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Night of Joy Blog
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Trip Report for Rock the Universe 2010

Friday September 10, 2010

After a 2 hour drive to the Kississimee area from South Florida, my brother and I went out for an early breakfast. We had a large southern style meal at the Cracker Barrel across from the giant orange on US 192. After breakfast we headed toward Walt Disney World, specifically Epcot Center. Before we entered the park, we stopped to see if we could upgrade my brothers weekday only ticket to a seasonal pass, but due to insuffient funds we opted only to buy the much more important ticket for the weekend. We bought Night of Joy tickets for the event tomorrow night, (thus still receiving the advance ticket price due to buying the tickets 1 day early).

At Epcot's opening we headed towards the Imagination pavilion and Captain EO. As we were walking through the Innoventions gateway, we noticed that the character greeting had no waiting, so we stopped and had our pictures taken with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. After that we went to the Magic Eye Theater and the revival of Captain EO. While we waited for the show to start, we were the only people in the lobby until about 3 m inutes before showtime. The movie starts with a weird behinds the scenes making of the movie. The movie itself, starring Michael Jackson, was probably best left back in the 1980s.

The only other attraction we experienced at Epcot was the Land's boat ride, Living with the Land.

After Epcot we headed to our hotel to check-in. This hotel was one of the most pleasant check-ins I have ever experienced in the greater Orlando area. It was then on to Universal Orlando and the start of Rock the Universe. Before we went ot the studios park we headed to Universal's Islands of Adventure. We only went on one attraction here, the new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. While I had been on the attraction once before, with an incredibly long wait of over 1 hour, my brother had not since he was unable to fit into the seats. Because my brother thought he wouldn't fit again, I was able to ride in the single riders line and wait for the ride in under ten minutes. Whilst my brother waited at the entrance, he was informed that just starting that day, Universal had added larger seats and my brother was also able to ride. (My brother had been losing weight with one of his goals being able to fit on thsi attraction, and even though there were larger seats, he was able to fit in the regular restraints).

Now, we headed to Universal's Studios Florida for the start of Rock the Universe. We arrived at the park just before 1:00pm. Walking down Hollywood Blvd, we were stopped and asked if we would like to be part of the Family Fued's studio audience. Since the next available taping was at 1:00pm we were just able to make the next show. The Family Fued was a great show to watch being taped, especially with its new host Steve Harvey. Mr Harvey was a great host, interacted while with both the contestants and the audience. During one of the episodes we saw one of the worst answers ever given during the game. The question was what holiday is associated with football. The Answer that was given by the contestant was September. Immediately after saying his response, the contest said "September aint no holiday." This led to Steve Harvey going into about a 30 minute minute comedy bit just about what just happened. It was great.

After the taping it was nearing 4pm and time to get the wrist bands for Rock the Universe. We went to the front of the park to exchange our tickets, but there as told by one of the cast members, we would have had to exit the park fior the exchange. The in park wristband exchange was over near Mel's Drive In. We check the performance schedule and as opposed to other years at Rock the Universe the first concert was not scheduled until 6:00pm. To pass the time, we went and had a pint at Finnegan's. There we sat and watched a local musician entertain the crowds. Interestingly, there was a few advertisments around the bar for people to stay for Rock the Universe. After Finnegan's, I went to watch the horror make-up show. It had been updated since the last time I had seen it with clips from the Wolfman movie now being used to illustrate computer graphic imaging.

After that we decided to just sit and wait for our fisrt concert of the night which was Kutless on the Hollywood stage. Kutless started their set my playing mostly praise and worship songs, playing covers of other bands like Third Day and Casting Crowns. During this part of the performance it started to drizzle a little bit. The rain created a most spectacular rainbow above the Pantages Theater (where the make-up show and the youth leader lounge were located). Many people saw the rainbow, but since it was actually opposite the view toward the stage Kutless did point it out to those in the audience that might have missed it. Around this time Kutless started playing some of their own hits, more of the heavy rock songs they are know for. Unfortunately, the rain then started to really pick up. While Kutless continued to play through the rain, lightning started to be seen in the area. Kutless themselves would have continued their performance but Universal's powers that be shut them down.

Since the rain was not letting up, and we had not eaten since that morning, we went to get dinner. We opted to go to the International Food and Film Festival, the counter service resturant near the SImpsons Ride. There we both ate the asian orange chicken. I was glad I had an annual pass to Universal as it did give me about a four dollar discount on the meal (it was still pricey though). After the meal, we went and checked out the merchandise booths at Battery Park. The only thing I usually collect were guitar strap pins, but none of the bands seemed to have those this year. I was interested in the drumsticks from the Newsboys, but the price was beyond what I thought was reasonable.

Since much of the crowd was gone due to the rain, we decided to wait for the next show at the Hollywood Stage. Before the next music performer came out, a speaker, Will Tant, a professional surfboarder, came and gave his testimony. His testimony was about losing his brother due to an aortic anerism. Due to this loss, he decided to have both himself and his parents checked out. He found out that both him and his parents had the same condition. He was told by his doctors that he could not surf for at least a year. Although this was some of the worst news he said he could have heard, he did eventually accept the fact that he might not be able to surf again. Thankfully, he listened to God's plan for his life and was blessed even more by going through his suffering and eventually was able to continue doing what he loved.

At the conclusion of Will Tant's speech Hawk Nelson was supposed to take the stage. Unfortunately, the rain and the lightning came back in full force. And while we stood by the stage, getting more drenched than I had been in my life, we decided to wait out the weather. It was about an hour before the weather cooperated enough for Hawk Nelson to take the stage. Even though I had never seen Hawk Nelson live before, I did really enjoy the show they put on.

