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Disney-bounding: How Disney's no dress-up rule sparked a major style trend

Disney’s strict costume rules at its parks led to a Disney fashion revolution. Lauren Heath-Jones finds out more.




Disney-influencer Tiffany Mink uses everyday clothes to bound as Timothy mouse from Dumbo   Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Disney fan, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what Disney-bounding is. While cosplay - bounding’s brasher, louder sibling - has entered the public consciousness, thanks to events such as ComiCon, the art form has become a passion for some die-hard fans - those who eat, breathe, sleep, and most importantly dress, Disney.

Unlike cosplay, Disney-bounding isn’t about creating elaborate and exact replicas of characters’ costumes. Instead, it acts as the subtler, more refined version, with Disney-bounders using everyday items from their wardrobes to create outfits, not costumes, that represent their characters. Rather than creating a literal interpretation of a character’s appearance, “bounders” will use specific colours and accessories to recreate the spirit of their favourite Disney characters, emulating them rather than becoming them.

Disney anywhere, anytime

Disney-bounding is perhaps best summed up by Jeff Kurtti - a Disney legacy officer and author of the book The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains and Spaces Between.

“Disney-bounding as an art form frees one to celebrate and honour favourite Disney characters and memories - along with granting an inspiring and liberating permission to fearlessly explore, to vigorously imagine, and to passionately create,” he says. “What could be more Disney than that?”

While the Disney-bounding community may not have the same intensity as cosplayers - one woman shaved her head to dress as Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy - they do share the same passion, with some bounders incorporating Disney-inspired fashions into their everyday wardrobes. The perfect bounder attire is as likely to be worn at a theme park as it is to work or school.

The term ‘Disney-bounding’ was coined in 2011 by Leslie Kay, the blogger behind the DisneyBound website, which focuses on Disney-inspired street fashion.

Kay first created the blog in anticipation for her trip to the Walt Disney World resort in Florida, US, with the site originally acting as a general Disney-fan blog with fanfare, such as movie stills, fan art and Disney photography. Then it all changed.

Bounding’s birth

Bored one afternoon, Kay logged on to the now-defunct Polyvore, a forerunner of Pinterest, where users could create online collages, or mood boards, from images collected from across the internet.

“The truth is the Disney-bound concept all started with one outfit. At first, the content that lived on DisneyBound was just like any other Disney blog,” Kay says in her book,Disney Bound Dress Disney and Make it Fashion.

“But one Saturday afternoon, I found myself bursting with excitement for my Disney trip and I had a creative urge. I visited one of my favourite fashion websites, Polyvore, with the thought; ‘What would Rapunzel (the newest princess at the time) wear if she was a girl just like me? What would she wear to the mall? Or out with her friends?’ I found images of different clothes, shoes and accessories online, came up with an outfit, and posted it on my blog. People immediately responded to it.”

The response to these mood boards was immediate and universally positive, so much so, that they became the sole focus of the blog and Disney-bounding, which has been described by Kay as “a space where fashion and Disney collide”, was born.

Kay says that she’s keen to distinguish the difference between Disney-bounding and dressing up: “Disney-bounding is the art of creating outfits based off of your favourite characters with items that you can find in your own closet or local mall

With Disney-bounding the goal is to create an outfit that you could wear out and about every day

It's not supposed to be a screen accurate costume. It's generally more vague. It gives you the opportunity to play with your own personal style, whatever that may be.”



A community of bounders

Tiffany Mink, a Disney-bounder and influencer with nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, has a similar outlook on the fashion trend: “Disney-bounding allows you to bring a little Disney into your everyday life,” she tells Planet Attractions.

“You can Disney-bound going to the parks, sure, but you can Disney-bound at work, school, grocery shopping - anywhere.

For me, it's such a fun way to express my love for both Disney and fashion.”

In the nine years since its inception, Disney-bounding has evolved into its own art form and has been so impactful, that even Disney has officially adopted the trend, with a visit to ShopDisney, seeing Disney-bound items, such as clothing, jewellery and accessories all available for purchase.

Most impressive though, is the dedicated and passionate community - boasting more than 1.7 million Instagram posts across three hashtags: #DisneyBound, #Disneybounding and #Disneybounder - that surrounds the phenomenon and embraces the sartorial challenge of creating wearable street fashion looks in tribute to specific Disney characters or experiences. It’s almost become a point of pride for some bounders to find the most obscure characters, with nothing off-limits. Characters, attractions and even snacks are fair game. As long as it’s Disney, it’s ripe to be bounded.

