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.