Next up on the Hollywood Stage was professional NFL kicker Matt Stover. The testimony that he gave was about letting God's plan take its own time. He said he had oppertunies to play on differnt NFL teams such as the Browns, the Jets, and others but refused to take away positions held by other NFL kickers he was friends with. In the end he ended up on the Super Bowl winning Indiannapolis Colts. We became the oldest NFL player to appear in any Super Bowl, thanks to his patience and allowing God to work in His own time.

The Newsboys then took the stage. Thanks to the rain we were able to get within about 3 rows from the front of the stage for this performance. The Newsboys with their new lead singer, Micheal Tate, formerly of DC Talk, put on a great show. However, due to the delays they had to cut out a few songs from their set list. It was the Newboy's cover of the old DC Talk song "Jesus Freak" that seemed to be the most enjoyed by the audience. We stayed after the end of the Newsboy's concert and while we missed our chance at one of the drum sticks thrown out to the crowd, by brother was able to get one of the set lists. On the set list it was obvious that the Newsboy had cut out at least 3 songs from their performance.

We next headed to catch the end of Skillet's performance on the Universal Music Plaza Stage. Skillet's show was quite the spectacle due to the use of rising platforms and different colored pyrotechnics. Due to the fact that we had watched all of the Newsboys show , the closest we were able to get to the stage was near the Monster Cafe drink stand. Still it was a great end to a great Rock the Universe.

 

 


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 12:01 AM EDT
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Sunday, 20 September 2009
Night of Joy 2009 trip report Saturday

After a fantastic night last night at Night of Joy 2009, we decided to sleep in a little bit for the start of Saturday.

The first thing we did was go to the Walgreens near our hotel since I needed to buy a new SD card for my camcorder as I had filled the one I had during last nights event. Walgreens was running a special on the 4GB card and that was the one I bought. We went to Downtown Disney, this time to the Marketplace instead of the Westside we went to yesterday. We parked by Team Mickey, and found out that guests were no longer allowed into the entrance on the parking lot side. This would not been that big of a deal except that it had started to rain quite a bit at this point. While at the Marketplace I decided to test the SD card I had purchased from Walgreens. It was a good thing that I did, since it did not read in my camcorder. Due to this we went back to the Walgreens where I purchased the card, and luckily I was able to exchange it for one that did work, although the only one my camera would read was a 2GB card.

Since it was then around lunch time we headed out to the Crossroads Plaza across 535 from Downtown Disney. We had planned on eating at the McDonald's there. The McDonald's however was overwhelmed by a large portion of church buses and youth groups, and we did not feel like waiting in that huge line. Instead, we went to the Quiznos in the same plaza and even though it was the closest neighbor resturant to McDonald's, we were the only customers there. The food at Quiznos was great and not much more than if we had eaten at McDonald's.

After lunch we went ahead and parked at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It was probably about 1:30pm and since we had at least 2 hours to kill, we went over to the boardwalk. We were going to take the friendship launch over to the Boardwalk, but there was at least a 2 boatload wait at the dock, so instead we walked. We went to the ESPN Club, with the intention of playing some of the arcarde games there. Unfortunately, the ESPN Club's arcarde was much smaller than we had remembered and did not find games we wanted to play. Instead, we headed over to the Yaught and Beach Club and found their much larger and better arcade. We played several games here, but mostly Air Hockey, the Pirates of the Caribean pinball, and some games of skill. Even after playing the arcade we still had time to kill so we did a walking tour, including the Swan and Dolphin, and walked back to the Studios.

At the Studios park, we again were the first people in the Night of Joy line, so spent time talking the Cast Members about Disney's take over of Marvel comics and other things. Some of the guests that were next to us were people we had met yesterday at the Joyful Conversation with the Newsboys. Once again we had to wait for the Pixar parade to clear before we were let into the park. It was more fun watching the Cast Members dance to the music than the actual parade.

Once the gate opened, we headed immediately to the Rock and Roller Coaster, and agian used the single riders line. Unlike yesterday however, even the single riders line extended outside the building. We did wait, but only rode once. We then went and rode the Great Movie Ride. It was a complete walk on. After that we saw the second to last regualar day show of the American Idol Experience. It was the first time I had seen the show, not being a fan of the television show, but overall, not too bad for a theme park attraction. There were three contestants, all with very large groups of supporters. Two of the performers did well, but one was very nervous on stage. The male contestant was the winner of the show.

We then went and got a small snack at the Backlot Express again. We went back to the Amercial Idol Experience to try to catch the final for the normal day guest shows, but arrived too late as the theater was already full and there was a substainal standy by line. We instead headed to Muppet VIsion 3-D as it is near the Premiere Theater for a Joyful Conversation. In the Muppet show, we arrived just as the preshow was starting, meaning that there was about a 15 minute wait before the main show.

After the Muppet show, we went and lined up for a Joyful Conversation. The guidemap indicated that instead of Skillet, like what was listed on Disney's press release, the first interview would be Flyleaf. The waiting line was moved from the Muppets overflow and instead was right next to the Premiere Theater, presumably for better crowd control. The Cast Members did inform guests waiting in line of the change to the schedule if people were unaware. It was about 15 minutes before the scheduled start time of the interview that we were informed that Flyleaf was not going to be the group interview, and it would instead be John Cooper, the lead singer of Skillet. Only a few guests left the line while told of this change. To see the interview of John Cooper please check out the <a href="http://nightofjoy2000.tripod.com/video.htm">video page</A> on this website.

After the Joyful Conversation, we headed over to the Sorcerer's Hat Stage for Flyleaf's first set. The crowd was huge in the area. By the time we arrived, we were standing on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Keystone Clothiers building. It was nearly impossible to see the performers on the stage from our vantage point. We did stay for about 2 songs of Flyleaf's set, but because they did not song very good, (presumably due to some sort of voice problem, possibly the reason they cancelled their appearance at a Joyful Conversation), we decided to go check out other bands.

