Preparing a Place: Reflections about Disney World

LauraAll Posts, Marriage


For a week, we ooo-ed and ahh-ed as several thousand humans worked to make a magical get-away for millions of guests. Amongst the wonders:

* trash cans that empty into an underground system so that they are never over-flowing and never leaking mysterious syrupy liquid

* music that convinces a person that maybe — just maybe — she is living a musical after-all

* a little plastic “Key to the World” card that takes care of meals, fast passes, park entrances, souvenir purchases…

* chocolate-coated ice cream Mickey Mouse ears on a stick

* fireworks, perfectly pruned shrubs, smiling costumes, vanilla-scented air, and stories that end with “happily ever after” every time.

At first, I was a little suspicious of our choice to spend our glorious anniversary amongst miles of man-made splendor and amusements that, although wonderful, really can’t compare to God’s magnificent creations in nature. These suspicions were validated when Epcot’s most popular ride, Soarin’, swept me up and over gorgeous land- and sea-scapes, puffing citrus and pine scents at just the right time to make the orange groves and pine woods come to life. I thought it a shame that people waited for 75 minutes to board this ride (not us “fast passers,” of course); shouldn’t we have spent the week admiring the real thing instead?? Needless to say, this was my favorite ride.

Then I got to thinkin’ (with considerable help from my airplane book, Radical Hospitality) about the beauty of humans preparing a place for other humans. I thought about how I could learn a great deal from Disney World’s significant effort to relieve a stranger like me of my luggage, hunger, impatience, and adult-sized worries. They did all they could to allow Ryan and me to stroll hand-in-hand down romantically lit streets, to laugh together as 3-D bugs flew at our faces, and to shed a few tears together as Nemo gained admiration for his dad. They were abundantly generous with their colors, scents, tastes, smiles, and creativity.

All of this was divinely timed to illustrate the lessons about hospitality that God has been teaching me for several weeks. Much of His work has been internal, since hospitality is mostly an issue of my heart: He’s been chipping away at my heart’s willingness to receive another person in Jesus’ name. Still, true hospitality also asks me to physically prepare myself and our home as places of acceptance and love. (For my inspiration, I have only to look at the way God has prepared this breath-taking world and the way in which Jesus is preparing a place for us in Heaven.) I learned that when I prepare a table, an outfit, or a celebration for another person, I am really preparing my own heart to love that person better. And I can already see how this is true: for instance, when Vivienne and I have the opportunity to prepare for Ryan’s return from work by straightening the house and making dinner before he bounds up the steps and knocks some rhythmic wonder on our front door, we are actually preparing our inner selves to love him well with smiles and hugs and grateful hearts. The greeting is always far more divine than when we are wrapped up in our own little worlds upon his return.

That’s why you’ll find this lesson amongst my favorite souvenirs.

MY TOP 10 FAVORITE SOUVENIRS (in no particular order):

1. A week of holding Ryan’s hand and kissing his shoulder whenever I wanted to

2. A week of perfectly blue skies and warm air against my skin

3. Laying in a hammock on a beach, watching a refreshingly quiet sunset

4. Breakfast with Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger (all of Vivienne’s favorite Disney-ites!), and Lobster Eggs Benedict



5. The perfect snow-globe for Vivienne (photo coming!)

6. The thrill of fast pass: walking quickly through rows and rows of “line” in order to pop right on a ride

7. People watching (fascinating, as you know)

8. Simple nostalgic boat rides with dancing dolls, Nordic trolls, and pirates as well as “How do they do that?” rides with technologies beyond my comprehension

9. AMAZING three-course meals with my hubby

10. The reminder that it’s good and rewarding to be generous, hospitable, and alive

Some Favorite Pictures


The infamous castle. I really do want one of these (with a fabulous house-cleaning program, of course).


My Personal Pirate… swoon. 🙂


Just checkin’ in on this Irish guy…


Ryan works on a creation at Lego Land, a shout-out to his childhood passion


Gettin’ in character for “It’s Tough To Be a Bug”


Wolfgang Puck: I highly recommend the Butternut Squash Soup!


After an outdoor dinner at Tony’s, the setting for the Lady’s and the Tramp’s romantic dinner, too


A boat ride,


A bus ride,


A bat,


And a really cool pumpkin. (We’ll have to see if it “earned its ears” when we take Vivienne and Jingle Bells in six-or-so years… I think it’s gonna make it!)