To “catfish” an individual is to set up a false persona (usually online) to deceive another individual.
But what is a Disney Catfish? That’s when someone deceives an individual by pretending to be a Disney fan when they really aren’t. You know what we’re talking about. You know the people. They go on and on about how much they love Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, or even the theme parks. But then you quickly realize something’s off. Their stories don’t make sense. They talk about scenes in movies that never happened, characters that don’t exist, and confuse theme parks. And before you know it, BAM! You’ve been Disney Catfished. Manipulated by an individual whose motives may be less than ideal.
But how do you protect yourself from such a vicious crime? Don’t worry. We’ve pulled together the top signs to look for to protect you from being lied to and deceived ever again! (at least about Disney-related fandom).
1. Pixar Perjury
This is when someone talks about their favorite Disney Pixar film. Then 20 minutes into the conversation, you realize they’re talking about Shrek (2001). This issue was common in earlier decades when people simply confused Shrek as a Pixar film because it used computer animation. Although Shrek has started to fall from pop culture, the new Dreamworks land at Universal Studios Orlando could cause a resurgence.
Also, as animation studios make more and more films, the lines are becoming more confusing for people. It’s not uncommon nowadays for people to associate Minions (2015), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), or the Ice Age movies as Pixar films. A good test is not to ask someone their favorite character (after all, Shrek has a lot of characters that are also in Disney films). Instead, ask them precise questions about a movie or character. And of course a trick question will work best.
2. The Bob (Iger/Chapek) and Weave
A true Disney fan knows – always knows – who the current CEO is of the Walt Disney Company. Although there have been some shake-ups lately, some may try to avoid conversing about it and simply say, “Bob.” This can be an obvious red flag. It’s like when you’re dating someone but they are off secretly seeing someone else. So they avoid saying your name and will use nicknames like “sweetie” so you don’t “catch them.” It’s the same idea…just Disney CEO style.
Even worse is a Disney Catfish who says Michael Eisner, Roy Disney, or something out of left field like Walt Disney Jr.
3. The LieLands of Adventure
This one should be easy enough to spot. If you are familiar with Disney theme parks – or even just Universal Studios theme parks, you know which attractions are where. When someone starts talking about “Harry Potter Land” in reference to Walt Disney World, that’s your cue that something’s amiss. There’s nothing inherently wrong with not knowing Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are part of Universal Studios theme parks and not Disney. But if someone is trying to sell the idea that they love Disney Parks and then follows it up with referencing attractions that are 100% wrong, you’re being Disney Catfished.
4. Disneyland and Walt Disney World Disorientation
This is another mistake made by non-Disney fans every day all over the world. It’s a common enough error (while simultaneously being borderline offensive). But warning bells should go off if you’re speaking to a friend or loved one who insists that they love visiting Disneyland in Orlando or Walt Disney World in California. Likewise, if they confuse Disneyland Park with Magic Kingdom Park.
5. Forged or Photoshopped Mickey Ears
If you’re exchanging photos with someone over the internet or they have profile pictures where something looks a little off – look closer. Mickey Mouse ears (and many other Disney souvenirs and accessories) come in many shapes and sizes. But to the trained eye – you should be able to spot ones that are entirely off-scale or off-brand. It’s similar to people slipping up over movies and Disney Parks, only this deception will be displayed in images.
If they show themselves with Mickey Ears that happen to display Harry Potter on them or something else that just doesn’t look right…you might be getting Disney Catfished. But this one may be worth investigating further. They could just be a fan of both properties and trying to mix them.
6. Bare of Disney Necessities
You have an individual talk up and down about how much they love Disney movies, every Disney theme Park, and even Walt Disney’s personal life story. They’ve managed to get past everything else on this list. They don’t confuse Universal Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, DreamWorks, or Pixar, and you think you finally have a Disney soulmate.
However, you start to notice a lack of evidence. They don’t have a Disney Plus subscription because they are “saving money.” There are no pictures of them at a Disney theme Park because they claim they all were pictures taken with an ex, so they got rid of them. And they have no books, movies, games, or Disney merchandise in their house either. Suddenly, the complete absence of anything Disney is apparent. And it’s time for you to leave.
7. Disney Know-it-All
This one may seem counter the other items on this list. But it’s still worth considering. If you’re talking to a person whose knowledge of all things Disney is almost encyclopedic, it might not be real. Perhaps they are Googling everything about Disney before they speak to you or if you’re chatting online, they could be using ChatGPT and copying and pasting its response. Since ChatGPT only has knowledge up to 2021, a good test is asking them questions about Tron Lightcycle Run or a newer attraction. If they get flummoxed or have nothing to say – that’s a big Disney Catfish red flag.
At the end of the day, your instincts should be your best guide. If you do happen to discover you are being Disney Catfished, figure out why. Maybe the person you’re talking to just wants to have something in common with you or something to talk about. Perhaps they’re just trying to sound ‘cool’ because you’re ‘Disney cool.’ Then again…maybe they’re a spy for Universal Studios or the Ron DeSantis 2024 presidential campaign and they’re trying to manipulate you to turn your back on the mouse!
In any event, be careful. The world is full of villains like Cruella de Vil, Maleficent, and Captain Hook, whose nefarious motives and attitudes are apparent.
But the most dangerous ones are those who always hide their true identities and ambitions. People like Mother Gothel, Lotso from Toy Story 3 (2010), and Gaston will lie, manipulate, and conceal their true evilness to get what they want…
Whatever that is.