We checked the schedule and decided to go see MercyMe's second set on the Lights Motors Action stage. It was here that our Night of Joy wristbands were checked before entering a venue, the only time during the entire weekend that our wristbands were checked. Since it was raining we decided to sit in the covered bleachers away from the stage. This did have the advantage of being able to see the video screen above the stage much better. MercyMe's stage setup included several LED light screens that projected, video, light patterns, or lyrics to their songs. It was in the middle of MercyMe's set that they said that they had both good news and great news. The good news was that MercyMe had been invited back to play at Night of Joy 2010, and the great news was that Night of Joy 2010 would be moved back to the Magic Kingdom.

After MercyMe's set, there was an annoucement that the crowds had to leave as they needed a forklift to be brought in to move the stage set-up. After a few minutes they said those of us in the bleachers could stay. (Although, when I tried just to use the restroom the Cast Member was going to force me to leave the auditorium). When the crowd that was waiting outside was let in my brother went down to get closer to the stage. I didn't want to get into a huge sweaaty crowd for Skillet and at first decided to stay in the bleachers. Disney then made an announcement over the loud speakers that "Moshing, Crowd Surfing, and Stage Diving are not allowed. We know doing them is fun, but it is strickly prohibited." This announcement was not used during last nights shows and was presumably added due to the crowds at the P.O.D. concert. Since I knew the crowd wouldn't get too crazy for the show I went down to find my brother. He was not standing as close as I thought he would and was actually standing directly in front of the sound control booth. This did have the advantage of being able to lean against the crowd barriers during the show.

Skillet started by having the stage go dark, and making the announcement that they would not be responsible for "rocking your face off." They did put on a great show that included both some of Skillet's standards like "Comatose" and "Last Night", and included new material like "Monster." Skillet did have some insane fans, from the usual panheads, to one fan who dressed up in bandages like the cover of Skillet's lastest release "Awake."

After Skillet's set we went to try and see Family Force 5 over on the Theater of the Stars. The crowds were pretty heavy walking through the park. We did see the end of Jars of Clay's first set on the Sorcerer's Hat Stage, where they played their huge hit "Flood." Since Family Force 5 was still in the middle of their first set no one was allowed into the theater. Due to the number of guests waiting for the show, and the fact that my brother was not impressed by what we could hear of their set, we decided to go catch Skillet's second set.

I am glad that we did go catch Skillet's second set. We did sit in the bleachers this time, so that we could get a different vantage point on the show. During this set, while Skillet did play many of the same songs from the first set they did change a lot of it up. Also there was a great 10 minute drum solo from their drummer. Most surprising was at the end of one of the songs John Cooper tried to spin his bass around, but his strap broke and his bass went flying across the stage. Still, they were able to overcome this by having a second bassist and they continued with another great show.

Night of Joy 2009, was a great success to me, with Friday being my favorite night ever at any Night of Joy. I want to thank Disney, all of the bands, and the cast members that helped make Night of Joy 2009 one great experience.

 

 

 


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 8:31 PM EDT
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Saturday, 19 September 2009
Night of Joy 2009 trip report (Friday Sept 11)

Night of Joy 2009 was one of the best weeknds that I have experienced in my 20 years of attending the event. This post is going to be my trip report from the entire weekend.

One Friday, September 11, my brother and I left from South Florida and drove up to, not Disney World, but Universal Studios for the morning. I wanted to both check out Universal Studio's setup for their Christian rock event, Rock the Universe, and to check out Universal Studios newest rollercoaster, the Hollywood Rip Ride and Rocket. The coaster was not in operation when we arrived at the park, and did not start operation until about 11:15am. There was a sign that the coaster's line would be cut off at 5:00pm in order to be cleared by the time the concerts at Rock the Universe started. When the ride did open, there was a nearly 45 minute wait that soon expanded to nearly 2 hours. We did ride once and afterwards, found out they opened a single riders line. When decided to ride again, this time in the singles line, and there was still about a 30 minute wait. After that we went and toured around Universal Studios and rode the Mummy coaster, Men In Black Alien Attack,and the Simpsons Ride.

After that we headed out and checked into our hotel on the west side on Walt Disney World on US 192. After settling at the hotel, we had time to kill before going to Night of Joy and went to Downtown Disney. There we spent time in some of the shops in the West Side and realised that we really missed the now defunct location of the Virgin Megastore. After being at Downtown Disney, we headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios for Night of Joy 2009.

We arrived at Disney's Hollywood Studios at about 3:00pm and picked up our will call tickets. Disney did not really have anything set up on the outside of entrance gates and we had to ask where to ask where we would be admitted. It was in the middle of the turnstills. Unfortunately, there was no signs telling normal day guests to the park that those turnstills were for the special event, and there were many confused people not realising that they had to use the far left gates. The wait was not that bad in front of the park as we could see the Pixar parade go by. We also used to time to plan which concerts we wanted to see. With the time schedule we were given we learned that Disney would be having a showing a Fantasmic!, which they did not do last year. (Or on most days this year for regular guests) After the parade had cleared, Disney started letting in Night of Joy guests in at about 3:45pm, and handed each guest a wristband.

The first attraction that we headed to was the Twilight Zone Tower of Tower as we knew that it would have much longer wait times later in the day as moer Night of Joy guests arrived. The Tower of Terror had nearly a walk on wait. However, the side of the line that we picked ended up having a broken elevator, so we had to wait a few cycles of the ride before we could ride. After the Twilight ZOne, we went to the Rockin Roller Coaster. Here, we used the single riders line, and were the only guests that were using it. Due to the fact that no one was using the singles line, we rode the coaster about 3 or 4 times without waitng (The normal line had about a 45 minute wait).

