These adults live like Disney characters every day


If you can dream it, you can do it.

Just look at these Disney obsessives, who have taken their fandom from theme-park visits to a way of life — spending shocking amounts of time and money hand-sewing character costumes for themselves and decorating their homes like a Disney World resort.

Disney is notoriously stingy with data on guest habits from its venues, but in the third quarter of 2018, revenue from the parks and resorts increased 6 percent to $5.2 billion. And while most of those people don’t make their Disney love an integral part of their identities, it’s worth noting that about 1,500 couples get married at the parks each year, and more than 25,000 compete in the annual princess-themed half-marathon.

Here are four locals for whom child’s play is every day.

Each February, tens of thousands of runners — most of them women — take part in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in Orlando, racing 13.1 miles through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom as the sun rises over Cinderella’s castle.

In 2015, Lauren Passell won, and the 34-year-old East Village resident considers the victory a Disney miracle. “In February of 2014, walking to work, I fell and my hips just shattered,” Passell said. “[Doctors] told me I probably wouldn’t be able to run again.”

But she came back — and, to celebrate, dressed as her favorite character, Tinker Bell, for the race. “She’s not perfect. She has a personality. She’s kind of sassy,” said the social-media strategist of Tink. “I feel like we’d be friends.”

Though her family wasn’t able to afford many visits to the theme park when she was growing up, Passell now tries to visit four times a year, often with her mom. Beyond a Disney cruise and trip to the Disney resort in Hawaii, her love of the characters extends to everyday touches, including workout wear and Ariel-themed sneakers. “I have Disney underwear. I’m going to sound like a crazy person, but it makes me so happy,” Passell said.

As for overcoming her injury to win, Passel — who crossed the finish line with a wand in her hand — said: “I do feel like there was some sort of magic . . . in me that day. It’s [about] believing, and that’s a huge tenet of Disney. You know, ‘A dream is a wish your heart makes.’”

Some 1,500 couples get married at Disney parks every year. On July 13, 2015, Nicole and Rick Nunnari joined them, tying the knot at the Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Fla., two years after he popped the question at Disney World.

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