These days most kids view Vacation Bible Schools as a sentence to endure rather than a vacation to enjoy. They hope to avoid the drudgery of Deuteronomy by kidsplainin’ to their parents, “C’mon mom, there’s an app for it now.” For many people, Vacation + Bible + School just doesn’t add up. While to some it’s a celebration of scripture, to others it’s a well-intentioned holiday in hell. Separately each word of Vacation Bible School has great merit.
Vacation: Good. Who doesn’t like a nice long vacation?
Bible: Also Good. Even though today’s modern reader must factor-in the ancient mindset of the benighted authors of the day who had no idea Tater Tots would forever change the way we think about potatoes.
School: Mostly good. It’s an educational place where you can learn important things like how to ask out girls without having your voice crack.
So separately the words are all good. But put them all together and what have you got – a recipe for “Is my sentence up yet?”
I doesn’t matter what you call it: Bible Boot Camp, a Vacation with God or a Holiday in Heaven, the words Vacation, Bible and School just don’t fit together – kind of like Reasonable Attorney Fees or Non-Stop Flight. So what is to be done about Vacation Bible Schools’ sagging attendance by an increasingly secular audience? As you might expect, the Walt Disney Company has an answer.
Disney Brings Mickey’s Savvy Magic to the Harsh Dogma of Deuteronomy and Leviticus
The marketing sorcerers at Disney recognized the flagging enthusiasm for Vacation Bible Schools and in response are creating an all-new biblically-themed amusement park called The Promised Land. It may not be the Happiest Place on Earth, but it’s certainly the Holiest. In fact Disney refers to park visitors as parishioners and the entire flock as the congregation. Instead of mouse ears, each parishioner is issued a halo. These drone-like halos not only herald the virtues of each parishioner, but also allows Disney’s accountants (or money changers) to track their movements, monitor spending habits and generally surveille their piety. Disney plans on selling this Big Data collection to Santa in helping him decide who’s been naughty or nice.
Critics claim these halos are nothing more than invasive reconnaissance drones; judging the congregation’s every move – a kind of airborne Big Brother. They say The Promised Land is a monetized attempt to slap some mouse ears on faith-based Mousketeers and send them wandering off into the Disney desert until they run out of money.
Is this Magic Kingdom marketing venture just a cynical attempt to sugar-coat fire and brimstone gospel into a theme park whose core values are less about spiritual enlightenment and more about financial entitlement? For example in the Hall of Animatronic Apostles, those who pay a surcharge are allowed to take a selfie with their favorite disciple. For parishioners who hate long lines at the bathrooms, they can purchase a Let My People Go FastPass which allows them to go wherever and whenever the spirit moves them. A $75 Parting of the Waters app allows time-pressed parishioners to take shortcuts through The Promised Land’s lakes, rivers and ponds.
Despite the cost of these add-on premium services The Promised Land is expected to be a success in providing much needed God-based instruction to an ego-driven society.
The Promised Land’s Director of Operations Ezekiel Jedidiah Responds to Criticisms:
“Focus groups have reacted very favorably to The Promised Land’s Mission Statement: ‘Make the Bible Great Again.’ Our Edenic faith-based theme park will be located in the shiny buckle of the Bible Belt – Stone Mountain, Georgia. And just like in the Bible, we hope the multitudes flock to The Promised Land. In fact, we pray they do, otherwise we’ll never recoup our $450 million investment. But whether saint or sinner, Disney has something for everyone. Remember, for those who prefer their theme parks to be godless there’s always Disney World or Disneyland.
“Let me correct one misconception – not all parishioners are issued haloes. At Disney we are sensitive to various spiritual orientations. For example, those identifying with victimhood can enter The Promised Land through the Martyr Gate where they’ll be given a heavy cross to bear instead of a lightweight halo to sport. It’s a cross these martyrs must bear for their entire stay in The Promised Land. And while it’s true the cross has the same tracking devices as the halos, these hefty crosses provide the aggrieved penitent tangible evidence they’re helping to share God’s burdens.
“In keeping with our biblical theme and similarly to our more secular parks, The Promised Land is seeded with oversized caricatures of biblical heroes like St. John the Baptist and his not-so-angelic cousin, St. John the Vagrant. Other biblical bobble heads include King Ozymandias (he always had a swell head) and Moses (in the relatable form of big-headed Charlton Heston). These avatars of Biblical proportion mingle freely with the crowd, dispensing universal wisdom and discount tickets to the David and Goliath Show playing in ‘The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall Auditorium.’”
Subdividing The Promised Land
Mr. Jedidiah went on to enumerate the 8 carefully crafted and divinely inspired Lands created within The Promised Land Theme Park:
- Arks of the Mediterranean – Nothing like Pirates of the Caribbean. Enjoy a luxurious Disney cruise in a hastily built prehistoric ark. Cruises are available for up to 40 days and 40 nights. Note: All parties must travel 2 X 2 and in the event of sun, the cruise is cancelled.
- Main Street Nazareth – Walk the same ancient streets Jesus did. Visit a Temple converted into a Starbucks.
