My family and I just returned from a trip to Disneyland. We probably walked a marathon as we traversed the “magic kingdom”. Not too much has changed since I first went there nearly 30 years ago. For some things this is good for others it is bad. The old Swiss Family Robinson House is now the “Tarzan” house because no one has ever heard of that famous family. The 20,000 Leagues under the Sea sub is now the Nemo sub…and still just as lame. Space Mountain is still fun and feels ahead of its time, Star Tours still makes me want to puke, and Pirate’s of the Caribbean is still the best ride at the park period!. A Small World is probably the same for the most part, just a bit bigger. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t dare subject my kids to that kind of pain–my guess is they’ve added a few languages. My kids had an awesome time, there is a joy in experiencing it through their eyes. Through my fatherly, penny pinching, pastoral eyes, things looked a bit old, overpriced, and idolatrous.
I know that “idolatrous” sounds strong. I’m not a party pooping Christian killjoy–I had fun. Upon my return, however, I’ve been wondering what the average middle-easterner, 2000 years ago, would think of Disneyland. Without question, they would see it as a religious worship experience, perhaps even a separate nation walled off from the world with its own colorful pantheon of gods and goddesses. They would see people dressed up like their gods, buying clothing with pictures of their gods, surrounded by signs and statues of their gods, riding machines embossed with faces of their gods, eating food all shaped like the various gods, and getting autographs and pictures with the gods/goddesses that most capture their heart. And, in the midst of a “recession”, they would see people spending fortunes at the altars shaped like mice, ducks, dogs, chipmunks, and goofy (what the hell is goofy?).
Without doubt, Disneyland is a kingdom. Perhaps, it is the iconic kingdom of consumerism. It is the mecca of temples, but not much different than the sports arenas, shopping malls, or other similar places of worship that thousands flock to everyday.