The first week of April, my wife and I took her grandson Deacon and his parents to Disney World for a one-week vacation. I had done that with my grandkids many years ago when my wife Phyllis was alive, and it was a great family time. Like the first time, Cynthia (my second wife after Phyllis passed away) saved up some money so we could repeat the trip, but this time I did more Disney World people watching.
Much of Disney World has not changed. Animal planet added a ride based on Avatar, but the emphasis on taking care of the planet was the same. Star Wars dominated Astro World with the same old “shoot-em-up” fantasy theme. Epcot and the Magic Kingdom had a few additions, but both were relatively the same as in the past.
What was not the same was the people in attendance. While there were some nuclear families in the park, the lack of males was painfully obvious. Some that were there were gay couples where one partner identified himself as the mother and the other as the father. Disney’s workers are well trained to make sure all feel welcome no matter what their lifestyle or sexual orientation. In today’s entertainment business, such a posture is absolutely necessary and required by law.
Because of my age and my arthritis, I often parked in a wheelchair along a concourse where I could watch people go by. It was apparent that many families there were like mine; grandparents bring grandkids to Disney. Some also had the children’s parents, but many didn’t. One rather distraught mother with three small children sat next to me. I asked where her husband was as the six-year-old boy crawled up in my nap to tell me about ants. “Oh, he’s doing his usual thing on the golf course,” she replied. Indeed Disney has built several beautiful golf courses with expensive greens fees. Many affluent men were playing while their wives fought the battle of Disney with their children.
The Disney corporation is a well-oiled business. They handle transportation very well. A “lightning pass” system allows you to check in on your computer and not wait in line for a ride. I saw people carrying a considerable amount of merchandise from the park, and the prices were astronomical. You could buy a “hopper” pass for extra money to go to a park of your choosing anytime. Otherwise, you were confined to the park you signed up for each day. The number of people in the parks requires a system like that, and it works well.
Disney World people watching shows a picture of today’s culture in the United States. The emphasis on making Mickey Mouse a business tycoon is huge. The latest scientific theories are pushed with beautiful animation, a great deal of violence, and more attention to art than to fact. History is slanted toward the secular, with all religious systems presented as equals.
One mother who sat next to me as her four children rode a roller coaster told me that she brought her kids here about every five years. She said it gave her a whole new set of issues to deal with in teaching her children. She wants them to know the teachings of Jesus and the problems with the secular presentations they see in a place like Disney World. As our discussion continued, I learned that she is a preacher’s wife. When she found out about my Does God Exist? ministry, she was fascinated that it is older the Disney World’s 50-year celebration. Disney World people watching can be very interesting.
— John N. Clayton © 2022