From 2nd grade on my family lived in Southern California, and so we went to visit Disneyland about once a year during my childhood, trips that I greatly enjoyed. So Disneyland would be sacred to me because of that alone. But it also seems relatively sacred to many others. For example, my sister-in-law now lives out a life-long-dream by working there, even though she could retire.
Disneyland thus seems a good case to study, to understand the sacred. Interestingly, it has several big strikes against it here. It is run by a for-profit organizations, it lets some folks pay extra to get shorter lines, and it has no relation at all to religion. And in fact, by invoking the theme of “magic” it risks antagonizing religion.
Even so, Disneyland seems more sacred than are Disney movies, other amusement parks like Six Flags, or Las Vegas and other adult-centered resorts. How does it do this? I see five plausible contributions.
First, Disneyland inherited the sacredness of vacation travel, as it originally offered a way to travel to many famous popular vacation travel destinations, all conveniently collected together in the same place.
Second, Disneyland inherited the sacredness of heroic movies, as it collected the travel destinations where the most engaging such movies had been placed, and reminded visitors of those connections.
Third, Disneyland explicitly added aspirations of a better tomorrow, in Tomorrowland, as well as emphasizing the ideals taught to kids in its fantasy stories, in Fantasyland. And it stays clean, preventing alcohol or nudity.
Fourth, Disneyland is just a beautiful space, and very well organized, making it more like a great Cathedral. Spaces have a sacred potential not found in stories or movies. Alas the new Star Wars area is somewhat ugly, detracting a bit from this.
Fifth, and perhaps most important, Disneyland really does has “something for the whole family.” Toddlers can watch parades and meet characters, kids can do easy rides, teens can do rollercoasters, and adults can shop and enjoy the scenery. And everyone likes fireworks and good food. Disneyland really is a place where a whole community can gather.
No, no one paid me for this post, though I’d happily accept appreciatory payments.
Previously you listed out a bunch of criteria that distinguish the sacred from the non-sacred. While Disneyland does check some of those boxes I'm not seeing the argument that it checks enough. Generally merely being highly valued and nostalgia promoting doesn't warrant the sacred label.
In particular doesn't the sacred usually require we think about it in far mode, that we highly value belief/respect relative to effect (u don't piss on the eucharist to convert someone), that we don't trade off the sacred for the material (direct payment for indulgences/sex bad), and tend to have intermediaries etc...
And my understanding is that ppl are pretty enthusiastic as the new additions to Disneyland while often resisting changes to the sacred.
I few.years ago Jaxk Ma came to LA study moviemaking. His aspiration was to take the hero story back to China to bring about a positive influence on society through storytelling. I know many people who have found the entire Disney experience has a positive impact on their whole family. There are a few wholesome efforts like Disney. Let’s hope we see more.