The Very Merry Un-Gangs of Disneyland

Droves of tattoo-sporting, vest-wearing nerds roam the Happiest Place On Earth. They don't make war, they say­—they make magic

The Very Merry Un-Gangs of Disneyland
Photographer: Austen Risolvato | Design: Dustin Ames
Model: Cory James

Check out our slideshow of Social Club vests HERE!

The guy is drunk. Obviously drunk. Shitfaced. Instead of joining the 10-person line politely waiting to use the men's room at Disney California Adventure, the twentysomething in an oversized T-shirt and low-slung hat cuts in front of the surprised, squirming guys and stumbles inside, desperate to take a piss.

"Hey, there's a line here," someone toward the front says.

Yack city, yack yack city
Austen Risolvato
Yack city, yack yack city
Macready and his daughter
Austen Risolvato
Macready and his daughter

"Yeah? So what?" the man responds, puffing his chest and indiscriminately getting in people's faces. "Whoever wants to stop me can step up."

No one takes the challenge. Instead, they watch as the guy uses a urinal and washes his hands before coming to an empty paper-towel dispenser. Suddenly, he grunts and throws a quick hook, knocking the dispenser off the wall and sending it clattering onto the tile floor as a member of the custodial staff looks on.

A few moments after the cutter leaves, three tall, wide men, each wearing a denim vest adorned with patches and pins in the style of punks or motorcycle gangs, rush out of the bathroom, their heads swiveling as they look for him. They join a larger group of roughly a dozen men and women, some with small children, all with back patches proclaiming "The Wonderlanders SC," before catching a glimpse of the guy. He's now slightly slumped against a lightpost, looking at his phone.

"That's him," Sean Macready, the bearded founder/leader of the Wonderlanders Social Club, says. "Does anyone see security?"

Macready, a bear of a man, finds a cast member to relay a description to security as the guy finally lifts his head and begins to walk away. Their job done, the Wonderlanders start to make their way toward Goofy's Sky School, a night of fun and quizzical stares ahead of them.

The Wonderlanders is just one of dozens of similar social clubs claiming hundreds, if not thousands, of members that have formed in the past several years around the same premise: dress in the same, faux-tough way to rep your set at the Happiest Place On Earth. An air of mystery surrounds them: Many regular attendees and cast members barely notice the crews, only remembering them when prompted with clear descriptions and pictures. Some remember the clubs clearly and with disdain, after unpleasant and unfortunate interactions. But others still idolize them, joining and many times mimicking the groups—even starting their own.

These social clubs are a new generation of hardcore Disney fans, powered by Instagram and Facebook and made up of grandparents in their 60s, as well as teens and toddlers plodding along beside their parents. Only 10 years ago, their style—tattooed and plugged—would have banned them from the parks and made them outcasts among Disney fans. But now, with tolerance, if not approval, from the Mouse, the social clubs have found a playground to call their own.

Like the Goths of the 1990s or the hippies of the 1960s, they trek the park like a second home, occasionally mistaken for troublemakers and ne'er-do-wells. But unlike other groups, they're not at the parks to scare or intimidate. They're there for fun, for friendship—and to uphold Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom ideal.

"I hope they get that guy," Macready says, holding his 6-year-old daughter's hand. He and the Wonderlanders have just seen the bathroom bandit again, aimlessly walking the opposite direction from them. "He should be tossed out of the park. Sure, you can drink, but this is still a family park. What a bummer."

*     *     *

"When Instagram started, three and a half years ago, [the Disneyland social club movement] was small, and everyone on it knew one another," says Adam Goetz. On weekdays, he's a San Jose-based general contractor and father, but during the five to 10 times each year that he makes it to his hometown of Anaheim, he's the Star Wars-tattoo-dotted, Storm Trooper-armor-wearing Jaster, a leader the Black Death Crew, among the largest and oldest Disney groups.

"Through Instagram, five of us became good friends. Some of us were [New York] Giants fans, so when the Giants went to the Super Bowl, I invited three random people I met on Instagram to my house," Goetz continues. "During the Super Bowl, we all decided to go to Disneyland on March 29, Ashley's [another co-founder] birthday. Our friend Nate [a third co-founder] from Kansas City, who couldn't make it to the Super Bowl, flew out, and when we all met at the front of the park, everyone was wearing black, randomly enough. Someone joked, 'Who died?' and it just kind of stuck. We were the Black Death Crew."

