Monday, October 29, 2012

The Pursuit – and Attainment – of Excellence

Even across the lake that separates World Showcase from the
rest of EPCOT, Spaceship Earth is an imposing sight.

I’m a great admirer of quality and excellence, whether in technology, the creative and performing arts, retail and professional services, manufacturing, or any other endeavor. Individuals, businesses or products that “exceed expectations” always capture my attention.

So our recent family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. registered high on my personal admiration meter. We visited four of the entertainment complex’s theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. Each in its own unique way boasted exceptional quality.

Cinderella's Castle becoming a visual
spectacle during evening fireworks shows.
This was our fourth time to visit either Disney World or Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., so I wasn’t surprised. But it was heartening that the Disney commitment to providing guests with an unforgettable, even “magical” experience remains as strong as ever. Walt Disney died in 1966, but his vision for providing a place for visitors to “relive fond memories of the past…and savor the challenge and promise of the future” hasn’t dimmed.

Whether it was the first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom; Spaceship Earth, like a gigantic golf ball looming over guests entering EPCOT; enjoying one of the entertaining and colorful stage shows; or meeting famous Disney characters while dining, each day’s “menu” provided the stuff of enduring family memories.

Minnie Mouse - and Minnie admirers - pause
during a tasty evening meal.
Each of the “cast members,” ranging from performers and ride operators to individuals promptly scooping up abandoned trash, excelled at carrying out his or her respective role. Customer service was paramount wherever we went.

And rightly so. Even a single day at Disney World is pricey. So the priority must be to create fond, memorable experiences, not reasons for grumbling over the dent in the family budget.

The term create is an interesting one itself as applied to the Disney enterprise. Its legendary founder, the late Walt Disney, made a striking comment about that:

"it's a small world" is a favorite of Disney World
guests of all ages.
A longtime friend of mine, Bob Foster, operated Lost Valley Ranch, a popular guest ranch near Colorado Springs, Colo. for many years. Mr. Disney, just months before his passing, was one of Bob’s guests. According to Bob, one afternoon they were sitting on the front porch of the ranch house, surveying the facility’s magnificent natural setting.

Mr. Disney observed, “That which man has made can produce recreation, but only God’s handiwork will produce re-creation.”

Re-creation. An intriguing term, especially coming from such an astoundingly creative and innovative individual. But he was right. The Creator has provided the raw material, along with the skills, talent, wisdom and expertise needed to engage in wonderful feats of re-creation. Most amazing of all, He trusts us to be stewards of it all He has placed at our disposal.

I don’t write this simply as a testimonial to the sights, sounds and servant spirit that comprise the various venues of Disney World. Although it certainly lives up to its reputation. I write because that’s as it should be – even more so for those of us that profess to serve the Creator God.

In Colossians 3:17, 23 we’re told, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Members of the extended Tamasy clan strike a Goofy pose.

Despite the high caliber of their enterprise, the people at Disney World have no overtly expressed spiritual motivation for their pursuit of excellence. Theirs is certainly not a “Christian” endeavor. But if they can succeed at that, doing work that – whether intended or not – pays fitting tribute to the Creator…why shouldn’t we?

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