Did you know that adults aren’t allowed to wear costumes to Disney parks? According to the official Disney World website, it’s “strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.”
The reason is actually kind of sweet. They want to make sure kids get the full Disney character experience. They don’t want them to be disappointed to discover that the woman who looks like Cinderella doesn’t actually know anything that Cinderella is supposed to know and isn’t interested in a hug.
But Disney — even dressing up as a favorite Disney character — isn’t just for kids. Lots and lots of adults love Disney too, and they want to embody their favorite characters at the happiest place on earth. That’s how “Disneybounding” was born.
What is Disneybounding?
Disneybounding is a fashion trend where people create everyday outfits that allude to a certain Disney character but aren’t costumes. It was invented by blogger Leslie Kay, whose love of Disney and Disney parks prompted her to find a way to represent her favorite characters while still adhering to the park’s strict dress code. She now runs “Disneybound,” a website dedicated to helping you “pull together your own outfits which work for your body and wallet whether from your closet or local mall.”
Disneybounding is a fashion trend where people create everyday outfits that allude to a certain Disney character but aren’t costumes.
Disneybounding can be as simple as a blue T-shirt, dark pink skirt, and light pink knit knee-length sweater to be Mulan in her kimono. Or as detailed as a blue beaded flapper dress, blue satin gloves, glittery headband, and pale blue heels to be Tiana in her princess gown. And, since these outfits are just regular clothes, after all, they can become part of your normal wardrobe.
Kay's archive has an extensive list of characters with accompanying outfits. She also takes requests, so if, like me, you’re interested in Disneybounding but don’t have much fashion sense, you can tell her which character you want to be, and she’ll help you come up with what to wear.
Isn’t that just cosplay?
Cosplay — the practice of dressing up as a specific character and, often, acting like that character — is much more elaborate than Disneybounding. People tend to cosplay when attending conventions or other events related to the movie or comic book they’re intersected in. The costumes are often very detailed and can be quite expensive to make or buy. (Check out this mother-daughter Disney cosplay duo to see what I mean.) But Disneybounding is a fashion trend, not a costume.
While cosplay is often for the most avid of fans — as it requires an in-depth knowledge of the characters and their costumes — Disneybounding is for anyone who just loves Disney and wants a fun new way to dress. I mean, a pale blue sundress and a black velvet choker imply Cinderella but are also just fun to wear. See what I mean?
Disneybounding is for anyone who just loves Disney and wants a fun new way to dress.
Why would adults even want to dress up like Disney characters?
Sure, Disney movies are aimed at kids, but for lots of adults — myself included — these characters meant a great deal to us growing up and still mean something to us now. When we go to a Disney park, we allow our inner child to run free. It is the happiest place on earth, after all. Disneybounding is a way to honor the characters that shaped us, comforted us, and taught us (and look great doing it). So why not give it a try? Come on. You know you want to!