According to the Walt Disney World dress code, guests over the age of 14 should not wear costumes. So what can you do if you really want to be Ariel for the day? Disneybound!
Disneybounding, sometimes written as Disney bounding, is a low-key form of dress-up or cosplay created by adults who are no longer young enough to wear elaborate costumes into the parks. Think of it as costuming in street clothes.
Why, you may ask, would otherwise rational adults do this? Simply put, it’s fun! Many of us remember the excitement of dressing like Cinderella or Peter Pan when we were kids, so doing the same thing now brings a welcome sense of nostalgia. Disneybounding is also a great way to connect with other park guests and feel more immersed in the magical world.
The first step to a successful bound is choosing a character. It’s important to note that you should not limit yourself to a specific gender or species. Even if a character wears a skirt, you can still wear pants or shorts when you bound. I have seen many women bound as Gaston and men bound as Snow White; Mickey and Minnie are popular choices, too, of course. You can choose your favorite character or the one with the best fashion sense. Look beyond characters, too, to things like attractions and icons. Cast member uniforms are off limits for adults, but why not make a dress to match the teacups in Fantasyland or a suit with the lines and colors of the monorail? Use Pinterest and Google for inspiration. Be creative, and have fun!
Kids can Disneybound, too, and it is sometimes more appealing to young teens than an all-out costume. Even if your children would still rather wear costumes than street clothes that look like a character, they can get into the creative spirit by brainstorming ideas for adults or thinking up more obscure costume choices for themselves. Remember that kids are not limited by the same rules as adults, so they can dress like cast members or wear the most elaborate princess gown or pirate garb any time, not just during Halloween season. If your child wants to be a pastry chef, then make a yellow dress like those worn at Main Street Confectionery. If your child wants to work at Imagination someday, then transform a lab coat into a uniform. Remind your kids that there is more to Disney World than the films, so encourage them to be imaginative.
Once you have an idea, it’s time to get supplies. Sometimes Amazon will have exactly what you need, like a vest for Flynn Rider, and sometimes a thrift store will have the perfect violet dress for Rapunzel. Stores like Hot Topic also have Disneybounding clothes, as does Her Universe. Even Memento Mori, the Haunted Mansion gift shop in the Magic Kingdom, sells shirts in the style of the iconic butlers and maids. If you’re crafty, or want to give sewing a shot, try to find sheets or curtains secondhand to use as fabric, or look for clothes that could be easily altered to meet your needs. Search for simple patterns at your local craft store, and don’t be afraid to use fabric paint or glue to get the exact look that you want.
When you have your basic clothing, think about accessories. It probably isn’t practical to wear a red cape if you’re bounding as Snow White, but a red cardigan over your shoulders will do the trick. Look for a rose-shaped handbag or hairclip if you bound as Belle. A pink bowtie would be perfect for a Marie the cat outfit, and ears are certainly appropriate for Mickey and Minnie. Look at the character’s details, think about their wants and desires, and use those as inspiration.
Also try to get your whole group involved. Think of daily themes, like Marvel or Star Wars, or all go as a family like the Incredibles or a group like the Seven Dwarfs. If someone in your party is too busy or reluctant to create a costume, then encourage her/him to bound as something simple, like Prince Eric (white shirt, red belt, and blue pants). Odds are that you probably have at least one perfect Disneybounding outfit already, so look through your closet before your next trip!
Finally, remember to enjoy Disneybounding when you’re in the park. Smile or wave to other bounding guests, especially if they are the same character, and thank cast members who randomly call you by your character’s name. You’re part of a community now, so don’t be bashful or grumpy… unless you are Bashful or Grumpy!