This past Friday Brandon Glover (of the Universal NOW! podcast on the TouringPlans.com network) and I went to The Night of Joy party held at the Magic Kingdom. We’ve both been to other hard ticketed events at the park including Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but neither of us had been to this particular event, which is a celebration of contemporary Christian music.
The Night of Joy parties take place from 7:30 PM to 1:00 AM, but we were happy to find out that – just like the Halloween and Christmas events – if you have a ticket to the party, you can start entering the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 PM. There is signage pointing ticket holders to an entrance towards the right side of the turnstile area, and you are given a special bracelet to wear.
Ticket prices were $65 (plus tax) at the gate ($55 if you pre-ordered online), and I would consider the “bonus” hours you can get before the party officially starts to add a lot of overall value to the ticket. We were able to ride Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Journey of the Little Mermaid and more before Night of Joy even began.
When the party did start at 7:30 PM, one of the first things we checked out was the exclusive merchandise that was on sale during the event. Unlike the other hard ticket parties, there were not that many items to be found, just a couple t-shirts for $23 each and a pin for $10. You could also buy a shirt/pin combo for $30. There was nothing available for any of the individual music acts that were performing over the course of the weekend.
There are three outdoor stages set up to hold concerts: the Cinderella Castle stage, the Galaxy stage, and the Rockettower stage, with the latter two being in the Tomorrowland area. A fourth area, called the New Talent Spotlight, was held inside the Diamond Horseshoe restaurant over in Frontierland.
The headline acts for the night played in front of the castle. These acts were: Steven Curtis Chapman & Michael W. Smith, MercyMe, and Skillet. This was the first time that Chapman and Curtis – two Christian music legends and long time veterans of playing at Night of Joy as solo acts – performed on the same stage at the event. It was pretty special.
Brandon was a big fan of the band Audio Adrenaline, so while Chapman and Smith were drawing in the big crowds at the hub we headed over to the Galaxy stage. Adrenaline played all of their biggest hits, including “Big House” “Ocean Floor” and “Hands and Feet.” There were varying amounts of rain coming down for a large portion of the night, and Kevin Max – lead singer of Adrenaline – was wearing a rain coat and singing in the rain the entire time.
While walking around we heard Steven Curtis Chapman playing “Dive” while noting that it was ironic considering the downpour he was playing in at the time. We also noticed a gigantic line for the singer Mandisa.
There was a live DJ performing inside Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe from Hot 95.9 (“Orlando’s positive hip hop station”), and instead of background music in the park, the Christian radio station Z88.3 was being played.
There are a limited number of attractions open during the party, but these included almost all the major rides and the entirety of New Fantasyland (except Be Our Guest). Attractions that were not open included Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Tom Sawyer Island, and the Hall of Presidents. The Walt Disney World Railroad and Liberty Square Riverboat were not running, either.
Pretty much everything was a walk on with the exception of Space Mountain, which averaged around 30-40 minutes, most likely because there was so much in the area drawing crowds in. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was maybe 15 minutes, but even attractions like Peter Pan were at less than 10 minutes. For ride junkies these hard ticket events can be a dream come true.
The main event for us was Skillet, and they did not disappoint. Using fireworks, smoke machines, and other forms of ballyhoo, Skillet put on a show. They played some of their biggest numbers, including “Monster” and “Hero.” This was AMAZING to watch live.
Overall both Brandon and I agreed that we would definitely do the Night of Joy again in the future. I’ve heard some horror stories in the past about rowdy kids in the park during the party, but outside of some of the attraction queues, we didn’t see anything we don’t see any other day at Disney or Universal. Everyone was well behaved for all the concerts, and no one even seemed upset at the constant rain. I personally love being able to do Magic Kingdom attractions with little to no wait, and it’s the only time in Disney parks that I get to experience what it is like using Express Pass Unlimited at Universal. I actually prefer to do hard ticket events to your standard day at the Magic Kingdom as I feel like I get a lot more bang for my buck.
An early reminder: the 2014 Night of Joy will take place on Friday, September 5, and Saturday, September 6.