Taking the Mickey
February 27, 2014 4:36 PM   Subscribe

The Very Merry Un-Gangs of Disneyland These social clubs are a new generation of hardcore Disney fans, powered by Instagram and Facebook and made up of grandparents in their 60s, as well as teens and toddlers plodding along beside their parents. Only 10 years ago, their style—tattooed and plugged—would have banned them from the parks and made them outcasts among Disney fans. But now, with tolerance, if not approval, from the Mouse, the social clubs have found a playground to call their own.
posted by modernnomad (32 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
They can be cast members for Disneyland's new Altamont Village outdoor live music venue.
posted by planetesimal at 5:04 PM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


The opening story really missed the opportunity to have the drunk guy or the "gang" use the phrase "Welcome to the OC, Stitch!" during the conflict, which disappointed me.

The rest of it was weirdly fascinating enough to make up for it though.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:04 PM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


The crowds pushed the Anaheim Police Department into a zero-tolerance enforcement, citing youths on the blocks surrounding the resort for crimes as light as jaywalking.

Ah, hah ha ha ha. It's Orange County. One day, at my junior high school, they put cops at the intersection next to the school, and they gave out $30 jaywalking tickets to 14 year olds — for entering the crosswalk while their light was green but the WALK/DONT WALK sign was on the flashing red phase. For most people, everything is locked down so hard that the deviance tends to be very mild, and comes out in very contorted ways.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:21 PM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Were people with piercings or excessively ironic hair or whatever really turned away from from Disney parks? Is/was that a thing?
posted by werkzeuger at 5:40 PM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


'Plugged'? Christ, I thought 'gauges' was stupid.

(The words, not the thing. I normally like linguistic change, but for some reason this one bugs me.)
posted by box at 5:44 PM on February 27, 2014


> Were people with piercings or excessively ironic hair or whatever really turned away from from Disney parks? Is/was that a thing?

That's the development I'd like to hear more about.

In the 70s/80s we all knew about a gay kid who got kicked out of Disneyland's graduation night party for dancing with his boyfriend. (He supposedly went to my temple. Whooo, Temple Beth Emet!) And now I think they have gay-themed days.

I don't know what the actual policies were, but back then the goth and punk kids didn't want to have anything to do with Disney. As goth and biker cultures have become more mainstream, I'd bet Disney's policies must have changed. I'm still surprised to learn that they now serve alcohol in the park.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:56 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I came in here to post the same question -- did Disneyland have some sort of no-tattooed-patrons rule 10 years ago? If not, it's certainly a stupidly hyperbolic claim frame the article with.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:13 PM on February 27, 2014


I've been seeing more and more of this when I go to the Park. It's entertaining to see people with Main Street Elite or Neverlanders vests and bottom rockers that say "Disneyland" or "Fantasyland". It's weirdly exclusive for a place that's already so expensive to get into.

I feel like this will eventually evolve into fandom gangs: people walking around comic con with matching blue vests that say Whovians with bottom rockers that say "Time and Space" or "TARDIS" or "Gallifrey".

It's interesting because how relatively prevalent actual motorcycle gangs are in Southern California--the Disneyland gangs are like the non-threatening dorky little kids versions to me.
posted by sleeping bear at 6:15 PM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Disney is forever associated in my mind with 1950s-era, consensus society, grey flannel, etc. The idea that there are roving bands of hardcore Disney fans, overlaid with a veneer of motorcycle gang/outlaw aesthetic is fascinating.

Disney is just eyeing the demographics and following the money.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:15 PM on February 27, 2014


And now I think they have gay-themed days.

As close as they can do, anyway:
Disney has been wonderfully supportive of the event, especially as it has grown. They are involved in all of the official aspects of the event (hotel room blocks, the Welcome Center), and have been very accommodating. But they are not involved in the actual ‘unofficial gay days’ in the park.
More info here.
posted by mykescipark at 6:16 PM on February 27, 2014


From the Disneyland web site, current policy is:

What is the best way to dress for a day at the parks? Is there any clothing that isn't permissible?


The parks are a casual, family-oriented environment. We suggest you dress comfortably, wear good walking shoes and check the local weather report before you leave for the parks.

Ensuring that the parks are family friendly is an important part of the Disney experience. In that spirit, we ask you to use your discretion and common sense. Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
  • Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
  • Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
  • Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
  • Excessively torn clothing
  • Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment
  • Tattoos that could be considered objectionable, such as with obscene language or graphics
A Guest is allowed into the parks if her or his hair (or make-up, if applicable) has been made to resemble a Disney Princess or character (for example, after a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover) provided the Guest is not also wearing a costume or clothed to look like the character.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:18 PM on February 27, 2014


You know who else had volunteers that dressed in cool outfits with shiny pins that went around enforcing corporatist policy?
posted by FJT at 6:50 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


mudpuppie: I came in here to post the same question -- did Disneyland have some sort of no-tattooed-patrons rule 10 years ago?

