For some adults who love Disney, it’s like a religion

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In the Chanée Hill house, there is an entire room dedicated to The Walt Disney Co. Shelves display hundreds of dollars worth of Disney merchandise. A vanity contains Disney makeup collections. An accessory station is adorned with Mickey Mouse ears and character jewelry. The walls are lined with Disney backdrops for making TikToks and taking pictures.

@itsnaturallynay Disney withdrawals are real 😭 #disneyadult #disney #disneyland #blackgirlmagic #bhm #disneydecor #disneyprincess #disneyears #fyp ♬ original sound – E.LaBella

Hill, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works as a medical assistant, holds a Disneyland pass and makes the six-hour drive to Anaheim, Calif., several times a year.

“It makes you feel magical,” she said. “You can just let go, immerse yourself in the experiences Disney has to offer.”

Hill, 37, is a self-proclaimed “Disney adult,” a term used colloquially to describe an adult who loves all things Disney and spends a lot of money and time on Disney-related products and experiences.

A story about the marriage of a couple in love with Disney went viral last week when a Reddit user asked if it was wrong for them to forego catering to allow Mickey and Minnie Mouse appearances at their reception.

The original Reddit post was deleted, but the viral tweet sparked a storm of hate, with the couple in the story held up as a prime example of Disney adults being “the absolute worst.”

It seems a New article Where Publish about a disney adult goes viral every few weeks, and the comments are always the same, telling them to “grow up”, have a real life, or use their money to travel abroad to the square. They are a beloved subject of online hate — the hashtag #disneyadultsaretheworst has nearly 7 million views on TikTok.

Connecticut attorney James Demetriades has heard all the adult criticism of Disney. Demetriades, 28, has been to Disney World in Florida more than 30 times.

In 2021, he made three trips to Disney World. Each trip, he estimates, costs about $2,000. Today, he visits his family or his boyfriend, but he used to go to university or law school alone if he couldn’t find a mate.

“As an adult, it’s about having that escape and having those bits of nostalgia that you can come back to,” he said.

Jodi Eichler-Levine, professor of religion at Lehigh University, studies Disney and its connection to religion: how the world’s religions intersect with Disney and how Disney itself functions as a religion.

One of the ways Disney feels like a religion to some, according to Eichler-Levine, is a kind of pilgrimage.

“People view their trips to Disney in a very respectful light,” she said. “People will go there and talk about being transformed or creating crucial memories. And they’ll go and mark particular life cycle events, like announcing a pregnancy or having undergone treatment for an illness. ”

For Demetriades, a big part of his love for Disney is the bond with his family. He grew up going to Disney World in Florida every year and said Disney movies were a way for him to connect and bond with his sister, who has autism.

/ Chania Hill

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Chania Hill

Chania Hill at Disneyland in 2021.

Hill’s childhood memories are tied to Disney movies, which were more affordable for his family than trips to Anaheim or Orlando. Hill, who suffers from a chronic health condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, said watching Disney movies gave her great comfort when she was stuck in bed in pain.

Demetriades and Hill are two of many adults at Disney who have meaningful ties to Disney that go beyond basic fandom.

Eichler-Levine, who talked as Disney’s adult advocate, says those connections are “grossly misunderstood.”

The vitriol directed at Disney adults often hinges on personal attacks on their character, and often on their sanity, with the word “mad” be thrown especially often.

“They’re normal. They’re not crazy. People who hate Disney adults often don’t take the time to understand why it’s so powerful for so many people,” she said.

Hill said she’s often faced with questions from co-workers about going to Disney alone, but she ignores it. “I might be weird to someone, but that doesn’t matter. I’m confident in my love for Disney.”

Eichler-Levine urges those who criticize Disney adults to “lead with empathy.”

“Are there any structural criticisms to be made at the Walt Disney Co.? Sure. But just because something is capitalistic doesn’t mean it’s entirely tainted. Something can make money but also bring a lot of joy and meaning to people.”

Both Hill and Demetriades expressed the same sentiment: if it doesn’t hurt anyone, it shouldn’t bother anyone.

“It’s something that just makes us happy,” Hill said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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