Dark Rides: Are Your Expectations Too High?

Dark Rides Collage

Dark rides–relatively brief attractions with the vehicle moving through specially lit scenes, usually with animation (mostly simple cutout figures), music, and visual effects–are not unique to Disney parks, nor did Walt Disney invent them.


They actually date back at least as far as the late 1800’s and were originally called “scenic railways” or “pleasure railways.” Some of the earliest are the famous (or infamous) Tunnel of Love rides. What Disney did differently than the others was elevate the detail and storytelling to a level never before seen.


Some of these classic attractions date back to Opening Day, and others (Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters for example) have been added over the years. Even with advances in technology, the heart of these fanciful attractions remains. Because of this, they are often among the very first rides children experience and hold a fond place in the hearts of the adults who grew up with them.


I usually hear only one complain about them–one which was highlighted even more when “The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” opened in Disney California Adventure: the story is too condensed. It feels too rushed. It ends abruptly. 


But telling the full story isn’t the purpose of a dark ride. They take riders through key scenes, giving the flavor of the story but not recounting it from beginning to end.  It’s a 3-minute attraction (give or take), not a 90-minute movie. People who expect the full story, or even an abbreviated but cohesive summary of the story expect too much. The dark rides give us a taste–for the whole story we must go beyond the simple attraction.


I wonder if we don’t often do the same thing when it comes to personal fulfillment, success, happiness, and so on. In his book Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung describes this condition:


“I’m all for big risk-taking dreams…[but] we need the firm reminder that many of us expect too much out of life. We’ve assumed that we’ll experience heaven on earth, and then we get disappointed when earth seems so unheavenly. We have little longing left for our reward in the next life because we’ve come to expect such rewarding experiences in this life.”


We can expect joy and peace in this life (John 16:20-24Philippians 4:7). We can expect good gifts from God (1 Timothy 6:17). We can expect to enjoy people, and even to enjoy our work. But even the best of these are shadows of their ultimate fulfillment in heaven. Perhaps most significantly, we expect–or at least desire–to know God’s will for our lives, preferably before we start doing anything about it. We want to know everything He wants us to do before taking the first step. Our assumption seems to be that if we know it all and do it exactly, our lives will go smoothly and meet our definition of “a good life.”


The problem is we are also promised that as Christians we will suffer (1 Peter 4:16). We must pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10) because that’s not the current state. People will let us down and work may be nothing but toiling. And that needs to be OK sometimes.


Most of all, we won’t often know exactly what the path ahead of us holds, where it leads, or how to follow it. We may only get the next step–and there may even be multiple “acceptable” next steps. Abram was told “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” That’s it. No more specific direction than that. The Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.” This gives the picture of illuminating only what is right in front of you. Do you want to know what step 2 is? You’ll probably have to take step 1 first.


Sure, we can (and usually should) make plans based on what we know, but they won’t be perfect. New information, new circumstances, and new challenges may re-route us. And that needs to be OK sometimes, too. It takes prayer and discernment to determine when to push through and when to change course, but the important thing is to be sure we’re not more committed to the path than to the One who gives the lamp for it.


How hard do you try to find all your peace, fulfillment, and success here on earth? It’s fine to have these as goals, but have you experienced a time when you sensed God leading or “nudging” you to do something but you’ve resisted (or refused) because it would jeopardize one of those? Do you fixate so much on fulfillment that you’re not actually fulfilled? Do you value wealth, peace, comfort, and meaning or doing what you were created to do–even if it means sacrificing all of those? Do you want the full map and guide before taking a single step, expecting a smooth and comfortable (if not easy) journey once you have it?


These aren’t easy questions. Just consider this: Are you expecting heaven on earth or do you recognize that our existence here is a shadow of what will ultimately be reality in heaven?


Question: Do you get disappointed when the earthly “dark ride” is less than you expect? What is one way you can combat that? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Randy CraneRandy Crane is passionate about helping Christians, especially those with a Disney affinity, to discover and connect to their GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE AND VALUE, to build their lives to achieve TRUE SUCCESS AND MEANING, and to POSITIVELY IMPACT their world. For more than two decades, Randy has been leading individuals and teams into a greater joy and child-like appreciation of the world around them, equipping them to reach beyond what they have previously experienced and build a God-given identity and purpose. Ready to experience that for yourself? Tell us where to send SIX free videos all created to help answer the 3 questions you need to experience PEACE, FREEDOM, and PURPOSE!

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