The World’s Saddest People Visit The World’s Happiest Place

Aug 21st, 2007 // 18 Comments

gothcat.jpgSince 1999, goths, industrial fans, and other members of “Dark Alternative Subculture” have descended on Disneyland every August for Bats Day In The Fun Park, which started as a day-long outing to the amusement park and has since evolved into a three-day event that bills itself as “the premier event on the West Coast, if not the world, for the Gothic and Industrial subculture of all ages.” We sent comedy writer Maggie Bandur to this year’s installment; her photos and recollections follow.

The first time I went to Disneyland without my parents, I ended up going in a group with a girl who claimed to be a vampire (and was living with her therapist) and a guy who wore a purple blanket as a cape and brought a knife along to whittle. I soon learned just how many hidden security cameras there are at Disneyland. You would think those cameras would have had a workout on Sunday, when goths descended upon the Happiest Place on Earth, cutting their Mickey ears into bat wings and wearing velvet, spikes, PVC, leather, and eyeliner in defiance of onlookers’ stares and the August sun. They assembled in front of the castle, overran the Haunted Mansion (a.k.a. the mothership), and stripped bare the store selling items from The Nightmare Before Christmas. But unlike my teenage acquaintances, who got their notions of rebellion from the same sources as Midwestern church ladies, Bats Day’s attendees were generally friendly, agreeing to have their pictures taken with strangers’ children as if they were Winnie-the-Pooh.

The world’s saddest people in the world’s happiest place is not as ironic a scenario as anyone would have you believe–after all, both are devoted to a heightened reality, to fantasy, to creativity, to dress up, to women with menacing names and unnaturally colored hair. The event is in August because that month holds one of the few summer weekend days when none of the annual passes are blacked out. (There are annual Disneyland passes hidden inside those corsets and Emily the Strange lunchboxes, people!) That fact has probably helped Disney discover what so many of the day’s participants stressed to me: they have jobs, they have children, they have purchasing power. Disneyland even unofficially offers bat-themed merchandise during the day, showing that it is a small world, after all–especially when you are trying to part people from their last discretionary dollar.

Bats Day In The Fun Park [Gallery]
Bats Day In The Fun Park [Official site]

  1. mackro

    Only Amusement Parke of Pain

  2. ascot-revival

    Holy Disney! That’s So Raven…or Bat.

  3. Ned Raggett

    I see Boy George’s butch phase was short-lived.

  4. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    Didn’t Klosterman write a column/article about this? I seem to remember it being included in one of his books.

  5. Cos

    I live 15 minutes away from the park and my girlfriend is a “recovering” goth. I would have definitely gone if I had more than 3 days notice. Goths = comedy.

  6. Ned Raggett

    You don’t recover from gothdom, you just vary the shades in your wardrobe more. (Cos, if your girlfriend lives in Garden Grove, you need to put the quote marks around “recovering” in bold.)

  7. dippinkind

    @How do I say this … THROWDINI!: yeah, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, originally published in Spin in December 2002 and collected in his latest book. “Klosterman Already Did It” is always a fun game to play while reading Idolator. I was wondering if the original article might’ve had anything to do with the increased popularity of the event…

  8. queensissy

    (re: photo #9 in gallery) Good to see Mac Tonight is reaching out to the kids. Way cooler than Chuck E. Cheese’s “extreme” phase.

  9. knots

    I love this more than anything I have ever seen. Despite not being goth I appreciate the desire to put on eyeliner and run around the haunted mansion and pirates of the Caribbean .

  10. SBJ

    Something about keeping the kids out of trouble and letting them have their freedom, too? Like, their parents buy them passes and drop them off and then pick them up later and in the meantime, who rules Disneyland all moody-like? The goths do.

    PS. I was there on Spring Break. I know.

  11. TheMojoPin

    I hope they all are inspired by Lisa Simpson and start chugging the “It’s a Small World” ride-water.

  12. mymanicpixiedreamcatsnores

    The last time I was at Disneyland, my step-uncle hit on me and that Tower of Terror made me throw up (sustained drops from high places: not as fun as advertised). By the end of a long day of standing long lines avoiding hugs of the not-okay variety, the whole place had taken on a much darker pallor than ever a pack of Bauhaus fans could cast. Happiest place on earth, my ass.

  13. Anonymous

    Hey Al Qaeda, are you paying attention? I’d vote to put Bin Laden on a postage stamp if he took care of business during this freakshow.

  14. raincoaster

    Oooh, looks like great material for the lolgoth series.

  15. Luke N Atmaguchi

    I heart Idolator, not hate, so I say this with love. You just picked up and ran a story idea so obvious and played-out that no one would dare put it forth at the weekly idea-pitching editorial meeting at any L.A.-area publication other than the OC Weekly. (Who, by the way, also went with “Release the Bats.”)

    Unless (inevitably) it was *ironically* obvious and played-out…


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