Disneyland is known for many things. There are rides like It's a Small World and Splash Mountain, the insanely delicious Dole Whip, the cartoon characters come to life, and all the indisputable happiness of the Happiest Place on Earth. And now, it's becoming known for its gangs.
Yes, there are Disneyland gangs, and they can be more exclusive than Club 33. Some of these gangs even have beef with each other. The gangs prefer the term "social clubs," and to be fair, one of the main purposes of these clubs is to socialize with like-minded others. But a lawsuit filed in early 2018 suggests there might be something more sinister at work among at least one of the park's more prominent social clubs.
As a result, a new spotlight has focused on these unorthodox amusement park visitors, calling into question some of the known facts about social clubs at Disneyland and the impact such groups have on the park.
A Lawsuit Alleges One Club Uses 'Gangster-Like Tactics'
In February 2018, one Disneyland club, the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club, filed a lawsuit against another Disneyland club, the White Rabbits. The lawsuit accuses the White Rabbits of running a protection racket. The Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club said the White Rabbits demanded "protection money" from them for a charity benefit they were holding at the park.
When the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club refused the demand, the White Rabbits allegedly set out to smear them and get them barred from Disneyland. And in the world of these social clubs, them's fightin' words.
Members Are Voted Into The Clubs
While Disneyland social clubs are largely comprised of more alternative-looking people and those who don't easily fit into social norms or expectations, membership is not a free-for-all. In fact, it's highly controlled and regulated.
Every group has its own process in place for accepting new members. Many have "an apprenticeship and invitation system." There are typically applications, waiting periods, evaluations, group votes, and, if you're accepted, probationary periods.
Most Clubs Enjoy A Friendly Relationship With One Another
The whole point of the Disneyland social clubs is for members to feel like they belong somewhere. Too often, those who don't fit the mold - the artists, the bikers, the self-proclaimed freaks - find themselves ostracized and alienated from society at large. The clubs give them a place to commune with others like them - who also happen to love Disney.
Given this inclusive, civil atmosphere, most clubs enjoy a friendly relationship with one another. When they inevitably cross paths at the park, they might stop to talk and trade pins. But "mostly when we see another club, we just wave," said one member of the White Rabbits.
The Clubs Are Named After Characters And Rides At The Park
The Disneyland social clubs all take their names from certain park attractions, from one of the park's many themed lands, or from a specific Disney character. Prominent club names include the Tigger Army, the Neverland Mermaids, the Jungle Cruisers, the Hitchhikers (named after some Haunted Mansion ghosts), and Walt's Misfits, named after Granddaddy Disney himself.
The names aren't meant to be disrespectful. Quite the contrary - they are intended to be an homage to all things Disney.