What the hell is Disney Bounding and can it be practical?

Alice in Wonderland Melissa at The Attic

Me and Melissa at the Farewell Brunch at The Attic at Disney’s Boardwalk. I’m in my Alice in Wonderland Disney Bound. She made her dress herself!

Let’s face it—we Disney fanatics love to play dress up. Disney Bounding—the art of dressing to suggest your favorite character without copying it directly—hit my radar shortly after, a few years ago, the Disney Parks didn’t want adults going to the parks in costumes that were too close to the “real thing,” which might confuse guests (truth be told, it was probably around way before that, but that’s when I became aware of it).

I’d been to the parks a few times and seen some pretty amazing and creative outfits, but they were mostly pieces that A) I really couldn’t wear in my daily life (too costume-y for the day job, for example, and I didn’t want a bunch of costumes I could only wear on a Disney trip) and B) I couldn’t wear all day in a Disney Park and be comfortable.

In 2016, I was invited to my friend Melissa Duckworth’s Disney wedding. I will start this by saying that my friend Melissa is an extremely talented seamstress and artist who makes the most amazing clothes for herself and her family for all of her Disney trips: special dresses with matching ears, T-shirts…the list goes on (she’s made me some beautiful things over the years that I will be sharing in another post). I also need to note, here, that although we had known each other since 2006 (we met in an online writing forum), we had never actually met in person. This occasion was extremely special, so I wanted to feel special.

Wedding Day Group Shot

The wedding day group shot, taken at the chapel at the Grand Floridian. Melissa made ALL of those bridesmaid/flower girl dresses. Yes. Really. I told you she’s amazing.

It would be the perfect time to try my hand at Disney Bounding.

This, though, presented an interesting challenge: the five days were filled with parties, events, and trips to parks, with not a whole lot of downtime in between. Plus, I was honored to get to be asked to be an “extra hand” and help out with moving boxes to different rooms and just any other small stuff that needed to be done. This made being invited even more exciting, but it also meant I needed my clothes to not just look great, they had to meet the following requirements:

1 I had to wear something different to each occasion, and because I couldn’t be running back to my resort room, I had to carry changes in my backpack. I needed stuff that was lightweight, wrinkle-free, and easy-off, easy-on.



The Orange Bird Disney Bound gets a work-out right before the rehearsal dinner. I felt sexy drinking wine in this dress, though, I’ll tell you that, so it worked for practicality AND feeling great!

2 It had to be dressy, but not costume-y. (Mickey T-shirts and jeans shorts were too sloppy to cut it, and no, you should never wear an obvious costume to a wedding event because you upstage the bride).

Alice in Wonderland #Disney Bound

The Alice in Wonderland Disney Bound, for the Farewell Sunday Brunch at The Attic at Disney’s Boardwalk. The Mary Jane Crocs are just like Alice’s shoes. The rabbit purse really didn’t hold more than like money, a lighter, and my camera without the case. That would’ve been impractical at any other time, but I was going right back to my room after the brunch, so it didn’t matter.

3 I was going to be running, from five in the morning until after midnight, given the day. So everything had to be comfortable.


This was a day that required flexibility: I went from the Magic Kingdom to play on the rides to the Grand Floridian to help out to the rehearsal dinner to set up and meet my friend for the first time. The change from the Bianca outfit to the more formal Orange Bird outfit was painless.

4 I wanted to save my cash for the actual trip, so I was going to have to build primarily from my own wardrobe (this also helped on the “comfort” front since I knew what to expect out of how the clothes would feel and work—I didn’t want to have to be carrying something giant and awkward and be wearing something that was fragile or got in the way of easy movement, for example).


The first challenge was who to be. Instead of saying, “I want to be X, Y, and Z!” I decided I’d look through my closet and let what I already owned dictate that. There are hundreds of characters. Someone would match something I had, for sure. I had the perfect shirt and cropped pants for Ariel, the perfect blouse to do Bianca from The Rescuers, the perfect dress and sweater for Orange Bird, the perfect dress for Alice in Wonderland (that one was cheating—I had just bought a dress the year before that actually had Alice in Wonderland on it), and plenty of navy things for Stitch.


The second challenge was shoes—I’ve seen some fabulous outfits paired with two-and three-inch heels in the parks (God bless them! Not me! I once Fitbit myself at twelve miles in one day doing both Magic Kingdom and Epcot!) and, conversely, I’m not a sneaker person (I only wear them when I’m working back stage in the theater)—but even if I were, they wouldn’t work to complete any of the looks if I had to be dressy most of the time.

I’ve been wearing the slip-on style Crocs—which pass for casual dress shoes—to Disney for about 15 years, because I find they’re comfortable and versatile: I can wear them to the pool, the parks, or dinner out (convenient, too, if it pours—just dry ’em off with paper towels). They’re also lightweight (you should always bring three pairs on your trip and alternate them daily so you don’t get blisters; trust me, it works), and they come in so many colors I could get them to match whatever I was wearing.

I had to purchase very little—a couple of pieces of jewelry, a pair of pants, only a couple of pairs of Crocs (since I have them in the basic colors) and some matching ears (for park days). You can get ear headbands for just about any character you want on Etsy. In the end, supplementing my bound cost me under seventy bucks.

What to wear for the actual wedding? That one was tough. I stood in front of my closet for awhile and it came to me—I’d never seen anybody Disney Bound a Main Street Citizen. I had an eyelet lace A-line and a sheer, flowing jacket that would work. All I’d need was old-fashioned jewelry (and I had loads of that) and a purse. A fascinator for my hair would suggest those large hats and therefore cinch it—I found one on Amazon for about seven dollars.



In this video, you get a really great shot of that seven dollar fascinator on my head.

Did it work? Yes, it totally did! Everything is still in my regular wardrobe, and I wear it all with every day outfits too (well, you know, except for the ears). And if I want to Disney Bound, it’s subtle enough that no one notices.

It’s awesome to be fabulous in your Disney Bounding, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend a bunch. If you’re creative, you can probably pull right from your own wardrobe and not have to purchase too much extra stuff. The Disney universe is not solely peopled by Princesses. The other key is to make sure it meets your traveling needs. If you want to bound in the parks, make sure you make a mental list of the things you’ll be doing on which days, and try to come up with what will work for you so that you’re comfortable. Looking great means nothing if you can’t enjoy it.


While everyone has her own style, hopefully the photos in this post have given you ideas for your own practical #DisneyBound. You can also Google Disney Bound-Images. There are whole blogs devoted to this. Oh, and if you want to read all about Melissa’s FANTASTIC Disney Wedding (seriously, you really do, the whole thing was gorgeous), you can do that here over at Kenny the Pirate’s blog: https://www.kennythepirate.com/2017/10/08/a-disney-wedding-story-guest-post/

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on August 7, 2018, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, Disney World Disney Parks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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