"I'm not sure what Walt would think..."
February 9, 2018 11:22 AM   Subscribe

They stroll through Disneyland in packs of 20 or more, motley crews that resemble a cross between the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and a grown-up Mickey Mouse Club with their Disney-themed tattoos and their matching denim vests strewn with trading pins and logos.

Disneyland social clubs, by most accounts, are harmless alliances of friends and family who meet up at the park to share a nerdy obsession for all things Disney. With club names such as Tigger Army and Neverland Mermaids, how threatening can they be? "It's all about the shared love for Disney," said Mark Drop, Jr., 39, who founded a club called Flynn's Riders, after a character in the Walt Disney animated film "Tangled."

But a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court has revealed a dark undercurrent to the pastime. The head of one club has accused another of using gangster-like tactics to try to collect "protection" money for a charity fundraiser at the park.
posted by Atom Eyes (59 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Either Disney has top flight security or these vest-wearers have been fortunate enough to avoid the real motorcycle clubs who don’t appreciate randos appropriating their style.
posted by dr_dank at 11:37 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]




A favorite club activity is called a "ride takeover," in which members try to fill every vehicle of an attraction, said Roxy Tart, who founded the Bangerang Babes in 2014, a club of Tinkerbell fans whose members adorn themselves with glitter and sequins during park visits.
This just kind of bugs me as yet another example of adults taking over and ruining a children's pastime.
posted by filthy_prescriptivist at 11:43 AM on February 9 [51 favorites]


Either Disney has top flight security or these vest-wearers have been fortunate enough to avoid the real motorcycle clubs who don’t appreciate randos appropriating their style.

I am looking at these pictures and having a really, really hard time imagining a methed up Hell's Angel looking at a guy with a vest full of Minnie and Goofy pins over the glittering and yelling "Fuck you that's MY thing!"
posted by solotoro at 11:58 AM on February 9 [38 favorites]


Disneyland social clubs

These are Disneyland street gangs, right? They're street gangs, but because they're mostly made up of well-off white people, nobody sees them that way.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:03 PM on February 9 [16 favorites]


Either Disney has top flight security or these vest-wearers have been fortunate enough to avoid the real motorcycle clubs who don’t appreciate randos appropriating their style.

That was the episode that made me stop watching Sons of Anarchy.
posted by bondcliff at 12:04 PM on February 9 [26 favorites]


It's a "Social Club," you know, for legitimate business people, kinda like "Wimpy Boys Social Club," or the "Palma Boys Social Club," kinda like that....
posted by Floydd at 12:28 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Wow that article's pretty biased.

I have an Annual Pass to Disneyland. We see the various clubs roaming around, they're no worse and often better behaved than huge families in matching shirts or tourist groups.

In four years of going to Disney, I've seen one ride "take-over" and all it meant was that 30 people coordinated in line to make sure they all got on the same two boats for It's A Small World. They let people in front of them until they were all coordinated. That's it. They -waited- an extra 10 minutes so they could get a fun picture.

It's not about adults ruining a kid space, (Disneyland is expressly NOT just for children and Walt Disney himself said so) it's about friends trying to ride together.
You've never let someone go ahead of you on a roller coaster so you could have you and your friends ride in the same train??

The lawsuit in question that John Sarno is bringing is because he was accuse of running a scam charity (and there's a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest he is a scam artist) and accused of grooming a teenage girl and inappropriate behavior towards same (by the girl's mother). The guy in question has a history of this and of lying about being a fire fighter to get money for "charities".

(Sarno's a scam artist, Fite's actually kind of a jerk, but in this case, Sarno is 100% awful and this particular case does not at all reflect what I have seen from four years of casually running into the Disney Social Clubs)
posted by FritoKAL at 12:32 PM on February 9 [60 favorites]


"...We'll meet Butch in the Tiki Room."
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 12:38 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


If you're Disney fans and you call yourselves "Flynn's Riders" you better be riding FUCKING LIGHT CYCLES
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:42 PM on February 9 [32 favorites]


and here we have the basis for a remake of The Warriors that I truly wish to see
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:46 PM on February 9 [48 favorites]


Oooor it could be a reference to Flynn Ryder, and we could do -way- less gate-keeping of fans of things, that'd be -great- thanks
posted by FritoKAL at 12:50 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


I thought "Walt" was Walter White when I glanced at that lead. Maybe not that far off, actually.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:50 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I had no idea these things existed. Oh god people are so fucking weird.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:50 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]




Either Disney has top flight security or these vest-wearers have been fortunate enough to avoid the real motorcycle clubs who don’t appreciate randos appropriating their style

I can't imagine anything coming from this. The implication that motorcycle gangs are going to protect a troglodytic claim to a fashion against Disney nuts is not realistic. They know it's not the same.