As we were now getting hungry, we went to find a place to eat. We ended up at the Backlot Express, next to Star Tours. We both had the salad (which after eating I would not recommend). This restuarant did have the advantage of having free refills on its drinks, which was very convenient, and much cheaper than buying single drinks. After dinner, and since it was so close we rode Star Tours. Outside of Star Tours, on the Jedi Training Academy stage, the amatuer performance stage was set up for Night of Joy.

 

We then went to the Backlot Tour, mostly to check out the stage set up on Lights, Motors, Action for Night of Joy. The stage was definately further back than it was during last Night of Joy. The Backlot Tour itself was much worse than it was the last time I had ridden it. Disney had made the decision to eliminate the live tour guide and instead replaced it with a pre-recorded narration.

Since we wanted to see the interview with the Newsboys, we headed to the Premiere Theater. They made the guests waiting for the interview wait in the overflow line for Muppet Vision 3D. We were there early, but it was not that bad of a wait. We were able to sit about 4 rows back from the stage (it would have been the front except Disney had set aside the first few rows for VIP and handicapped guests). The interview was MC'd by Brian and Mary, people who are used a lot by DIsney as hosts at events such as Star Wars Weekends and also attractions like American Idol and the former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The actual interviewers were DJs from the Christian radio station Z88.3. The interview with the Newsboys last about a half an hour and guests were allowed to ask the Newsboys questions at the end of the show.

 

After the Newsboys interview we stayed for the performance af the band Above the Golden State. I had never heard them before, but they put on a decent show. Of note, during their shw they mentioned that they came to the main gate to get into the park and Disney would not let them in that way. (We had seen this happen while we were waiting outside the park, as they came in with all of their gear to the main gate, and we thought it was one of the bands playing on the ametuer stage). Appearntly, they had taken the Friendship boat launch from the Boardwalk area and did not know that it did not give access to the back entrance of the park.

At the end of Above the Golden State's performance we asked the Disney employee if we could stay in the theater for the interview with P.O.D. and they said we could. We were even able to move closer to the stage. P.O.D.s interview was done the same way as the Newsboys. The most interesting question I remember was P.O.D. being asked how many tattoos they had, and Sunny saying he only had one. Also interesting was finding out about backstage at Ozzfest, how many other bands actually had Christian members, and finding out P.O.D.'s muscial influences included bands like Suidical Tendencies and the Bad Brains.

 

We did not stay in the theater and instead headed over to the Lights, Motors, Action Stage for the P.O.D. concert. We were the first guests in line for P.O.D., but were not allowed into the stage as we had to wait both for the Chris Tomlin set to end (which we heard but were not allowed to go in and see) and then wait for most of his crowd to clear. Once we were let in, we headed to the front of the stage. Due to the fact that the entire crowd was not made to entirely clear the venue, we got close to the stage but not right to the absulote front even though we were the first guests let in.


 

P.O.D. put on an awesome show. During the first two songs, most of the area in front of the stage became one big mosh pit. It was when Sunny jumped into the crowd to perform that Disney put a stop to the moshing. Sunny was told to make the announcement that moshing and stage diving was not going to be allowed. Still, even without the moshing being allowed P.O.D. still got the crowd as into their music as much as they could.

After the great P.O.D. show, we headed over to the Sorcerer's Hat stage for the Newsboys. We had to wait a little while for the end of the Newsboy's first set and then we went and got as close as possible to the stage for thier second set. Altough the Newsboys had a new singer in the former DC Talk singer, Micheal Tate, they put on one great show. During their performance of Breakfast, Peter, the former lead singer, came out and performed. Peter did announce that this show was his last official one with the Newsboys, as he was heading back to Australia the next day. The Newsboys ended their show with the old DC Talk song Jesus Freak. At the end the crowd started chanting one more song, one more song. Tate had to ask Disney's representative if they could do an encore as the show had already last while past their allotted time. Disney said yes and they performed an amazing rendition of the classic DC Talk song "In the Light" which lasted about 15 minutes longer.

 

Friday, was the overall best night I have ever had at any Night of Joy.


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 8:07 PM EDT
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Monday, 22 September 2008
Night of Joy 2008 Trip Report

Saturday September 6, 2008

After getting up around 10am, my brother and I decided to skip the theme parks for the morning and instead headed to Downtown Disney and the Market Place. While there we picked up a Darth Mash, a Mr Potato Head dressed up as Darth Maul, for a friend. We also checked out the Art of Disney Store and the Pin Collecting store looking for unique items, but given our limited funds opted not to purchase anything else.

Since we figured that parking for Night of Joy was going to be limited we headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios and even at 11am ended up being parked in what I refer to as the Clark Griswold spot, one of the farthest from the main get. I do not know how bad trying to get a parking spot later in the day was going to be. Seeing as though we did not have normal day tickets to the Disney parks, and Night of Joy guest would not be allowed entry until 4pm we headed over to Disney's Boardwalk resort.

Our first choice for mood of transportation to the Boardwalk was the Friendship boat launch from the Studios. While we waited for the boat to arrive at the dock, the extreme early September tempature felt much hotter than expected, and since it at least felt cooler to be moving, we decided to walk to the BOardwalk instead of waiting for the boat. By the time we walked to the Boardwalk it was lunchtime and so we ate the the ESPN Club. Since it was so hot outside we stayed in the restaruant for quite a while, and walked the first half the the Ohio State vs. Ohio Miami college football game. Surprisingly, Miami was actually winning at the half much to the disappointment of most of the patrons, with the exception of the one Miami of Ohio fan.

After luch we played in the ESPN Club's arcade, mostly playing a football throwing game. Then we went for a walk from the Boardwalk to the International Gateway in Epcot, and continued around Cresant Lake by the Yacht and Beach Club resorts and then back to the Studios to wait for the Night of Joy entry.

