Is Your Storytelling Outdated?

Visit Disney World a generation ago and Dumbo the Flying Elephant was considered a high tech ride.  But a simple, blue elephant going around in circles won't cut it with today's kids. 

Theme parks are updating their rides with the latest technology to tell detailed story lines.  Here's a few examples.

The World of Chima ride at Legoland is based on a building block play set and a Cartoon Network show about eight animal tribes, a crocodile king and magical vehicles called Speedorz.  The ride features epic battles over the Ancient Pool of Chi.

Universal's new Transformers ride is a detailed, 3-D, "interactive battle" between the Autobots and Decepticons.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride at Sea World Orlando is about a baby penguin who grows up, leaves his mom, is chased by a leopard seal through a psychedelic-looking world and then is reunited with his tribe of fellow birds.  Real, live penguins appear at the end of the ride.

Theme park owners realize they have to step up their game in the age of video games, smartphones and 3D TV's.  Today's kids are more sophisticated and are very keen to storytelling and genres.

Scott Thomas, VP of consumer marketing at Cartoon Network said, "Kids today have very high expectations.  Storylines are very complex in kids' media today."  

When Disney Imagineers create a ride they include a relevant narrative.  No detail is spared: lighting, architecture, sound, landscaping, costumes - all help tell the story. 

Walt Disney said it best when he said, "Storytelling has to be relevant to the culture."  When Disney theme parks first opened in California in 1955, Western themed-stories were popular, and so was the resulting Frontierland attraction.  Over the years, story lines and rides have been tweaked and changed to relate to the culture.

Children's ministries must also be intentional about updating their storytelling methods.  The message we share never changes, but how we share the message must change to be relevant to the culture we are trying to reach.

We must constantly be taking a hard look at how we communicate the truth and be willing to update as needed.  Flannelgraph won't cut it with this generation of high tech kids.