“I feel like it's almost a secret challenge in some circles in the Disney-bounding community to find creative ways to express themselves as the most obscure Disney characters possible,” says Kay. “It's always really cool when you catch them in the wild and you're like: ‘Oh, that person looks like they’re bounding the seahorses from The Little Mermaid’ and then you notice seahorse earrings or something and you're like: ‘OH MY GOD THEY ARE!’”.



Creativity from limitation

The success of the trend can be attributed - at least in part - to Disney’s no dress up rule, which prohibits guests aged 14 or over from wearing costumes to the parks.

The reasons for this are two-fold. First is safety - Disney can’t have its younger visitors confusing guests in costume with its official cast members and running up to, or even hugging, total strangers. Second is brand consistency, with the company being very particular about the way its cast members, particularly its character actors, are trained to stay on brand and interact with guests.

Kay believes its inclusivity is a huge part of Disney-bounding’s success: “I think it's appealing because anyone can do it. There isn't an age, size, or budget requirement,” she tells Planet Attractions.

“It also helps that Disney is just so insanely popular. That probably has more to do with it than anything else.”

For Mink, Disney-bounding is another way for her to feel connected to her park experience: “It makes me feel more connected in so many ways. Sure, it provides a fun photo opp, but what's really fun is this unspoken language between you and other Disney-bounders. It's its own community,” she says.

“Disneybounding in the parks signals to other fans: ‘Hey, we’re in this together!’ And you meet like-minded people and make new friends. And I'm not gonna lie, but your character interactions are always elevated when you Disney-bound the character you are meeting! There's such an energy there.”

For some bounders, Disney-bounding is more than just a style choice. For Tiffany Sutton, known as @followtheyellowbrickgirl on Instagram, bounding has given her an entire community and a family, something she felt she never had before.

“The friends that I’ve made through Disney-bounding, it’s like a family. [...] It’s people who get you, you know? I’ve never had it in my life. I was the new kid all the time. I went to four different elementary schools. It was just the life of a military kid,” said Sutton, who grew up on military bases across the US and Germany.

“With Disney-bounding there was this whole world of people who were just like me. It was incredible. It was like I finally found my people. It was the best.

It’s definitely been a huge influence in my life as far as happiness and magic. These are my people. It feels like home.”


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Disney-bounding: How Disney's no dress-up rule sparked a major style trend | Planet Attractions

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Disney-bounding: How Disney's no dress-up rule sparked a major style trend

Disney’s strict costume rules at its parks led to a Disney fashion revolution. Lauren Heath-Jones finds out more.




Disney-influencer Tiffany Mink uses everyday clothes to bound as Timothy mouse from Dumbo   Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Disney fan, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what Disney-bounding is. While cosplay - bounding’s brasher, louder sibling - has entered the public consciousness, thanks to events such as ComiCon, the art form has become a passion for some die-hard fans - those who eat, breathe, sleep, and most importantly dress, Disney.

Unlike cosplay, Disney-bounding isn’t about creating elaborate and exact replicas of characters’ costumes. Instead, it acts as the subtler, more refined version, with Disney-bounders using everyday items from their wardrobes to create outfits, not costumes, that represent their characters. Rather than creating a literal interpretation of a character’s appearance, “bounders” will use specific colours and accessories to recreate the spirit of their favourite Disney characters, emulating them rather than becoming them.

Disney anywhere, anytime

Disney-bounding is perhaps best summed up by Jeff Kurtti - a Disney legacy officer and author of the book The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains and Spaces Between.

“Disney-bounding as an art form frees one to celebrate and honour favourite Disney characters and memories - along with granting an inspiring and liberating permission to fearlessly explore, to vigorously imagine, and to passionately create,” he says. “What could be more Disney than that?”

While the Disney-bounding community may not have the same intensity as cosplayers - one woman shaved her head to dress as Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy - they do share the same passion, with some bounders incorporating Disney-inspired fashions into their everyday wardrobes. The perfect bounder attire is as likely to be worn at a theme park as it is to work or school.

The term ‘Disney-bounding’ was coined in 2011 by Leslie Kay, the blogger behind the DisneyBound website, which focuses on Disney-inspired street fashion.

Kay first created the blog in anticipation for her trip to the Walt Disney World resort in Florida, US, with the site originally acting as a general Disney-fan blog with fanfare, such as movie stills, fan art and Disney photography. Then it all changed.

Bounding’s birth

Bored one afternoon, Kay logged on to the now-defunct Polyvore, a forerunner of Pinterest, where users could create online collages, or mood boards, from images collected from across the internet.