At the Stuios gate, Disney had set up entry for Night of Joy to the right side of the entry plaza and were having normal day guests enter to the left. This arrangement really confused most day guests as the did not realize that the now much longer than usual entry line was where they would have to go if they wanted to enter before the 4pm opening for Night of Joy. On a side note, this set up was similiar to what the Studios park did for other events such as Star Wars Weekends, and my brother and I were recognized by some of the Studios cast members as attending the Star Wars Weekends before and they were surprised that we would attend Night of Joy as well. I guess they figured that Star Wars fans would not be Christians or something.

While we were waiting for the gates to open, we did get to watch part of the Pixar Block Party Bash. More interesting to me than the actual performance was the two cast members at the front gate putting on their own small dance routine to the musical numbers. After the parade, the Night of Joy information table was set up in front of crossroads of the world. Then at about 3:45pm the gates were open to all Night of Joy guests. The wristband exchange was inside the park in a backstage area between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.

The first attraction that we headed to was the new Toy Story Mania. When we reached there, there was already a 60 minute waitfor the ride, but we figured that the wait times would just get much worse later in the night. Here is where I saw the first few instances of people behaving badly. As opposed to the perception that Night of Joy guests get, the following examples were from normal Disney park guests. Several guests skipped the line nearly completely, with other guests in line complaining but nothing being done by the castmembers. Also, one guest fell off a railing while sitting on it waiting in line.

As for Toy Story Mania, the Mr Potato Head animatronic was the most impressive thing about it, and he was in the miidle of the queue, not actually part of the ride. The ride involves traveling past several large screens, that then have 3-D projections of various types of shooting galleries. The ride vehicle is equipped with a cannon to shoot the various targets on the screens. The over all feeling on the ride I felt was that I was travelling through the Big Screen Television depart at a local Best Buy. More interesting to me was seeing some of Toby Mac's crew rding in the cars in front of us.

Following the ride we decided to go look at where the entrance to the concerts would be (which we guessed wrong later). Since we were in the New York street area we viewed Muppet Vision 3-D. After that, since the park was nearing its actual closing time of 6pm ,we decided to go visit one of the attractions that would be closed during Night of Joy. We went with the tribute to the life and achievements of Walt DIsney, One Man's Dream. Mostly it is a museum and I enjoyed the small models of some of the various theme park attractions around the world. Sort of depressing to me though was the display of Disney Interactive. In it it was still advertising the Virtual Magic Kingdom, which was a very popular online game that Disney had unceremonesly closed back in May, and here they were still touting it as a current attraction.

One Man's Dream does have a short movie about Walt Dismey's life, but as we wanted to be near the front for Red;s concert we starting heading to the Lights Motors Action stage. We did stop and have a pastry at the Writer' s Stop on New York Street. For the first few minutes in the shop we were the only guests there. Then the 1st of several high school groups entered. While I was sitting on a couch, some of the high schoolers jumped on it and nearly tipped me off. It was then at we went to the front of Lights Motors Action.

At the usual main entrance to the show, it was about 6:10 and asked the cast member at the entrance when guest would be admitted and was told it would be around 6:45. So we just sat around the area waiting for the opening. It was not until 6:30 or so, that the same cast member I had asked came over and told me and about 30 other peaople waiting in the area that the line here was the VIP entrance, and the regualr entrance was near the end of the Backstage Tour. That line was alreadly several hundred long and not very well marked.

At about 6:45pm the guests for the Red concert were not let into the main entrance of Lights Motors Action, but instead were lead to the exit area/ boneyard of hte Backstage Tour. Then we were held for about 15 minutes in the very hot late afternoon, early evening sun. Even after being let into the main auditorium, it was still very hot as Disney had not turned on any of the ventolation fans and they remained off until about 2 minutes before the concert.

While waiting in the auditorium, it became very obvious that this was a terrible venue for a rock concert, especially the way Disney had it set up. Instead of allowing the bands to use the full scope of the Lights Motor Action stage, a much smaller temporary stage was set up in the middle of the larger venue. Not only was it small but it was far away from very guest. The stage was seperated from the closest guests, standing in the VIP section on the ground level by at least 30 feet and there was also a small canal between them and the stage. All the other guests were even further back, sitting on very unconfortable metal bleachers with absolutely no back support. Also the stage had a very narror field of view as both speakers and stage decorations prohibited full stage view from any guest not directly in front of the stage.

Red took the stage at around 7:30 and they rocked hard. Unfortunately, due to the stage limitations it was hard for them to get the crowds into the music. It was not for lack of effort. As I learned later even they did not like the stage setupas they could not hear even the closest of fans, having no idea if the crowd was getting their message or not. This was a far cry from Red 's concert at last year's Night of Joy. Later year Red was booked into Cosmic Ray's Galactic Cafe, the smallest of all the Magic Kingdom venues. The singer even commented tonight how he chipped a tooth last year as one of the guests moshing last year bumped into his mic. This year, Red was lucky to see the crowds wave their hands. While Red's concert was still good musically, I believe that they would have killed if they had been scheduled to Universal's Rock the Universe with Skillet and the Newsboys with the much closer stage venues.

After the concert, we headed to the Sounds Dangerous stage to catch the A Joyful Conversation interview session with Red. Here was the most well behaved guests I saw all night. The few guest that were waiting outside were on the more sedate side and it reminded me of waiting to get autographs at Star Wars Weekends. While waiting to be let in, talking to other guests in line, we found out about half of the people here did not get to see Red's concert, either due to getting into the parks late or not being allowed intoLighths Motors Action after 7pm as Disney cut off the line to anyone wanting to enter. Most of the people here were hoping to get to hear a few songs by Red. Also while waiting, since this area was being used by local Christian radio station Z88.3, some of the guests were interviewed for the live broadcast (which in addition to being broadcast to the Orlando area, was also broadcast to most of Disney's Hollywood Studios).