Years ago on Howard Stern, they interviewed this guy, whose body is covered by Disney tattoos. They would allow him into the park, but security would keep an eye on him to be sure that he kept his shirt on and wasn't becoming an attraction himself.
posted by dr_dank at 6:53 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm still surprised to learn that they now serve alcohol in the park.

Technically, they don't; alcohol is served in Downtown Disney, outside of the park. The park itself remains alcohol-free. Also, the food in Downtown Disney is much, much, much better than the fare inside the park, since those restaurants are competing with "real" restaurants elsewhere for their non-captive audience (Downtown Disney has no entrance fee.)
posted by davejay at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2014


Actually, Disney California Adventure does serve alcohol. And another exception for Disneyland itself, is I believe the exclusive Club 33 (though never been myself).
posted by FJT at 7:00 PM on February 27, 2014


I'm still surprised to learn that they now serve alcohol in the park.

The drunk guy was at California Adventure, which does serve alcohol. (The park even opened with a Robert Mondavi winery exhibit and wine drinkin' patio, but Mondavi has since pulled out.) Club 33 is still the only place in Disneyland proper which serves alcohol, but to members only.
posted by Spatch at 7:01 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Cove Bar in Ariel's Grotto is pretty nice. Kids meet Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle downstairs during lunch; Mom and Dad stay at the bar upstairs, drinking to forget how much they spent on a princess makeover.
posted by book 'em dano at 7:05 PM on February 27, 2014


Is Darth's Angels taken? I so want to be a Darth's Angel.
posted by codswallop at 7:18 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know who else had volunteers that dressed in cool outfits with shiny pins that went around enforcing corporatist policy?

T.G.I. Fridays?
posted by xingcat at 7:42 PM on February 27, 2014 [23 favorites]


Well, that was the last thing on my list. I have now officially seen everything. I just don't even know what to make of irony looping back around to earnestness anymore.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:48 PM on February 27, 2014


> You know who else had volunteers that dressed in cool outfits with shiny pins that went around enforcing corporatist policy?

The local community theater's production of Cats?
posted by planetesimal at 7:52 PM on February 27, 2014


I still don't get the appeal of a group of adults going to Disneyland together regardless of how they all dress.

In an effort to do more than snark, what's the appeal? Why not just got to mall or a park with better rides?
posted by GuyZero at 8:32 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I came in here to post the same question -- did Disneyland have some sort of no-tattooed-patrons rule 10 years ago?

I'm not 100% sure about a rule, but I can tell you that my college roommate ten years ago was a straight-edge OC goth with lots of facial piercings and tattoos and she has plenty of stories about sneaking into the park.

Growing up in that region of SoCal, Disney is in some ways just your local place to have fun (but with way more annoying tourists and no poor people). The pass for Southern California residents was not that expensive at the time, so plenty of people just popped over whenever. Including people with, horrors, tattoos and piercings.
posted by librarylis at 8:54 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Were people with piercings or excessively ironic hair or whatever really turned away from from Disney parks? Is/was that a thing?

Yup, for a while they banned men with long hair, including my father when he was in high school.
posted by JiBB at 10:00 PM on February 27, 2014


In an effort to do more than snark, what's the appeal? Why not just got to mall or a park with better rides?

Eh, there's not many parks in Orange County. There's Knott's Berry Farm, but the rides are more intense (rollercoasters as opposed to family rides). There's the OC Fair, but that's only active for one month in August. Six Flags and Universal Studios are in Los Angeles. But arguably, there is no park that comes close to Disneyland in design. Disney is probably the only place where in you can walk through fairly convincing environments that simulate jungles, deserts, castles, and various time periods (20s Hollywood or 19th century South). I admire the work and craftsmanship to create this unique sort of user experience. It's kind of like a cross between a movie set you can walk through, or kind of like a video game environment done in real life.

But, I think Disneyland is also appealing because it serves as a kind of public square. Albeit a private and sanitized version, one that keeps in all the non-offensive, rich, and easily commercialized parts (the shopping, the public performances, the seasonal decorations) and keeps out all the messy stuff (the homeless, protesting, weird art). This is why Disneyland/DCA has so many square and plaza-like areas (Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, and even Downtown Disney), even though a company like Disney is pretty much only limited by imagination on what kind of environment can be modeled.
posted by FJT at 10:09 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still don't get the appeal of a group of adults going to Disneyland together regardless of how they all dress. In an effort to do more than snark, what's the appeal? Why not just got to mall or a park with better rides?

