Disney GradNite @ WDW Magic Kingdom 5/2-5/3

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, May 4, 2003 10:36 AM
Our high school senior class took a trip to Disney this past Friday Night. The cost was $100, which included the ticket into the park and the bus fare to and from Orlando from Atlanta. We pulled out of the school parking lot at about 12:30 PM Friday, and we made great time down there, getting to Disney at about 8:20 PM, including a stop in Valdosta, GA to eat and change clothes. I was disappointed we were heading to Disney when we passed IOA at sunset (where I had never been). Since the event did not start until 10 PM, we hung out at Downtown Disney for about 45 minutes before heading to Magic Kingdom.

As we approached MK, there were literally miles of busses waiting to get in. However, the park staff handled the many busses very efficiently. After receiving our tickets and going through security, we made it into the park at about 9:55 PM. Securtiy was tight, and the GradNite dress code was strictly enforced: no denim, no shorts, dress pants, dress shoes/clean sneakers, collared shirt which must be tucked in. The park was not packed, but it certainly was not uncrowded. This was my first visit to any Disney park since I last visited MK, which was when I was about 2 y/o.

Right at 10:00, fireworks over the castle followed a Countdown to the official beginning of GradNite 2003, although the event is hosted about 8 times each year. First stop was Tommorowland, where my group of 5 headed. Space Mountain was first.

Fastpass was not used for GradNite, but it didn't really matter (yet) as the line for SM was about 15 minutes. I really did not know what to expect, never remembering any ride at the park except for "it's a small world." I was extremely surprised by the theming in the queue, station, and especially the surroundings of the ride. I was also surprised by the length of the ride. Overall, it was an excellent ride with nice speed and many surprising turns and drops. I would definitely re-ride later.

As we headed along to Splash Mountain, we decided to hit pretty much everything along the way. The first stop was the Indy 500 ride, which really sucked compared to any real Go-Karts, especially with the car I got. The cars were slower than typical go-carts, and there is a metal track which cannot be deviated from. My car, however, made this ride much worse. As I pulled out of the station, my steering wheel was stuck, and I could not turn. As soon as I hit a curve and hit the metal track underneath, my steering wheel came COMPLETELY LOOSE from the wheel column. I had no choice but to move my slow car through the course, bouncing back and forth (probably damaging my car further) on the metal guide rail. Talk about humiliation.

We followed up by taking a spin on the infamous tea cups. We managed to get a pretty good spin going, but we felt much dizzier when we stopped the spinning and sat stationary for a moment, so we continued spinning! Next was the Dumbo ride, which was located next to one of the few "dance zones" throughout the park. While the ride was nothing special, we did ride as Sean Paul's "Gimme the Light" was playing loudly, which was interesting. Although I don't particularly like rap music, the artist has the exact same name I do. Next was "it's a small world" which drove me as crazy just as it did in the mid 80's. The wait was about 10 min.

We waited about 20 min. for Haunted mansion, which stopped mid-ride for about 15 minutes because some a-hole thought it would be funny to get out of his car. The ghosts were definitely real looking, and made me wonder about how they do that so well. The ride was not at all scary. We finally got into Frontierland, where the wait was about 30 minutes for Splash Mountain. The queue/station was nicely themed, but the on-ride theming was once again too childish for a parkful of HS seniors. The ride itself was very good, however, especially the final drop and the non-splash drop about mid-ride.

After that, we hit the other coaster in the park (that was open), BTMRR. I was unimpressed by the ride, which to me seemed like repetitive helices at mediocre speeds. Perhaps the theming would have been more appealing during the day.

It was about 2 AM now, and we were all getting hungry. We ate at a pretty big hamburger/chicken wrap restaurant, where I got a cheeseburger, fries, and root beer float, which cost about $9.00. Expensive, yes, but it could have been worse. The food was definitely some of the best park food I've ever had, especially with the free sauted onions and mushrooms I piled on my burger. It was about 2:30 AM, meaning 90 minutes left until the park closed. This also meant we wouldn't have time to do everything left considering I had to do Space Mountain again. We decided to split up and meet back at Space Mountain at 3:00. This left me time to go play DDR on the Disney machine next to Space Mountain. I played with a few different people who were about at my skill level, but this mix is old, has no good songs, and had one very stubborn button. I still spent about $7on it, though ;). At three, I met back up with half of my group and we rode Space Mountain again, as the wait was down to about 10 minutes. I picked up some souvineers, got a drink, and rode Space Mountain once more just before the line closed at 3:45 AM. This time I was assigned to the left side, as opposed to the right side the two previous times. The ride was even more suprising as the turns were in the opposite direction as I expected. However, this particular ride was FAST. I definitely think that brakes were not activated where they were before, as we simply FLEW over the double dip that parallels the lift hill. Major ejector air.

As I headed out the exit of the ride, I headed back to the bus while taking in some of the magnificently lit up sights of the park. Overall,GradNite was an excellent event with plenty to do, even for those that do not want to ride. Many from our school rode nothing, as they just did other stuff like dance, go to the concerts (Default, Daniel Beddington, and Mario; New Found Glory plays next week), or do karaoke. Also, the staff was very courteous, which surprised me. I would not like to be working at 3:00 in the morning. Anyways, we took the monorail back to our bus, and quickly fell asleep for our long ride home. We got back to Atlanta at about 11:30. I had a blast, and reccommend any other future HS seniors talk to their senior advisor about doing this trip. I know there was at least one school from New York.

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Sean Paul
CP Screw Crew 2003

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Sunday, May 4, 2003 2:24 PM
Do you know if it was from Central New York, I think my high school does that?
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Monday, May 5, 2003 4:31 PM
I don't know where in New York they were from, but I do know that most of the people there were from Florida.

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Sean Paul
CP 'Screw Crew 2003

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