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walt disney, disneyland, disney cosplay

Bill Burns dressed as Walt Disney gets a hug from Mickey Mouse.

Dapper Day is an unofficial themed day at Disneyland where people come to enjoy the magic in style. The day is celebrated by park guests twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, by dressing up in vintage clothing reminiscent of when the park opened in 1955.

On November 6, one guest at the park’s cosplay outfit was so convincing that cast members at the park did a double-take. Bill Burns and his wife Jane dressed up as Walt and Lillian Disney and Bill looked so much like Uncle Walt that he caused a stir among park employees.

Bill later told Good Morning America that park employees were saying, “Walt is in the park” when he arrived. For many, it must have been like seeing a ghost, because Bill has an uncanny resemblance to Disney with his mustache and period-perfect suit.

A magical moment was caught on camera when Bill, as Walt, was seen interacting with a cast member dressed as Mickey Mouse. "Mickey stops and literally is staring," Bill told Good Morning America. "And then Mickey snapped out of it and you saw the hug. And that hug was a long hug as hugs go for the characters. It was extremely genuine. The cast member was stunned."


Bill’s appearance at the park is about a lot more than wowing people with his resemblance to Disney. He wants to inspire people in the same way the park’s creator has.

He got into cosplay with his wife back in 2014 but things changed after he was diagnosed with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a rare form of cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy he realized he could help uplift others through his hobby.

“While I was sitting in the chair for many hours I thought ‘if I make it through this, I’m going to do everything I can with this hobby to try to influence people and inspire them’.” He went on to say, “Life does go on and you can spread that life and that joy to many other people who are suffering through this.”

Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in 2020, had a big influence on Bill's decision to inspire others. He told Good Morning America that “during the movies he was going through treatment and he kept going. He was going to inspire people and show them that even though your time is limited … you can spread inspiration. That made a huge impact on me. Because that’s what I want to do. I’m hoping I can just do a fraction of what he did.”

Seeing Walt Disney return to Disneyland for a day does conjure up feelings of magic and inspiration. The idea that the man who created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland would return to his creation, 56 years after his death, is pretty touching. Would he like how the park has changed? Would he know what “Star Wars” is about? Would he scoff at the prices?

Bill also gave us a great reminder of the power that Walt Disney has had over our imaginations and culture. He’s also a wonderful embodiment of his spirit. It’s easy to forget that among all of the other iconic Disney entertainment, it all started with one man’s vision—and that vision still inspires so much wonder and magic.

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