S '64 Grad Nite

Grad Night 1964, Disneyland’s First All-Nighter

As our first act as high school graduates, adults, what did we do? We went to Disneyland. Friday, June 18, 1964 started what would become an almost 50 year tradition for Southern California high school seniors – GRAD NITE!

Earlier in the school year, an effort had been mounted to arrange a Disney grad nite for our winter ’64 friends, but it fell short when not enough schools expressed an interest in participating.


Following graduation ceremonies, those of going to grad night, had to hurry home to change (“date dress for girls, coat and tie for boys”) and then return to the school for the drive to Disneyland.

The cost of the grad night ticket was $6.50 and a $1.50 for the bus. At the school a fleet of yellow buses and our chaperones were awaiting our arrival. Although the park was open for only six hours, it was a much longer experience. It seems as if we spent at least six hours waiting for, boarding, riding, and debarking buses. Speaking of buses, the fleet of buses at SGHS paled in comparison to the sea of buses in the Disneyland parking lot - where could anyone find that much "yellow" paint?

The other concurrent event that would add to the first Grad Nite’s excitement was the introduction of the Ford Mustang to the general public, the most successful launch of a new car since the Model A. Lee Iacocco, later to become president of the Ford Motor Company, had been one of the forces behind the original Mustang whose development costs were astronomical. It was said at the time that there was no way the car would flop, because Ford would spend whatever it took in marketing costs to make it a success. And Disneyland was the happy recipient of Ford’s marketing windfall. A brand-new, silver Mustang.