. The move coincided with the opening of the popular Cars Land, which is now where much of the event is held.
Disneyland Grad Nite Dates (2023)
Disneyland Grad Nite usually takes place on multiple nights throughout late spring and early summer to coincide with high school graduation season.
Disneyland Resort’s Grad Nite returns in 2023 on the following dates:
- May 2023: 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 30, and 31
- June 2023: 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, and 16
Disneyland Grad Nite Tickets (2023)
There are three ticket options for attending Disneyland’s high school grad night in 2023. It’s the first time a tiered ticketing system has been implemented for the event.
Ticket Option 1
The first Grad Nite ticket option gets you after-hours (9pm onwards) admission to the Disneyland Resort Grad Nite Private Party Experience at Disney California Adventure.
This ticket is the best option for high school graduates who are not interested in visiting either of the parks during the day but want to enjoy the unique evening celebrations with friends. It’s also the most affordable ticket of the three.
Option 1 Ticket Prices:
- Weekday Dates (Tues-Thurs): $99 per person
- Weekend Dates (Fri/Sun): $104 per person
Ticket Option 2
The second ticket option combines a full-day park ticket for Disney California Adventure with admission to the after-hours Grad Nite Private Party Experience.
Option 2 Ticket Prices:
- Weekday Dates (Tues-Thurs): $129 per person
- Weekend Dates (Fri/Sun): $134 per person
Ticket Option 3
Finally, the third ticket option gets you park-hopper access to both Disneyland Resort theme parks for one day, plus admission to the Grad Nite Private Party Experience.
Option 3 Ticket Prices:
- Weekday Dates (Tues-Thurs): $199 per person
- Weekend Dates (Fri/Sun): $219 per person
You can purchase tickets online through the Disneyland Grad Nite Website.
Disneyland Resort Grad Nite Private Party Experience
While some tickets give graduates the option to visit the Disneyland parks during the day, the real highlight of Diney’s Grad Nite celebrations is the Private Party Experience.
Between 9pm and 2am, high school graduates get exclusive after-hours access to Disney California Adventure for an exciting graduation party.
As well as private access to the park’s rides and attractions, the graduation party also features mixers, dance parties, character meets, and plenty of other fun activities.
The Grad Nite private party is concluded with GOODNITE, an exclusive showing of Disneyland’s World of Color show, with water, fire, lights, and music illuminating the whole park. It’s truly a night most graduates will never forget.
Grad Nite Food
As with many special events at Disneyland, a new menu is released for Grad Nite with delicious themed options available. Some of our favourites include;
- OG Hot Dog from Award Wieners
- All That and a Berry Cereal Shake from Schmoozies!
- Stupendous Sriracha & Bacon Pizza Slice from Pym Test Kitchen
- It’s Like a Unicorn Raspberry Cheesecake Ration from Terran Treats
- Cherry Cone-vertible from Cozy Cone Motel
- Cheeseburger Mac Burger from Smokejumpers Grill
- Bling Bling Cereal Churro from Goofy’s Churro Cart
Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion!
In June 2022, Disneyland hosted its first-ever Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion. The special three-night event was a celebration of all Grad Nites over the last 60 years.
Disney invited past graduates to return to the park for a night of high school nostalgia, with cafeteria-themed food, special character experiences, live entertainment, and more.
It has not yet been confirmed when the next Grad Nite Reunion will take place. But we’ll be sure to keep you updated when more information is released.
Visiting Disneyland on Grad Nite If You’re Not a High School Senior
If you’re not a high school senior yourself, you may be wondering why this information is relevant to you. But if you do happen to be visiting Disneyland during a Grad Night event, it’s useful to know what’s going on and how to plan your visit accordingly.
In the past, many visitors have chosen to avoid the Disneyland parks on Grad Nites due to increased crowds and potentially badly behaved students on these days.
But in 2023, the Grad Nite events will likely cause less disruption to regular visitors than it has over the last five or so years.
In recent years, Disneyland encouraged grads to spend the day enjoying the two theme parks before the private grad party experience. This caused large groups of excitable teens to flood the parks, much to the dismay of regular guests.
But with the new tiered ticketing system, it’s likely that many graduates will now opt for the more affordable private party-only ticket (ticket option 1). The emphasis is now back on the party itself. And this may reduce the number of students in the theme parks during the days.
If you are still concerned about visiting Disneyland during Grad Nite celebrations, these are our top tips for making the most of your Disney trip…
Avoid the Crowds on Disney Grad Nites
With the new tiered ticketing system, visiting both Disney parks before the evening party comes at the steep price of $199+ for students. It’s therefore likely that many grads will choose to stick to Disney California Adventure all day, which is the location of the Grad Nite party experience.
So if you’re purchasing a one-park-per-day ticket, we’d highly recommend heading to Disneyland on this day to avoid the largest crowds.
DCA also closes early for the public on Grad Nites. So you’ll get more value from visiting Disneyland on this day, with the park staying open until 11pm/12am.
If you have a park hopper ticket and really want to visit both parks on this day, we’d suggest visiting Disney California Adventure first thing in the morning. The hoards of teens will probably arrive slightly later in the day – they’ve got to stay up late after all. You can then head to Disneyland for the late afternoon and evening when most grads are at DCA.
Utilise Genie+ For Shorter Lines
Disney’s Genie+ is an optional paid service that allows you to skip the standard line and use the Lightning Lane entrance on select attractions within the Disneyland resort parks.
If you’re worried about long lines for rides and attractions at the parks during the Disney Grad Nites, make sure to utilise Genie+ to cut down your waiting times dramatically. It’ll be worth the extra money you pay for the service.
Head to Downtown Disney Instead
If your Disneyland vacation does fall during a Grad Nite event and you would rather avoid the two theme parks altogether, you could always head to Downtown Disney instead.
The Downtown Disney District is a large outdoor shopping and entertainment complex located in the heart of the California Disneyland resort.
The complex features numerous shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and evening entertainment venues. You can go shopping for Disney merchandise, eat plenty of delicious food, go bowling, or even enjoy live jazz music.
Downtown Disney is completely free to visit. It’s the perfect spot to escape the busy theme parks on Grad Nite, while still keeping the Disney magic alive.