New Disease Traced to Disney World, Impacts Thousands of Americans

in Disney Parks

A girl in a red dress happily kisses Mickey Mouse on the nose at Disney, with other visitors and the castle blurred in the background.

Credit: Disney

After a short hiatus, social media users are again mocking so-called “Disney Adults” for their interactions with Disney Parks characters. The viral post on X (formerly Twitter) mocked Americans’ “lack of shame” and “unfathomable sincerity.”

Disney Adults are a popular online scapegoat. When a mother had a bad experience at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, she blamed adult guests for making her daughter wait to meet a Disney Princess. As Covid revenge travel picked up, some social media users mocked Disney Parks fans’ emotional reactions to seeing Cinderella Castle or hugging their favorite Disney character again.

Guests walking in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom behind Cinderella Castle
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

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This week, Walt Disney World Resort saw international media coverage after YouTuber Jenny Nicholson made a four-hour video about the now-closed Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Despite repeated attempts to engage in the $6,000 experience, Nicholson and her sister were excluded from most of the story because of technical issues, poor seating arrangements, and confusing instructions. Within five days, the video boasted over 3.8 million views.

Most online discussions focused on Nicholson’s Halcyon experience. But as the video made its way out of Disney Parks fan communities, some non-Disney Adults weighed in on the idea of participating in an immersive Star Wars role-play experience. Some compared it to a disease.

A family in their room inside of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

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“The thing about Americans is that their sincerity and lack of shame is unfathomable to me,” said X (formerly Twitter) user @renagadeapostle. “What do you mean you’re going to talk to an actor in a theme park like they really are that character…..”

A family of four, two adults and two children, are seated at a table in a lively restaurant. They are smiling and posing for a photo with a person dressed as a chef Mickey Mouse character, who has arms open wide in a friendly gesture. Food and drinks are on the table.
Credit: Disney

“Children are obviously excluded from this as it’s of course an experience mainly aimed at children but like ADULTS? My face would be burning red with embarrassment even making eye contact with the wandering lumiere. You do not have to worry about ME.”

The X user equated Disney Adults to a religious sect, a comparison popularized by Jodi Eichler-Levine, a religious studies professor at Lehigh University.

“There’s something in all of this that feels very connected to all of America’s subtweet versions of protestanism…. What are megachurches if not theme park entertainment for the lord?” they wrote.

“Adults that go to Disney are already scary enough,” @nobodynoswift replied.

Still, hundreds of commenters defended Disney Adults.

“It’s really not that deep,” @danmeimei1 argued. “If they’re an adult paying their adult money to have an experience that is fun to them and plays into the park’s rules, why not? You’re coming off a bit condescending. Let people have their fun, being shameless in a place that encourages it is fun!”

“This is such a weird complaint,” @hydr0chaeris agreed. “‘Can you believe Americans enjoy themselves at theme parks? Couldn’t be me.’”

Are you an adult who meets characters at Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, or Disney California Adventure Park? In the comments, share your favorite meet-and-greet memory with Inside the Magic. 

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