Whether young or old, fans of the Disney kingdom would say that its appeal or “magic” does not get old.
According to a The New York Times article, nearly one-third of people who visit Disney resorts are adults who come without children, “a Disney demographic so established that there’s an official name for them: “nonfamily guests.” Many of these adults first became fans of Disney as children and continue to be just as enthralled at the resorts year after year. Like these adults, many HBA students who are Disney fans too fell in love with its magic at a young age. Sophomore Jadynn Wong said, “The first time I went to Disneyland was when I was three years old. We went around Halloween time. just remember being really happy and it was really fun.” Wong fondly remembers going on rides with her family and friends, and enjoying the food at the theme park.
High school counselor Sean Ohiro’s first visit to Disneyland was during his college years. ”At the conclusion of our senior year, spring quarter final examinations at UCLA, my friends and I spent the entire day at Disneyland,” said Ohira. Like Ohira, teacher’s assistant Thatcher King also has a distinct memory of a Disneyland visit that’s associated with his time in school. He said, “My fondest memory was our senior banquet at the Disney hotel. As a senior class we had the chance to spend the night then go to Disney the next day. Being able to go to the ‘happiest place on earth’ with your friends is a memory I won’t soon forget.”
For Ohira, Disney stories shaped how the saw the world as a child. “I grew up watching Disney Animation classics such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, and Lilo and Stitch…These films stretched my imagination and taught me the importance of risk-taking, impartiality, dreaming, commitment, resilience, and family,” he said.
Disney fans also often have a favorite character from the franchise. King says, “My all time favorite character is Sheriff Woody from Toy Story. It’s a movie I grew up watching and, let’s be honest, who didn’t think it would be cool if your toys came to life?”
Wong says she has a hard time picking just one but settles on Rapunzel. “She’s such an icon… That was the first movie I watched in the theater,” she explained.
Ohira believes that the appeal of Disney for adults has a lot to do with the nostalgia of childhood or simpler times. “Whenever I encounter anything Disney, there is a nostalgia of sorts that reminds me of my childhood and the joy spent with family and friends while watching movies or at the parks. And those memories warm my heart and keep me young,” he said. Ohira was able to relive those memories just last month. “I actually took my mother on a surprise trip to Disneyland for her birthday last month. She had no idea until we exited the 5 Freeway near Disneyland Drive,” he said.
As for Wong, Disneyland is an escape from school life. Describing how she feels in Disneyland, she said, “Very happy and not stressed, and I kind of forgot school existed.”
With fall break at HBA just weeks away, King is the envy of many Disney fans at HBA as he has tickets to Disneyland during the break. “I’m actually planning to go to Disneyland during fall break and I can hardly wait,” he said.