Is Disney really the happiest place on earth?


By Jessica Brodie

They say Disney World is the happiest place on earth, and I’m definitely a huge Disney lover, but it’s also a place where you can get a front-row seat to other families’ very obvious behavior woes.

My husband, Matt, and I took our four preteen kids to Epcot and the Magic Kingdom last week, and along with the smiles and giggles, we saw our share of dysfunction in all the fun. In fact, Matt is a YouTube vlogger, and at one point we started joking about scrapping the “Five Pro Tips for Surviving Disney World” vlog he was crafting and instead doing a vlog showcasing “Cranky Disney.” Seriously, every ride seemed filled with tantrumy toddlers, stony-faced parents, dads threatening to take away souvenirs, and moms with fingers in their kids’ faces seething, “If you hang on that chain link one more time, I’ll….” One episode got so heated I grabbed my iPhone to video-record it, thinking Matt could blur out their faces and it would be “funny” to show the real experience of Disney in August.

And then I got that familiar Holy Spirit-conscience thump in my chest and realized I wasn’t being very nice.

What kind of person was I to be focusing on such negativity? Not only was it not kind of me, but it was also preventing me from experiencing the pure, sweet, childlike joy I was seeking by going to Disney in the first place!

In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul urged the early Christians to be glad in the Lord, to set aside anxiety, negativity, and pain and instead focus their hearts, minds, and souls on the good. He wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

That afternoon in line at Disney, I listened to that Spirit nudge and made a conscious decision to stop focusing on the negative and train my mind on the holy and the admirable.

Almost instantly, my spirits lifted and my eyes were opened. I noticed older brothers helping their younger sisters onto rides or making googly faces at babies. I saw grandmas giggling like teenagers. I saw a little boy riding in his grandpa’s lap as the older man navigated the handicap ramp on his electric scooter, both of them grinning and singing. I saw whole families holding hands and dancing together in the streets.

I focused on the good as I should, and it made my heart soar.

The happiest place on earth can be anywhere—just as long as we remember to let go of gloom and snark and wear our “light of Christ” sunglasses proudly.

Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach. Read more of her blogs here, or check out her bio and fiction and journalism work here.

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