There are many rules and regulations that govern the grounds of The Happiest Place on Earth, and more continue to be added. One rule that has led to its own subculture of fashion is the ban of anyone above 14 years old from wearing a costume in a Disney park.
Aside from the obvious safety concerns (parents would be mortified if their kids were running up to randos), it also ruins the magic for a child if they see 20 Ariel clones roaming Toon Town. This rule also prevents individuals from encroaching on the official characters whom the park employs.
Of course, with every rule, come the ones who need to bend it. Thus the creation of Disneybounding; grown Mouseketeers utilize their favorite Disney characters as inspiration to create color-coordinated outfits out of contemporary fashion. This faction of the adult Disney public started in 2011 by Tumblr blogger Leslie Kay, with her blog “DisneyBound”. The tag for her site defined the experience as, “where Disney nerds and fashion geeks collide.”
When becoming a Disneybounder, there are a certain set of rules which allow the pieces to both comply with park policies, and prevent dropping into the realm of cosplay. There are no elaborate gowns, certainly no wigs, and the individual is not expected to “act the part”. Instead, participants find inspiration in the items they already own. Some may pair a yellow dress with a red sweater; homage to Winnie the Pooh, everyone’s favorite tubby, little cubby, all stuffed with fluff.
This niche has evolved into mass meetups and choosing more obscure and underappreciated characters in the Disney universe. The craze even found itself legitimized by having a panel at this year’s WonderCon 2017, titled “Disneybounding”. Famous bounders, Erica Espejo, Jenny Havin, Ruzenka di Benedetto, and moderator Crystal Rose Creations discussed tips and tricks in order to create a new outfit. The panel even discussed the various “holidays” the affiliation celebrates in the park, including Dapper Day, Villains’ Day, and May the 4th, which provide an extra challenge to the attire.
Disneybounding has become a home to everyone who refuses to grow up, and wants to embrace this attitude. This community provides them with that outlet, while also being affordable and accessible. This experience has also created connectivity for those who may wonder if their obsession of all things Disney is odd. Bounders agree that the best part of visiting the park is when they lock eyes with a woman whose hair is in braids, wearing dark blue jeans, a black top, and a maroon cardigan, emulating Anna from Frozen, and they both smile and nod their heads in recognition of one of their own.