One in Four Disney Fans Take on Gig Work to Afford Magical Vacations

No matter who you are, you know it’s true: the allure of Disney World dreams continues to capture hearts young and old. (And if it isn’t you, it’s someone you know!) But which states hold the most avid fans? And how much are they willing to spend for a sprinkle of that fairy dust?


This survey was designed to reveal where a devotion to Disney meets the financial realities of indulging in the happiest place on earth, and just what economic investment fans are ready to make.

Here’s our nostalgia-and-numbers-bent glimpse into America’s love affair with Disney World (Lion King is still on Broadway after more than 25 years, truth) – we don’t think you’ll be surprised.

Key Takeaways:

  • California residents lead in Disney Park visits with an average of 4.38 visits per person in the last five years, far above the national average of 1.25 visits.
  • Pennsylvania tops the list for average annual spending on Disney trips at $3,811, significantly higher than the national average of $2,398. The state also has the highest enthusiasm rating for “Disney Adults”, with a rating of 7.00 out of 10, compared to the national average of 5.
  • Indiana residents spend the most on Disney merchandise annually, averaging $240, which is almost four times the national average of $65.
  • Pennsylvania has the highest enthusiasm rating for “Disney Adults” (childless adults with high enthusiasm for Disney), with a rating of 7.00 out of 10, compared to the national average of 5.
  • 46% of Disney fans believe Disney fandom is a requirement for a prospective partner, while 35% have hidden their fandom out of embarrassment.
  • Many fans have made significant financial sacrifices, such as using savings (33%), reducing daily expenses (28%), and taking on gig work (26%) to afford Disney vacations.

Disney Devotion: California Leads in Park Visits, Pennsylvania Tops Spending


When it comes to harnessing the Disney magic, some states just can’t seem to get enough (and in some cases, in a fairly obsessed way). From frequent park visits to splurging on merchandise to dismissing potential partners when they can’t match the fandom, enthusiasts across the United States are doing whatever they can to live their best, most enchanted lives.

Many states are captivated by the ethereal beauty of fantasy that is Disney, but where does the fairy dust sparkle the most – and who would work an extra job to get a few days in the Kingdom?

Frequent Flyers – to Magic Kingdom

Leading the stampede with the most visits to Disney Parks over the last five years is California, averaging a whopping 4.38 visits per person. It’s no surprise, given that Disneyland is right in their backyard (though this does include visits to Disney World). Close behind is Pennsylvania with 4.13 visits per person, with New Jersey rounding out the top three at 3.44 visits.

Home to Walt Disney World, Florida, comes in fourth with 3.33 visits per person – and we are sure the state’s own proximity plays a role in these frequent trips. Washington, Massachusetts, and Michigan also show their Disney devotion, with each state averaging just over three visits per person.

Hey, Big Spenders

When it comes to spending on Disney park visits, Pennsylvania gets to the top with an average annual expenditure of $3,811. Move over, Hershey! Wisconsin and Idaho follow, with residents shelling out $3,350 and $3,340 respectively. These figures are solidly beyond the national average of $2,398, highlighting just how committed these remote and rural fans are to their Disney experiences – likely because they will go big once and then go home to stay.

States like Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas also make the top ten list for Disney spending, proving that a love for cartoon characters can transcend even geography. North Dakota, West Virginia, and Connecticut, though smaller in population, compete in wallet-opening exercises for a glimpse at the infamous Magic Kingdom parade, and Georgia rounds out the top ten as the only state under $3,000 at $2,957 spent.

Merch Mania (feat. Mickey Mouse)

Beyond park visits, Disney fans also love their merchandise. Indiana takes the crown for the highest average annual spending on Disney merch at $240 per person, nearly quadruple the national average of $65. Tennessee and Alabama aren’t far behind, with fans spending $144 and $136 respectively. Considering each of these states over doubles the national average, we’d say their flair for fan gear is top level.

It may not be a surprise that Disney diehards run deep in the South, with Georgia, Mississippi, and North Dakota all spending over $100 on merchandise. Pennsylvania and California, both states that love their park visits, make the list along with Arkansas and Texas. It doesn’t matter if it’s Mickey ears, a Toy Story sheet set, or Elsa dolls, these states are buying, enjoying, gifting, and loving all things Disney.

America’s Disney Obsession: How Far Fans Go for the Magic

The phenomenon of “Disney Adults” – childless adults with a high enthusiasm for Disney – is alive and well, particularly in Pennsylvania, which has an enthusiasm rating of 7 out of 10. (No, we aren’t kidding; this is a real term.) New Jersey follows closely with a rating of 6.98, while Washington and Massachusetts both score 6.8.

States like Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan also have significant populations of Disney Adults, with the entire top ten exceeding the national average of 5 when it comes to excited fandom. Silly rabbit, Disney isn’t just for kids! Whether it’s for nostalgia, escapism, or the sheer joy of experiencing something familiar, these adults are unapologetically embracing their inner child (instead of having one).

Sacrifices Made for Disney Magic

The lengths to which Disney fans will go to fund their magical adventures are pretty impressive – we think it’s a pretty big FOMO trigger – as about 39% of fans use their savings to save up for trips and 32% work to reduce their daily expenses. Some even take on extra work, with 26% working additional hours or a second job, and 18% cut back on other vacations so they can prioritize Disney vacations instead.

Joking aside, 35% of fans have admitted to hiding the level of their Disney fandom out of embarrassment. In a culture where growing up looks like ridding yourself of things that bring out the kid in you, this makes sense; however, nearly half of the fans believe that sharing a love for Disney is crucial in a prospective partner, with 46% considering it a requirement. That’s a pretty intense love to hide – maybe a Disney-themed dating site is in store?

Thankfully, only one in ten people have a designated room or space in their home with Disney-themed items or memorabilia (because more might be slightly odd), but a solid 41% have hosted or participated in a Disney-themed event or celebration (or plan on doing so soon). And at the time of this survey, 22% are already planning to visit a Disney Park in the next 12 months. Dedication, we say!

Whether you’re a die-hard fan, a casual admirer, or somewhere in the middle (like the guy whose girlfriend is the real fan, but he’ll wear the t-shirt, watch the movies, and smile for the photos without pause), there’s no denying the widespread wonder of Disney.

If you can make it happen in your lifetime, you should – even if it doesn’t look like those commercials (yes, those). What’s perfect about visiting Disney is that it scratches that deep itch of childhood that wants to suspend reality in lieu of a little magic.


This survey was conducted in May 2024 among a survey pool of 2,000 Americans, with 65% identifying as women, 33% as men, and 3% as non-binary.