So where does this leave Disney fans in marginalized communities? Wall, who is based in Oxnard, California, spends more time at Disneyland in her home state. And when she visits the theme parks in Florida, she says, she doesn’t leave Disney property: “That’s the only part of the South that I’ve been to. I don’t have a desire to really go anywhere else.”
Martin, who has family members living in Florida, doesn’t think boycotting the state is the most effective way to respond to recent legislation. When she visits Disney World, she tries to support local, Black-owned businesses near the parks. “What’s happening right now is affecting brown and Black people the most,” she says. “So having brown and Black people not come to Florida and use this as an excuse to not support is working extremely backwards.”
Brown, the Augsburg University professor, points to the diversity within Disney fandom. In her research, she has spoken with people from a range of ages, gender identities, races, social classes, and sexual orientations. “I think the derisiveness toward Disney adults has a lot to do with the fandom’s public face: young adults, many of whom are content creators/influencers, women, LGBTQIA people, and people of color,” she says. “Any time any of those groups — and especially people at the intersections of several of those — love something, it becomes suspect.”
The Black Disney Moms team is used to hearing criticism from other people about their love for Disney parks and entertainment, but they try not to let it bother them. Wyllie doesn’t call herself a Disney adult, but she understands why others do. What she doesn’t understand is the contempt Disney fans sometimes face. “If it has absolutely nothing to do with you,” she says, “if it’s not stopping you from doing your daily life, why do you care?”
It may seem cliché, but anyone who has visited the parks can tell you that there is an element of magic. Many of the things that make Disney exciting for children are also appealing to adults. Howard has three kids, but that’s not why she loves the parks: She enjoys Disney as much as her children. It’s a step away from life’s stressors, even if temperatures regularly surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the lines are long, and a bottle of water costs nearly $4.
“In the same way that grown men get excited about other grown men playing sports,” Black says, “we can be excited about Disney movies and going to theme parks.”
This story is part of a new AllureMelanin Editseries exploring the question, “What does a nerd look like?” Here, more stories about the communities Black women have built: