Why Disney is Better than the Bible

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. Nearly 20.5 million people visited the attraction in 2017. And that’s not including all the off park resorts, hotels and other theme parks. Mickey Mouse is certainly popular. Not to mention all the memorabilia! Magic Kingdom sells over 300 000 pounds of popcorn and employs nearly 70 000 cast members. Approximately 285 thousand pounds of guest laundry is cleaned by Walt Disney world employees every single day. During the Christmas season, 8.5 million lights and 300 000 yards of ribbon decorate the park. And you think you had a hard time keeping up with the housework?!

However, I am curious to do some research on the underlying (and overwhelming) reasons why Disney products are so popular. What have they got that makes them… well… the most magical place on earth?

Legend has it that Disney created the theme park for his little girls. A place to feel like a princess. Filled with adventure, mystery and treasures. If you have ever been, you know it is a reality. We visited way back when our beloveds were a little younger … a trip the kids still talk about. From the check in desk, to the ice cream vendor, every “cast member” was trained to talk directly to our little “prince and princesses”, and to make everyone’s stay the most special visit ever. We even talked to the cashiers in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot… and they enlightened us that most of the employees were chosen from their home countries and had to undergo two years of training before joining the Epcot world teams.

And it’s not all about the kids. In 2013, about 1 500 weddings were held at Disney. That number has steadily grown, and last year, more than 4 000 ceremonies have been performed each day! I have heard of lots of newlyweds who have chosen the theme parks as a honeymoon destination. You can even choose to live there (if you happen to have a couple of million to put out on a house and are willing to abide by the rules). More and more travel companies are promoting adult only Disney visits. And we are eating it up!

So — I muse — WHY? Just think with me a minute. What would happen if our churches were like Disney? What if they were the most magical places on earth, and every child and adult had your church building on their bucket list for places to visit? What would that mean? The coolest rides? The best shows? The best marketing budget for toys and movie clips? Yeah, Disney has all of those things, and yes, many believers are discovering that Walt’s traditional themes are becoming subtly more “worldly”. I’m not saying we have to compromise our fundamentals to woo seekers with magic and pixie dust. The Bible is God’s living word and is perfect in all it’s details. But it doesn’t change the fact that people are seeking places to belong.

Places where they will be accepted. Maybe a place to feel safe. A place to feel special and loved — even if you have a funny voice, or a tiny fin, or ugly, mean stepsisters. To know that it really is “a small world after all”, and that all it takes is faith and trust. If we really and truly believe that we have the. best. answer. ever. to the problems we all face in this world, why are we not sharing it?! Why are my beloveds seeking adventure and drama in the latest superhero movie? Why do I wish for a fairy tale marriage? {no worries, honey, it’s pretty close…} Why is Disney our celebratory destination and not the streets of gold in Heaven? Is God not bigger and more powerful than Mickey Mouse?

As usual, I don’t have all the answers. I love Disney. The family is trying to convince me to see the new, live action Dumbo movie. I’m gonna cry. Poor Dumbo is snatched away from his momma all too soon. But I’ve got to wonder, am I moved the same way when I read of the atrocities that human babies face in our own world? Does it grieve me the way that it grieves our Heavenly Father? The Bible is filled with adventure, romance, humor, and boundless love. Love that can cross barriers, and the test of time. Are we training our “cast members” to treat every person who walks through our doors, that, they too, can experience the most magical place on earth through the person of Jesus… and that an even greater adventure awaits them after? To infinity and beyond?!

Photo credit: Roberto Gemini Pixabay

I want my daughters to feel like princesses. I want my boys to seek adventure and fight for justice. I want to whistle while I work as my house gets cleaned by a variety of adorable woodland creatures. But I know that, sometimes, fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending. So I entrust my friends and family to be sons and daughters of the king of kings. To put on the whole armour of God, and enlist in the adventure of a lifetime. Because with God’s help, Walt Disney himself, might agree… “if you can dream it, you can do it.”