Are you a student or chaperone attending Grad Nite at the Disneyland Resort inside Disney California Adventure? Let me share all the tips! I have attended several Grad Nites as a chaperone for our local school and have lots of information to share. Plus a hot tip at the end of this article about avoiding the long lines to get back to your school bus. If you’re a regular guest going to the parks in May or June find Grad Nite dates here. And you’ll want to read a separate article on how Grad Nite will affect your trip.
General Grad Nite tips
If you’re a student or chaperone heading to Grad Nite at Disney California Adventure here are a few things you should know! First of all your ticket for the party is good from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., but you must be inside the gates before 9 p.m. Depending on your ticket type you may have a park hopper ticket for the entire day. Or a park ticket just for Disney California Adventure for the day. Check with your school to see what kind of ticket you have for the event.
Download the official Disneyland app in the app store. The one with the castle on the front. The app will give you wait times, has a map, places to eat, where to find character and times that shows start. If you want to add Disney Genie+ to your ticket you have to do it through the app. It’s another $25 for the day to get on rides using the app, it’s the ability to skip lines basically. It also includes all the PhotoPass photographers photos and your ride photos. Disney Genie+ is optional and only available during the day if you have park tickets for day use. If you only have a party ticket for the night time event there’s no Disney Genie+ available during the party.
There are no Lightning Lanes available during Grad Nite from 9pm – 2am. But since there’s a limited amount of guests you won’t wait long in lines during the night portion of the event. There are no single rider lines available during the event either.
You can’t bring any outside food or water unlike regular guests. They will confiscate it at the grad nite entrance. You can bring an empty water bottle (not glass) to fill up in many places inside the parks. Or you can get free cups of water at quick service locations. And in years past they handed out free cans of Coke near Guardians of the Galaxy late in the evening. Your school chaperone will give you more details and guidelines as it gets closer to your event.There are lots of character photo ops for grads! Plus backdrops for the 2023 grads to capture memories with friends! Near the front of the park next to Carthay Circle during the event you can find Mickey & Minnie in their graduation outfit.You can get a FREE graduation button outside City Hall in Disneyland or ask for one at one of the registers in stores.
There are lots of different dance parties to enjoy throughout the night on Hollywood Blvd, in Carsland and on Pixar Pier at the Pixarmonic Stage.
At the end of the night there is a special presentation of World of Color exclusive for the Class of 2023! Enjoy this fantastic colorful show with jets of water shooting into the air, lasers and pyrotechnics all choreographed to some of the year’s hottest tunes. It starts at 1:45 am. No need to get there much more than 5 minutes before it starts. It’s the perfect farewell celebration for Grad Nite 2023!
If your school is there during the day remember this is a family park. Keep it classy, don’t cut lines and be mindful that children are watching and listening.
Have fun and take lots of photos!
Grad Nite tips for chaperones
If you’re going to the event as a chaperone let me share a few tips with you. I’ve gone several years with our local school. I was even able to chaperone the year my twins graduated from high school. Take a group photo as soon as you arrive before the kids all take off to play!
One of the best chaperone perks is the Chaperone Lounge where we get all you can eat snacks and it’s a place to relax during the night! Usually located at Sonoma Terrace, look for signs.
Divide your group of students into smaller groups for texting. We required our kids to text us once they were in Disney California Adventure for the night. We had park hopper tickets so they could go back and forth. But if they are not in the park before 9 p.m. they will not be allowed in for the event. So make sure they know they have to be inside the park before 9 p.m!
Disney jail is a thing! If you have a student that is caught not following the list of rules you’re given to abide by then your student is put in Disney jail. You will be notified as the chaperone if you’re the head chaperone. At that point someone will have to sit with the student for the rest of the night in the room or escort the student off the premises. I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure your students know the rules. Also remind them to be mindful this is a family park. Don’t cut the lines and remember there are children listening!
Grad Nite HOT TIP to avoid the lines at the end of the night
At the end of the night it’s a huge mass exodus to the buses. Most schools park their buses in the Toy Story parking lot, so everyone is trying to get on the Disneyland transportation buses that take you back to that lot. It took us over 45 minutes the first year I went as a chaperone just to get to the parking lot to head home. If you’re staying the night at a hotel with the students I have a HOT TIP! Get a hotel across the street and skip that line for the buses at the end of the night. We stayed at the Castle Inn and Suites across the street from Disneyland. At the end of the night we walked back to our hotel, no need to wait in any lines! For group rates on this budget friendly hotel check rates here or better yet call 855-GET-AWAY for discounted room rates. Tell them the Disneyland Tour Guide sent you! We booked rooms with 2 queens and a king, which sleep 6 students per room. It saved the students lots of money.
Grad Nite survival tips
It’s going to be a LONG fun day especially if you have park hopper tickets. I suggest taking some breaks during the day cause it will get hot and crowded. For places to rest your feet and escape the heat …
Inside Disneyland Park …
- Go inside the Main Street Cinemas there are benches plus A/C.
- Across from the Matterhorn behind Edelweiss Snacks there are tables and chairs hidden away from the crowds.
- Hop on the Railroad and ride it around you don’t have to get off until you want.
- Hop on the Monorail by the Finding Nemo and ride it around the park to Downtown Disney and back.
- Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln building on Main St. by the park entrance has A/C and some seating.
Over in Disney California Adventure…
- Go inside the Animation Building it has A/C and seats to rest. Plus watch clips of cartoons and movies.
- Redwood Creek Challenge is a large play area with benches and shade.
- Sonoma Terrace near Pixar Pier has cushioned sofa and chairs, great for resting!
- Mickey’s Philharmagic Theatre has A/C, comfy seats and a show!
- DCA is connected to the Grand Californian hotel. You can access the hotel near Grizzly River Run. Sit down enjoy the A/C anyone can go in the lobby.
How to get tickets for Grad Nite?
If you have a high school student who would like to attend Grad Nite you can’t purchase these tickets anywhere online or at the ticket booths. Grad Nite is only for groups to purchase tickets, not individuals. And it’s only for high school graduating students. For more information on how to get grad nite tickets you can visit the group events page over here.
I hope all of these tips help you have the best Grad Nite. I have some very special memories from when I chaperoned my own kids their senior year. It was great to see them enjoy the parks with their friends before they all graduated from high school. I love that Disney continues to have this event for the grads to make memories!
If this is your first time to Disneyland I’d suggest you read this post.
Here are some of my top food recommendations inside each park.