Our Character on Display: Disneybounding at OLC Accelerate 2022


Angela Gunder, Ph.D. (she/her/hers), Chief Academic Officer, Online Learning Consortium 

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For as long as I have been involved with the OLC, a big part of my conference experience has been getting to enjoy the Disney parks after hours with colleagues and friends. Late nights closing down the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT served as an extended community engagement experience, and the time I’ve spent laughing and chatting in between rides and fireworks is permanently stored in my treasured memory back. As if these experiences weren’t vibrant enough, one of my former co-workers and dear friend, Adam Davi, introduced me to a way to create space for new memories to be made through an activity called Disneybounding. Adam, who serves as the Senior Instructional Designer for Digital Learning at The University of Arizona and is the 2022 OLC Accelerate Conference Program Co-Chair, sat down with me to tell me a little more about this fun practice that allows people to literally “get into character” during their park experience. He also shared some ways that the onsite participants of this year’s conference can join in on the fun themselves.

Angela Gunder: What is Disneybounding? How did this get started as a practice in the parks?

Adam Davi: Disneybounding is a way to represent the essence of your favorite Disney character without having to dress in a costume.  Since adults are not allowed to wear costumes in the Disney Parks, Disneybounding is a way to add a little bit of extra magic to your visit by channeling the look of your favorite characters.  But whereas costumes are a replica of a character, Disneybounding gives you freedom to add your own flair and style to a character’s look.  I actually first heard about it when reading a story about John Stamos Disneybounding at Disneyland.  That got me hooked and now my wife and I try to come up with new outfits for every trip to the parks.

AG: What are some of your favorite examples of Disneybounding that others have done? What are some of your favorite Disneybounding looks that you and your family have put together?

AD: I like when entire families get in on the Disneybounding action.  I’ve seen some clever Toy Story inspired looks, the Winnie the Pooh crew, and Star Wars as well.  Some of my favorites that I’ve done with my wife were Ariel and Flounder and Belle and Beast.  In fact, when my wife was Ariel, a little girl saw her and asked her mom if she was a mermaid.  It was a really cute moment.  And we managed to snag a reservation at the Be Our Guest restaurant as Belle and Beast, which made that look extra special.  When our son came into the mix, we went classic Disney for his first Disneybound experience with him as Mickey and me and my wife as Goofy and Pluto.

AG: If someone wants to Disneybound when they visit one of the parks, how should they get started?

AD: We started by making a list of characters that we thought would be fun to Disneybound as.  Then from there we looked up inspiration online to see what it would take to put the look together and what we already had in our closet that would work.  I would suggest people think about who their favorite characters are and then check their closet to see what they already have to put that look together.  Once you get the basic look and colors put together, you can think about what details will really pull it all together.  For example, when my wife went as Jasmine, she found a tiger purse to accentuate the outfit and really sell the look.  For my Wall-E look, I found a checkered pattern watch band to match the pattern on Wall-E’s arms.  While you don’t have to get that detailed with your look, it makes it really fun, especially when others notice and appreciate the details.

AG: Where can folks find inspiration to come up with their look?

AD: There is an official Disneybound website that you can start with, but, honestly, that site feels a little intimidating to me. Pinterest is where I would go for inspiration.  There are lots of pictures and suggestions for ensembles to put together.  Even doing a simple Google search for “Disneybound [insert character name]” will give you images for inspiration.  Some sites and pictures will even tell you where to buy each part of the outfit if you don’t already have it.  Searching Instagram for #Disneybounding will show you some great looks of Disneybounding in action at the parks as well.

AG: For those that want to show off their Disneybounding look at OLC Accelerate, where can they join in on the fun?

AD: If you are planning to visit a Disney park while in Orlando for the conference, Disneybounding can be a fun way to add a little extra magic to your trip.  So talk to your friends, pick some characters and make some really fun memories.  We will be doing a Disneybound photoshoot while onsite for OLC Accelerate on Wednesday night at 5:45 pm.  Everyone who wants to participate is invited, just meet in the lobby of the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel by the fountain before heading to the parks.  And if you are looking for others to join in with you, whether as a Disneybound crew or just to visit the parks together, you can connect on Slack and share your ideas.

Intrigued by Disneybounding? Want to get your crew together (or join a new crew) to show off your creativity and style? I highly recommend that you join us on Wednesday, November 16 at 5:45pm ET for a quick photo shoot. We’ll meet at the fountain in the lobby of the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel, take some group photos, and then break so that folks can either head to a park (or relax in style somewhere around the hotel or in Orlando). And if you want to preview your look on social media beforehand or show us your look in the park, you can use the hashtag #OLCAccelerate #disneybound and tag OLC at @OLCToday.

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