Grown-ups are playing dress-up.
In a fashion trend called “DisneyBounding,” adult fans can display their devotion without donning a Cinderella gown or a Buzz Lightyear spacesuit.
Instead, DisneyBounders shoot for subtle yet colorful salutes to Disney characters. A yellow skirt, blue top, red bow and apple pin? That’s a quiet shout-out to Snow White. Dress in all-green with a feathered fedora? Why, that’s Peter Pan.
“We actually did that on our honeymoon,” said Elyssa Kivus, 27. “We’re Disney fanatics.”
She 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,” Elyssa Kivus said. “I have two different Ariel ones.”
Like most DisneyBounders, Kivus wears her ensembles primarily at the theme park.
“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.”
And the 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.
Inspiration from Tumblr
Kivus and Rubino both said a Tumblr site was early inspiration and the birthplace of DisneyBounding activity. The site 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.
“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.
The “sweet spot” for DisneyBounding falls somewhere between a character T-shirt and an elaborate costume, Kay said.
“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,” she said.
Disney has embraced Kay, quoting her in articles for one of its blogs and hiring her to work special events.
And then there was this honor: At a recent gathering of social media superstars, she was placed next to Grumpy Cat.