“The truth is the Disney-bound concept all started with one outfit. At first, the content that lived on DisneyBound was just like any other Disney blog,” Kay says in her book,Disney Bound Dress Disney and Make it Fashion.

“But one Saturday afternoon, I found myself bursting with excitement for my Disney trip and I had a creative urge. I visited one of my favourite fashion websites, Polyvore, with the thought; ‘What would Rapunzel (the newest princess at the time) wear if she was a girl just like me? What would she wear to the mall? Or out with her friends?’ I found images of different clothes, shoes and accessories online, came up with an outfit, and posted it on my blog. People immediately responded to it.”

The response to these mood boards was immediate and universally positive, so much so, that they became the sole focus of the blog and Disney-bounding, which has been described by Kay as “a space where fashion and Disney collide”, was born.

Kay says that she’s keen to distinguish the difference between Disney-bounding and dressing up: “Disney-bounding is the art of creating outfits based off of your favourite characters with items that you can find in your own closet or local mall

With Disney-bounding the goal is to create an outfit that you could wear out and about every day

It's not supposed to be a screen accurate costume. It's generally more vague. It gives you the opportunity to play with your own personal style, whatever that may be.”



A community of bounders

Tiffany Mink, a Disney-bounder and influencer with nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, has a similar outlook on the fashion trend: “Disney-bounding allows you to bring a little Disney into your everyday life,” she tells Planet Attractions.

“You can Disney-bound going to the parks, sure, but you can Disney-bound at work, school, grocery shopping - anywhere.

For me, it's such a fun way to express my love for both Disney and fashion.”

In the nine years since its inception, Disney-bounding has evolved into its own art form and has been so impactful, that even Disney has officially adopted the trend, with a visit to ShopDisney, seeing Disney-bound items, such as clothing, jewellery and accessories all available for purchase.

Most impressive though, is the dedicated and passionate community - boasting more than 1.7 million Instagram posts across three hashtags: #DisneyBound, #Disneybounding and #Disneybounder - that surrounds the phenomenon and embraces the sartorial challenge of creating wearable street fashion looks in tribute to specific Disney characters or experiences. It’s almost become a point of pride for some bounders to find the most obscure characters, with nothing off-limits. Characters, attractions and even snacks are fair game. As long as it’s Disney, it’s ripe to be bounded.

“I feel like it's almost a secret challenge in some circles in the Disney-bounding community to find creative ways to express themselves as the most obscure Disney characters possible,” says Kay. “It's always really cool when you catch them in the wild and you're like: ‘Oh, that person looks like they’re bounding the seahorses from The Little Mermaid’ and then you notice seahorse earrings or something and you're like: ‘OH MY GOD THEY ARE!’”.



Creativity from limitation

The success of the trend can be attributed - at least in part - to Disney’s no dress up rule, which prohibits guests aged 14 or over from wearing costumes to the parks.

The reasons for this are two-fold. First is safety - Disney can’t have its younger visitors confusing guests in costume with its official cast members and running up to, or even hugging, total strangers. Second is brand consistency, with the company being very particular about the way its cast members, particularly its character actors, are trained to stay on brand and interact with guests.

Kay believes its inclusivity is a huge part of Disney-bounding’s success: “I think it's appealing because anyone can do it. There isn't an age, size, or budget requirement,” she tells Planet Attractions.

“It also helps that Disney is just so insanely popular. That probably has more to do with it than anything else.”

For Mink, Disney-bounding is another way for her to feel connected to her park experience: “It makes me feel more connected in so many ways. Sure, it provides a fun photo opp, but what's really fun is this unspoken language between you and other Disney-bounders. It's its own community,” she says.

“Disneybounding in the parks signals to other fans: ‘Hey, we’re in this together!’ And you meet like-minded people and make new friends. And I'm not gonna lie, but your character interactions are always elevated when you Disney-bound the character you are meeting! There's such an energy there.”

For some bounders, Disney-bounding is more than just a style choice. For Tiffany Sutton, known as @followtheyellowbrickgirl on Instagram, bounding has given her an entire community and a family, something she felt she never had before.

“The friends that I’ve made through Disney-bounding, it’s like a family. [...] It’s people who get you, you know? I’ve never had it in my life. I was the new kid all the time. I went to four different elementary schools. It was just the life of a military kid,” said Sutton, who grew up on military bases across the US and Germany.

“With Disney-bounding there was this whole world of people who were just like me. It was incredible. It was like I finally found my people. It was the best.

It’s definitely been a huge influence in my life as far as happiness and magic. These are my people. It feels like home.”


 



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