Nevertheless, through reporting about the Twin Peaks massacre, my understanding is that the element of fashion that is most "protected" is the "MC" patch that identifies the wearer as a member of a Motorcycle Club, which the Disney fans don't use.
posted by rhizome at 1:01 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


It's the "MC" designation, but also the 3-patch back design, with a "top rocker", image in the center, and "bottom rocker". In theory, 2% clubs would have a problem with this.

That said, in practice, gangs are really about numbers and the plausibility of force. You see individual bikers making individual people take off fake colors, and you certainly see groups of bikers intimidating individual poseurs. But an individual biker isn't going to step to a group of 10-20 people, especially in Disneyland, which is most likely the only place they wear their cuts. And I don't imagine that "hey there are gangs wearing 3-patch cuts in Disneyland but they don't ride, lets mob up, buy tickets, and rumble" would be a popular action item at a Mongols meeting.
posted by Krawczak at 1:18 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


A couple of months ago I stumbled across a wiki devoted specifically to fanfiction about Disney theme parks. Like here's the page for Disneyland Moscow, with lists of dozens of rides and a Bob Iger ribbon-cutting speech. You can do anything you want in life, I guess
posted by theodolite at 1:19 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I'm sure they'd back down if we just explained that motorcycle clubs need to do less 'gate-keeping' of fan things
posted by anazgnos at 1:21 PM on February 9 [19 favorites]


In other words, the issue with wearing a 3-patch cut is that you are representing yourself as being in a gang, and that invites conflict with other gangs. Since these clubs are de facto gangs (whether they would admit it or not), other gangs have to make tactical decisions w/r/t whether to tangle with them. Even if they're pretty wholesome, as far as gangs go.
posted by Krawczak at 1:22 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


FFS, yet ONCE AGODDAMNGAIN, THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE STUFF!
posted by Samizdata at 1:22 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


> FritoKAL:
"(Sarno's a scam artist, Fite's actually kind of a jerk, but in this case, Sarno is 100% awful and this particular case does not at all reflect what I have seen from four years of casually running into the Disney Social Clubs)"

Can I get a cite? The only John Sarno I can find is a dead back doctor...
posted by Samizdata at 1:25 PM on February 9


Krawczak: And I don't imagine that "hey there are gangs wearing 3-patch cuts in Disneyland but they don't ride, lets mob up, buy tickets, and rumble" would be a popular action item at a Mongols meeting.

Not after next week's ticket price hikes, anyway: grab yer bike chains and get to the Magic Kingdom while you still afford to fight!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:25 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


I'm just saying, motorcycle gangs would be significantly less likely to cause trouble with you if they thought you could kill them with a frisbee.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:31 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


In other words, the issue with wearing a 3-patch cut is that you are representing yourself as being in a gang, and that invites conflict with other gangs.

In the main, sure, but it's the same risk that I carry as an paunchy old white guy wearing a red t-shirt at 20th/Mission in SF. "Do I look like I'm claiming a set?"
posted by rhizome at 1:35 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I thought it was odd that the second article mentioned that circulation of protected medical data was part of the suit, and then later named a member of the White Rabbits who works in medical billing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:36 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


it's the same risk that I carry as an paunchy old white guy wearing a red t-shirt at 20th/Mission in SF.

No, it's a bit more than that. It's more like wearing a red sports jersey for whatever team and player number your local set wears with red Jordans and a red bandanna hanging out of your left rear pocket, sagging jeans, a gold chain, and a red cap with the sticker still on it.

