Earlier this year I blogged about our summer family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. One thing I didn’t spend time unpacking concerns a mental analysis I conducted while there. I would like to take some time today to discuss what I observed on that trip and how I believe churches could benefit from studying the Disney model. 1. Joy Galatians 5:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Walt Disney World is a place filled with happiness. It is often called “the happiest place on Earth.” I won’t unpack the whole Disney philosophy but they put an extreme emphasis on being happy. Employees are expected to come to work in a good mood and be hospitable to everyone they come into contact with. Their joy is contagious. It’s hard to imagine waiting in line for 90 minutes just to ride a 90 second ride with a smile on your face, but that is what took place continually. I didn’t care how long I had to wait, I was at Disney World. I was exhausted but still filled with joy throughout the entire trip. I will compare this to another theme park I recently visited which will go un-named. It has fun rides but I could quickly tell that the employees didn’t really care if I was there or not – some of them were downright rude and made it clear they didn’t enjoy waiting on me. I enjoyed the rides but not the overall experience. There is a reason that Disney is the most popular theme park experience in the world and it’s not because of the rides – it’s the atmosphere. Too often, churches are more like the other theme park. Congregants aren’t filled with joy, volunteers are hospitable to friends but ignore visitors and some people are downright rude. The joy is missing from many churches. This is evident when a visitor is reprimanded for sitting in someone else’s seat or for wearing the wrong style of clothing. People are happy to be at Disney; are they happy to be at your church? 2. Acceptance Romans 15:5-7 English Standard Version (ESV) “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” This really dovetails on the last subject. Everyone seemed accepted at Disney. They didn’t turn people away based on race, nationality or what they believed before walking through the door. Disney maintains a very diverse crowd. What is even more surprising is that it doesn’t feel weird. You can be in line next to someone from a different nation who happens to speak a different language and get along with him. You are both there for the same reason – to create lifelong happy memories. Disney’s environment of happiness opens the door for acceptance. They even have a program where you can where a button if you are a first time visitor, attending on your birthday or anniversary or a list of other celebration events. They go over the top in treating you extra special when they see you wearing your celebration button. In this way, they don’t only accept everyone but they celebrate along with you. When you compare this to scores of churches in America, things have a much sharper contrast. Many churches are not diverse. Churches are often divided straight down racial lines and many people are not accepting of visitors who are different, especially if they are from differing belief systems. In larger churches visitors can go ignored and feel lost in the crowd. There are many people who visit churches on Sunday mornings and are never acknowledged. On the other hand other churches will quickly pass judgment on a visitor if they don’t fit within certain criteria. We could learn a thing or two about acceptance from Disney. We need to not worry about the specifics surrounding a visitor, we just need to be glad they are at our church and we definitely need to celebrate with one another. We can’t expect people to give their lives to Christ if we pass judgment on them the minute they walk through our doors. 3. Excellence Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV) “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” One more thing that stood out about Disney was their attention to detail. Excellence is written in everything that Disney does. When we were on safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it felt like we were really in the African Savannah. The tour guides are excellent and the feeling is amazing. We also watched the Lion King, which is a Circ De Solae type show. There are dancers, fire eaters, trapeze artists, flying people dressed like birds and enormous electronic animals. Everything is way over the top and it just amazed me to watch. Disney also paints tiny details into their backgrounds. Also, part of the fun of many of their rides takes place while in line. They have entertainment and just amazing things to look at while you wait. I could go on and on talking about how Disney has perfected excellence, but I think you get the point. Does your church pay close attention to detail? Think about your worship team, sermons, VBS, cleanliness of your restrooms, the paint on the walls of your classrooms, your chairs, carpet or pews. Think about your events, small groups, visitor stations, children’s and youth ministry. Is your church doing everything with excellence or are they just doing enough to get by? Disney is not taking the message of Jesus Christ to the world. They are not giving out the hope that comes from God, but they are reaching people by the droves. They understand the importance of joy, acceptance, celebration and excellence. Churches don’t need to become like Disney, but many could stand to learn a lesson or two from how it operates. -Tim
I have blogged in the past about how much I would enjoy getting paid to go on vacation and then write about my experiences. I love travelling and writing, so this would be a wonderful marriage of two of my greatest passions. I have yet to me offered such a dream job, so I just did the next best thing – went on vacation and then wrote about some of my experiences when I returned. Last week I focused much on our trip to Disney World. That is not all we did on our vacation and I will be taking some time to inform my readers about other parts of our vacation soon. I feel like I need to officially wrap up my blog about our Disney vacation, so I am dedicating the rest of today’s blog to my memories of Disney World.
