If you have ever attended, or are planning to attend, a Night Of Joy event at the Walt Disney World Resort then you may already know that the venue changed this year. Since 1983, with the exception of 2008 and 2009 when Night of Joy was held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this event has been held at the Magic Kingdom. This year, Night of Joy is taking place at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Many folks have mixed emotions about this change of venue. However, with all change comes some new things we can love, and some old things that we miss. Here is my Review of Disney’s Night of Joy 2016.
The Schedule of Events, the line-up of Christian Contemporary Bands, and the ESPN Wide Worlds of Sports locations map are excellent. The Schedule of Events lists the time, the band, and the location of each performance so you can plan your evening. The times are spaced out a bit so it is possible to see at least some of each performance. The list of bands is phenomenal. If you enjoy Contemporary Christian music then you are sure to enjoy most of the bands included in this year’s line-up. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World is massive and the map was very helpful in figuring out where everything was. There are cast members all about and they are more than willing to answer questions and offer assistance.
While we can all agree that we loved having Night of Joy at the Magic Kingdom, the ESPN Wide World of Sports offers something that the Magic Kingdom cannot offer; seating. We loved having this event take place at the Magic Kingdom where we could see our favorite Christian bands perform on the Castle Forecourt Stage and the Tomorrowland Stages. However, with the exception of the Tomorrowland stage behind Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, there was no-where to sit. Standing on the hot pavement for even one hour can become tiring. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex provides the HP Field House (indoors), the Champion Stadium (open air stadium), and the Jostens Center (indoors). All three of these locations have seating for thousands of people.
Another factor that plays a key role in the new choice of venue for Night of Joy is space. The Champion Stadium is basically a baseball field which provides an ample amount of space for the thousands of people who frequent this event. The outdoor Fields of Joy area provides space for people to enjoy some sporting practice on the large fields, or just enjoy sitting and relaxing hillside to observe what is going on around you. I loved the fact that I could see the Star Wars Galactic Fireworks at Hollywood Studios, and the Illuminations Fireworks at Epcot, from my hillside vantage point. I believe that these two factors, space and seating, have created a very positive change to the Night of Joy event.
The event food options are limited to Concession Stands, a ESPN Wide World of Sports Grille, and Food Trucks. If you enjoy this kind of food then you are sure to find something you like to eat. If you are like me, and you do not care for these types of foods then you may want to plan accordingly and bring in some snacks. I was not prepared for this but certainly will know for next year. The snow cone truck had a long line most of the evening and appeared to be a very popular food choice amongst the guests. The food options are what I missed most about having the Night of Joy event at the Magic Kingdom and I see this as a not-so-postive change created by the new venue.
There is a hydration station outdoors near the Fields of Joy and the Food Trucks. Be sure to stay hydrated. Even though the Night of Joy event takes place in the evening, it is still pretty warm overnight here in Central Florida.
FanFest is located inside the Jostens Center building. Here you will find games such as table car racing, giant blocks and life-size floor chess to name a few. While these games do not take the place of Magic Kingdom rides, they do offer a distraction to pass a bit of time between bands.
Also in the Jostens Center are merchandise locations for the bands and a place where you can attend Q & A Sessions with some of your favorite Christian music artists. There will be three opportunities on Saturday, September 10th, to meet some of these amazing musicians.
Also at FanFest in the Jostens Center is a meet-and-greet with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. They look splendid in their sporty attire don’t you think? One bonus to this is that you will only see them dressed in their sports attire at this venue. The lines were not very long to meet them and that was another plus as well.
Night of Joy 2016 specific merchandise is located inside the HP Field House, Champion Stadium and Jostens Center. They are centrally located around the walkways at each location. Look for signs and the tables set up specifically for the sale of this merchandise.
Located outside, along the central walkway, are the larger-than-life signs listing the locations and times for the bands performances. These are also listed in your schedule of events map.
For an additional cost, you can purchase the Premium Ticket for the Night of Joy event. You will receive an exclusive pin and lanyard as well as premium seating options for the band performances. A special thanks to my new friends from Ontario, Canada who were willing to let me take pictures of them with their premium lanyards.
Some of you have been asking if the Night of Joy is worth the expense. I give you a resounding “Yes.” While some of the magic of the experience is gone, the food is less than ideal, and there are no Disney rides available, the atmosphere, the space, and the music are spectacular. Something that we must remember is that the Night of Joy is about connecting spiritually with one another. I look forward to what next year’s agenda will have to offer us during the Night of Joy 2017.
What do you think of the change of venue for Night of Joy this year? Please leave your comments in the box below.
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