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Hellish behavior mars an evening of heavenly music at the Magic Kingdom

Hellish behavior mars an evening of heavenly music at the Magic Kingdom

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Okay. Now I get it.

For years now, I have been hearing about how there are WDW cast members who will happily work at virtually every after-hours event that is held at the Magic Kingdom. Be it a private corporate party, "Grad Nite," or even one of those holidays where that theme park gets super-crowded (like the 4th of July or New Years Eve) and the resort needs extra help to handle all those guests. These employees are always glad to lend a hand.

But what's the one after-hours event that these Disney World veterans simply refuse to work at? The "Night of Joy."


Photo by Jeff Lange

And -- for the life of me -- I couldn't figure out what it was about being assigned to work at the Magic Kingdom on an evening when Christian music is being presented that would cause WDW employees to frantically try & change their schedules. But now I get it.

You see, it's not the music or even the performers that make these evenings unbearable for WDW employees. That aspect of this after-hours event is actually pretty nifty.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Nor is it the adults who come to this Christian music celebration that cause any of the problems. They're typically good, well-mannered people who have come a long way at great personal expense to see some of their favorite performers in person. So they're not the reason that the "Night of Joy" has such a poisonous reputation among Disney World employees.


"So what's the problem?," you ask. It's the kids. To be specific, some of the church youth groups that come down to WDW just to attend "Night of Joy." They're the ones who make this after-hours event seem hellish to WDW cast members as well as for some of the other guests.

To explain: Busloads of kids from church youth groups from all around the U.S. descend on Disney World every year to attend "Night of Joy." And given that this is a Christian music celebration that's being held at a family-friendly resort, parents typically don't have a problem with staying home while they send their son and/or daughter off to WDW to attend this after-hours event. Particularly since their church's youth group will usually send along a few chaperones to help supervise the kids while they're in the Magic Kingdom for the concert.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Well, what Mom & Dad don't realize is that the typical kids-to-chaperone ratio at a WDW event like this is 10 to 1. And given that their adult supervisors (after setting up a place to meet after the "Night of Joy" is over) typically cut their charges loose as soon as they enter the theme park ... Well, you can see how this might be a recipe for disaster.

I mean, seriously, people. Based on my own observations, a good number of the kids who attended this past Saturday night's "Night of Joy" were unsupervised & totally out of control. They were running through the theme park at full speed, nearly knocking other guests over as they chased after their friends. Cussing & wrestling with each other in the queues at various attractions. Staging water fights & wet paper towel battles inside the park's restrooms (I personally got nailed as I was entering a men's room at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday night. A wadded-up wet paper towel -- ker-POW! -- right in my face. The kid who threw it at me? No apology. No "Gee, I'm sorry, Mister." He just laughed as he & his friend raced out of the restroom).


Photo by Jeff Lange

Mind you, we're not talking about youthful hijinks. We're talking about behavior that I guarantee you would get you thrown out of the theme park on any other day of the year. But not on the "Night of Joy."

Which really puzzled me. I kept thinking: "Why isn't Disney Security doing anything to rein these kids in?"


Photo by Jeff Lange

What I've learned since attending this past Saturday night's "Night of Joy" is that Disney Security deliberately takes a "hands off" approach when it comes to the Christian youth groups who attend "Night of Joy." Supposedly, this practice dates back to 1997, when the Southern Baptists Convention called for a boycott of the Walt Disney Company.

Reportedly out of concern that this boycott could possibly spread to other church groups, word allegedly came down from on high (I.E. Disney corporate headquarters back in Burbank) to WDW management that "... We wouldn't want to do anything else to aggravate these religious-types. So please go easy on the people attending the 'Night of Joy'."


Photo by Jeff Lange

And supposedly for the past eight years, that's exactly what's been going on. Disney Security has been treating the unruly church youth groups who attend "Night of Joy" with kid gloves. Reportedly out of concern about what Mom & Dad might say once Junior gets home and they find out that he in trouble while attending Disney World's Christian music celebration.

I'll tell you what, folks. I've honestly never seen behavior like this before at a Disney theme park. Even the crazed fans at "Super Soap Weekend" (Who cut in line & start fistfights with one another just so they can get close to their favorite performers) behave better than this. Which is why I seriously doubt that I'll ever be attending another "Night of Joy."


Photo by Jeff Lange

Which is unfortunate. Given that a lot of the performers who appeared at this past Saturday's event were churning out some really great music. Christian rock, pop and rap. There was something there for everyone.

And it really is a shame that Disney lets a handful of rotten apples spoil a fun event for hundreds & hundreds of other people. But I swear to you, folks. A good number of these kids were totally out of control. They were away from Mom & Dad. So no one -- not their chaperones,  Disney Security, not even God himself  -- was going to tell them what they could & could not do.


Photo by Jeff Lange

So if you have a chance to attend next year's "Night of Joy," my advice is that you should think long and hard before agreeing to go. I mean, sure. You'll get to hear some heavenly music in the Magic Kingdom. But is that sort of entertainment really worth putting up with six hours of hellish behavior by some unruly members of  a few Christian youth groups?

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