One of the greatest things that came out of our trip to Disney was the memories we created together as a family. One of our last days we witnessed a family who either left a shop without their pre-teenage daughter or she wondered into the shop. They were in the middle of a war of words as we passed. I am not sure who was at fault for the separation of the parents and child but based upon the parent’s rebukes, the full responsibility was being placed upon the daughter’s shoulders. To say they were angry would be an understatement as would stating they were furious. They were explosive and it was one of the few times I witnessed the crowd moving away. I realized that it had to be quite traumatic to lose their daughter and that every possible emotion had arisen during their frantic search, but all that could go through my mind was how that very moment would define their vacation at what is proposed to be the ‘happiest place on earth.’ At that moment I was extremely tired and my feet were aching but I pledged to make the most of the remainder of our trip because I wanted to leave with wonderful memories.
We had a good day and got to experience some wonderful times together. It was a time for bonding and we became a closer knit family as a result of our experience and out attitude. For a vacation to be a success in producing fond memories you must enter it with the right attitude. You can vacation at any dream destination and have a horrible time if you expect to have a horrible time. We faced toll roads, torrential downpours, sunburns, aching muscles, etc – but they were all part of a wonderful memory that I would do over and over and over again. I celebrated the rain, we have been experiencing a drought where I live. The toll roads were a nuisance, but a gateway to adventure. The sunburn and aching muscles were the result of too much fun. My attitude was to enjoy my vacation and bond with my family and that is the results I obtained. Had I went with a negative attitude, I would now have negative memories. Instead I am filled with memories of carrying my daughter who is still young enough to carry, meeting Mickey Mouse, riding thrilling rides and getting to experience my son and daughter’s joy on their first roller coaster rides! We laughed, ran, waited in line together and just enjoyed the freedom of being together in a joyful place. It was pure excitement and I have memories that will last a lifetime.
My biggest piece of advice for going to Disney World or any vacation is to expect wonderful things to happen. Make good memories. Take you camera and snap it every time you have the opportunity. Don’t argue or fuss and make the best out of even the bad things that happen. If you heed my advice, you will have a smile on your face as you look back upon the time you and your family were running in the rain to ride down Splash Mountain.
Make the best out of each day.
This is my third blog on this subject; please click the following links to see the other blogs:
Blog 1 Blog2
1. Plan your attire: I learned that June is a good month for rain in Florida. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we enjoyed the rain and took advantage of the shorter lines it created. If we were not dressed appropriately, however, we would have been miserable. We planned ahead and bought sandals with nylon straps. (Good sandals for this being in the sun and rain include Keen and Chaco). You want sandals with nylon straps because they can get wet and dry quickly. We also wore high end sandals because we wanted to be as comfortable walking as possible. Our children wore Keen sandals (which I saw many people at Disney wearing) while Julie and I wore Chaco sandals due to their superior arch support. Don’t get me wrong, our feet hurt, but not as bad as they would have with inferior shoes. My advice is to not wear tennis shoes, unless you enjoy the sloshing of water as you walk. It’s also a good idea to wear quick drying clothing and make sure you take rain protection. We wore ponchos that we purchased at Disney. We knew to pack some but forgot – Disney ponchos aren’t cheap, so remember to pack your own. The advantage to a poncho is that you can pack it when you are not wearing it.
2. Take a small backpack: When talking to others we realized that we would need to take stuff into Disney. We purchased a small backpack and decided that we would carry everything in that bag. (This worked great until we started buying souvenirs. You may want to pack an empty bag inside your main bag to put souvenirs in). We packed snacks, our ponchos, the camera, and other essentials in the backpack. Most of Disney’s rides have a storage compartment for bags, so we never found ourselves needing to hand it off and alternate who rode what. The backpack was very handy.
3. Strollers: Our children are 8 and 5 and neither one ever uses a stroller. We were advised to take one because the walking is so strenuous, but opted to not take in a stroller. I would make the same decision if I had it to do all over. I noticed that those with strollers had a difficult time. Many rides require that you park your stroller in a stroller lot, so you are then forced to carry the child and all the stuff you had in the stroller. Navigating a stroller through a large crowd can be very difficult and many people don’t yield to anyone – including those with strollers or in wheelchairs. My daughter did get very tired one night and I carried her quite a bit, but I still prefer that over hauling around a stroller all day. It was just extra exercise for me. Our situation is different. Some people have more children or younger children and need a stroller. If you do need on, plan ahead and be flexible because you will have extra requirements.
4. Buy Souvenirs at the End of the Day: I mentioned that we bought souvenirs. Most days we bought our souvenirs at the end of the day. We just took mental notes of what we wanted and got those items at that time. This prevented us from hauling around extra items. We did have a situation where we were in a gift shop in middle of the day and would not be returning to that area, so we purchased some items there. (They had sales, which is abnormal for Disney). We did, consequently, carry those items with us for the rest of the day and wished we had an extra backpack.
