A Guide to Disneyland's Unofficial Dress-Up Days
It seems no one’s immune to Disneyland nostalgia, even those who didn’t grow up in California or go to the park every year as kids. The wonderful worlds Walt conjured continue to influence pop culture in new and exciting ways, too. It's no surprise that creative types with a passion for fashion, film, cosplay, music and alternative forms of self-expression would want to gather at the happiest place on earth.
Numerous organized meet-ups for various niche groups and style/music/movie geeks happen throughout the year, and while none is officially sanctioned, social media has helped them all to flourish and improve. In advance of this weekend's Dapper Day, we break down the biggest ones here.
The best-dressed day at Disneyland (gloved) hands down, Dapper Day sees the park spiff it up and style it out to the nines. While no particular era reference is required, the organizers encourage all looks sophisticated and fashion-forward … or -backward. Retro chic usually is pretty big at this one, making the event conjure the days when “Sunday best” actually meant something. Suits and ties, fancy frocks and heels and elegant accessories will be everywhere at this event, which might be formal frock-wise but is usually anything but fun-wise. dapperday.com.
Galli Day/Jelly Baby Jamboree
This Dr. Who–themed shindig features a scavenger hunt and photo takeovers of the carousel and Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Daleks, Doctors and companions are all welcome to don their bowties, fezzes and spiffy Who wear. Next event: Sunday, March 8. www.facebook.com/Galliday.
Pin-up Parade in the Park
It could be argued that Minnie Mouse was the original pin-up girl, what with her cute polka-dot frocks, matching bows and pumps. Daisy Duck’s no slouch either. For fans for retro-sexy (primarily 1940s to the '60s) fashion and Disney “bounding” (referencing Disney characters with color and subtle embellishments), this gathering of glamour girl gaggles helmed by Burbank-based Pinup Girl Boutique is a hot ticket. And we mean smoldering hot. The event happened twice last year (in June and November); the next one is in April. www.facebook.com/events/352611104910125.
Star Wars Fan Day
While some thought Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm akin to him joining the dark side, the merger has been beneficial for fans. Star Wars–themed cartoons continue to air on Disney Channel, and the old Star Tours ride got a fun revamp a few years ago. On Star Wars Fan Day, the force is everywhere you look, with intergalactic getups, character cosplayers and more subtle fan frocks. We love those R2D2 mouse ears! The event happens in June. www.facebook.com/StarWarsDisneyland.
It’s a Ska World After All
If your look can be expressed best by Rancid’s “Timebomb” (black coat, white shoes, black hat), this day is for you. Rudeboys and -girls, skankers, scooter kids and fans of ska music all converge in September for this spiffy meet-up that’s as mod as it is mad. itsaskaworld.tumblr.com.
A tiki-themed kiki at Disney is a no-brainer. After all, the Enchanted Tiki Room is an iconic destination. The Dole Juice and Whip stand outside it is one of the park’s most popular refreshements. And, of course, just outside the park, tropical drinks with a real punch can be had at Trader Sam’s. Florals, Hawaiian shirts and vibrant retro prints bring island flair and fun to this one. Event happens in September. www.facebook.com/tikiday.
Ruffles, bows, curls and fashion both girlie and doll-like sweeten up the park on Lolita Day. While Lolita is also a subculture style seen on Bats Day (below), you’ll see more delicate looks and pastels at this one. Hello Kitty babes, kinderwhore chicks and Japanese harajuku finery make for a day of colorful cuteness that rivals any Disney princess. Event happens in October. www.facebook.com/DisneyLolitaDay.
Another fashion statement that overlaps with the Goths, Steam Day is less about black and more brown, bronze and dusty looks. Clockdials and retro-mechanical inspired accessories are everywhere, and Tomorrowland's new tech and spacey stuff is, obviously, avoided. The event is in October. www.facebook.com/SteamDay.
Gay Days Anaheim
The one that started it all was born when Disneyland canceled its annual sanctioned private party for gays and lesbians back in 1998. The queer community in L.A. was not having it, and created Gay Days Anaheim, a "mix-in" of gay and straight during general public hours. Participants wear red shirts to identify one another and make their massive presence known, and it attracts more than 30,000 guests each year. The event happens in October. www.gaydaysanaheim.com.
Rock Around the Park
This revved-up Rockbilly Day features greasers, Bettie Page–ish babes and more in November. There usually are a couple off-site, pre-park haps featuring burlesque and live bands nearby. The event usually happens in November. rockaroundthepark.com.
Harry Potter Day
It might seem that this one makes more sense at Universal Studios (after all, the Gibson Amphitheatre was torn down to make way for a Harry Potter ride), but the magical environs of Disneyland have attracted wizard lovers ever since J.K. Rowling's books became a phenomenon. In addition to Hogwarts-themed dressing up, a scavenger hunt offers magical mysteries you get to solve throughout the day. Potter Day happens in November. www.potterday.org.
Bats Day in the Park
Bats Day in the Fun Park
Even prior to The Nightmare Before Christmas’ epic cartoon celebration of all things creepy-cool, black-swathed Goths had stuff to obsess over at Disneyland: the Haunted Mansion and, of course, all the infamous villains (Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Snow White’s Evil Queen, etc.) seen throughout the park. This popular spooktacular's growth, with a marketplace, expo and off-site parties, makes sense. But with so much black garb and makeup to melt, the only thing we never got about Bats Day is why it’s during the unfiendish, sunshine-drenched spring season. It happens in May. Lots of umbrellas at this one. www.batsday.net.
Another example of Disney’s influence on alternative culture: It’s a fave with the rave set. It might have all begun with the guy who wore giant white Mickey gloves to the party. Who knows? But animated character looks continue to be repped at EDM events. Twice a year, ravers go to the source in Anaheim, swarming Toon Town, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. They also love Disney’s California Adventure, which used to do an actual ravelike party re-creating a scene from the last TRON movie, using L.A. club DJs and selling booze. These days, the Mad Hatter Tea Party in the same space has a band led by Alice, plus DJs and dance troupes. It’s a real trip down the rabbit hole all right, usually going down in December. www.facebook.com/events/1597424433810871/.
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