For Disney Fans Only: Who Are You? | Disney World

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    For Disney fans only…today we have one question:

    Who are you?

    We mean, really.

    Sure, you are a fan.

    Some might even call you a fanatic.

    On the subject of Disney, anyway.

    PS: Otherwise, you would not be reading this here.

    Case closed.

    So you do have some interest…at the very least.

    But just who you are is more complicated and harder to define.

    The deeper questions (and maybe some answers) come up in two new films about Disney fans.

    New films define who and what are Disney fans

    They explore some new territory.

    What might be called the mind-sets of theme park fans who are the hardcore Disney World Orlando ticket-buyers.

    How do these movies portray you?

    You might like what they say.

    But then again, maybe not.

    If you’re not nuts, are you fanatic about your favoring Disney?

    Are you childish about it?

    Worse is to come…

    Some of the fan pastimes in the films are forbidden and certainly not meeting with Disney approval. And we’re talking about drugs and sexual behavior.

    You may not like what they say about you

    The films point out that many associate Disney fans or fanatics with such negatives as being “nutty” on the subject.

    And while there are some “nutty” ones in the films, they also portray many others as successful people with professional careers. Intelligent people who happen to also like Disney.

    What we already know about you as fans is simple. And basic.

    It is this:

    You are male or female. Young or older. Rich or poor. More likely rich. Or even more likely, somewhere in between when it comes to material assets.

    That doesn’t tell you a lot, does it?

    There’s much more, as we find out in the new films. But let’s put off some of that until later.

    Let’s find out what we know about you…yes you…from Internet sites and some recent news stories.

    Steel yourself, however. This view of you is not always flattering.

    Living next to Disney can be your goal

    News: some of you buy houses based on Disney. And not just at Golden Oak, the Disney owned community at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, either,

    Of course, this was bigger news a few years ago before Golden Oak and Celebration when there were not choices to live on Disney’s doorstep in Orlando.

    Back then, a home based on a Disney movie and seen there was sold for $400,000 to a couple who described themselves as “Disney fanatics.”

    It was news then because it was rare. But no longer.

    Meet the people who love Disney so much they moved there: Company expands into real estate for theme park die-hards with millions to spare,” was the headline from the Wall Street Journal greeting Disney’s entrance into the home building business.

    “Makes sense, because, as any American child (or childish American) will attest, the only thing better than visiting Disney World would be staying there forever,” the newspaper said.

    It was named after the company's California ranch.

    Its distinction: It’s the only place in the world where homeowners actually live on Disney park property.

    Home prices there are and remain for the affluent: upwards of $2 million (so these are the rich Disney fanatics as opposed to the more common poorer ones who have to save to scrap together the money for those annual passes).

    Golden Oak homebuyers also have to pay annual fees for park passes, door-to-door transportation and extended visiting hours as well as a hotel-style concierge.

    Who are these people buying the homes?

    One way to collect Hidden Mickeys

    Many of them choose to decorate their homes with “hidden Mickeys,” according to news reports. One home was said to have 75 of them.

    There’s also more than one Mickey Mouse shaped pool.

    Who buys homes there?

    Americans from all over but also foreigners.

    One report was that many of them are Brazilians.

    They can take direct flights from Sao Paulo to Orlando.

    There was no simple explanation of why that particular country had so many Disney fans.

    One resident quoted in a story (not a Brazilian but a 69-year-old man from Milford, Connecticut) reported he had bought Orlando tickets for Walt Disney World Resort 300 times in five years.

    Presumably, the very rich Disney fans are the only ones who can afford to live there.

    But a lot of others, possibly termed fanatics, have their own Disney connection via the Internet.

    Some of the sites they join have various ways of helping you identify who you are. Some of these are practical, understandable and even predictable.

    But other are also best seen as silly.

    Such as how many Disney plush toy characters you have.

    Disney fan traits vary

    Some Disney related sites stress a huge variety of photos. Which apparently assumes Disney fanatics want to spend much of their time looking at pictures.

    One offers 76,000 shots of Disney’s half dozen worldwide parks.

    Another site for so-called “disneyphiles” or “Mouse Seekers” suggests bucket lists for members.

    These include visiting every Disney theme park.

    All six of them.

    Not very practical unless you are rich. Other ambitions are said to be to fly on a Disney airplane and earn a Disney coast-to-coast medal by running in marathons in both California and Florida.

    But more practical is to become an annual passholder or take a Disney cruise.

    These bucket list often combine the silly with the impossible.

    A few more

    Living at Golden Oak, Disney’s community on Walt Disney World Resort property. Easy enough if you are well-off.

    Attending a wedding at Disney World’s wedding pavilion. That’s also easily done -- even if you’re not an invited guest.

    Seeing every Disney Broadway show (“It’s a shame not to support the arts with your Disney enthusiasm,” the site says).

    And eating at every Disney restaurant (“a stretch even for a megafan, so try noshing at every eatery in a single park instead”).

    How about watching every Disney film in the order of their release. That one is another possibility but do you know anyone who has actually done this?

    Some other Disney sites are unrealistic and at times silly, too.

    What it takes to REALLY be a Disney fanatic, one site asks?

    Their answer or some of them:

    • Your Mickey Mouse ears (all 60 billion of them) are your favorite accessories.

    • Going to the Disney store at any mall is normal, along with buying everything in the store.
    • You wear a princess costume to a dance or even a “night out."
    • You are completely heartbroken when someone says that they don’t like Disney.
    • If a man (or woman) tells you that they like Disney, you fall head over heels for him that moment.