That was 2012, and the Crew initially found themselves strangers in a land they loved. Some had tattoos, multiple piercings or dyed hair, a far cry from the standard guise of a Disneyland-visiting family. From Main Street to Tomorrowland, the Matterhorn to the Resort's madcap spectacles, the visitors seemed better suited for a Germs show than Downtown Disney. Other parkgoers looked at them warily, wondering whether the Crew was there to rob them or just wanted to harmlessly hang out.

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152 comments
dj.jbras
dj.jbras

Just to be clear, my problem with them is not the fact they wear a vest or even have a social club or even what they are about, my problem is the 3 patches. Something real MC's wear. There are hundreds of social clubs around the world that only wear "one" patch not to be confused for a real MC. People have to earn that third patch.


My best friend owns and operates a tattoo shop. Knowing that I know a lot of real MC guys here in NC, he asked me what he thought about their shop getting real MC jackets or even becoming an MC. I told him let me check on that. I went and consulted a few of my buddies in the Outlaws (all former combat Marines vets btw). They told me the only way they could wear 3 patches was if they came under them or another MC in NC. As 3 patches were for real MC's. At that point, I wanted to consult my buddy Storm as he is the NC president of the Ruff Ryders, a real social club that most people are aware of. I spoke with him about it and he said the reason they wear 1 patch was due to being a social riding club. 


So, there is it. It's not about the patch, the vest or the mission, it's about the number of patches.Another note, there are some military and christian MC's that are not considered "gangs" but are respected by the other real MC's, knowing that a lot of them have military service in common (which is how biker gangs even started).


To be even more specific. There are tons of Disney social gangs that you can tell clearly that they are not real MC's. But, the principle is still there. There are newer "un-gangs" popping up that don't have as friendly of names. Point in case, the "Black Death Crew". Even their logo looks like a ripped off SoA logo. This is the club that finally made me irate at this whole social club (3 patches) thing. Even this crew says they are not just about going to Disney, nor do they wear the patches just in the park. This is going to cause someone to lose a life, over what? Trying to look cool?


I was in a street gang my entire teenage life, even into adulthood. You have to earn the right for a lot of this. It's not just given and you can't just buy the right online. Over 20 of my friends and close friends have died from gang and biker gang related run ins. It's disrespectful to the real MC's that put in actual work everyday all day.

tixeon10
tixeon10

As an actual motorcycle club member; and an annual passholder, fuck these people - they're CULTURE VULTURES. I am not asking to wear my cut into the park, but these fictional playtime crews try to emulate and disrespect what some of us work hard and dedicate serious time and love to by turning it into something it's not.

That being said; I wish I never encounter them outside park grounds, there would be trouble.

lisafrank
lisafrank

these poor people just need to belong to something.

brianguy
brianguy

the reason for these "SCs" is that OCWeekly ran out of actual Disneyland rats to write about, so some rat type humans started to form these clubs to give them new material.  also sorry but if you're a "San Jose based" anything, your hometown is not Anaheim... though maybe it used to be.  and no I'm not claiming anything to do with Anaheim either.

miller9
miller9

Thank you Charles Lam for reporting and Austen Risolvato for the excellent  slideshow.

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

Sad to see the neglected hipsters with insta tats and MC vests roaming disneyland with their fat girlfriends. Guess nothing is sacred anymore without retards trying to "Keep it G" - I want to see them pull their disney shit in a real Gang area, watch them get their asses whooped up and down the block.

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

Sounds like a bunch of faggots if you ask me.

MickeylandReport
MickeylandReport

Groups like the Disneyland Pulse, Mouse4Life, and the Disneyland Fan Club are much older, larger and better known than the groups discussed in this article. I was surprised the article writer didn't at least mention them as well. It would have given a broader picture, I think.

Highway39
Highway39

A few friends and I have AP's. Know what our favorite ride is? The bench, because that place is a FREAK SHOW on parade as demonstrated by this article. 