It's clear that you're not actually a member, but it's equally clear that (especially after you've been politely but firmly told that you need to change) you have some weird agenda or are exhibiting willful disrespect.
posted by Krawczak at 1:48 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


No, it's a bit more than that. It's more like wearing a red sports jersey for whatever team and player number your local set wears with red Jordans and a red bandanna hanging out of your left rear pocket, sagging jeans, a gold chain, and a red cap with the sticker still on it.

it's not. If these people are living their day-to-day lives wearing these vests/jackets then maybe, maybe a tiny bit. But in the park? No one think a bunch of people wearing pseudo-motorcycle gang jackets in Disneyland are actual gang members.

Also, have any of these people ever been told to change by a motorcycle gang? It seems unlikely.
posted by GuyZero at 2:14 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Finally, Scorsese has a fitting sequel to Gangs of New York.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:30 PM on February 9 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I think that the Sons of Anakin will probably be OK.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:41 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


These are Disneyland street gangs, right? They're street gangs, but because they're mostly made up of well-off white people, nobody sees them that way.

You might want to at least even look at the pictures in he article before commenting. Otherwise, you might say something incredibly incorrect and embarrass yourself.
posted by sideshow at 2:44 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Uh, You may want to google image search some of the social clubs before you make assumptions about ALL the clubs based on the few images of POC in the article in the LA Times,
posted by Megafly at 2:51 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


This is the weirdest example of cultural appropriation I've ever seen. I get that "Vest with patches signifying membership in a group" is not isolated to biker gangs (see also: Veterans, Girl Scouts) but these guys take it to a ridiculous extreme. I don't think anyone should seriously argue that these social clubs aren't lifting from biker gang iconography, or that anyone is going to actually mistake these people for a real gang. But the whole point of this FPP is that in weird "clothes make the man" style some of these social clubs are taking the next step and engaging in actual ganglike activity.

My advice? Skip the denim and leather vests and stick with appropriating a less intimidating group of people, like the girl scouts, or these folks.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:03 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I've been in and out of online Disney Parks fan communities since the mid 90s and it's been insane to watch how these fans have changed the parks landscape and the Disney corporation over the years, and the feedback loops between how info spreads in the fan community and how Disney responds. There are not many fandoms where the fan community interacts a lot online but the fandom itself revolves around a physical space, and anthropologically speaking I think it's super fascinating. I am not the participant I once was since I moved out of Socal, but I feel my years observing and sometimes participating in Disney Parks fandom really taught me a lot about human nature, and also about how corporations should and should not engage with fan communities.

That said, there has kind of always been drama between groups of fans in the park. Back in my day (she said, hooking her thumbs under her suspenders) it was more around which forums you participated in and which events you went to. Those marked you as having a certain philosophical approach to the parks and if you went to an event in the parks and said what sites you read and what forums you participated on there could be a frosty or familial reception depending on your reply. I think the only really new development here is that they are wearing silly outfits, so the factions are more visible. Also I guess there's more involved in joining one of the SC's than just making a forum handle, so people identify more strongly.

In short, Disney Parks fandom is EXTREMELY WEIRD and has always been so.
posted by potrzebie at 3:36 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


Members say the clubs don't feud with each other. When one club crosses paths with another in the park, they usually stop to chat or exchange trading pins.

It's not as photogenic as Hunter S Thompson with the Hell's Angels, but I like the idea of a good trading-pin rumble.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:39 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


When I had my annual pass years ago, I saw the Social Clubs a couple times. They're mostly similar to cosplayers and they never caused any trouble. I think the bigger problem has always been the Disney corporation bullying Anaheim. I mean, Disneyland is basically a sports team and big corporation combined, and it shows in how it treats the city. Though, it would bring all my cyberpunk dreams to life if Disney one day secedes from Anaheim and formed a franchulate.
posted by FJT at 3:55 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


This is a very odd thread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:56 PM on February 9 [49 favorites]


"hey there are gangs wearing 3-patch cuts in Disneyland but they don't ride, lets mob up, buy tickets, and rumble"

A finance and insurance company I was with in a C-level IT capacity had a MC club called "The Goniffs", and yes, they rode.

