If you want to tangle with another "Tangled" fan, or warm up with a "Frozen" fanatic, the online dating universe is "A Whole New World" thanks to a new dating site.
MouseMingle.com is a dating site for die-hard Disney fans, and it illustrates just how far online dating has evolved since 1995, as singles demand more customized, personalized dating.
Mouse Mingle founder Dave Tavres, a former Disneyland Railroad engineer, is one of those singles. When he wasn't able to find women who shared his love of Disney on online dating sites, he decided, on a 2011 trip to Disneyland with friends, to start his own dating site for Disney lovers.
“I’m not the guy who hits on women at the park, and there’s no flag that says, 'hey I’m single,'” Mr. Tavres told Los Angeles Magazine. “I found it hard to find women who were as interested in Disney as I am.”
Disney fans can sign up at Mouse Mingle for free and build a profile that includes favorite Disney films, songs, characters, heroes/heroines, and princes/princesses in their profiles. To send other users a message, members must pay $12.55 a month (the “55” is a nod to the year the park opened).
Mouse Mingle, featuring users who post profile pictures dressed up as favorite Disney characters, is the latest site in the increasingly specific world of online dating.
"Niche dating sites are more common these days," Tavres told the Los Angeles Magazine. "There's a dating site for pot lovers and JDate for Jewish people. The first time I saw Farmers Only I thought it was a Saturday Night Live sketch."
Online dating began in earnest in 1995 when Match.com was launched. It represented the network TV of the dating scene – large, generic, all-encompassing. In the two decades since, online dating exploded – into thousands of highly specialized, personalized, cable-TV-like genres.
Today, annual revenue from online dating in the US tops $1 billion and there are more than 1,500 dating sites available, from religious sites like JDate and Christian Mingle, to diet-related sites like Vedged for vegetarians and Sizzl for bacon-lovers, to sites dedicated to goths, Trekkies, and farmers.
"The pie, so to speak, has never been so finely sliced," Dan Slater, author of Love in the Time of Algorithms, a book tracing the history of online dating, told NPR. "Niche allows for targeting, so maybe, maybe in that sense it's less random..."
As consumers demand more customization in everything from television to magazines to coffee, it's no surprise online dating has also become more customized.
Niche dating has become so popular in part because it narrows down the dating pool to specific preferences, lifestyle, and interests, which may make online dating feel more personal or intimate for some users. It also offers users an immediate way to connect and a topic of conversation.
And, given that famous Disney couples – from Cinderella and Prince Charming, to Jasmine and Aladdin, to Belle and the Beast – have idealized relationships for decades, it's no wonder users are turning to a Disney dating site for their own "happily ever after."