Twenty-seven-year-old Tucker Bohman didn’t have any big intentions for his Instagram account when he posted his first photo there two days after the birth of his son Beckham in August 2017. He posed the newborn in a Woody onesie and surrounded him with plush versions of other characters from the Pixar/Disney classic Toy Story. But he liked the photo so much that he decided to make it his Insta persona: Toy Story Dad, or in IG handle parlance @toystorydad.
A little more than a year later, Tucker, a senior web applications analyst in Salt Lake City, and his wife Rachel combine creative forces to share new Disney-themed Instagram content starring Beckham every day. Earlier this month, for example, Tucker shared his most viral post yet — Beckham as Toy Story’s Slinky Dog. Given that it’s costume season and given that few fathers put as much time, effort and thought into their children’s costumes, I recently talked to Tucker about his transformation into Toy Story Dad, his relationship with his own father and the 31 different Halloween costumes he’s made for Beckham.
Have you always been passionate about all things Disney?
When I got married, my wife Rachel wanted it to be a tradition that we’d go to Disneyland once a year. That’s what fueled this. Her love for it rubbed off on me, and now we all share it. We’ve also rubbed off on my parents, who are now annual passholders, as well as her parents, who love it, too. We all went together earlier this month.
I love Disney because it’s something the whole family can do together. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. Disney movies are great because there’s a lot of adult humor the kid’s don’t pick up on, but a lot of funny stuff for kids too. The same goes for the parks.
When did things start to take off on Instagram?
In February when we took Beckham to the park dressed in his Woody costume. People were freaking out. We had crowds around us. People thought he was a doll and wanted to take a picture with him. I’d go into the bathroom to change his diaper and come out and see a line of people waiting to see this baby that everyone was talking about. That was really cool. Someone shouted “Toy Story Dad” at me during that trip, too, which was so cool because we only had about 700 followers.
When we’re in the parks, a lot of people recognize us and message us to meet up. We love meeting new people because there’s just so many awesome people in the world. We also get a lot of questions about how the costumes are made and tips for taking babies to Disneyland. We give a lot of direct advice and also post stuff on our stories. We’re working on a blog where we can post more detailed costume tutorials and things like that.
What have you been doing on Instagram in anticipation of Halloween?
We’ve been doing “Hamm’s Happy Haunts” all month, where we decided we’d dress Beckham up as a different Disney villain every day of October — 31 costumes in honor of Halloween. A lot of work has gone into it. My wife is learning how to sew in order to make different costumes. At first, we bought all of them, but there are only so many available. So we bought a sewing machine, and she’s teaching herself how to sew. At first she started out using hot glue, but as time progresses, her talent only increases. I help out with easy stuff like spray painting sometimes.
Is there any method to what costume for Hamm comes next?
We have several white boards in my office all dedicated to Toy Story Dad where we have ideas and plans. We also have calendar whiteboards we use to map out our posts months ahead. We look at movie anniversaries, Disney history, character birthdays and ride anniversaries to map out ideas. If it’s the anniversary of the Dumbo ride, we’ll post a picture on it and that kind of thing. We’re always spitballing ideas. While watching Disney movies, we talk about how to bring that scene to life and we do the same at the park in terms of rides and its other elements.
The Slinky Dog costume took months of brainstorming and trying different options. Before I posted the video of it, I knew it would be our best post. I knew it was unique, super cute and just awesome. But I could never have expected the response we actually got. When I woke up, we had millions and millions of views on Facebook. I share our Instagram posts on Facebook just because; I never really do anything with Facebook, so I never expected something to come from that. It got over 12 million views, and we got about 20,000 new followers on Instagram from it.
What keeps you inspired to keep creating new content?
We get a lot of positive responses about how we brighten people’s day. That’s what keeps us going. We love to make people smile. Since our following has grown, we’ve been able to make people smile all around the world. The slinky dog video has hundreds of millions of views globally. Making hundreds of millions of people smile is really awesome. I’m not trying to be famous or make billions of dollars off this, I’m just entertained by the countless comments and messages we get from people.
Was your own father also into Disney when you were a kid?
I don’t ever remember my dad being super into Disney. I think it’s usually more the mom who takes the kids to Disney, and the dad is like, “Why are we standing in lines?” I can see that in my dad and father-in-law. But ever since I started the Instagram account and since they’ve gone to Disneyland with the grandbabies, it’s completely different. My dad is now an annual pass holder, which I never thought would happen. My father-in-law didn’t want to go this last trip, but by the time the trip was over, he wanted to know when we could come back, how we could get free tickets and if Disney would pay us to go. He was just super excited.
Overall, my dad is super supportive of everything I do, including all the Disney stuff. He now even has a big “Toy Story Dad” sticker on his car. Everyone has been supportive of this, even though at the beginning they were like, “What is this? What are you trying to do?” Now they see more of what I was thinking all along.
Is it ever a pain to get Beckham into the costumes or to pose for the photos?
It’s definitely not easy. A baby doesn’t really understand what you’re trying to do. But since he has done it from birth, he’s trained to pose. A lot of babies hate wearing hats and will rip them off their heads, but he doesn’t. A lot of the time, he eats it up. Especially when we’re at the parks taking pictures. You can tell he’s hamming it up for the camera.