It ain't all "Going to Burning Man".
posted by mikelieman at 4:27 PM on February 9


Citations:

https://www.ocregister.com/2016/09/12/911-memorial-walk-at-disneyland-attracts-nearly-400/ - this is the "charity event"

http://www.wdwinfo.com/news-stories/why-are-disneyland-social-clubs-suing-each-other/ - more information about the Sarno vs Fite thing

https://www.reddit.com/r/Disneyland/comments/7i99vm/the_notsosocial_clubs_of_disneyland/ - here is some discussion on reddit

https://twitter.com/whiterabbitssc -- the White Rabbit SC's twitter, which links to their podcast, which has most of the details (from their perspective) of the issue. The podcast is not safe for work, and honestly pretty awful, but the particular John Sarno issue is covered and in later discussions (which I think can also be found on either micechat or disboards) they do cover the pedophilia issue and the scam artist issue.
posted by FritoKAL at 4:31 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]




Uh, You may want to google image search some of the social clubs before you make assumptions about ALL the clubs based on the few images of POC in the article in the LA Times,

I don't need an image search, I go to the park a few times a month and I see the clubs in person on a regular basis.

I actually posted my comment before I saw what pictures the LATimes used, because of the dozens if not hundreds of people I've seen in motorcycle club type gear at Disneyland, I honestly do not recall any white people.

But, looking at the article, yep, exactly the pictures I had in my mind.

I'm going this Sunday and I'll be sure to to keep a look out for all the Silicon Valley TechBro themed social clubs I'm hearing about in this thread.
posted by sideshow at 5:28 PM on February 9


(Sarno's a scam artist, Fite's actually kind of a jerk, but in this case, Sarno is 100% awful and this particular case does not at all reflect what I have seen from four years of casually running into the Disney Social Clubs)--FritoKAL

Considering that Sarno's claim is that Fite is spreading bad rumors about him because he wouldn't pay, it is reasonable to ask for a cite here. How do we know that you just haven't heard these false rumors and are now spreading them further?

Here's an article about the fundraising walk.
posted by eye of newt at 6:01 PM on February 9


it's not. If these people are living their day-to-day lives wearing these vests/jackets then maybe, maybe a tiny bit. But in the park? No one think a bunch of people wearing pseudo-motorcycle gang jackets in Disneyland are actual gang members.

This is a weird argument to find myself in, because it kind of seems like we're both saying the same thing at this point? Outlaw motorcycle clubs have a pretty explicit "no 3-patch cuts on people who aren't in outlaw motorcycle clubs" rule. The fact that nobody thinks these people are actually in outlaw clubs is exactly the point; 1%ers don't take kindly to people playing dress-up in this way.
The reason that they haven't had issues with outlaw clubs is, exactly as you say, because they're in Disneyland, where they're unlikely to run into bikers, and in large enough groups to make it tactically inadvisable to confront them. But I promise you, outlaw clubs take the wearing of 3-patch cuts very seriously, especially when the wearer is clearly not in a gang. It is, at least partially, the fact that these groups effectively are gangs that has kept bikers from messing with them. Nobody wants to fight 15 people, even if they're wimps.
posted by Krawczak at 6:13 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical that 15 person beatdowns ever occur for wearing pop culture colors.
posted by rhizome at 6:45 PM on February 9


This is a very odd thread.

it is an extremely metafilter thread, which is probably saying the same thing
posted by poffin boffin at 7:07 PM on February 9 [26 favorites]


Eye, I literally had posted that link several comments before yours. I've got no personal stake in this, but I did listen to that entire (awful) podcast the first time this made the rounds of Disney Park fandom. Fite is a terrible person, but he does lay out the evidence for Sarno being a con artist and predator pretty strongly - and until recently the screenshots of IM converations and iMessage conversations, were available on the group's facebook.

I am presuming that they're no longer available because of the lawsuit - but at the time, yeah, it's pretty damning of Sarno.
posted by FritoKAL at 7:57 PM on February 9


Outlaw motorcycle clubs have a pretty explicit "no 3-patch cuts on people who aren't in outlaw motorcycle clubs" rule. The fact that nobody thinks these people are actually in outlaw clubs is exactly the point; 1%ers don't take kindly to people playing dress-up in this way.

