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.