Grown-ups are playing dress-up in a fashion trend called “Disneybounding,” which allows fans to display devotion without donning a Cinderella gown or a Buzz Lightyear spacesuit.
The styles shoot for subtle yet colorful salutes to Disney characters. A “Disneybounde” might wear a yellow skirt, blue top, red bow and apple pin as a quiet shout-out to Snow White or go all-green with a feathered fedora to represent Peter Pan.
“We actually did that on our honeymoon. We’re Disney fanatics,” said Elyssa Kivus, who went with the red-polka-dot motif of Minnie Mouse, while her husband, John, went the more low-key Mickey Mouse route of red shorts, black shirt and yellow shoes.
“I have Disneybounded Merida, Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear. … I have two different Ariel ones,” said Kivus, 27.
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“I really like meeting the character when you’re ‘Disneybounding’ as that character,” she said. “Most of them pick up on it, and you get a little more interaction, which is nice.”
Until recently, Disney World had a policy that had banned adults from wearing full-blown character costumes in its theme parks. That policy, which was revised in October, now emphasizes actions over apparel.
Disney’s official list of prohibited activities includes “engaging with other guests or impeding the operation while posing as or portraying any character in costume.”
Disney World stores sell merchandise that could be considered “Disneybound” materials, particularly at fashion-forward outlets such as the Tren-D store at Downtown Disney.
For a visit to the Magic Kingdom last year, Michael Rubino of Kissimmee, Fla., improvised and modernized a look for Sleeping Beauty’s beau.
“I did kind of a Prince Phillip-but-dapper one, with a vest and my cardigan tied around my neck for the cape,” said Rubino, 26. “It was earlier on before everyone was doing it so much. Everyone thought it was really cool and wanted to take pictures and stuff.”
Recently he used a striped shirt to resemble “Peter Pan” baddie Smee during a theme-park scavenger hunt where players resembled Disney villains. His partner went for a Captain Hook look, he said.
Kivus and Rubino both said a Tumblr site was the early inspiration and birthplace of “Disneybounding” activity. It was created by Leslie Kay three years ago, but she didn’t start it as a fashion statement. The site originally was to “channel our excitement” for a trip to Disney World, Kay said.
They weren’t all tied up in clothing. They were literally bound for Disney.
“I started creating these outfits that were based off of Disney characters, but what a Disney character might wear if they were a living person, like your average teenager or 20-year-old,” said Kay, 26.
“I didn’t know it was going to become a trend, but it very quickly became a thing in the Disney world,” she said.
Her site now has suggested clothing options for dozens of Disney characters, including princesses, dwarfs, Remy (pink tennis shoes for toes), R2-D2, Dumbo and “Frozen” royals Anna and Elsa.
Although Kay doesn’t consider herself the fashion police, she said a “sweet spot” for “Disneybounding” falls somewhere between a character T-shirt and an elaborate costume.
“My rule is ‘Would I wear this to the mall?’ or ‘Would I wear this out to drinks with a friend?’ If I wouldn’t do that, it becomes more of a costume or a cosplay thing,” Kay said.
The company has embraced Kay, including at a social-media superstar gathering alongside Grumpy Cat, quoting her in articles for the Disney Parks Blog and hiring her to work Disney events.
Kay, who works as a social-media coordinator out of Toronto, continues to receive requests, including one for designs related to the infamous theme-park snack, the giant turkey leg. She hasn’t worked that up yet.
“I don’t really know how to do a turkey leg,” she said. “It’s kind of head-to-toe brown with a turkey necklace?”