Jodi Eichler-Levine, professor of religion studies, writes about Disney adults and the connection between Disney World and religion in the NBC Think opinion piece, "Don’t judge Disney adults. Try to understand them."
"Once there, thousands participate in rituals, like wedding proposals, birthday celebrations and pregnancy announcements. The Disney fans I’ve observed in the parks and online find immense meaning there," explains Eichler-Levine. "People don’t just celebrate at Disney. They mourn lost relatives at Disneyland. They go to Disney World to mark surviving cancer. They go there for one last trip before they die."
For some people — both those who have another "traditional" religion and those who don’t — the promise of magic at Disney and the feelings they get there are powerful, she writes.
Eichler-Levine says one of the reasons religions are powerful is because people tell these stories over and over, across generations. Even people who don’t believe in the literal truth of the Bible often find great emotional resonance in stories of exodus and liberation, for instance.
"Just because Disney fan practices are deeply capitalistic does not mean that they aren’t also deeply meaningful — and at times spiritual."
Read the full opinion piece on the NBC Think website.
Professor Eichler-Levine's work focuses on Jewish studies, religion in North America, literature, material culture, and gender studies. Her next project will be a book length study of the intersections between religion and the Walt Disney Company.