- Sodom and Gomorrah Land – In this adults only private island, surrender your clothes at the dock and don your designer fig leaves. S & G Land is a friendly and safe space where consenting adults can gather to thump their bibles.
- Are You Woke Dear Brother: Seekers of truth try to “wake up” while listening to Verdi’s “The Anvil Chorus.”
- It’s a Dumb World After All – Witness Biblical examples of Stonings, Exorcisms and Crucifixions all from the safety of a little boat going round and round on a predetermined course. Note: The ride lasts for only 8 minutes, but plan on it feeling like an hour.
- Tomorrowland: BC Style – Build your own Pyramid or see Archimedes Screw (I should probably rephrase that). Experience the prehistoric adrenaline rush of the catapult bungee.
- Armageddon’s Amphitheater – An upbeat apocalyptic look at End of Days: featuring the band Earth, Wind and Fire.
- What About Her Emails Land – A secular added attraction for those parishioners who just can’t let it go.
Manna from Heaven
Several other attractions will interest those seeking the Vacation Bible School experience of a lifetime. At David Copperfield’s restaurant the master illusionist begins every shift with only 2 fish and a half loaf of bread, but by some magical process he miraculously materializes 5,000 fish and 5,000 loaves just in time for dinner. It’s a great place to go if you’re hungry – for bread and fish (and only bread and fish). Otherwise, if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for your bread to rise, we suggest The Matzos Garden: now featuring unlimited frankincense and a bottomless bowl of myrrh.
In The Promised Land, entertainment never takes a backseat when you’re incorporating the Word of God into your life. In our Marvel Theater, acclaimed prestidigitator David Blaine performs astonishing acts of magic that make even God uncomfortable. In the Circus Muppetus Pavilion one can hear Miss Piggy sing Psalm Day My Prince Will Come and Kermit warble Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a Bullfrog).
In an effort to banish misunderstanding, not everything originally intended for The Promised Land was incorporated into it. For example Park Elders decided to discontinue the large print Braille version of the Bible because parishioners were getting “a little too worked-up” while rubbing some of the holier parts. And the Creationist Museum was also dropped when astrophysicist Neil deGrasse-Tyson advised the Pastoral Oversight Board, “Too soon – 15 billion years too soon.”
On the other hand, after some intense lobbying on behalf of the Vatican, The Promised Land’s maps were reconfigured to remind parishioners that, although they may go anywhere they choose once inside the Magic Kingdom, eventually all roads lead to Rome.
It’s All About the Children
Ensuring a kid-friendly environment is key to making The Promised Land a success. Disney has always depended on kids begging their parents to take them to their theme parks. So in keeping with people pleasing programs, parishioners can enroll their more zealous children in a Young Preachers in Training Program or YPIT Program. The YPIT is a place where precocious preachers can earn merit badges in:
- Alchemy – Changing water into Gatorade
- Amplified Evangelizing – Yelling inaudible biblical phrases into a bullhorn from across the street while disinterested people attempt to go about their business.
- Smiting – Changing your enemies Gatorade back into water
- Stoning Etiquette – If you’re not going to place the stones just so, you might as well just crucify the heathen.
- Stoning Etiquette – The fun, cannabis kind. Only available to young shamans how live in states where marijuana is legal. Young mariwannabees learn how to share their stash and gently police bogarting. Snacks definitely included. In fact so is dinner, cakes and Oreos.
- Water Parting – A healthy liquid diversion
- Immaculately Conceiving – Teenagers learn the ironclad way to avoid STDs. This class is also known as “Procreation with none of the fun and all of the responsibility.”
- Cheek Turning – Neophyte pastors learn to deflect hate, by practicing one of Jesus’ supreme tenets. Please Note: All 4 cheeks are used.
Parishioners who’ve experienced The Promised Land’s beta opening offer some truly backhanded compliments:
~ Praise God and pass the Matzos. I never thought a miracle would happen to me until I looked down and saw that I was actually walking on water. Hallelujah! And even though I was walking on an ice rink at the time, I still think it’s a miracle…that I didn’t slip and fall. Sylvia Greenblatt, Sheboygan, IL.
~ Words cannot express the rapturous wonderment that enveloped me when I was dipped in the Little Mermaid baptismal pond. Plus, I think the Holy Water is spiked. Elon Crandall, Fremont, CA
~ A revelation. This Promised Land is a promise kept. Charlotte Bushnell, Paramus, NJ
It is believed The Promised Land will be so irresistible in both form and function that instead of kids saying, “C’mon mom, there’s an app for it now.” They’ll testify, “We beseech thee dear mother, won’t you please take us to The Promised Land now? Can we go? How about now? Now would be a good time. Are we there yet?”
The Promised Land – The Holiest Place on Earth
And so it came to pass that this theme park did open. And an adoring and filial public saw that it was good. And it became a magnet for souls of all stripes to make the pilgrimage to this Promised Land. And they were soon imbued with a sense of connectivity born of germinating that latent part of themselves that shares God’s confidence. It was there all along and it took a big-eared rodent with a squeaky little voice and a big diaper to tease out each person’s magnificence. God does work in mysterious ways.