Red was interviewed by DJ from Z88.3 and answered several questions from the audience. They did end up doing one song a capella. After the interview they did sign autographs and pose for a few pictures. (Video of the entire A Joyful Conversation is availible on the video page).

Now we went on a couple attractions, Star Tours and the Great Movie Ride. This both had under 15 minute waits. All the other attractions during the entire evening had at least a 30 minute wait. After the rides we stopped and watched a bit of Marcos Witt's concert at the Icon Stage in fromt of the Great Movie Ride. Musically, he had a good show, however as I do not speak Spanish I had no idea what the songs he was singing actually said.

As we were pretty hot, and the lines for most attractions were so long we went and sat in the YHotHD.com Dance Party in the Playhouse Disney stage. There was a DJ there and a small group of people dancing. Those not dancing, like at a Junior High prom, were sitting along the walls enjoying the air conditioning. We stayed here for about a hald hour. In addirion to the Christian dance music Disney also brought out characters to mingle with the crowd. In the time we were in there, there was Pluto, Goofy, and Minnie Mouse.

We went back to the Icon Stage to watch the first set of Fred Hammond. His music was some of the most spiritually uplifting that I heard during the entire weekend. During the concert my brother became very thirsty and looked for a drink. When he came back after about 15 minutes without a drink, he said there was only a very few open drink carts and the one or two that were open and prohibitively long lines. He even said that there was only one shop open between both Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, and that was Mickey's of Hollywood.

Fred Hammonds concert was great, but it ended up being our last. During the final number, my brother had his foot stomped on, with the person who did it not appoligizing or even acknowledging it. My brother felt his toenail or even his pinky toe might have come off and wanted to leave. He told me that if I wanted to I could stay and do anything here that I wanted to. But since the attraction lines were so long, and the only remaining concert was Toby Mac's (which I would of liked to see, but it was at the terrible venue of the Lights Motor Actions stage) we opted to end our night. On the way out of the park, each guest was handed a CD of Christian Music, with some being from artists that performed during this years Night of Joy and a few samples of other artists.

Personally, unless Disney gets some big name performers and/or moves back Night of Joy back to the Magic Kingdom, I will most likely attend Univesal's Rock the Universe next year and skip Night of Joy.


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 10:35 PM EDT
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Saturday, 6 September 2008
Rock the Universe 2008 trip Report

Friday September 5, 2008

Starting extremely early in the morning around 4am, my brother and I leave south Florida and head up to Orlando and Universal Studios for Rock the Universe. On the way up the Florida Turnpike we have to deal with the harsh weather conditions dealt to us by Hurricane Hanna, which while somewhat intense are nothing compared to what the people living in Texas experienced with Hurricane Ike.

We arrive at Universal Studios earlier than necessary and have to wait about an hour not only for the gates to open but for any of the ticket booths to open so I can exchange my Rock the Universe ticket voucher for an actual ticket. Crowds in the morning are extremely small which I know will change later in the day. When the park does open we decide to go ride the Simpsons Ride but after being asked if we are employees of Universal, which we are not, being told that the far half of the park wont open until about 30 minutes later. Since only 2 attractions are open, Shrek and Jimmy Neutron, we opt to ride Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast.

After the first ride I stop and take a couple of pictures of the Yard Stage and the Rock the Universe signs in the area. Then we head for the first of many rides we will go on the Revenge of the Mummy over the three days. Next we head for the Simpsons Ride and I stop and take a picture of the Hollywood Stage and the Rock the Universe schedule sign. After riding the Simpsons we decide to head next door to Isoalnds of Adventure..

At Islands of Adventure we first head into Marvel Superhero Island wanting to ride the Hulk. The Hulk however is down for somesort of maintainance and looks like it would be a fairly rough ride in its current condition anyways. Instead we go on Spiderman and the ride is a walk on like all rides up to this point. As we are getting hungry we decide ro leave on go check into our hotel.

The check in to the hotel goes very smoothly, due in most part to being next to Wet-n-Wild and that water park having almost zero crowds due to the hurricane. Head off for lunch at a nearby Burger King and some of the bands for tonights event are also eating in there. Head back to the park and after wondering around for a bit go on E.T. After E.T. we exchange our Rock the Universe tickets for wristbands. Then after we have another ride on the Mummy we stop for a drink at Finnegan's Bar & Grill.

While we only intended to stay in Finnegan's for one or two drinks we end up eating dinner here. I had a great Guiness stew and I split an order of Scotch eggs with my brother. Finnegan's also had a pretty talented bar singer who was pretty entertaining. Left the restuarant and decided to check out the merchandise at Battery Park. Looked to find some small, cheap souvineer I was looking for guitar strap pins or buttons but did not find any for the bands I was interested in. My brother purchased a Skillet sticker for $1.

Waited around on a bench on 8th Ave. near Battery Park for the start of the concerts. As I was not familiar with either of the fist 2 groups performing I opt to say where we are near the Hollywood stage and watch Group 1 Crew, while my brother heads over to the yard stage to watch New Method. After watching Group 1 Crew, who are a type hip-hop group, for one or two songs, mybrothers comes and gets me to come watch New Method. New Method is a kind of punk rock groupp which is more more my style and we watch them until the end of there set. (After posting video of part of their set on MySpace, Doug the lead singer from the band added me as one of their friends and also posted some of my stills to their MySpace page)

After New Method, the speaker Darren Whitehead came out and addressed the crowd. His message involved a story about his daughter after she had been sick on an airplane and him picking her up and giving her a hug even with the mess she had made on her dress. He used this to illustrate that just like the love he had for his duaghter, God has the same love for us even when we are not clean, God loves us no matter what condition we may be in.

