disneyland, disney world, imagination, make-believe, memes, play, theme parks
In response to the closing of the Walt Disney theme parks at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans of Disneyland and Walt Disney World produced videos re-creating their favorite rides and attractions for a viral social media trend dubbed #homemadeDisney. The typically short (usually 30–90 seconds) videos from #homemadeDisney turned ‘guests’ into ‘cast members’ (staff) and smartphone owners into living room ‘imagineering’ ride designers. Participants engaged in a form of shared make-believe (Walton 1990) by assembling household objects as props, improvising ride elements, and performing as theme parkgoers for one another. The extensive collection of social media videos analyzed for this article reveals how fans interpreted attractions through a shared mimetic grammar (Milner 2016), the ride aesthetic (Telotte 2008), and the playful nature of the theme park experience.
Bobby Schweizer, Texas Tech University
Bobby Schweizer, Ph.D. is an assistant professor for the department of Journalism and Creative Media Industries in the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University.