One thing most people don’t know about me was that I was on the Disney grounds during Senior Night (they call it Grad Nite now), 1994. Did you know that Disney World has a tradition where seniors from all over the U.S. can come to the Magic Kingdom and stay overnight on the grounds? They bring with them sleeping bags, and they can enjoy the park for that one night all night long. It’s a sight to see (and I wish I could have gotten a picture), all those sleeping bags lined up in neat, orderly rows throughout the park. It’s also something most people don’t get to see.
But I saw it. I was a senior in 1994 (well, sort of — that’s a tale for another blog entry), and I spent three straight days (and nights) on the Disney grounds. However, even though I was at Disney while Senior Night was going on, I didn’t get to participate in it. Well, I got to participate a small bit, but on the other side of it. You see, at Senior Night, since it’s an all-night party, there are usually musical guests who regal the campers with popular songs all night. In 1994, two of the biggest hip-hop/r&b acts were Zhane, and XScape, both of whom were playing that night.
And I got to meet them because I was a member of the VIP for the event, and for every other event during that three day period in the Magic Kingdom. You see, Burger King had this contest for schools that had to do with a Black Americans of Achievement board game that they were testing out and co-sponsoring with Disney. Out of hundreds of public schools in the Northeast, my school was picked, and my partner and I won the school-wide competition, so we represented our school at the grand nationwide competition at Disney World. All expenses paid, and we got to stay inside the Disney resort itself, at one of their exclusive hotels.
The biggest thing about it was that the monorail went right past my hotel room door. It was amazing. We had all-access passes to all the parks, so any time of day or night (when we weren’t doing publicity for the game, or the competition itself) we could hop on the monorail and be at any of the parks in moments, no questions asked. It was amazing, feeling the glory of that VIP treatment, having people stare at me like I was famous (because all they knew, I could have been), with the cameras following us around, filming pretty much everything.
So, the night of Senior Night we were there on a publicity outing. We had just partied inside with a Zhane concert (where they created a dance floor just for us), but we also had to go outside to the main stage where Zhane and XScape were doing a concert together at midnight. We were filmed for the entire show, so we had to look excited, even if we weren’t into that type of music, which some of my newfound friends from California were not. They did tell me some cool stories of Disneyland, though.
Before the outdoor concert on the big stage, we had a few minutes of time where we didn’t have to be anywhere, so I grabbed a couple of other contestants and we went through the rows of sleeping bags and had a good time talking to the seniors, who really were from all over, just like we were. It was so exciting getting to know people from far away (if only for a brief space in time), and it was cool for me to be able to say for all time that I was at Disney Senior Night (if only for a brief space in time).
Oh, and the concert rocked.