In praise of Disney

In praise of Disney December 14, 2023


The FP and 12 in Rome
The living modern apostles at the time of the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple:  President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. This iconic photograph was taken in the Visitor Center on the grounds of the temple.

I thought this article, written by Jacob Hess, an interesting one and worth commending to your attention:  “What is the modern apostleship? Elder Patrick Kearon enters an order Latter-day Saints believe to be ancient, divinely inspired”

But now, on to a very different topic:

Disneyland's icon
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland, in Anaheim, California

I explained a few days ago that, inspired by President Russell M. Nelson’s recent book, Heart of the Matter, I’m trying to keep a kind of “gratitude journal.”  I don’t share every entry, but here is today’s:

As politically controversial as it currently is, and despite the sneers of certain soi-disant intellectuals, I’m grateful for Walt Disney and for the company that he founded.  I’m not talking about current issues.  I’m talking about what Disney has given to the world.

When I was growing up, Bonanza and Walt Disney Presents and then Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and then The Wonderful World of Disney were the fixtures of our family’s Sunday evenings.

Moreover, although I’m really, really old, Disneyland opened up while I was still a baby, and I don’t remember the first time that my parents took me there.  It wasn’t very far from where we lived, so it was a part of my Southern California life from my earliest memories.

I remember the day that the grandparents of my best grade school friend took us to Disneyland.  At one point, he and I took the aerial Skyway over the park, while his grandparents went their own way.  He had been drinking a soft drink, and he finished it midway through the ride.  So, of course, he leaned over the edge and poured his remaining crushed ice on the people below.  He hit one lady squarely in the head, and she and her husband looked up to see their grandson’s grinning face.  Out of all of the thousands of people in the park, he had hit his grandmother.  Needless to say, Grandpa was waiting for us when we disembarked at the chalet terminal in Fantasyland.

His grandparents were surprisingly forgiving.  We stayed late that night, and I certainly didn’t want to occasion an early departure.  But I had developed what my mother would have called a “splitting headache,” and there was no place that sold aspirin.  After dark, we decided to have Mexican food at the Casa de Fritos.  But the line was long and, by the time I had my food, I was scarcely in the mood to eat it.  I put the tray down on our table, and leaned forward, putting my elbow on the corner of my tray and my chin in my hand.  But the tray wasn’t fully on the table, and my food, refried beans and all, ended up on the floor.  I hardly cared.  We stayed until closing time.

Then there was the time that another friend and I, now in our early teens, were waiting in line for the Matterhorn.  It was evening, and we were just behind two attractive long-blonde-haired early-teen girls.  He and I plotted for much of the time how to approach them.  Finally, not long before we were actually to climb into the “bobsleds,” we suggested, since this was a dangerous ride and we were probably about to die, that each pair of us should split up, so that a girl and a guy would be in each of the seats of our vehicle.  It worked!  So we spent the rest of the evening with them.  That was a big breakthrough adventure for me and my friend, and the companionship made the evening much more enjoyable.

In after years, honors students from my high school were given one day off from classes each semester, with a trip to Newport Beach during one and a day at Disneyland during the other.  I also took dates to Disneyland.  Several times, I took my future wife to Disneyland, sometimes just in the evening, for the lights and the restaurants.  Later still, we would take our children there.  My parents would bring their motorhome to the Disneyland parking lot and either stay there in it or drive home in another car; it gave us a place to come with our kids so that they could have a relaxing mid-day break.  We’ve taken our kids to Disney World and, by popular demand, to Euro Disney (later Disneyland Paris and now Disneyland Resort Paris).  We’ve returned to Disney World several times with the eastern incarnation of Cuteness Itself.

Why am I specifically grateful for Disney right now, though?  Here’s the backstory:  The father of the currently nearest incarnation of Cuteness Itself was a night owl.  I saw every episode of the original Magnum PI multiple times while I was in graduate school.  Into the wee hours of many nights, I tried to rock him to sleep to a background of late-night re-runs.  Holding a book or a TV control in my hand while rocking him was impossible.  So it was always and only Magnum PI.

Now, Cuteness Itself, who is staying with us this month, is also a night owl.  (Do you seek empirical proof of the law of karma?  Here it is.  What goes around comes around.)  So we’ve been up late watching classic Disney cartoons, like Cinderella, Bambi, and Beauty and the Beast.  It’s been wonderful to become reacquainted with them; they’re really very, very good.  And I’m grateful for the richness they’ve added, in a small way, to my life, to the lives of my children, and, now, to the lives of my grandchildren.


One of two temples in Tennessee
The Nashville Tennessee Temple (

But let’s not get too saccharine or too “positive.”  Here, last but not least, are three abominations that I’ve drawn directly from the ever-productive Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™:

“How the Church of Jesus Christ Is Responding to the Tennessee Tornadoes: Around 300 Latter-day Saint volunteers to begin cleanup efforts”

“The Poison of Arrogant Pride in Marriage … and the Antidote: Marital success hinges on humility over pride, with faith playing a key role in relationship harmony.”

And I don’t think that I shared this slightly older horror:  “Church provides backpacks and school supplies for displaced Muslim children”


Posted from Park City, Utah



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