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.