    As that last statement suggests, romance or loneliness must characterize some Disney fans.

    Or why else would a site come up for singles dating?

    One of the newer sites is

    “Looking for a date who loves Mickey Mouse as much as you do?”

    Well, yes, that’s what it does.

    MouseMingle bills itself as the place to interact with other Disney lovers “who want that same magic in their relationship.”

    “Traditional Internet dating sites don’t understand the passion people have for all things Disney. But we do,” says on its homepage.

    Disney for the lonely is similar to your typical dating site: For $12.55 a month, users can create a profile and message or chat with other users. But it also asks people to share their favorite Disney songs, characters, parks, and memories.

    Like other sites, it identifies the “hottest names for men and women.”

    Is this positive?

    And does it work?

    Psychologists and other health care officials offer two divergent opinions on it:

    1. Common shared interests are positive. Even extreme Disney fandom can make for a very successful and positive relationship.

      “If you’re really into this interest, then it absolutely helps because many other people may not understand the level of your dedication to your interest,” clinical psychologist Suzana E. Flores, PsyD, author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives, tells Yahoo Health. “

    2. This shared interest…call it a passion…does not work at all.

      “There is little evidence that having common interests is associated with relationship success. Clinical research doesn’t support the idea,” New York City-based psychologist Joselp Cilona, PhD, tells Yahoo Health.

      For Disney fans, love may be blind after all

      So all you can really be sure of is that love is blind.

      But Disney fanaticism does not have to be an extreme.

      Even level headed people are impacted by the Disney influence.

    In “Budget Travel,” a writer-editor says he is not a fan because he does not own a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. He doesn’t have a Disney license plate on his car or own any bobblehead dolls.

    But he has bought tickets for Walt Disney World Resort more times than he can count.

    He writes:

    “In fact, when my family and I try to tally the total number of days we've logged in the parks, we usually start with some complex mental math only to throw up our hands and agree, ‘A few hundred.’"

    Having grown up in Tampa, about an hour from Disney World, he confesses to having had some of his most memorable life experiences with Mickey and the gang.

    What it takes to be a real fan

    His experiences:

    “Disney World is where my fourth-grade science class went on a field trip to learn about marine biology, where my elementary school chorus performed Christmas carols, where I've spent countless New Year's Eves, Fourths of July, Labor Days, and Memorial Days. I even learned I was accepted into journalism school, from an e-mail sent to my smartphone, while riding in a simulated hang glider at Epcot's popular Soarin' attraction.”

    Proving you don’t have to be a nut on the subject to write about it, the author’s background of 60 years at Disney prompted him to write some wise nuggets on visiting there.

    Which is all fine.

    So we come back to who are you, Disney fans?

    And the two new films on the subject.

    The first one is more positive.

    “The Dreamfinders” focuses on people who moved to Central Florida because they loved Disney.

    So they went to work for Disney.

    Answers to who you are

    Filmmaker Anthony Cortese told The Orlando Sentinel:

    “I think people associate Disney superfans as being nutty, over-the-top individuals … and there are those types out there. But these folks (in the film) have very professional, successful careers. They're smart. They know exactly what they're doing. They raising their families. And they've chosen to be here."

    OK. Not crazy, Cortese says.

    His own interest was stirred by Florida visits with his ten-year-old daughter a decade ago.

    One of his subjects was a lawyer, Lou Mongello who started writing Disney World guide books but started a web site. Mongello gave the filmmaker high marks for attempting to capture Disney fanatics.

    “He really wanted to spend as much time with people as possible to really understand what they're doing now and the lifestyle," said Mongello.

    Other subjects in “Dreamfinders” included people who started blogs that eventually led to full time careers.

    "I have somehow made taking my children to theme parks a career," one says.

    The other book was a lot more negative.

    The dark side of Disney

    Phillip Swift's "The Dark Side of Disney" is not exactly G-rated.

    It’s how and where to do distinctly adult things such as have sex or take drugs in theme parks.

    "In the film, I decided to make it more about why," he said. "Why do these people have this compulsion to cross this line into the dark side?"

    Swift was raised by his mother and grandmother in Ohio. He often visited Walt Disney World Resort with them.

    It was such a happy place for them that his mother secretly scattered the ashes of his grandmother at the Magic Kingdom, according to the film.

    Filmmakers Swift and friends try various other banned and naughty tasks such as exploring the underground tunnels…drinking around the clock at EPCOT…

    They also meet up with a man called Hoot. He spent unauthorized hours behind the scenes at Epcot's now-closed Horizons attraction,

    Other characters include someone called Logan. He said he liked to be high when he goes to Disney World.

    And how often is that?

    He goes a lot

    "He has the key to his problems right there," Swift said. "He says, 'Even if I do every drug in the world, I still feel bad leaving Walt Disney World.' You have to say [to him], 'Listen to what you just said.'"

    You might wonder what Disney people think about this.

    You can wonder. But they said no comment.

    The news story pointed out:

    Park rules prohibit "photography, videotaping or recording of any kind for commercial purposes," according to Disney World's website.

    At its heart, "Dark Side" is not negative. It is rather a nostalgic film, according to Swift, anyway.

    "When you hear the title, you think it's going to be this negative thing," he said. "But, in the end, it ends up being almost like a love letter to Disney."

    The creators of these movies may not be huge fans or hardly fanatics, but they are not immune to the charms of Disney.

    Filmmaker Cortese is moving to Celebration.

    He didn’t say whether he wants to scatter his own ashes anywhere nearby. ###