Grits was the next to get on the stage. Their musical style was a more aggressive stlye of hip-hop/ rap and was definately not my cup o tea. We did however, stay for the fisrt song just for respect, which I did for almost all the bands I watched this weekend. Then we headed over to the Hollywood Stage.

When we arrive at the Hollywod Stage, the previous group had ended and we waited for Skillet to take the stage. There was some pushing as people viied for position but overall the crowd was not yet that bad. Skillet put on a great show, filled with a lot of energy. My favorite part was when the lead told the story of how he got into Christian music. Someone had interduced to the band Petra but his mother wouldn't allow him to listen to it since she thought it was the Devil's music. When the singer found out that Petra was going to be performing in his hometown he convinced his mother to take him under the condition that they leave once Petra started praying to Satan. After the concert the singer said his mother became the biggest Petra fan he knew. Skillet was great and there concert while starting in daylight ended just after sunset.

After Skillet performed I was incredable thirsty and we headed toward the stage to a drink booth. Only after getting near the stage did we find out that Universal had completely blocked that area and would not let anyone out of the partioned area and we were told we had to go to the end of the barriers which were past the Horror Make-Up Sohw/ Youth Leader's Lounge. This was a very poorly made decision by Universal on crowd control. I would not have been as mad about it if there were signs on the barricades that said there was no exit toward the stage and only near the back of the area. After then searching for a drink stand ended up buying a Powerade from the T2-3D exit shop.

Since a lot of the crowd from the Skillet concert had left we decided to get as close as possible for the Newsboys concert. We ended up being to the right of the end of the catwalk into the crowd. Before the Newsboys came out AJ Styles from TNA Wrestling came out and gave a short motivational speech to the crowd. Then instead of the Newsboys coming out Paul Colman, gutiarist for the Newsboys came out and did a short aucoustic set.

The Newsboys come out on give one of the best performances I have seen. They have great energy and really know how to work the crowd. My favorite part was the use of the catwlak. The band came out to the middle and using only a keyboard did a medley of their older songs. Later the drum solos were awesome. Not only was there the spinning drum set on the main stage that the Newsboys have been using for years, but on the catwalk was a second drum set that was raised on a hydrolic lift about twenty feet into the air. The most explosive song of the night was of course Shine with its confetti cannons, followed by a little Breakfast and the usually throw of Captain Crunch cereal. (Those 2 songs left a lot of debris that parts of were still there in the park 2 days later).

After the Newsboys finished, we were going to the Battery Park merchandise tables where the Newsboys were signing autographs, but the line was already incredibly long, so we headed back to the Yard Stage to catch the end of the Switchfoot concert. While at every other concert over the weekend we stayed for at least 1 song, Switchfoot sounded so out of tune that we just decided to go and check out the lines for the rides.

At this point in the night, it was only a little past 10 and figured we could get in 1 or 2 rides before the park closed at 1am. The Mummy was over 2 hours wait so we kept going. Stopped in Amityville and watched other Rock the Universe guests play the carnival style games. One guest played the knock over the bottle game and succeed at least 4 times while we were watching. Continued our walk around the park, looked at the wiat for Men in Black, but even the single rider's line had extended outside the main entrace. Decided to go watch some of the My Coke Rewards Karaoke but while we saw about 1 song, that event ended at 11pm and it was about 10:45pm when we past by. As the lines were long and for the first time in my experience at Rock the Universe there were no concerts past 10:30pm wee decided to leave for the night and prepare for Night of Joy the next day.


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 September 2008 10:36 PM EDT
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Saturday, 15 September 2007
Trip Report from Night of Joy 2007

Welcome back to everyone who went to Night of Joy 2007 (or Rock the universe 2007). Here is my trip report from my experience at Night of Joy.

I started my day by parking at the Magic Kingdom and going to Epcot. At around 2 in the afternoon, my brother and I took the monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom. There were already signs for Night of Joy at the entrance saying that the event had sold out for the night. We stopped at City Hall to inquire about the wrist band exchange and to receive the concert schedule for the evening. The wristband exchange would take place at the rose garden near Cinderella's Castle anytime after 4pm.

After stopping to play for a bit at the Virtual Magic Kingdom Central on Main Street, we went and ate ice cream and get Fastpasses for the Many Adventure's of Winnie the Pooh. It was well getting the fastpasses that I found the location of the Fantasyland stage, which was near the Winnie the Pooh Attraction toward the Mad Tea Party. Still a fairly small venue.

While waiting for our Fastpass return time we went and rode the Liberty Square Riverboat. While in Frontierland we discovered that there would be an autograph session at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon at 8:30pm, sponsored by the Gospel Music Channel, but it did not say which performers it would be.

After riding Winnie the Pooh, the skies started to look threatening and we headed for Space Mountain, since it is indoors. We got Fastpasses for 3:45pm, and also got in line for what Disney had posted as a 30 minute wait. It was no where near that long and was maybe 5 minutes tops. Our first ride was without incident and we exited into the Tomorrowland Arcade. By that time the rain had become a torrential downpour and we did not leave the arcade for close to an hour. It was about 4:15 when we left the arcade and went to use our fastpasses. By this point the groups that only had Night of Joy tickets were allowed into the Magic Kingdom for the evening. The line for Space Mountain at that point extended to near the Astro Orbitor. Waiting to board our vehicle every person at was in a rocket was screaming at the top of their lungs. The group we got seated with kept screaming "black f*&#$ing metal" through the entire ride. Watching the reaction of the Cast Member operating the ride I could tell most did not enjoy the prospect of having to deal with this type of crowd for the rest of the evening.

