Disney World in Orlando calls itself “the happiest place on earth.” Great effort has gone into creating the perfect environment to go along with the catchy tagline. The brand is a revered icon, known around the world. The theme parks, water parks, and Disney hotels combine to bring magical moments to all who enter their gates.
Guests want to be immersed in enchantment and are more than willing to pay for the experience. After all, a positive Disney experience has always been something that could be counted on in a world often fraught with worry and negativity.
There is never a frown on any of the faces of the thousands of workers who greet, meet, and seat in Disney’s many properties. There is never as much as a gum wrapper or speck of dirt in the streets. The sights and sounds and pumped-in smells combine to create a place where fantasy becomes fact and dreams come true.
However, decades of Disney nirvana were recently turned upside down when something truly horrific occurred. A two-year-old boy wading in a lake at a Disney resort was dragged away by an alligator. The toddler’s father fought to pull his child from the grip of the beast. He did not succeed. Sadly, divers found the boy’s body the next day.
The Orlando community and the entire country are reeling from the tragedy. It doesn’t seem possible that a calamity of this caliber could have happened in a place that promised such safety and fun.
Enjoying a vacation is often a positive way to counteract the stress of daily life. Disney-style vacation resorts present an illusion of perfection. But the happiness they offer is a figment of imagination. It’s not real.
As Jews, we are instructed “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha,” to serve G-d with happiness. Having a cheerful countenance and positive attitude are important components of our faith. It is difficult to accomplish anything when a person is sad and depressed.
True happiness, however, should not depend on a location. Neither Shangri-La nor Never-never Land nor even Disney World can create a reality of non-stop paradise. The happiest place on earth should come from within.
Editor’s Note: B’ezrat Hashem, as you read this I will be in Israel touring with the Eretz Israel Movement. This amazing organization offers the very best Israel experience. Eretz Israel Movement tours are always special. They combine top-notch tour guides and interesting and informative places to visit with a real and abiding love of the land. I hope to share my experiences when I get back. Shalom and l’hitraot.