This is one of the few Disney Dads blog posts that hasn’t been published. I loved it so much though I really wanted to share it with everyone because I think it speaks to some of the reasons why I and others love Disney and especially Disney Theme Parks so much.
I have to admit that my love of Disney is intense. It peppers my life in ways even my wife doesn’t understand. It’s not the kind of intense that’s chaotic or obsessive, but intense in the way that it holds deep meaning in my life. The theme parks especially have a special place in my heart. A Disney theme park was the place I got my first job, a Disney theme park was the place I met my first girlfriend, and a Disney theme park was the place I bought my wife a Minnie Mouse ring and promised one day I would marry her. I came through on that promise by the way.
I love Disney because it harkens back to an idealism about the world that sometimes we are sorely missing. With reality TV being shoved in our faces constantly we seldom get to imagine the way life COULD be. Today even our sit-coms are based “in reality.” When I was growing up, we watched shows like the Brady Bunch and Happy Days and Family Ties and the Cosby Show and I know that the reason they were so popular were not because anybody actually lived like that, but because they showed us the kind of life that we aspired to. The kind where parents make the right decisions in raising their kids. The kind where love and understanding triumph over selfishness and self-centered attitudes. And it brought meaning and hope that we could rise above it all.
If you want reality TV, you simply have to turn on the news to see the worst in one another. But where is the counterbalance? Where are the images and examples that we can look up to and live for? They seem to be disappearing these days. One of the reasons I became a pastor was because I fully and whole-heartedly believe that God offers us that kind of hope for a better life if we only reached out and took it. And I don’t mean in a blind faith kind of way either, but that if we embraced what God has to teach us – to love one another – we could reshape the world! And that’s the kind of hope I want to share with others and the kind of hope I want to raise my kids believing in.
To me Disney offers that kind of hope. In a world filled with horrible realities, Disney often offers us a better way. One of the things I loved about working in the parks was the concept of the “berm.” The berm was a big wall that shut out the outside world. Beyond the berm was every trouble and worry that dotted our lives. But for a brief instant in time, when you walked beneath that sign that said, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” you did just that. You lived in a place where magic exists and dreams do come true. Is it the reality of our world today? No, but it could be. And it should be.
I bring my kids to Disneyland and Walt Disney World because I want them to have this hope in their lives. I want them to know that for an instant and maybe right now only in this place, does this kind of idealism exist in the world. But it does exist! Other theme parks may offer more thrilling rides and more dangerous rides, but none of them offer you a better way to live. We see this idealism in the animated movies Disney creates and we watch them come to life in the parks and we can hope at least for the day that we can take this idealism out into the world and make it a world we would be proud of. That’s why I’m a Disney Dad, because I want to make this world a better place for my children. Every child deserves to have hope, happiness, and love in their lives. Don’t you think?