A couple of days ago we were able to attend a Disneyland After Hours Event at California Adventure. Grad Nite Reunions were one of several events that have happened over the last few months at Disneyland Resort. In this post, we’ll share photos of the event, offer commentary and details about it as well as our thoughts on if these events are worth the price.
Full disclosure, we didn’t pay for the event as Melissa, Michaela and I received them from a friend. I’d love to say that this website was the reason why and Disney wants us at every single event! Alas, we really just got lucky more than anything. In general, I have a hard time stomaching the cost of these events and this particular one didn’t pique my interest. As much as we’d love to go and review all of them, that’s simply not feasible.
While I understood the appeal of the Grad Nite Reunion theme, it didn’t hit my nostalgic heartstrings quite like other things Disney has produced. I didn’t grow up in the area and, sadly, didn’t go to Disneyland to celebrate my graduation. Instead, that night was spent in a friend’s backyard playing music too loud and keeping whatever farm animals that lived next door awake. That’s better than Disneyland? Right?..
As a whole, I’m glad that Disney carries on the tradition of Grad Nites (I’m very tired of spelling nights like that) and has for decades. Returning for the ‘reunion’ with some long lost high school buddies would be a blast I’m sure, if you were lucky enough to experience it back in high school.
Even without the history, Grad Nite Reunion was fun! Like most of these After Hours events, much of the entertainment centered around character meet & greets. We arrived to the event about an hour before it actually started as we could get into DCA at 5 even though the event started at 8. After walking around for a bit, we took some photos with the ticket stub photo op before getting a bite to eat at Flo’s.
There were a few specialty food items offered. We tried a meatloaf sandwich at Flo’s that was quite good but very heavy. I’d be happy to see it added to the usual menu! We also had a lemon sorbet cookie sandwich later in the night from Clarabelle’s. That was a real winner too! After dinner, we happened upon a friendly face in the back of Cars Land.
Against all odds, it appears that Mater graduated. By the way, Michaela and Melissa went a little retro with their outfits. I had no clothes that really fit the bill so I am lame.
There were a number of character meet & greets along the Paradise Gardens walkway. One of the best was Captain Hook in detention!
The event didn’t seem very crowded, at least compared to some hard ticket events we’ve attended. That’s probably a big reason why we were given the tickets in the first place! But it made for short lines at the rides, as we were able to do Toy Story Mania, Incredicoaster, and Mission: BREAKOUT! without much of a wait. Melissa and Michaela rode Goofy’s Sky School too but I didn’t want to risk immediate death on that night. Speaking of Goofy!
One of the highlights of the night was meeting Mike and Sulley. They each had gangly arms that were extremely long. I was a big fan of that, as it was a little bit goofy and endearing. Somehow I accidentally bumped my camera settings and took a black and white picture of Mike. It makes him look even more classy.
Sulley really pulled us in tight. He loves us!
Another highlight was the mini-parade, charmingly called a pep rally. Mickey led cheerleaders, a marching band, a glee club and a host of characters down the parade route. While the whole thing was on the short side it was a blast. If it had been twice as long, I think it would have been a really strong parade! As it was, I’m glad they included it in the night’s festivities as it broke up the character meets.
They even had my man Max looking stylish as ever!
We did a few more character meets, dancing to a DJ and a photo op with a bus throughout the night. Frustratingly, they capped Mickey and Minnie’s line about an hour and 15 minutes before the event ended so we didn’t get to see them in their cap and gowns. They were very cute though and we did get to meet Donald and Daisy.
As I mentioned, the event wasn’t very full and I wonder if this particular theme wasn’t broad enough to bring in a crowd. The Star Wars Nites sold out fast and it seemed as if the Villains and Sweethearts Nites did good business, as well. Two of those three were held in Disneyland and so that might play a role in attendance. I’m sure it’s a number of factors that went in to Grad Nite Reunion not being as popular.
I wouldn’t expect it to return next year at this rate though, as the other themes seem broader and more successful. Maybe at a reduced price (tickets were in excess of $150) the reunion would be more appealing. I’d like to see them add a few more perks, like complimentary snacks and drinks to the parties too.
For those that love character meet & greets, these parties are likely more interesting. I enjoy the rare characters and unique settings but I don’t think it’s worth the cost in any way. Merriest Nites had a few more entertainment options that were intriguing so I preferred that party but it did cost more, unsurprisingly.
All in all, we had a great time at DCA’s Grad Nite Reunion. Is it worth the cost? No. But it’s a unique setting with some fun music being played throughout the park and characters dressed up in their school best. We’ll see how many of these After Hour events return in 2023!
What do you think of the After Hours Events? Let us know, along with any questions you might have in the comments below! Interested in a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Trip Reports