DisneyBounding & Beyond: Fandom, Cosplay, & Embodiment in Themed Spaces

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    Fashion and costuming are integral to the contemporary theme park experience for many fans. Visiting sites such as Disneyland, Walt Disney World, or Universal Parks in specific forms of dress enables fans to embody favorite characters, immerse themselves in fictional storyworlds, and “use their park-going experience to explore selfhood, fandom, and style through creative styling” (Lantz 2020, 1335). However, while Universal Parks are relatively accepting of this practice, Disney forbids overt cosplay within its parks for guests over the age of fourteen (Walt Disney World, n.d.). In response, fans have circumvented this prohibition through the practice of Disneybounding. This has been characterized as an “interpretation” of cosplay, an “everyday cosplay” in which participants “strive to dress like Disney characters in their everyday lives” but also within the theme park spaces themselves (Brock 2017, 302, 313). Rather than explicit costuming, this involves the piecing together of mass-market clothing items and accessories to reflect the style or color palette of a specific Disney character, film, or theme park attraction.

    Disney has now tacitly endorsed Disneybounding by producing official dresses and accessories designed to be utilized as part of the practice and partnering with its creator, Leslie Kay (2020). However, Disneybounding’s
    origins in acts of resistance to the company’s official rules reveal the tensions that can emerge when fannish costuming practices are enacted within theme park spaces. In such privately owned corporate sites, there are both official and ideological limitations on fan behaviors and the cultural contexts that they operate in. Such issues highlight the importance of the spatial to the act of cosplaying.

    This chapter argues that the enactment of sartorial fandom within theme parks has much to tell us about the relationship between fandom and clothing, and between consumption culture and physical embodied experience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSartorial Fandom: Fashion, Beauty Culture, and Identity
    EditorsElizabeth Affuso, Suzanne Scott
    Place of PublicationMichigan
    PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
    ISBN (Electronic)978-0-472-90338-2
    ISBN (Print)978-0-472-07604-8, 978-0-472-05604-0
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023


    • Fandom
    • Cosplay
    • Fashion
    • Theme Parks
    • Merchandise


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