"I was a freshman when I moved out for Suite Life and now my best friend has her graduation ceremony a week after [my] graduation episode so it's kind of bizarre," she tells TVGuide.com. "Filming the finale, in addition to crying and hugging each other, we were talking about what's next in our lives. We're all so happy to see what we're all going to go out and do."
After three seasons and over 70 episodes of Seven Seas High School on the S.S. Tipton, Bailey (Ryan) and twins Cody (Cole Sprouse) and Zack (Dylan Sprouse) are leaving the. But the series finales isn't without its ups and downs. A week before the final docking, the ship's manager Mr. Moseby (Phil Lewis) learns the S.S. Tipton is closing and being dismantled, and couple Cody and Bailey finally find out if they've both been accepted to Yale.
Ryan hints that the pair may have a major decision to make mid-episode. "You get to see Cody and Bailey overcome this major obstacle and really see love triumph," she says. "If any couple could handle this sort of thing it would be Cody and Bailey."
Although the ending ties up some loose ends, Ryan says, "It also gives you some creative freedom with what's going to happen next in their lives." The actress has her own ideas about what Bailey would be doing years from now.
"I would love to see Bailey starting her own company, doing something she had no idea she was good at," she says. "By going on the S.S. Tipton she really saw the world and saw all the opportunities that there are out there. So being an entrepreneur or a super successful CEO, that would be really great."
Would future Bailey remain with future Cody? "Definitely," she says. "I think her and Cody are going to be together until the end of time." She also "absolutely adores" the idea of doing a reunion movie down the line.
While the Sprouse brothers and Ryan's best friend from home are all heading to college in the fall, the 17-year-old actress will also continue her career. She'll star in her own series for Disney Channel called Jessie and is heavily involved behind-the-scenes. The new show follows a starry-eyed teen (Ryan) who relocates from rural Texas to New York City to explore life outside her small town. It'll be the first time a Disney series is set around an 18-year-old, just out of high school.
"Suite Life was my high school experience. Now it's time to take what we've learned and apply it somewhere else — for me that's going to be Jessie," she says. Ryan says she's been involved in everything from wardrobe to casting to even changing character names in the script.
Although Ryan was ready to say goodbye to Deck and hello to Jessie, she says it was extremely difficult to leave.
"All the tears in the goodbye scene, those were real," she says. "It was the last scene we filmed. You see not only how much the characters are going to miss each other, but how much as actors we're going to miss each other."
The Suite Life on Deck finale airs Friday at 8/7c on Disney Channel.
Watch our video interview with Ryan from the Kids' Choice Awards in which she teases the tearful graduation episode.