Date Nites at Disneyland

Date Nites Begin at Disneyland

This day in 1957 literally changed Disney theme parks as we know them today with the premiere of Date Nite at Disneyland. For Disneyland’s first two years it was primarily a daytime park, but beginning in May 1957 it would begin nighttime operation, daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. A month later, with the new Date Nite concept, it would extend its operating hours until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and for the first time attempt to attract young dating couples as a dating hot spot. Couples could purchase Date Nite discounted tickets which permitted admission only after 5 p.m. Initial planning for Date Nite presented challenges, such as which attractions, shops, and restaurants would remain open during that time, but it was Walt Disney himself who insisted that as long as the park is open, any guests must experience the full Disneyland show, and thus all should remain open. With a large enough space for a band and dancing as well as an adjacent food and beverage facility, Carnation Plaza Gardens became the chosen central Date Nite location. The local Elliott Brothers band was brought in as the Date Niters, who could perform everything from the slow dances to rock ‘n’ roll to the La Raspa, which became a Date Nite tradition. With the new extended hours, nighttime entertainment and the opportunity for romantic rides in the cool moonlight, Date Nite also launched Disneyland’s first fireworks show. Undoubtedly, Date Nite not only led the way for theme parks worldwide but opened the doors to later nighttime entertainment, such as Disney’s Electrical Parade, Fantasmic! , and the all-new World of Color at Disney California Adventure.