That’s all for today, but I still have a ton of information about our trip to share. This may go on for days. ;) - Tim
Yesterday I wrote some words of wisdom based on our recent experience in visiting Walt Disney World for the first time. To read that blog, please click here. I am continuing that thought with some more information on our experience. These are things that we learned from one trip which does not make us veterans by any means. I do think, however, that these experiences may be of assistance to others planning a trip to Mouse Land.
1. Know What You Want Before You Go: I do not recall ever putting as much work into planning a family vacation as I did this one. We were blessed to have a travel agent who offered her services free of charge to help us plan the trip and I can definitely say that she was very helpful. When going to Disney, you have a laundry list of decisions to make. Will you stay at one of Disney’s resorts or somewhere else? How much money are you willing to budget for the trip? Will you add a meal plan or try to bring your own food? If eating at Disney, will you schedule character meals? If so, which ones will you schedule and when? Are you going to each park or just certain ones? If going to each park, will you purchase a Park Hopper? The questions go on and on and on. Do not plan to just show up in Orlando and figure it out because that just will not make for a very memorable or enjoyable experience. Also, Disney isn’t very close to Orlando when you figure in the traffic and toll roads. It’s pretty much become a city of its own, which makes going to Orlando somewhat of a misnomer. Start visiting Disney’s website and start talking to everyone you know who has visited Walt Disney World. The more information you can gather prior to the trip, the better. Learn your options, decide what you want to do and make your plan. This is one vacation requires much planning.
2. Think Ahead: Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your Disney vacation. Try making all your reservations as soon as possible. If you reserve things early, you can start making payments for the trip and have most of it paid before you even go. Not worrying about how you are going to pay for the trip you just went on is a good feeling. We paid almost our entire Disney trip prior to embarking on our journey. We also took $250 on a prepaid Disney card and some cash. We did not worry about money while there because we had already paid for the trip. This is very freeing and helps you enjoy the trip even more. Also, making your reservations early helps you assure you get the hotel you want, the character meals you want and frees up time to plan out your schedule when you arrive at Disney.
3. Do what is Best for You. We opted to stay at a Disney resort (Port Orleans Riverside – which I highly recommend) and took advantage of their meal plans. This worked well for us and I would not do the trip differently. There is something extra special about staying at Disney and we did not need to worry about our meals because they were already paid for. We were able to take full advantage of Disney transportation and also got extra perks for staying. This was not the least expensive route but we worked it into our budget. I will state this, the meals at Disney are astronomical, so if you don’t have the money to do a meal plan, don’t plan on eating at Disney because that will cost you even more. We also opted to visit every major park – Animal Kingdom, Epcot, The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We did this all in four days. My one regret is not planning for 5 or 6 days. We did almost everything we wanted – to see how visit my first blog – but we exhausted ourselves. It would have been better to have more time and paced ourselves more slowly. Part of planning ahead is figuring out what works best for you.
4. Be Flexible: You will not be the only family at Disney and therefore will not be alone in having an agenda. Your agenda will at times compete with many other people’s agendas. Relax and enjoy your trip. Realize that you are not in a competition with everyone else to get on a ride or see a show. You are a part of a larger community. You may need to skip a ride due to the line and visit it later, or you just might need to sacrifice a ride or show altogether. Don’t let that ruin your trip, but go with a determination to be flexible. There were a couple rides we really wanted to go on but had to sacrifice. I was just thrilled that we were actually able to do about 95% of the things we planned, which was a surprise to me because I went with the expectation of only getting to do about half. Another advantage to flexibility is making the best of your situation. The longest line we waited in was for a ride called Soarin at Epcot. Instead of fuming, we spent our 90 minutes talking to the other patrons and joking around with them. I actually think I had more fun waiting in line than I did on the ride itself. I guess you could say my attitude shaped my altitude – pun intended. =)
If you plan on going to Disney, make sure you PLAN on going to Disney. It really is a great experience and I definitely recommend going, just make sure you take time to plan in advance so you are not frustrated throughout the trip.
My family recently went on vacation to Walt Disney World. It was our first family vacation to The Happiest Place on Earth. One trip does not make us experts, but we did learn much from our adventure. Today I am beginning a series where I will be sharing some of the secrets we learned. If this blog goes viral, they may no longer be secrets, but I think it will still be helpful information. With no further ado, here are the tips we garnered.
