Fan Who Cried Meeting Goofy at Disney Opens Up About His Experience
- Sarah Rachul is a 28-year-old Disney fan who went viral for crying while hugging Goofy.
- Although other Disney fans supported her, others online sent her strong criticism.
- Rachul spoke with Insider about the hug, her family’s connection to Disney, and cyberbullying.
When Sarah Rachul, 28, sees Goofy, she immediately remembers her grandfather.
“Goofy was never my favorite character, Tinkerbell was, but he became my favorite after my grandfather died,” she told Insider. “It was my dad’s favorite and he loved interacting with Goofy in the parks. I have some great photos of them together.”
So when she got the chance to kiss the Disney World character for the first time since the pandemic began, Rachul quickly got emotional.
His mother captured a video of their interaction, where Rachul is seen with a surprised reaction before bursting into tears. She then runs to Goofy, who is standing with his arms outstretched, and kisses her. The clip had nearly 2 million views on Saturday.
But after posting the images, Rachul’s sweet moment turned sour. Countless commenters harshly criticized her emotional reaction, saying she “should be embarrassed” and “seek help”.
The Ohio native told Insider she grew up visiting Disney World with her family
They often went there several times a year, their last trip at the beginning of May.
“I saw Disney’s TikTok teasing that they were going to bring back those interactions, which I missed very, very much, and I immediately started crying. It was a foreshadowing I guess,” he said. she joked.
She started prepping weeks in advance, buying a Goofy-inspired headband on Etsy and hunting down a hard-to-find vintage Goofy t-shirt.
And on the first day of the trip, her family went straight to Epcot and were the first person in line.
Rachul said she initially felt calm, but quickly became emotional and started crying when Goofy rounded the corner.
“I was there, a little frozen because I was like, ‘Oh my God, this poor person has just started her shift and this is what she has to deal with at 9 a.m.'”, a she declared. “But it felt like a little string that connected me to my dad that had been cut due to COVID had been re-knotted.”
Because she works in public relations, Rachul said she knew the video of their interaction had the potential to go viral.
But what she didn’t expect was that TikTok’s algorithm would push the clip towards non-Disney fans, many of whom left hateful comments. While Rachul said she wasn’t offended by most of them, she was alarmed.
“Some of the comments I deleted. They were downright despicable,” she said. “Others were well written but so cruel, like, ‘I urge you to seek therapy for what appears to be a very aggressive mental health issue.'”
She then responded to the criticism in a second TikTok video and urged others to speak out against cyberbullying.
“It’s not about me,” she told Insider. “It’s the fact that there are teenagers who think it’s appropriate to suggest a stranger go to therapy when they don’t know that stranger’s mental health history.”
‘Disney adults’ often face particularly intense backlash online
Adult Disney fans are often described as “weird” and “immature,” with some of the criticism extending offline, as Disney fans have previously told Insider.
Rachul said she had experienced these criticisms before. She said there was an assumption that they “don’t have adult interests” and a misconception that Disney adults “all live in their parent’s basement,” which , according to her, is ironic because she owns a house.
Even those who champion Disney adults, in Rachul’s experience, have misconceptions about fandom.
“Sometimes they say, ‘All the adults at Disney have severe childhood trauma, so they’re the ones trying to get it back,'” she said. “I just want to be very clear: I had a great childhood, like many of my friends who are Disney influencers.”
“The reason I think so many people hate Disney grownups shows in my comments section. People who say, ‘Wow, I wish I could be that happy. ‘” she said. “We’re so sure of who we are and what we like. It pisses people off because they want to be like that and they can’t.”
In Rachul’s experience, the Disney community itself has been the exact opposite, providing nothing but love and support to fellow fans.
It’s one of the reasons she’s eager to speak out against cyberbullying and encourage other Disney adults to speak up as well.
“I was angry to see people write, ‘That’s why I’m scared to go to Disney, I don’t want to be judged,'” she said. “To those people, I would say, create the account, follow Disney influencers and fans, and fill your feed with people who share the same passion as you and interact with them.”
Despite the backlash she faced, Rachul fondly remembers hugging Goofy, thanks in large part to Disney employees.
“It was the best character hug I’ve ever had. I can cry thinking about it,” she said. “All I could think of was how my dad was my absolute best friend in the world. I was homeschooled and he lived with us, so there was never a time when we We weren’t together. Goofy could tell I needed some kind of comfort right now.”
“I know the Disney cast members also got a lot of hateful comments on my video – like people implying they hate their jobs – but I just want to thank those who were involved,” she said. declared. “They never made me feel like I didn’t deserve a magical character interaction because I’m an adult.”