Saturday, October 10, 2015

Splash Mountain: Where is Your Laughing Place? - Part I

By Randy Crane

Splash Mountain is beloved by Disney fans from all around the world. It's fun music, entertaining Audio Animatronics, and that huge drop into the briar patch keep us coming back for more. And just like Br’er Rabbit, everybody’s searching for a Laughing Place, something that brings us joy, peace and happiness. Today, let's take a different perceptive on Splash Mountain and finding our one, true Laughing Place in life...

Splash Mountain occupies a particularly special place in my heart. I remember going to Disneyland with my junior high band right before it opened, and we were able to go backstage for part of that time. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do remember being behind the scences and being told that Splash Mountain would be opening soon. I could hardly wait. It’s the first time I can remember feeling that way about something at Disneyland.

On July 17, 1989, this attraction officially opened to the public. With it came the transition from Bear Country to Critter Country, as the bruins in the Country Bear Jamboree across the way were no longer the only inhabitants of this area of the park. (In truth, bears had never been the only residents of Bear Country—just ask Max, Buff, and Melvin, the talking trophy heads mounted on the wall of the Playhouse (and now neatly hidden in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).

Max, Buff, and Melvin

The last of the four mountains in Disneyland’s “Mountain Range” (which also includes the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain), it finally brought the log flume ride to the park. Along with it came fun music, entertaining Audio Animatronics (many of them from the recently defunct America Sings), and ten-plus minutes of references to a movie that now hasn’t been seen for a couple of decades or more—not legally, anyway—Song of the South.

There is some great music in this ride, and for most of it you get to float along—with a few small drops, but nothing significant—and watch these fun characters while listening to lively songs such as How Do You Do and Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah.

But then the ride turns darker and takes on a more ominous tone. There are hints of fear in the characters, and right before climbing a large and rather intimidating-looking hill, two buzzards sit above you, taunting. “So, you’re looking for a laughing place. We’ve got your laughing place right here.”

Halfway up the hill is a shadow of Br’er Fox lurking over Br’er Rabbit, who is tied up and blubbering: “P-p-p-p-p-please don’t throw me in that there briar patch!” We crest the hill and what do we see? That very briar patch, which we get dropped into (and under)!

As it turns out, the briar patch is Br’er Rabbit’s laughing place! Br’er Rabbit’s “laughing place” was the place he knew best, where he was most familiar and felt the safest.

Where is your laughing place? Not the place where you feel the happiest, because happiness is temporary and based on circumstances. No, we’re looking beyond that. As Christians, where is your “joyful place”? I propose that it can be found in only one place: the presence of God Himself.

“You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

“How great is Your goodness,
which You have stored up for those who fear You,
which You bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in You.
In the shelter of Your presence You hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in Your dwelling You keep them safe
from accusing tongues.” (Psalm 31:19–20)

In good times and in bad, the presence of the Lord is where we find joy.

How do we spend time in His presence? There are at least two ways: reflective Bible reading and prayer. Through these disciplines we listen to what He has to say to us—sometimes about our current circumstances, or sometimes an encouragement or a reminder from the past. We talk to Him about what’s going well (thankfulness) and what’s going badly (confession of sin). We ask for His perspective, His wisdom, His grace, and His love. We remember what He has done. And we remember that He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

The reality is, we can be in His presence all the time. If His Spirit lives in us (and He does), then He is always with us, and we can always be in His presence. It takes intentional attention. It takes practice. It takes discipline. Some have called it “practicing the presence of God.” But isn’t all that effort worth it for a more constant awareness of “the joy of the Lord,” our strength, our hope, and our peace?

Takeaway: Do you find it easy or difficult to be “in God’s presence”? Can you think of others ways to do it?


Randy Crane is a highly-regarded speaker and author, presenting engaging and thought-provoking messages on a variety of topics. He has a natural rapport and connection with audiences that makes them relate well to him, engage in his presentations, and come away with a fresh understanding of the subject at hand. Randy is also the host of the “Stories of the Magic” unofficial Disney podcast, where he interviews people from throughout the Disney company, from front-line Cast Members to Legends. Randy grew up in the church, but—like many others—wandered away from the faith for a time in high school. Now, he is an ordained minister, with both a Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministry (emphasis in Preaching) and a Master’s degree in Congregational Leadership from Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He has been preaching and teaching since 1998, and has been a drummer/percussionist on church worship teams since 1992. He married his wonderful wife Faye in November of 2000 and they are expecting their first child in April of 2015. Randy is the author of two books, Once Upon YOUR Time and Faith and the Magic Kingdom.

You can find all of Randy's articles here.

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