The Happiest Place On Earth

Disney Trivia, final round. One more question stands between me and victory. Picture round. Which Toy Story movie is it from? BAM. Toy Story II for the win. I come home with a stuffed animal three times bigger than my head. Flounder from “The Little Mermaid” was my prize. I leave with no regrets as I get a good number of stares on the walk home.

This kind of love for Disney is an outlet of expression for young adults like myself and oftent imes enjoying this “childish” passion helps us get through our adulthood.

This year, with record attendance and revenue at Disney parks, admission price has now reached the triple digits for the first time in history. With one of the company’s newest animated movies, Frozen, taking the spot as the number one animated film of all time, and Big Hero 6 winning an Oscar, the Disney fan phenomenon is as current and widespread as ever.

But why doesn’t the Disney magic fade away along with baby teeth and Easter baskets?

I come from a Disney-loving family. Everything that can be Disney, is Disney, from vacations to towels. That’s how it has always been and that’s how it always will be. It makes me happy.

According to a Brigham Young University study on prosocial behavior in Disney animated films, there is a scientific reason why Disney makes us feel so good.

The 2013 study found that Disney animated films were surprisingly high in the frequency of positive actions that benefit others, even when using more traditional definitions of selflessness. The findings suggested that Disney movies contain at least three times more of this prosocial, positive behavior than regular children’s programming.

But the Disney passion is more than nostalgia for Disney fans like myself. It is a positive passion and community of support and encouragement.

I’m not going to lie … I am convulsing with joy over the fact that I have recently been hired at Walt Disney World as a cast member. Disney has always been there for me. My parents divorced when I was eight. As an only child in the middle of a lengthy legal battle, three moves and the world I knew crumbling down, Disney was the main outlet that got me through.

Now, with finals, four jobs, relationship drama and family hardships, it has helped me through the hardest time of my young adult life.

I get a lot of crap for my Disney obsessions (way too many “Let It Go” jokes). So I really want to address the Disney critics.

People who identify as women are typically thrown into the stereotype of being the ones getting swept away in this “silly” Disney world. Yet in comparison, men are able to freely obsess over sports without criticism, which stereotypes in the opposite spectrum of manly men. This obsession is somehow more culturally acceptable.

There is also an argument that Disney is simply corporate escapism that uses conventional images of women as stereotypes.

However, Disney films are character driven — largely by females. Some of the highest grossing Disney films have been about the princesses. These princesses overcome challenges, show their cunning, speak their mind, make their own decisions and go after what makes them happy.

If anything, Disney has only been getting better incorporating positive role models with “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6” showing love between siblings rather than Prince Charming and the Damsel.

If you have a passion, like I do with Disney, it really doesn’t matter if people see it as childish. It doesn’t matter if you get stared at walking home with a giant Flounder and a bigger smile. The only thing that matters is if you get something positive out of it all.

As Walt himself said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Pursue your passions.