How the Internet Turned on ‘Disney Adults’

Adults have frequented Disney Parks since Disneyland opened in 1955 and Walt Disney World in 1971. Walt Disney intended his Theme Parks to be for all ages:

“To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, the aged relive fond memories of the past… and here, young people can savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, dreams and facts that made America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” – Walt Disney.

Walt Disney on a train
Credit: D23

The Walt Disney Company backed into this with a alluring marketing campaign “Disney Adults” without children visit the Parks in the 90s. But recently, the so-called “Disney adultshave repeatedly become punching bags for internet bullies.

What is a “Disney Adult?”

walt disney world burnt sign
Credit: SouthernDisney Belle

The term “Disney Adult” typically refers to an adult without children who enjoys Disney movies, Disney parks, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney merchandise.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Loving Disney Parks As An Adult Isn’t Weird

Jodi Eichler-Levine, professor of religious studies at Lehigh University, spoke out in support of bullying “Disney Adults”, stating that for some, Disney is like a religion:

Many of the Disney fans I have observed in person and online find immense meaning in the parks. People don’t just get married at Disney. Mourn for lost relatives at Disney. They go to Disney to celebrate surviving cancer.

They go there for one last trip before they die. Religion is a way of giving meaning to the world through stories and rituals. It is a network of relationships with the human and the non-human (@RobertOrsi1 much paraphrased). It’s about building homes and dealing with suffering (@tomtwe loosely paraphrased).

While Eichler-Levine acknowledges that there is a difference between a church and a large corporation, such as The Walt Disney Company, he argues that there are similarities:

Is this capitalism? Indeed it is. Is he even at least almost religious? Yes. (And by the way, most religions are intertwined with capitalism. Just ask one of the founders of sociology, Max Weber).

Disney owns our stories. For some people – both those who have another “traditional” religion and those who don’t – the promise of magic at Disney and the feelings they experience are powerful. I’ve seen people cry at fireworks. Many times.

The professor cautions that dismissing Disney as “kid stuff” is crippling for both “Disney Adults” and children, who deserve to be taken seriously when something is important to them:

Maybe it’s the only place where their parents behaved in a happy way. Or, yes, maybe they are selfish. But if we measure religion not by its truth claims – because we CANNOT value them unless we have something far more powerful than a PhD – but by its power in people’s lives, then Disney is a religion like anything else. It is at the very least a place of meaning and human friendship, you hate it too. Eliminating it because it’s “kid stuff” is demeaning to kids, who are themselves insightful human beings.

Despite receiving some support, Eichler-Levine ultimately had to lock down his Twitter thread, becoming the target of public vitriol for his support of “Disney Adults.”

“Disney Adult” viral incidents.

pluto with sleeping beauty castle disneyland
Credit: Disney

Many so-called “Disney adults” have been subjected to constant harassment, such as a woman who shared a video of herself hugging Pluto for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Adult adult takes off his shoes and goes “swim” in the Disney Springs fountain

On the viral TikTok, the Disney host broke down in tears when reminded of her late grandfather, who loved Pluto. Unfortunately, her emotions have made her a target of vicious bullying on the Internet. She then he spokecalling the comments he received “vile”.

proposal-disneyland
Credit: u/wasgehtlan

A proposal at Disneyland Paris it also sparked debate, when a cast member snatched a ring from a male guest’s hands to walk him off a stage in front of the Disney Park castle. The couple claimed they had permission to use the stage and The Walt Disney Company apologized.

The accident sparked a fierce debate online on the proposals of the Theme Parks, in particular the Disney Parks, and has rekindled the discourse on “Disney Adults”.

Credit: SVEN X DISNEY on IG

“Disney Adult”‘s most recent viral incident occurred when a newly wed bride posted on Redditasking if she and her husband were “assholes” for not feeding guests at their Disney fairytale wedding at Walt Disney World.

Allegedly, the couple agreed to pay nearly $6,000 to have Mickey and Minnie Mouse attend two of their wedding events and told guests to find dining options at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or nearby vending machines.

Disney fans were quick to point out that Disney Fairytale Weddings has minimal catering, so the post was most likely a fake story meant to ignite the “Disney Adult” debate. It was later removed by Reddit moderators.

Related: Disney fans dread new ‘Star Wars’ hotel, alarmingly shocked by character interactions

However, the damage was done. The post spread like wildfire across Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, sparking more hate towards “Disney Adults” and eventually inspiring religious studies professor Jodi Eichler-Levine’s thread.

The battle between “Disney adults”

Mickey proposes to Minnie in front of Cinderella's castle at Disney World
Credit: Disney

So why do adults like to go to Disney Parks? Whether it’s nostalgia, emotional connection, or just plain fun, there will always be adults without children enjoying Disney.

As the internet turns against these “Disney adults,” their own community isn’t united either. The proposal situation at Disneyland Paris is a prime example of this, with a fierce line drawn between those who support the newly engaged couple and the cast member, who believed they were doing the right thing and enforcing a safety rule.

Disneyland cast member with Sleeping Beauty Castle
Credit: Disney

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is Walt Disney’s original dream, containing Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.

roy and minnie statue
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort outside of Orlando, Florida was Walt and Roy Disney’s “Florida Project” containing the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Regardless of what other people think, if you’re an adult Disney fan, being an “adult Disney” doesn’t hurt anyone. More than anything it is important to do the things you are passionate about and live a life you love!

Would you consider yourself a “Disney adult?” What do you think about the viral bullying surrounding the Disney Parks community? Let us know in the comments.