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Busch Gardens to hold first-ever Grad Nite for seniors

TAMPA — Grad Nite is back, but it won't be at Disney.

Busch Gardens Tampa will hold its first-ever 12th Grade Grad Nite on April 27 and 28 next year.

The theme park already has been hosting an eighth-grade Grad Nite for four years.

"This has been in the works for a while," said Kelly Heckinger, a spokeswoman for the park. "We had such success with our eighth-grade night that we wanted to expand."

Disney's Magic Kingdom this year ended a 39-year tradition that allowed Florida's high school seniors to come, hear live music such as New Kids on the Block or Katy Perry and have the theme park to themselves well into the night.

But when spring visitors picked up at the Orlando fixture, the company said it was too difficult to close the park just for the seniors.

Disneyland, the California park, will continue to stage the events as it has since 1961.

Heckinger said Busch Gardens' Grad Nite will offer coaster rides — like the new Cheetah Hunt — in the dark, as well as high-energy DJs and musical acts to be announced.

Like at its Disney predecessor, seniors will be able to get into Busch Gardens Grad Nite only if they've come with a bus trip. The price is $54.99 and the park will stay open until 2 a.m., Heckinger said.

Eighth-graders will still have their own Grad Nite on May 4, with the park closing at midnight.

Busch Gardens to hold first-ever Grad Nite for seniors 07/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:00am]

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