Did you hear? There are gangs at Disneyland! Like, street gangs. Over the last two and half years, the Happiest Place On Earth has slowly become overrun with what look like biker gangs. These days, when you visit the world-famous park, gang members are often as easy to point out in the crowd as blackberries in a bowl of ice.
As you know, most gangs have (informal) uniforms. It’s important that your gang look like a gang, (that hangs-out regularly and shares shopping tips). Not only do they need to look alike. They walk alike. Talk alike. Stand alike. But most importantly, they have to dress alike.
For instance, members of biker gangs generally wear sleeveless denim vests with a patch on the back that proudly proclaims who they ride or die with. Almost all outlaw bike gangs follow this fashion.
Well, these new Disneyland gangs took that basic idea and they ran with it. They also wear matching denim biker vests adorned with patches on the back to indicate their gang affiliation. Some of the gang members wear bandanas, heavy chains, and odd jewelry; they sport dyed hair, wear beards and are covered in tattoos. Some of the gang members also bedazzle their sleeveless denim biker vests with sparkles and studs, while others have covered their vests with collector’s limited edition commemorative buttons. Because some of the gang members are seven-year-olds.
…Oh, yeah. These gangs probably aren’t what you were picturing.
They look like Disney’s version of a Hell’s Angel biker but…
…The gangs prefer to call themselves social clubs.
And they roll deep.
I first heard about the gangs of Disneyland from my friend, the French artist/television presenter, Dora Moutot. When she read about them, being a lifelong fan of all things Disney, she got really excited. She imagined starting a tough-ass all-girl gang at Euro-Disney. She wanted to call them the TinkerHell Mermaids. (I liked the name … but Euro-Disney?) When I heard about the street gangs of Disneyland, my mind went in the other direction. I figured if there were already a bunch of gangs, my boys and I would need to stand out. And so, for an enjoyable hour I imagined what the Finders of Nemo would wear. (Briefly considered vest and chrome-painted Doc Martens and we’d be R2-FU and the Devil-Droids.)
Most all the early social clubs, like the Wonderlanders and the Neverlanders, borrowed the motorcycle gang aesthetic, because, in one garment it gives their Disneyland gang the right badass look. Just like the Hell’s Angels they’re imitating, these new social clubs wear their vests proudly. Some Disney gangs often post pics and selfies on Instagram and Facebook. Which, in turn, has helped lead to the creation of other new social clubs. Additionally, awareness has spread quickly across Disney fan forums online. The clubs are hard to hate, easy to imitate.
Of course, some park guests were and will be frightened of what appear to be members of a biker gang. Also, there were and are occasional rumors of drunken mischief and altercations. But to be fair, the social clubs don’t act like Hell’s Angels taking over the Happiest Place On Earth, not like what happened with the Angels in Hollister. Plus, the imitation biker gangs of Disneyland are about as tough as three day-old cheese slices left out to dry. They’re faux tough. Regardless, the social clubs are tons of fun for the gang members. And for Disneyland. The park staff welcomes them and even aids them with charity drives.
With names likes Main Street Elite, Sons of Anakin, Disney Resort Imbeciles (D.R.I.), Mickey’s Outlaws, Jungle Cruisers, Vagabundos, and Walt’s Misfits, these gangs really are the best of both worlds.
The following pictures of the Disneyland social clubs say as much about the appeal of Disney as they say about the attraction of street gangs.
No one wants to feel alone…
…we all want to feel we belong.
We want to feel safe.
We want to feel protected.
…And we like to be part of a social scene.
We also want to dream…
…we want to hope…
…and to make memories…
…to give to future generations.
Disneyland is a universally appealing way to hand the past forward.
If you want to read more, Charles Lam of the Orange County Weekly did some really nice work reporting on this story in his original coverage. You can read it here. If you want to check out some pics of the gang’s vests. Check ‘em out here.
So, the question is … what would you name your Disneyland gang?