It seems only fitting that Disney's new adaptation of Cinderella has come out around the same time as prom season. The similarities between the story and prom are undeniable. Overworked, dress-code-tired upperclassmen are granted one night a year to leave their suburban drudgery behind and celebrate being young and beautiful. And just like Cinderella's ball, the magical evening eventually has to come to an end and usually before midnight.
Many students get around the midnight deadline and continue the party by getting a hotel for the night. Living in one of the tourism capitals of America, there are plenty of hotels to choose from, but not all of them post-prom friendly.
Alex Adair is a senior at St. Petersburg High who rented a room with a group of friends for her first prom last year.
"We chose to get a hotel in order to not disturb our parents in the late hours and to have a definite place to come back and sleep while we are all still able to enjoy each other's company," Adair said.
"I stayed at the Hilton (downtown), but I've also stayed in the Hampton Inn. The Hampton Inn is more lenient about high schoolers purchasing hotel rooms, since the Hilton is more of a business hotel."
Adair plans to get a room after prom this year and split the cost with her friends.
The Vinoy Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg is arguably one of the most well-known hotels in the area. General manager Barbara Ready, says that most teens stay away from the Vinoy.
"Prom season happens to be the same time as the Vinoy's peak season. Prices rise high enough that the average teenager would rather go somewhere else," she said.
Cost is a main factor in the decision whether or not to get a hotel room.
"Prom is already expensive enough," says Eddi Bradley, a senior at St. Petersburg High. "I am not looking to spend another 200 bucks for a room 20 minutes away from my house."
It is virtually impossible to check into a hotel as a minor. This is mostly because contracts signed by minors are not legally enforceable, so teens could hypothetically leave a completely trashed room without paying. Even with most hotels strictly enforcing this policy, students continue to find loopholes. The most common loophole requires a little help from mommy and daddy.
"I stayed at the Tradewinds after last year's prom," said Margot Ash, a senior at St. Petersburg High. "One of the girls had her mom put it in her name on her credit card. We all just paid her back about forty dollars in cash."
A major reason for teens to get a room is to continue the party after the dance officially ends.
"It's easier to hang out if you are all are going to the same place to sleep," said Jalen Randle, a senior at Lakewood High. "You don't have to worry about taking someone home who lives across town".
For most, prom is one of the last times that they will get to be all be in the same place with their friends.
As the tagline of the Disney blockbuster disaster Prom says, "The prom is like the Olympics of high school. You wait four years, three people have a good time and everybody else gets to live on with shattered dreams."