Disney Perspectives

Written on

June 13, 2024

I fell in love with Disney as a kid. During the “Disney Renaissance” I watched Belle, Ariel and Aladdin at the movie theater and was hooked on ALL things Disney. I honestly cannot even guess how much time I spent at their store in the mall and even took a few animation courses in high school. Even now, I can say that being at the parks with my family is truly one of my “happiest places on earth.”

This week, our family has returned from a great vacation “on property” in Orlando. It was our fourth trip as a family, having gone every 5-6 years since our oldest daughter turned 5. Each trip has been special as we have soaked up the magic through the eyes of our girls. In that respect, this trip was no different: seeing Riley take in Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios and the French Pavilion in Epcot, Piper discover a love for roller coasters in all four parks and Eliza, the child who NEVER stops talking, become utterly silent in awe as she met “her girl,” Snow White, for the first time.

Yet, with the girls being older this time around, I noticed a few things I had never taken time to observe before.

Disney attracts ALL kinds of people from literally ALL over the world. We heard so many different languages and accents standing in lines. We witnessed so many different cultural dress and skin colors moving through the crowds. We engaged people and cast members in conversations from states and countries near and far on buses and in restaurants. Disney truly makes it “A Small World” in so many respects.

It was hot. Of course it was hot – it was central Florida in June, but even the local weather lady was commenting on how the heat indexes were above normal. However, this did not stop people from dressing their small children in costumes depicting their favorite characters. Girls in long, flowing “ball gowns” looked wilted like my hydrangeas in the direct path of the afternoon sun. Preschoolers missing nap times would have understandable meltdowns and their parents would try to coax them to stand in another line to do something they would never remember.

The adults, in their costumes, sporting t-shirts, jewelry and mouse ears were something to behold as well. I am an avid people watcher and Disney sure didn’t disappoint. Cute bags, clever shirts, and custom-made accessories are the rule. We wore Mickey matching shirts one day and I even painted “hidden Mickeys” on my pedicure. However, I was amazed at the lengths some people go – like investing in large, elaborate, colorful tattoos to show their devotion to Disney on their arms, legs, and backs.

My husband and I spent some time asking ourselves and each other “why?” (Standing in lines, you have lots of time to observe and ponder questions that you might not otherwise take the time to ask yourself.) Why do people literally pay big money to buy “into” this Disney experience? What are they looking for? What are they finding?

Maybe it is the “magic” of happy endings and good overcoming evil and dreams coming true. Maybe it is the suspension of reality for a little while where problems can be briefly forgotten and time can be made for laughter and fun. Maybe it is a sense of belonging, family or being a small part of something bigger than yourself. Whatever “it” is, it is real enough to well up happy tears as Cinderella’s castle is lit up with fireworks and projections celebrating these themes. Music is piped through the park as the day ends and the thousands who participated and partook of the Disney experience exhausted and spent (physically and financially) make their way out of the Magic Kingdom.

There is a whole vocabulary and vernacular to visiting Disney. There are blogs and Facebook pages just on the food alone. There are people who make this pilgrimage annually and others who have passes to come even more often than that. Say what you will about the policies and politics of Disney, but for this average observer on this trip, Disney is a place for many where they are searching and seeking idols to worship.

Why did we go to Disney? We wanted to get away, to be together as a family, to have fun, to try new things (rides and eats), to value and recognize common graces that our good God gives to us all and to thank Him for all of truths of the themes mentioned above.

Yet, we know and recognize that every story tells THE story and even Disney’s magic pales in comparison to the greatest, true story. The Author of THE story is our Creator who knows us all by name and has given us an active role within HIS story. This story is truth and it is where I find my meaning, my identity and my purpose. It is bigger than me.

There are other blog posts to be made about how Disney inadvertently tells the gospel story through their movies. (Have you seen Raya And The Last Dragon yet? Or really thought about Groot’s self-sacrificing death and resurrection in Guardians of the Galaxy?) But this post is about how God spoke to me on this trip – how people can worship good things instead of the good God that these good things should point us to worship.

No, I didn’t grow up and become a Disney animator or imagineers, but I still greatly appreciate what Disney does and offers. I will proudly wear my shoulder Groot and my new Micky/Minnie jewelry. I am pleased with all the memories we made and will treasure them as our adventures of this past week are retold in family gatherings and inside jokes for years to come.

Maybe one day Wally and I will “retire” to Orlando. We will get jobs and work for the Mouse, yet even then it will be our purpose and passion to do it all to point these seekers from all over the globe that what they are seeking and searching for can only be found in Christ.

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I fell in love with Disney as a kid. During the “Disney Renaissance” I watched Belle, Ariel and Aladdin at the movie theater and was hooked on ALL things Disney. I honestly cannot even guess how much time I spent at their store in the mall and even took a few animation courses in high […]

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