The iconic “Cinderella” (1950) features a gorgeous sequence in which Cinderella floats among the bubbles beautifully singing “Sing Sweet Nightingale.” Cinderella’s voice drones out her stepsisters who are shattering glass in the background and making the ears of Lucifer the cat bleed. During this moment, Cinderella enters a new dimension with her angelic voice and the playful, yet fragile, bubbles around her shimmering in purple, red and blue hues. She even harmonizes with herself. It’s a simple scene, but a scene that would prove to be a close comparison to the attitudes of some Disney adults today.
I am a Disney adult, and proud one, but I believe that some fans allow for this company or obsession to drown them in these bubbles. In fact, it allows for their view of the world to become a Disney fairytale when, in reality, it is the exact opposite. This view is known as the “Disney Bubble.” Just like Cinderella, some Disney fans find themselves blocking out the awful noises around them to transcend into this ethereal and surreal place. The Disney Bubble even allowed for the NBA to play basketball back in 2020. This was organized by the NBA to keep players safe and help control the spread of COVID-19 while keeping players and games on Walt Disney World property.
This idea of the bubble really stood out to me when I was talking to my aunt about Disney; yes, I guess you could say the Disney fandom is genetic. She mentioned how she is excited for an upcoming trip because she gets to just exist in her Disney Bubble, far away from the real world around her. Now, I think it is okay to take a mental health break from the news that dominates our social media platforms, however, this break turns into more than just that with Disney. These trips require intense preparation, research, tips from vlogs/blogs and more to make sure it is as magical as possible. The Disney Bubble no longer just operates within the location of the Disney resort that one is visiting, but it encapsulates the mind as well.
One key element of these vacations is the dining. Disney dining is on another level, and if you wish to get the perfect restaurant experience or the Insta-worthy food, then you have to book these reservations 60 days in advance. The Disney Bubble is no longer a far-away reality, but it is right on your computer. This then builds excitement and turns this escape into an unhealthy obsession.
The Disney Bubble also allows for any critiques of the parks to be seen as villainous. The idea of being critical of one of the wealthiest companies in the entire world is not taken seriously because of some people’s unwillingness to look beyond the Bubble. Some of this negativity can definitely be unwarranted, but most of it is from people who want the Disney experience to improve. The pixie dust-tinted glasses allow for these problems and issues to be overlooked, but at what expense? While some Disney adults may be critical of their current operations, these adults still utilize these systems because of how the Disney Bubble has developed. No longer is it possible to enjoy the parks with the current crowds and popularity. The villainous roots of crowds, lines, capacity issues can only be defeated by the mythical Genie+, the new and paid version of Fastpass+. It’s a double-edged sword because you want to enjoy your vacation, but you also give in to these overpriced elements that used to be complementary.
Disney adults who live in Florida, California and other locations close to the magic can experience this bubble on a daily basis. The bubble is no longer a dream away for a vacation, but right in their backyard. The experiences then become part of their daily routine and their understanding of sociocultural and political events. The separation between one’s own reality and this Disney Bubble even then becomes more complicated and confusing.
A recent study by LendingTree actually found that 18 percent of Disney families that visit the parks have gone into debt for these vacations. The other significant factor is that 71 percent of these attendees claim to have no regrets about the decision and are glad that they could visit the Disney theme parks. With park tickets averaging at $140 per day, it makes sense as to why this has become our reality.
Disney continues to dominate the theme park industry, though they are lacking in concrete ideals and concepts for their parks and resorts. Disney continues to highlight the possibilities for their theme parks, such as “Indiana Jones” in Animal Kingdom or “Coco,” “Encanto” and villains in Magic Kingdom, without confirming any of it. It’s all just ideas, existing in the imagination of Walt Disney Imagineers. With the promise of these projects that keep changing, it may seem that Disney is trapped in their own bubble and unwilling to see the growing competition down the street from Universal and other companies. When this bubble pops, who knows what may be in store for all of us.
Disney adults can be wonderful people and their joy about these Disney projects and experiences is a blast, but we cannot allow for one company to dominate our lives. We can like Disney while also being critical of their actions, political ideologies, prices and more. Just like Lucifer the cat in the “Cinderella” sequence, we need to pop the bubble while still allowing for that magic to remain, in whatever way that may mean.