Because they enjoy it. It's a fascinating place that has entertaining rides, incredible theming, a ton of detail, and a ton of history. Many people prefer that over thrill rides, for example.

The amount of detail and history and theming makes it a very easy place to geek out over. I'm not the biggest Disney nerd, but I could give you a full on lecture about the history and characteristics of the Tiki Room, and how it fit into the 1930s-1960s California tiki culture that took the nation by storm... and how amazing Trader Sam's at the hotel is as an homage to that culture. Disneyland tends to inspire a lot of fun geekdom like that.

Besides, why should anyone have to justify their innocuous personal preferences? They enjoy it, good for them. You enjoy what you like, good for you.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:48 PM on February 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


Well, that was the last thing on my list. I have now officially seen everything. I just don't even know what to make of irony looping back around to earnestness anymore.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:48 AM on February 28 [+] [!]


I'll be done seein' 'bout everything
When I see an elephant fly a tattooed punk welcomed at Disneyland
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:35 PM on February 27, 2014


'Plugged'? Christ, I thought 'gauges' was stupid.

I was hoping it meant they were walking around with tattoos and butt plugs in place.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:28 AM on February 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, that was the last thing on my list. I have now officially seen everything. I just don't even know what to make of irony looping back around to earnestness anymore.

I'm with you. I think this is about the strangest thing I've read in a while.

It's as if Disney's efforts to create a sort of idealized microcosm of America has gone a bit off-kilter, and the anarchy has arisen all by itself. I imagine some sort of Disney-based hippie movement will form next, possibly followed by a deepening fracture of relations with Six Flag and further consolidation of the Disney parks and their allied properties. A long, cold war will follow. Knott's Berry Farms...Hershey Park...Great Adventures. Non-alignment will be difficult if not impossible. The accelerated timelines in the agar plates of these parks will force realpolitik sooner rather than later - the elements are already apparent in the line-jumping and other behaviors.

Watch for the think-tanks, summits, and proxy wars fought during block-parties and traveling carnivals.

It's a thought experiment I'll probably be mulling over for the rest of the day, or at least until lunch.

hey it's Friday
posted by jquinby at 5:17 AM on February 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a fascinating place that has entertaining rides, incredible theming, a ton of detail, and a ton of history. Many people prefer that over thrill rides, for example.

Exactly. Disney parks aren't about having the biggest roller coasters. They're about the whole experience. Not the whole experience while on the ride, the whole experience from the time you set foot inside the gate.

I tried explaining this to a coworker once, but I think she took it wrong and thought I sounded snobby or something: For example, you go to Six Flags, and you have a big roller coaster with a chain link fence around it. There's probably a sign out front with the name of the ride on it, but overall it feels a bit industrial. But that's ok, because the whole point is to ride a bigass roller coaster with extreme thrills.

At a Disney park, the coaster isn't that huge, and it's not that extreme. But the coaster and the environment surrounding it are carefully crafted to make you feel like you're in another place. The Expedition Everest coaster is carefully themed to make you feel like you're traveling to Mount Everest in search of the mysterious Yeti. The queue area looks like a base camp mixed with Tibetan style buildings and decor. Your coaster looks like a mountain train. The ride itself doesn't go super fast or go upside down, but you go around a curve and it looks like the track is broken, then the train stops, reverses direction and goes backward into a cave. Suddenly a shadow flickers across the wall. Is that the Yeti?! You round another curve and the train reverses direction again. You enter another tunnel and suddenly there's an enormous animatronic Yeti growling and swiping at you. Before you can react to that, the train drops out of the cave into its big, fast slope, which is right next to the queue area so everyone waiting gets a peek.

I understand that some people are put off by all of the theming and find it creepy and fake. Personally, I enjoy it and appreciate all of the care and design put into it.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:23 AM on February 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


"The park used to be strict on 'line-jumping,' but lately, they've been really lenient," says an annual-passport holder from San Francisco who requested anonymity.

Strict on line-jumping? At a Disney park? When was that, 1979? I don't know about the European and Asian parks, but the American Disney parks are The Line-Jumpiest places On Earth.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:54 AM on February 28, 2014


Maybe we should make a page on the MeFi wiki: "Why would adults unironically enjoy the Disney Parks 101."
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:58 AM on March 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


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