Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has decided to end its long-running annual Christian festival, called Night of Joy, which began in 1983 at the Magic Kingdom.
Since it premiered more than 30 years ago, the faith-based night has been a popular attraction for families. It featured such Christian rock artists as Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and others.
“Last year was our last event,” a Disney spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel.
The Disney spokesperson said the home of Mickey Mouse is ending the Night of Joy in order to “continually chang[e] our offerings.”
The event has become a tradition for many families and was often sold out, as Faithwire reported.
Disney insists, however, that some Christian groups and artists will still play at the resort, including at the company’s Eat to the Beat concert series.
Yet while faith events appear to be diminishing at the Magic Kingdom, events aimed at the LGBTQ community are going strong.
— Dewayne Bevil (@ThemeParks) May 3, 2018
“It’s really a shame that every year, hundreds of families innocently plan trips to Walt Disney World without knowing about Gay Days,” reports the Dad’s Guide to WDW (Walt Disney World) website. “Over 30 years ago, a group started gathering at Disney World every first week in June. Through the years it’s grown into a huge event. Over 100,000 people have been known to attend.”
“Disney never publicizes this event,” the blog post continues. “It’s not an official Disney activity. Disney doesn’t sanction it. Disney also doesn’t mention it in any of its materials, websites or commercials. You would have to be looking for it. A lot of travel agents don’t even mention it when you book a vacation.”
Christian artists will be playing at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall, the Sentinel reported. MercyMe and Tauren Wells are among those scheduled.
For families who previously enjoyed the Night of Joy festival, Universal Studios Orlando will be hosting a similar Christian music festival called Rock the Universe, which will take place on September 7 and 8. It will include such artists as TobyMac, Lauren Daigle, Jesus Culture, Zach Williams, and Trip Lee.
I got stuck through Irma at Disney because our flight was cancelled. At Night of Joy last year they announced it would be Back at ESPN in 2018 & Matthew West would be the host. I guess they changed their minds-not just for this year-but for good, it seems.
— Cara Whedbee (@DoctorCara) May 4, 2018
Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor with LifeZette.