Gospel insights from Disney World

By: Stephen Carter
December 11, 2011

I forsook the mountains of Utah for the swamps of Orlando, Florida this last week. My destination: Disney World. And while there, I learned something very important: something that would probably get me lynched in Primary. So I share it here instead.

Disney World earned its motto—the Happiest Place on Earth—from the fact that it is staffed almost completely by healthy, beautiful, friendly, outgoing, willing-to-talk-your-ear-off people. They want to put on gigantic costumes and cavort with your children. They want to serve your $30 bowl of pasta with a smile. They really look forward to waving goodbye to you as they send you into the dark tunnel of the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. At one point during our trip, we had a cashier and two managers working on a complicated purchase for us, happy as kids in a tub of ice cream.

Indeed, when you enter the park—heck, when you enter the bus to the park—you are immediately caught up on a tide of good cheer. It pushes you out of your $300-a-night hotel room through the hour-long ride queues into the shops where a candy bar costs $2.50, and from park to park—an infinite loop of happiness.

As I was carried along by this irresistible tide, I kept wondering when I was going to come across an example of disobedience, of someone swimming against this happy current. On our second day there, I saw a group of unruly middle schoolers running up the single rider line trying to get ahead, but they were turned back firmly at the door. That was the single time I saw a slight aberration—except for the time I sat on a queue railing and was shooed off it by a passing Disney worker. I was amazed at how guilty I felt for this infraction. It was as if I had bitten a hand that had not only fed me, but housed me, put me on awesome rides, and taken pictures of my terrified face during the scariest parts. In short, I felt I had betrayed Disney World and the happiness it stood for. I had briefly become a pimple on the otherwise spotless face of the Great Mouse. So heavy was my remorse that I worked the rest of the trip to not step outside the lines, to be a good Disney patron, to make the system work smoothly.

Because the system was there for my benefit. The skill with which Disney World processed tens of thousands of people through its rides and restaurants was always working for me. No matter how long the line, no matter how great the competition for the ride or hamburger at the end of it, the only thing I had to do was take my place, secure in the knowledge that I would be processed justly and impartially. That I would make it to my reward no sooner than the person in front of me and no later than the person behind me. It was very comforting. No matter how long the journey, no matter how difficult the wait, not one soul would be lost.

And then I understood why a third part of the hosts of heaven followed Lucifer.

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12 Responses to Gospel insights from Disney World

  1. ????? on December 11, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    Interesting. I was not sure where this was headed and admit
    I was surprised. I often wonder if we really understood the events that transpired at that crucial time in heaven.

    Were there debates? Exactly how was the plan presented and why would one be inspired to choose one way versus the other? Were we at different levels in our knowledge or comprehension? Did we act according to knowledge, faith, or belief?

    Great post. Easy to understand, yet presents much food for thought.

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  2. word on December 11, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    im glad that someone finally correctly identified that a “third part” followed lucifer, not 33% as is usually said in conference , or on the blogosphere

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  3. abish on December 12, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    i’ve had some interesting insights into that topic recently, seeing that the firstborn son gets the double portion–so when lucifer takes the third part, that’s his inheritance taken early, just like the prodigal son. perhaps he will even return to the father someday?

    i agree with your disney happy experience, it’s very scripted there.

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  4. Bob on December 12, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    I’ve always heard the Mormon Church was the Disneyland Trip. It’s “Plan of Happiness”. I have never thought of the “Devil’s Plan” was a Disneyland.

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  5. Ray on December 12, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Very insightul post, Stephen. It reminded me immediately of a recent post over on BCC about and episode of “The Twilight Zone”:

    “The Other Place – A Momo’s Ode to Rod”

    I also like Abish’s mention of the “double portion” being highly meaningful in Hebrew terminology – and the possible implications of that construct on our assumptions about how many spirits actually followed Lucifer and their eventual end.

    There is great security in having all one’s needs met without effort or chance of failure and pain. I think sometimes we underestimate the power of grace / the Atonement and too quickly judge those who are on either side of us in different lines for different rides in different parks.

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  6. Christopher Bigelow on December 12, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Ha, ha, great post. I always thought fear was the main motivator of the third part, but maybe it was . . . conformity. 2012 is looking like a bicoastal Disney year for my family, so I will face my own war in heaven/hell.

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  7. Jeff Spector on December 12, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    One could say the same thing about a professional sports game.

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  8. NewlyHousewife on December 12, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    At a library I worked at in high school there was a memoir someone wrote about their experience of working at Disney World. The few pages I read made me not want to ever go to Disney World.

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  9. Jake on December 13, 2011 at 6:10 AM

    So Disneyland is Lucifer’s plan, and from the picture the iron rod is what leads to Disneyland. The implication of this is that holding onto the iron road is the path to follow Lucifer’s plan.

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  10. FireTag on December 13, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Brilliant, Stephen. The implication that the desire to be “taken care of” and that “all is well in Zion” may blind us to the price we are actually paying is a great way to understand the necessity to RISK spiritually in order to actually ADVANCE to spiritual perfection.

    And I’ll pass on bringing in the economic and political equivalents. :D

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  11. Bob on December 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    #10: FireTag,
    I am not following you. Are you saying a price must always be paid or risk taken to follow a spiritual life?
    The Devil’s Plan has no risk or price. You only have to gain a body and die in one second(?) Why would you have to live a life if using your ‘Free Will’ was not an issue?

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  12. FireTag on December 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM


    The enticement of Lucifer was “no one shall be lost”. Free will is an issue in living precisely because some can be lost, and good people are always tempted to want a situation where their brothers and sisters are not lost. The desire for good things can be twisted into surrendering our free will.

    Disney World as a roach motel where you can check in but not check out (i.e., get your freedom back)?

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