The ever-cooling enmity between Disney and religious conservatives dropped a few more degrees last week, when the entertainment giant allowed the First Baptist Church of Orlando to baptize more than 100 people in Walt Disney World's North Lake. Speaking in the Orlando Sentinel, pastor David Uth called Disney's action a "community gesture" that was not intended to curry the favor of any particular faith. Still, top-secret company memos we've seen lay out a clear plan for enhancing the property's appeal to conservative-Christian sensibilities. Have a look and see what you think.
Splash Mountain — Water, water everywhere, but not a soul to save. That is, until the Mouse House got smart and decided to hold regular on-site baptisms near the loading area of its five-story pressure drop. By summer, the gallons of H20 that propel this flume adventure will also afford the most extensive spiritual cleansing in the history of thrill rides. FastPass holders, of course, will get first crack at an eternal reward, but even families unable to tithe so heavily will get a good chuckle hearing an animatronic Brer Rabbit pledging his life to the same God that kept his Uncle Remus under the yoke of racist brutality in the years before Reconstruction.
The Narnia Character Experience — Today's kids need philosophical nourishment along with their meals, and they can't get it simply by asking a narcoleptic dwarf to pass the butter. Luckily, the success of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has opened the door for the standard Disney meet-and-greets to become full-blown prayer breakfasts. Yummy pancakes are piled in endless stacks as hungry young seekers delve into the writings of St. Matthew and C.S. Lewis; all the while, the ministrations of characters straight from the movie will help the wee ones learn that there's little difference between a vacation experience you genuinely enjoy and one your parents are conditioned to approve. As the morning's centerpiece, Aslan the messianic lion will die and be resurrected at the table of one lucky tot, all before the check comes.
Pirates of the Phariseean — Yo ho, yo ho, a Christian soldier's life for me! The moral rehabilitation of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride began in the 1990s, when an objectionable scene of implied sexual assault was replaced by a far more realistic kitchen raid. This year, that trend toward righteousness reaches its logical endpoint, as the ride gets a new name, a new look and a whole new infusion of meaning. The action now takes place in Biblical times, where a double-dealing bunch of Red Sea buccaneers literally sell their master down the river in pursuit of a measly 40 pieces of silver. Early reports had it that the ride was being updated to incorporate Johnny Depp and his big-screen brigands, but the mustachioed figure that looked like Capt. Jack Sparrow in bootleg videos is actually Christ our Savior, who materializes at the end of every vignette to lead man and parrot alike to redemption before syphilis rots their gonads off. Come ride's end, the only true losers are the "butt pirates" who our Lord loves too much to let live.
The Haunted Mansion — This one's always been a problem, given that it's densely populated by masked axmen, bodiless fortunetellers and other patently Satanic creatures who dare to have an afterlife that doesn't involve Jesus. But hush-hush retrofits currently on the drawing board will fully atone for past sins. In the infamous party scene, the spooky specters are no longer celebrating a birthday but a teenage phantom's confirmation; the mournful attic bride becomes a nun awaiting the centuries-delayed return of her divine groom; and the singing busts now croon "Oh Happy Day" instead of "Grim Grinning Ghosts." The newfound atmosphere of penitence is apparent from the opening scene, in which the Ghost Host's ominous suggestion, "There's always my way," provides the cue for twin Jehovah's Witnesses to steal into the windowless, doorless chamber via a hidden portal and refuse to leave until everybody's grabbed a copy of The Watchtower.
Mission: SPACE — Already the Disney attraction with the highest quotient of sacred connotations, M:S is the inspiration for thousands of prayers per day. "Sweet mother of God, don't let me die on this thing!" and "Jesus H. bungee-jumping Christ, I can't feel my arm!" are among the most common. But that doesn't mean that the experience can't be brought even closer into line with devout attitudes. A tweaked narration explains that the G-force attacking the astronauts' innards upon liftoff is actually the Holy Spirit coursing through their bodies, while the period of "hypersleep" required to keep them fresh as daisies on their trip to the Red Planet helpfully begins in a Midwestern household in 1952, allowing them to bypass the '60s entirely. Upon landing on the face of Mars, the joy-filled pioneers are delighted to discover that this world, too, has an Adam and Eve — as does every planet throughout the known galaxy.
And for secular guests distressed by the general idea of an already milquetoast entertainment conglomerate further prostrating itself in front of religious extremists, sick bags are available from any cast member.