We the went to eat dinner at the Pinocchio’s Village Haus (since Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe was incredibly busy at that point and would be for most of the evening). After dinner, we went to the restrooms behind the restaurant, and since it was nearing the official closing of the Magic Kingdom, Cast Members were not allowing anyone who did not have a Night of Joy wristband to use the facilities. This was causing a lot of frustration for the normal guests, and I was surprised that the cast members weren't used as the facilities by the people needing to use the restroom.

Since we knew that several attraction would be shut down promptly at 6pm, we decided to go and ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority before it was turned off for the evening. Apparently, many people had the same idea, as this was the only time I have ever seen the queue for the TTA extend past the upramp. While riding, we encountered more of the screaming we experienced on Space Mountain and decided not to ride any more attractions for the evening.

After exiting the TTA, we went and got in line to see Flyleaf. There was already a substantial crowd waiting outside the Carousel of Progress to be allowed into the Galaxy Palace Theater. An interesting mix of first time concert goers, those that had been to events such as Korn's Family Values tour, and those who had been to these types of events before. When we were let in to the theater we chose a seat in the middle near the rear of the theater, since we were not entirely familiar with what type of group Flyleaf was, after only hearing their single "All Around Me" on the local alternative radio station. It seems that many other people had the same thought as the crowd seemed to be cut in half by the middle of Flyleafs set. Personally, I enjoyed Flyleaf's harder edged rock sound. They had quite a stage presence and were highly energetic, especially the bass player. It was here that I learned that my old VHS-C camcorders battery did not really hold a charge anymore and I was only able to film Flyleaf's first song.

After the concert, we went back through Fantasyland and saw the last song that Smokie Norful performed. From what I saw it seemed to be a very good show as well. We then went to the Golden Horseshoe and found out that the group doing autographs was Mary Mary. As I am not a fan of theirs we skipped it. We did find the Gospel Music Channel, was doing a Wheel of Fortune type promotion on the Liberty Square Riverboat dock, and giving away small backpacks.

Since the group we most wanted to see was RED and they were playing at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, we went there. Before RED came on stage we watched Rachael Hurt perform. She was rather good for a solo artist with only an acoustic guitar. The best part of her show was the small dance off she did between a boy and girl. The girl did wild gyrations, while the boy did incredibly lame dance moves like the lawnmower and the shopping cart. It was painfully obvious that the girl won that contest. Rachael was very friendly and spent time after the concert talking with fans in the cafe.

Then RED took the stage. RED's performance was electric. However, unless you were near the front of the stage, they were almost invisible to the crowd. In fact I don't think I ever saw the drummer as we were located near the back of the stage. The really needed risers so the entire audience could have seen them.

The last performance we wanted to see was the Newsboys. However, we discovered that Disney had blocked off the entire area of the hub north of the Walt and Mickey Partners statue for the VIP guests, those group ticket holders that bought tickets very early in the year. This was an okay idea, except that Disney blocked off too large of an area and it was impossible to truly get near the Castle Stage. We decided we would instead try to see Kutless on the Fantasyland stage. After finding a decent viewing location, we discovered that the area was extremely hot and my brother could not stand in the area with nothing to lean against to a back problem and we left before Kutless took the stage. We went back to the Newsboy concert.

The VIP section again caused problems. Since Disney had redesigned the central hub area, all of the trees planted are fairly new growth trees. Therefore any area behind them had nearly 100% blocked views. The older trees were tall enough that views of the stage area were available underneath them. For the Newsboys concert we stood to the left of the hub on the street. While the Newsboys sounded alright, it was clear that the lose of their bass player really affected the performance. Our location made it hard to truly get into the concert and due to that and my brother's back condition we left after about 3 songs.

Upon leaving Disney handed to every guest a sampler CD promoting the 25th anniversary of Night of Joy. While I would of personally preferred a retrospective collection of music, it was still a nice gift.

We returned to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. After riding the tram, It became clear that it was not going to where our car was parked. It turned out that we had the very last car parked in the Pluto parking area and the tram had not planned on going to that area. The tram driver did not even know where the Pluto section was.

Overall it was a very good night and I look forward to attending Night of Joy again next year.

 


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 1:11 AM EDT
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Friday, 7 September 2007
Thoughts before Night of Joy 2007

Welcome to the newest edition to the Unofficial Guide to Disney's Night of Joy.  I am currently sitting here late on the night before I leave for Orlando from south Florida.  Unfortunately for me I am only able to attend the Saturday event at the Magic Kingdom.  Still I hope to have a great time there.  This is my 18th trip to either Night of Joy and/or Rock the Universe.  This year I am most looking forward to seeing the bands Red, Flyleaf, and Newsboys, although I may check out others if I have the chance. 

A note of fustration for myself is that my Canon Digital camcorder has refused to accept tapes and I will have to rely on my old VHS-C camcrder to film any of this year's concerts.  I due however still have a decent still camera and will be taking a lot of pictures.  If anyone would like to share either pictures or video of Night of Joy or Rock the Universe please e-mail me at nightofjoy@yahoo.com.

Things other than the music I am looking forward to are seeing thousands of other Christians as well as those seeking the spiritual uplifting that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as their personal saviour decending upon 2 of the greatest theme parks in the world. It will be interesting to see if Disney does anything special since this is the 25th anniversary of Night of Joy. 

What does concern me about the events is the stage set-ups this year.  At Night of Joy, there are no stages on the east side of the Magic Kingdom (Adventureland, Frontierland) and most in Tomorrowland.  The stage that is listed as Fantasyland may also be a problem if it is placed where it has been in the past since the area has very limited space.  At Rock the Universe,  all the times for each performance are presented but it does not say which stage each performer will be on.  Hopefully, Universal has not decided to place all of the performances on a single stage.

 Well, its getting very late here and I may be pretty incoherent at the moment.  Hope to see you in Orlando. 

God Bless


Posted by nightofjoy2000 at 1:58 AM EDT
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