In a post-Kardashian world, every millennial thinks they have what it takes to go viral, but few consider what that online fame actually looks like in a person's daily life. In Elite Daily's new series Life Behind The Likes, we speak with the people you know on the internet — from the people behind major Instagram accounts to the Daaaaamn Daniels of the world who went viral for one remarkable moment of their lives — to meet the people behind the screens.
The combo of Disney theme parks and Disney-going dads is the special niche that's helped 30-year-old Amber Wright dominate the "hot dads pushing babies in strollers" category on Instagram. Wright, who lives in Long Beach, California, wasn't thinking of going viral when she started the @dilfs_of_disneyland Instagram account, but two of her favorite things — Disney and good-looking men — happened to turn it into a must-follow on the app.
It all started five years ago with a funny idea: taking photos of hot dads spotted at the theme park. Wright's friends would tease her about crushing on all of these dads, but she cites her "love for older men" as the reason behind the account. In 2014, Wright was visiting Disneyland frequently — almost five times a week — so the inventory of pics began to grow. A friend suggested that she use them to start an Instagram account. Not wanting to offend people or post photos of random strangers, Wright was initially unsure of the idea. "I thought nobody would want to see that," she says.
I was so surprised it was making an appearance outside of Instagram!
"[Going viral] was definitely by accident," Wright explains. What began as a joke soon turned into an endeavor that garnered attention from news outlets such as BuzzFeed, KTLA 5 News, E!, and Perez Hilton. "Seeing my account featured on E! and Perez Hilton — sites and pages I love and follow myself — was completely a shock, and I was so surprised it was making an appearance outside of Instagram!"
The viral Instagram account quickly skyrocketed, garnering media attention and a horde of new followers. About two weeks after the account was created, a close friend asked Wright, "What's happening with your [Instagram] account?" That's when she found she suddenly had a whopping 10,000 followers.
Despite her viral success, Wright says pretty much nothing in her life has changed, except for the fact that she runs @dilfs_of_disneyland for fans. "You know, I have never really linked myself with the account," she admits. It hasn't affected her personal life, friendships, or relationships — except, perhaps, when her BF jokingly asked her if they could have a double date with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, two of the account's celebrity superfans. "I am just glad people get it. It’s just meant to be a fun, light-hearted page to flatter hot dads. Because who doesn't think there is something truly sexy about a guy in running shoes pushing a stroller?"
It’s crazy to see that something you made as a funny joke gets so much attention and love.
Wright works in the beauty industry as a hair and makeup stylist. In the beginning of the account's success, friends and family told her to sell merchandise to make a profit off the account, but Wright didn't like the idea — and still doesn't. Even with @dilfs_of_disneyland's 437,000 followers, Wright says it isn't super simple to come up with revenue from the account. "If [someone] can figure out a way to make money off of it, let me know," she says with a laugh. "I feel like it would [distract] from my feed."
Though revenue hasn't changed, what has changed is how Wright handles her account. The time she takes to go through her endless DMs — which is, as you would expect, a bit of a chore — has increased significantly. Shortly after the account gained notoriety, Wright had "put the notifications on silent." She now checks her DMs after work, when she is sitting on the couch or watching TV. Even then, she tells me she can't respond to all of the messages, as there are typically 100 unread in her inbox. Wright is happy to sift through, though. "[They] help me build up more of an inventory for posts," she says. Of course, with her full-time job, she can't always be scoping out the dads at Disneyland, so fans who follow the account and make post suggestions are well-appreciated.
"No matter how small the recognition, I still get excited to see entertainment sites and pages talk about it. It’s crazy to see that something you made as a funny joke gets so much attention and love," she says. "I'm glad there are a couple hundred thousand [people] who agree with me! I just want to keep providing that eye candy to all the followers."
Wright believes her consistent posting and cohesive theme helped her achieve success. "All of my posts have the same feeling, instead of being all over the place." She says regular posting is helpful, as well as creating relevant hashtags and using them in each and every post. And despite the lack of additional income from her viral success, Wright still thoroughly enjoys it. Social media is something she hasn't gotten tired of, especially since the account is a combination of "two of [her] favorite things.”
My ultimate proud moment was when celebs were trying to get onto the page. The John Legend and Chrissy Teigen interaction on the page may have been my all-time favorite.
Wright knows what keeps the followers coming to her account. "I think what keeps it fresh is... the dads," she says. "I think my ultimate proud moment was when celebs were trying to get onto the page. The John Legend and Chrissy Teigen interaction on the page may have been my all-time favorite."
Although Wright has received attention from other celebs, her favorite moment was when John Legend tried to get featured on the account. Back in April, the singer posted a series of photos to his Instagram account with the hope of landing on Wright's feed. He shot his final shot with a photo of him pushing Luna in a stroller, and he captioned it, "This is my last, desperate attempt. Your move, @dilfs_of_disneyland." Wright was completely unaware of the plea until a friend told her. Then, of course, she freaked out and posted the update ASAP. She calls herself a "huge fan" of both John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, and wrote on the post: "John, how could we even make you wait this long... you are the definition of #strollermeat."
Even with viral submissions from People's 2019 Sexiest Man Alive, Wright has has no immediate plans to turn the account into anything more than just a hobby. In the end, it's really all about the dads.