Adventureland: A Step Into the Unknown
Each of the lands of Disneyland is unique and tells its own story. But of each of the lands off the Hub (Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland), one is missing something that each of the others have. Adventureland does not have something that all the others do. The most obvious example of this “missing object” is Sleeping Beauty Castle.
What’s absent from Adventureland is a “weenie”.
Walt Disney described it this way: “What you need is a weenie, which says to people ‘come this way.’ People won’t go down a long corridor unless there’s something promising at the end. You have to have something the beckons them to ‘walk this way.'”
A “weenie” is a visual icon in a Disney theme park that draws the guest in, and it’s something all of the other original lands have.
- Main Street U.S.A. – Sleeping Beauty Castle
- Tomorrowland – The Astro Orbiter (when it was up above the PeopleMover track, not so much where it is now)
- Fantasyland – Depending on what direction you approach from, this could be the Matterhorn, the Carousel (seen through the castle), or even Dumbo
- Frontierland – The smoke stack on the Mark Twain (especially before the trees grew up as much as they have.
Part of the purpose of the weenie is to give guests an idea of what they’re going to experience in that land. It gives them a visual cue as to what they can expect. Adventureland doesn’t have anything like this. The Tiki Room has some visual interest, but it sits at an entrance, and can’t be seen from the other side. Tarzan’s Treehouse is similar. There is nothing that gives you a clue about what you’re going to become a part of once you cross the bridge. There is nothing that beckons you forward, except the promise of adventure. And some of what you see can even seem menacing at first.
But there’s a good reason for that. Urban Planner Sam Gennawey (as well as a blogger, published author, and speaker at the Walt Disney Family Museum) explains it this way: “If you knew what was coming, it wouldn’t be an adventure.”
I’ve written before about the adventure of the Christian life, but it bears looking at again. You see, when we think about what we most want out of life, one of the first things that comes to most people’s minds is security, or safety. But that’s not what being a Christian is all about. Sure, we know that heaven is our ultimate future, but between now and then, life is pretty unpredictable. We’re never promised the long view. We often get only the next step.
Paul (Saul at the time) experienced this:
“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:6, NIV)
Abram didn’t get much more:
“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’
“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4, NIV)
God does guide us (when we’re open to receiving it), but one step at a time. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NIV) A lamp illuminates only a small distance in front of us. We get a flashlight, not a floodlight.
When you first step into Adventureland you know only what’s right in front of you, or right next to you. As you explore further, you get to see more and more of it, and wonderful adventures await you. But you would have never known them had you not gone into the place you didn’t know to find out what was there—with only the promise of a sign to guide you.
As you follow God and His will and desires, you get to see more and more of what He has for you—and the farther in you get, the more you can look back at the adventure you’ve had.
It’s not easy sometimes, but God never promised it would be. He did promise peace and security, but only in Himself. Sometimes following Him feels risky, but it’s never as risky as not following, and just “playing it safe”. And to really follow Him into this adventure means to do it completely, with everything you are. With all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (to paraphrase the context a bit).
It means loving, and risking hurt and separation (as when someone dies or moves far away). It means serving, and risking being taken advantage of. It means giving, sometimes out of great abundance and sometimes when it seems like there’s nothing to give. It means following, even when the way seems unclear, and we feel woefully unqualified to do what He is calling us to. And it means being true to who He made us to be, living our own adventure, not someone else’s.
There is sacrifice, but there is joy in the journey. The adventure is always worth it. Often we won’t have the “weenie” drawing us in and telling us what’s to come. We have only a sign, a bridge, and the willingness to explore in faith. As we do, we discover that adventure, a great adventure, really is out there, and we wonder why we spent so much time avoiding it.
Question: How have you experienced God leading you into adventure recently—and what are you doing to follow Him? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.