In 2011 we returned and attended the hard ticket event on one of the nights, enjoying a performance by Francesca Battistelli with 2 of our dearest friends. It was a wonderful night, and left us saying that we wanted to do another WDW Night of Joy!
When we saw the lineup for the 2014 event, we HAD to go, and we really wanted to attend both nights. We purchased the tickets for Saturday night only, since Friday would be our travel and arrival day, we weren't sure if we'd have the energy to attend Friday's show.
Even though Chris Tomlin, and "For King & Country" were performing on Friday, we were tired and decided to just use our fastpass+ for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride before heading out of the park and resting up for the start of another WDW adventure.
The way it works is you buy the separate tickets for the event, and can enter the park for the event a few hours before the scheduled start time, even though the event was "officially" scheduled for a 7:30pm start, those holding event tickets were allowed to enter at about 4:00pm. They close the park to the general day guests, and you need the special wrist bands to remain in the park for the special events and rides.
|The 2014 night of joy wristband for Sat. night|
After spending the day at Epcot, we went back to our room at Old Key West and rested a bit before getting ready for the big night. As we were leaving Epcot, the clouds were rolling in, and the rain began. It turned into a monster Thunderstorm, and it didn't look good for our chances. We waited it out thinking that we may not leave the room that night, but as the storm started to let up, we grabbed our rain ponchos and headed out to the disney bus stop. It seems that we weren't the only ones who were determined to wait out the storm and head to the Magic Kingdom that night as the buses were pretty full!
|Saturday's awesome lineup|
As we arrived there was a light rain falling, but it started to let up and eventually stopped just as we found a spot right behind the "Partners Statue" (you know, The bronze of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand). There are no seats for these events, yes, you have to stand for each performance, but honestly, once the music started, we forgot all about standing.
The setup is 3 different stages - The Castle stage, The Galaxy stage, and The Rocketeer Plaza stage. 3 or 4 different groups or performers play at different times for each stage. Last time we saw Francesca Battistelli at the Galaxy stage in tomorrowland. This time we saw MercyMe, Phil Perry, and Casting Crowns all at the Castle forecourt stage in the hub area between Main Street USA and Cinderella's castle.
|Make sure you grab an event map when you enter the park!|
Since many of them are performing at the same time, you have to pick who you want to see and make plans to be at that stage at the right time. We had a hard time deciding between Colton Dixon (7:30 pm - Galaxy stage) or Mercy Me (7:40 pm - Castle stage), we decided to see MercyMe and then just stay put for Casting Crowns at 9:50 pm with Phil Perry doing a short set at 9:30 pm between bands. That way we didn't have to leave the area and could see both of these awesome bands!
Most of the rides, shops, and eateries are open so there is plenty for everyone to see and do all night long. The park remained open until 1:00 am.
|We were very happy with the viewing spot we found to start the evening|
MercyMe took the stage and were great, playing many of their hits including "I can only imagine" & "Move". There was a special moment when the lead singer announced that they had some special guest playing in their horn section, among them was Dan Michaels of Christian Rock group - The Choir. The reason this was special for me is that the lead singer and guitarist of The Choir is Derri Daugherty who my Wife and I went to High School with, and I played bass guitar in a band with Derri in the late 1970's. And now here we were at a concert, in front of the castle, at Walt Disney World with a very tiny but still special connection to the show! It was cool as night fell and the day changed to night. The atmosphere was fantastic with everyone around us really getting into the music and enjoying the short testimonies given between songs.
Clip of: MercyMe's performance at 2014 Night of Joy
Casting Crowns Was just AWESOME! What a performance, song after hit song. We enjoyed singing along with just about every song. We found a fence to lean against for their performance, and that really helped since we ended up standing for a few hours.
|Casting Crowns just floored us! What a night!|
The skies remained dry for the entire performance.
I remember just standing there looking out at the entire scene with the music filling the air, just thinking, "Wow, I just can't believe this night!"
|Looking back towards Main Street between sets|
|Waiting for Casting Crowns to start.|
Casting Crown's 2013 Performance at Night of Joy
We enjoyed hearing Phil Perry who is a new talent on the Contemporary Christian Music scene, and he played solo on keyboard between MercyMe & Casting Crowns. His gospel style was a nice touch to the evening!
The EVENING OVERALL
We heard stories of rowdy teenagers running rampant during these events, but we've been to two of them now, and haven't encountered anything like that. Maybe that's just happening at the rides, or maybe we've just been lucky, but we felt surrounded by fellow believers with lots of local church youth groups and such. After Casting Crowns finished, we were just glowing. We headed to the Tomorrowland Terrace where everyone was buzzing about the performance. The younger set were getting amped up for Skillet to take the Castle stage. We grabbed some Night of Joy 2014 T-Shirts, and a pin, and then grabbed some Mickey Premium ice cream bars and just sat back and looked out at the scene before boarding the bus back to Old Key West. We were in contact with our Daughter back home, where she and her family watched some of the performances on a stream that Disney provided. She said they really enjoyed it and would love to attend some day.
It was one of the absolute highlights of our Disney trips and we will be back for another one some day. It was "a joyous night" indeed!