1. Go Left: Prior to embarking on our journey to the eternal land of happiness we enlisted the advice of a Disney specialist named Lauren. Lauren provided us with some of the greatest advice we could ever hope to receive. Here is what she told us, ‘most people naturally move to the right. In just about everything you do, you will see the crowd go to the right. Go left. You will be able to beat the crowd by making this one move.’ She was right. When we got to a theme park, we went left and got to several rides and attractions before the crowd ever arrived. We rode Pirates of the Caribbean without waiting in line and were even in very short lines for Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, we hardly waited at all to see The Lion King at Animal Kingdom and rode several rides at Epcot without waiting by implementing this one piece of advice. We spent very little time in lines during the first half of the day and were hitting the previously busy attractions after much of the crowd had already left. We also found that the crowd typically went into the right line or the right door, so we went to the left lines and left doors and would often get ahead by making that one move.
2. Rain is your friend: If you go to Florida in June, expect rain because it is the beginning of Hurricane season. Many people fear rain and have been doped into believing that water will cause them to melt. I blame it on The Wizard of Oz, but it just seems to be the attitude of many people. Read this statement three times: Rain is your friend…Rain is your friend…Rain is your friend. I wrote it three times because I knew you wouldn’t go back and reread it. Buy some ponchos and plan for rain. Florida can get hot, so a nice shower is a way to stay cool and get more Disney for your money. Let me explain by sharing our own experience. It rained some every day we were at Disney, but it rained the most on our day at the Magic Kingdom. That was the day for which we had planned and anticipated for years. We were not going to allow a torrential downpour ruin our plans. We had just finished a princess dinner at The Grand Floridian and noticed that it was raining cats and dogs, so to speak. We had to make a decision – scrap our plans for the remainder of the day, wait it out, or view the rain as a blessing from above. We chose the blessing route and returned to the park. As we re-entered the park we noticed something interesting. There was a mass exodus from the park. We were going against the flow… but we were the ones entering the Magic Kingdom. Rachel had been begging to ride Splash Mountain again so we went directly to that ride. One would reason that people would not shy away from a water ride in the rain, but that assumption was wrong. The ride was empty and running. We literally went straight in and had a log to ourselves. It was like the ride was opened just for us. We spent much of that afternoon in short lines and really enjoyed our time. None of us ever melted. The rain was our friend.
3. Use the Fast Pass Wisely: Disney has a system called the Disney Fast Pass. For someone who has never been, it sounds totally awesome. You go to the Fast Pass station, scan your park ticket (which more like a credit card) and it gives you a ticket for the ride within a certain time slot, 3:30-4:30 for example. You come back to ride at some point during that hour and either don’t wait or you don’t wait long because those with a Fast Pass are given preference over those in the Standby line. There is a catch, however. You can just run from line to line and collect a ton of Fast Passes. There are restrictions, so it’s best to get one for a ride/attraction that you really desire and that has long lines. You will be very frustrated if you get a Fast Pass for It’s a Small World and are forced to wait in the standby line for Splash Mountain. Thanks to this system, we rode Kali River Rapids and Kilimanjaro Safaris in The Animal Kingdom for example.
This is the first of several blogs one what we learned at Disney. I hope that our experience will be of value to anyone else planning an upcoming trip.
Where dreams come true… My family is planning to embark on an adventure of epic proportions this summer. We are going to Disney World! This is something we are very excited about because I am the only one who has ever been. My parents took me when I was a child (before Epcot existed) and it is one of my most memorable childhood vacations. I’m very amped about creating these memories for my family. My kids still talk about our family vacation to Myrtle Beach two years ago. Based upon their level of excitement from that trip I am sure Disney World will electrify them beyond their wildest dreams. As a type of preparation for the kids my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Garrett and Brenda Stritzel, bought Kinect Disneyland for our XBOX. The kids are now learning all things Disney. They can’t wait and neither can we. Julie has never been to Disney World but has always dreamed of going. This summer her dream will come true. I eagerly wait with excitement to see my wife transformed into a kid again.
Disney World is not cheap, not cheap at all. We have managed to save some money and are trying to scrape more together. Even though we know when we are going we have not yet made reservations because we are not sure how many days we can afford yet. Being trapped most of the year in the Midwest gives me a great desire to spend as many days as possible in the Sunshine State. We are planning to not only visit Disney but also spend a few days Oceanside as well. We want to get as much of Florida as we can before returning to reality.
Here is where you can help me and your fellow readers out. If you have been to Disney and have some sage advice, please, please, please share it in the comments section. I can’t write a blog about what to do when going to Disney because this is my first time to plan such a trip. If you have been you can contribute to my blog. If someone comments and has exceptional advice I might ask you to become my first guest post on the site. Thank you for your help!!