And the public shouldn't have to give a damn what outlaw bikers think as long as non members aren't wearing a club's official patch, and the government should have RICOed these criminal terrorist into non existence years ago, but who has time for that when pot smokers are destroying civilization, right?
posted by Beholder at 8:21 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


This thread has made my day, and I don't give a heck about Disneyland or about motorcycle clubs. Y'all are my people.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:29 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


I just want to talk about Tron
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:39 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


The last entry in that list of the social clubs:
Agents of Hydra SC - The Agents, founded on August 2016 by Nathalie Moreno (Zelda), are made up of Disney fanatics and cast members. They are based of off a marvel villains who appear on Captain America. You can find them on Instagram and around the park on Sunday's. Their patch consists of an octopus, very friendly people. "Although we are villains, we consider a lot of the other social clubs family. Disneyland is our happy place. Somewhere we can escape the real world for a couple of hours. We have met so many amazing people in the ac community. I would not change anything about our experience here. They come at you with open arms we love it" -Zelda
It's the only one on that list that isn't a link.
posted by egypturnash at 9:09 PM on February 9


A couple of months ago I stumbled across a wiki devoted specifically to fanfiction about Disney theme parks.

Where is my “Club 33 are the seekrit illuminati” Da Vinci code pastiche fanfic. I would read the heck out of that.
posted by juv3nal at 9:21 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


“Consider, “ Professer Blangdon exhaled, “Goofy is a dog, right? But Pluto...is also a dog? That doesn’t make sense until you realize that Goofy represents enlightened man, freed from the shackles of his former limitations. He’s called Goofy because what is a goof but someone who is backwards, and what is “dog” backwards but a god?”
posted by juv3nal at 9:33 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


Speaking as someone who grew up in SoCal, the very idea of Disneyland gangs pretty much exactly sums up what we meant when we described someone or something as being from "behind the Orange Curtain".
posted by vignettist at 10:18 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


the very idea of Disneyland gangs pretty much exactly sums up what we meant when we described someone or something as being from "behind the Orange Curtain".

I don't know, there are still more Republicans in OC than Disney fans, I think.
posted by FJT at 11:07 PM on February 9


For a minute, imagine your feelings about this extend to people over 21 who are cosplayers, furries, or ride skateboards....that's what it's like to be old.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:05 AM on February 10


juv3nal, u write that and I swear I'll beta it.
posted by potrzebie at 9:08 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical that 15 person beatdowns ever occur for wearing pop culture colors.
Well here's a one-on-one encounter in which a biker employs a barely-veiled threat of violence to make someone take off exactly the vest you linked to.

I'm not on the side of the biker gangs on this -- it just seems like relevant information that was specifically brought up in this thread: outlaw bikers react with violence or the threat of violence to people wearing jackets like that. Thinking that it's a silly response doesn't make it less true. Do with the information what you will.
posted by Krawczak at 12:15 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


That’s exactly the point I attempted to make at the top of the thread. I can’t imagine that these clubs would be able to wear these vests anywhere outside the safety of the Disney walled garden without getting them confiscated by real fire-breathing bikers.

It’s worth pointing out that Hells Angels have become the de-facto authority in who can wear any kind of colours & insignias while riding in public as some part of a club. Even your local weekend warriors “let’s make up some neat-o jackets and ride around as a group” has to pass their muster. A workmate of mine in Switzerland had to do just that when he wanted to form a motorcycle club for his like-minded mates. They had to meet with the Hells Angels, providing their proposed insignia and even their club by-laws for HA approval. Along with the stern warning to avoid the three patch rocker designs described upthread, the HA guy they met with explained that this was to keep idiots and poseurs off the road wearing what could be construed as MC gear. Their misbehaviour invariably gets all of the motorcycle clubs a bad name and they like to keep the heat and attention away whenever possible.

As an aside, that guy they met with said he and most of the other guys in their chapter absolutely hated Sons of Anarchy for bringing out a huge bumper crop of idiots and poseurs who watch too much television and have to be dealt with by the real thing when they act out in public.
posted by dr_dank at 6:24 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


This story was an item on Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! this morning. The contestant guessed it correctly.
posted by 4ster at 12:40 PM on February 17


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