They call it “The Happiest Place on Earth.” We’re talkin’ Disneyland. And that original idea still has life as the theme park that opened in Anaheim in 1955 remains a major attraction today. Add in locations like Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, (and soon in Shanghai, China) and that’s a lot of Mouse houses!
It is also a lot of Mouse-ka-bucks! My wife and I recently attended a conference in southern California. We finished our time there with a trip to Disneyland accompanied by our two adult sons, their spouses, and two of our grandchildren. We opted for just one of the two Disney themed options, and that was a $92 ticket. The Mouse accepts plastic, of course.
Despite it being a Monday and a school day, there were PLENTY of customers to create those famous long lines to ride. It was a surprise not only to see how many people weren’t working that day, but how many of them had lots of money to spend at Disneyland! Even the adults have enough Mickey-fever to put on the ears, t-shirts, and more expensive mouse gear.
Truth be told, Disneyland IS a remarkable place. Each park is as clean as a Pluto dog whistle. (Note…where were those passionate street sweeping kids when needed around the house?) There are very talented people on stage and as street musicians. Thrilling and not-as-thrilling rides await to please just about everyone. Stunning set design and captivating waterworks and fireworks shows can end your day. It’s all there to make you happy. Except…those long lines, of course.
To ease the pressure and wearing down of crowds, Disney theme parks offer restaurants often tucked away from view. We enjoyed a nice leisurely break in just such a restaurant in California Adventure. I could not help but notice that this experience actually took us away from the very reason we came to Disneyland—the rides! And the lunch came at a premium price. Well calculated, I am sure.
Skilled photographers can be found throughout, to make sure you get just the right memory of your happy time. And those souvenirs? Oh my. Who knew THAT many Disney product lines and variations even existed? It all makes for The Happiest Place on Earth—especially for the shareholders!
I know…this all makes me seem a bit cynical about the world of Disney. Having been there a number of times, I know it is a magical place—in the best sense of the word. A great escape. It’s clean, safe, fun, and family friendly. (With one exception which is obvious to most.)
In contrast, four days before Disneyland my wife and I were hearing of the needs of a mission organization that began several years before Disneyland opened. Despite the limited resources and financial challenges of the ministry, the workers who came from various sites around the world were genuinely among the happiest on earth. Their passion was not for a Magic Kingdom, but a Heavenly Kingdom. Their thrills come from hearing how broken lives have been healed. Marriages restored. Eternities changed.
Mission work takes place in a very different kind of Adventureland. And when this ride on earth ends, that’s when the stuff of legends really comes to life. Heroes with stories more incredible than any theme park could dream up.
And here’s the really remarkable part. We pay no admission charge to get there.
John 3:16. Now…that’s the ticket.
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