This article by Rolling Stone doesn't reflect the reality I have seen at Disneyland, however, it would appear the author is more Florida focused and I have no clue what goes on in Florida. I am willing to go way out on a limb and guess that Millennials are not the only group of adults who thrive on an overabundance of Disney-owned and operated entertainment and merchandise. Millennials might be more in the age range of getting engaged and married in the park, Gen X may be too few to have our exploits remembered, and Boomers are certainly dumping their ashes in the park, but I am pretty sure Disney is loved and despised multi-generationally. My Gen Z kid is well on her way.
"Millennial" is a key word here, as most of the current discourse around Disney adults centers on that specific demographic, Brennan says. Indeed, the entitled "childless Disney millennial" became a meme in 2019 following a mom's irate Facebook post accusing non-parent visitors of depriving her child of a Mickey pretzel, prompting a trolling New York Post headline, "Sorry, childless millennials going to Disney World is weird." Part of this is a function of timing, as millennials came of age during the Tumblr era and were the first generation to embrace online fandom. But it also intersects with a very specific, mid-2010s-era criticism of millennials as entitled and fiscally irresponsible, says Galip. (Think all of the pearl-clutching about millennials spending money on avocado toast instead of a mortgage.)
"There's a real moralistic judgment of Disney adults," she says. "It's like, 'How dare you, instead of putting all this money into buying a house or raising a family, put [it] into fleeting experiences?' But that probably corresponds with changing cultural expectations for young adults." Whereas boomers and Gen X'ers would probably have felt uncomfortable buying Toy Story alien popcorn buckets or freely professing their horniness for the Robin Hood cartoon fox, millennials feel more of a "freedom to follow their own obsessions," she says. "There is a generational difference here, where millennials are allowed to be more juvenile. But now all of a sudden they've become sort of cringey. You're expected to grow out of it in a way, or at least hide it."