Welcome to my take on the psychology and sociology of the Disney culture. This is my own outlet and expression of my views on Disney everything! I love great discussion too so please feel free to comment. I mostly follow the current state of Disney but I have a social-science-colored lens through which to view it and occasionally compare it to the past. I'm a bit of a biased nostalgic too so please enjoy a little thoughtful commentary mixed in with educated exploration.
I apologize for my absence over the past month. Between finishing my grad school application
and the holidays I had to put my little blog on hold. But I’m back now, and I should be posting
Moving on through my fun little analysis of how our Disney
community is in fact a culture, let’s take a look at a few of the other
characteristics we share.
We absolutely share physical/material traits. This is seen in our Disney collections,
whatever they may be - Pins, movies, clothing, figurines, even Disney antiques
or tickets. Often our Park visits
consist of souvenir shopping or even consuming Park-specific food, such as
Dole-whips, or Mickey pretzels, furthering our way of physically connecting
ourselves to Disney.
Mouse Ears, a classic material shared trait!
Fitting hand in hand with material practices is behavioral
rituals or norms. Again, visiting the
Parks in and of itself is a behavioral trait.
You may have an attraction you always ride first, or a spot you always
sit in for a show. You may split off and
meet back at the hub for ice cream. Or if it involves the films you may watch your favorite Disney movie whenever you are home sick. Each
norm or custom you develop is familiar to the rest of the Disney community
because even if we do things differently, we know the magical (excuse the
cliché) feeling we get when we fall into that normativity and familiar routine.
The last shared characteristic of the Disney culture is that
of symbolism. In other words, the
language we share and the institutions we have formed over certain aspects in
Disney culture. For example, when
communicating in social media we often adapt acronyms of abbreviations for
things that occur often. During the New
Fantasyland construction and previews the term FLE sufficed as Fantasyland
Expansion. The Parks have become DLR for
Disneyland Resort, or DCA for Disney’s California Adventure, and MK, DAK, DHS,
WDW, etc. We do love our acronyms,
especially on Twitter where characters are limited. We also share affinities for certain other
symbols, such as the iconic castle image for Walt Disney Pictures before each Disney film, the famous Disneyland Opening Day speech by
Walt, or the theme song from any certain fireworks show we have come to know and
You have to love this one.
All of these things work together in the definition of our
culture. If it feels like we are one big
family, it’s because we kind of are! Of
course we all see certain things in different lights, as I noted in Part 1, but
that’s just another part of belonging to this complex and beautiful culture of
I’ve been referring to Disney Culture since the beginnings
of this little blog, and I’d like to take a little time to explain the ins and
outs of Disney Culture. Commonly
identified criteria in the definition of a culture include shared subjective,
material, behavioral, and symbolic characteristics. The Disney community meets
these criteria, and this post will focus on the “subjective” characteristic,
which includes our beliefs, values, and attitudes.
We, members of
the Disney Culture, share the belief that Walter Elias Disney created works
that have not, and will not be matched and can’t be surpassed in terms of
creativity and forward-thinking. Between
his animation feats and his theme park innovations, his creativity has inspired
us all. We also have emotional
attachments to Disney and certain things can inspire that emotion in us. Because of this we believe anything with his
name attached to it, even today, must be of the highest quality and must
reflect his ideals.
Now within this
group of people who share this belief are undeniably two separate parties. There are those who believe everything the
Walt Disney Company puts out maintains the aforementioned qualities, and these
people are generally very optimistic about the directions of the parks,
products, and films. The slang term for
these people is “Pixie Dusters,” suggesting they are so absorbed by Disney
Magic that they cannot see any faults Disney may actually make. The other group is extremely particular about
the current state of the Walt Disney Company.
Very rarely do they believe anything current measures up to the things Walt
himself put into action and are extremely skeptical. The slang term
for this party is “Foamers,” suggesting they are, on the other hand, absorbed
in nostalgia and cannot see the good in new ideas because they are not like the
Now just like any community
culture, these two parties are the two extremes. Most people fall somewhere in between,
leaning to one side or the other, rather than completely taking on one of these
identities. But inevitably this
distinction leads to frequent debates and disagreements in the Disney
community. It's important to also look at what we share with our fellow Disney fans, however, when we come across dissonance in our opinions. We are all one Culture, differences and all.
"There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware it's a small world after all"
I’m excited to address the other criterion on future blog
posts, but the subjective traits of Disney Culture are what I find most
interesting and so I shared them first! Keep an eye out for what brings us together in
this community as well as what makes us different in our tastes. Stay tuned for parts 2-4 and feel free to
share some examples of today’s topic in the comments! With today's grand opening of New Fantasyland and Test Track in WDW I know I've seen plenty :)