Heftyclefty
Heftyclefty

They should've mentioned the dead mickeys . One of the heaviest Disney crews I've seen around . These dudes look like squatter punx

amj1987
amj1987

I've actually been really curious about seeing all these Disney gangs over in the Magic Kingdom but I wish a better writer could have covered it. Six pages of run-ons and just poor journalism makes me, what is it? A sad panda? :(

smk5
smk5

Finally someone has done an article about these social clubs at Disneyland. I used to be a Cast Member at the Disneyland Resort, and many of these social club goers were the nicest Guests I ever had interactions with. Always made a point to stop and say hello to ask how my shift was going so far, or to just talk about anything Disney. Yes, their "look" is a unconventional for Disneyland, but their love of Disneyland is their best quality. Don't let the negative actions of a few social club members skew your view of all social club members. 

Razorwyre
Razorwyre

This demonstrates that there is absolutley nothing that people will take too far and fucking ruin.

taker2869
taker2869

I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE ON ALL SOCIAL CLUBS!

Daniel Herrera
Daniel Herrera

I wanna know how to join I'm an annual premium card holder

Valerie Herlihy
Valerie Herlihy

They shouldn't sell alcohol at this kind of place. Its for families not drunks.

Benner Magoo
Benner Magoo

Charles Oviedo Haha remember when we'd go to Disneyland every day? Never thought we should wear matching outfits haha what a joke

Benner Magoo
Benner Magoo

Jesus that's the dumbest thing I've ever read.

Nikki Campbell
Nikki Campbell

This just ugh. I'm not going to even bother. I thought I have seen it all.

Fred Pichay
Fred Pichay

Andrew Trespando it's the churro challenge

twistytree
twistytree

@dj.jbras Completely , two different types of social "gangs" going on here. Big deal, if Disney type is a mere cartoon-ized version of a real-world gang. Don't get all bent outta shape about patches. It only makes your own brand look stupid - and nobody outside your social club gives a (Donald) "Duck."

Besides, as soon as one of those Disney social clubs starts to cause trouble, as in, acting like "they're the one's in charge" then, "THE MOUSE" gonna knock 'em all outta Fantasyland. I would not even advise real-world gangs go messin' w/ "Da Mouz." Seriously, fools, don't even try to sniff dat cheez. Go wish upon a star somewhere else.

twistytree
twistytree

@tixeon10 ...and guess who'd be arrested for acting a fool? Leave them to their fantasy. Bigger things need attention. Disney "gangs" are like folks dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween. Often, what seems like a fun idea, actually, is disrespectful to the People you are dressing up as. 

Besides, once a couple of those Disney "gangs" start causing trouble over "who's the boss, " they will, all, get their butts whooped by "The Mouz." --- End of problem via Trademark violations. 

Trust me, if Disney can take down daycare centers (nationwide) that, without permission. paint Disney characters on the playground fences, then, I think they are just heartless and Corporate-identity protective enough to obliterate social gangs using Disney icons and themes on their costume gangwear.

dj.jbras
dj.jbras

@tixeon10 I hate these f'n people! 3 patches are earned, not bought online! And for everyone defending them about them being a Soical Club, so are the Ruff Ryders and they don't wear 3 patches for the same reason. 3 patches means MC! These asshats are nothing but posers! People lose their life over these patches everyday and these clown just want to play dress up and look like Jax Teller.

joshlicon
joshlicon

God forbid someone not in an mc wear a vest with patches i better beat them up. (Sarcasm) in case you didnt know

world_infamous1969
world_infamous1969

Insta-tats are you upset that Thanx to technology and tattoo conventions ppl can actually get awesome tattoos as their first tattoo? Sorry if you have a bunch of shitty tattoos cus you got em when a lot of tattooers were learning their skill not prefecting it. You know who calls ppl "Hipsters"? hipsters get over yourself. Most of the ppl in these clubs come from music sub-cultures weather it be the rockabilly/Psychobilly scene the hardcore/straight edge lifestyle or Skinheads and Punx. When it comes to your comment about gang areas you have know idea where we live or who we grew up with. Maybe we do live and hang out in gang areas outside of the OC and are all good with the Homies. Plus what's wrong with fat chicks? you size-ist Fuck!

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

@Heftyclefty Oh yeah real heavy, bet they give each other heavy handjobs behind the matterhorn

world_infamous1969
world_infamous1969

They sell Beer & wine at the Zoo and Sea World too and local Swapmeets like Sata fe Springs and the OC market place. It's everywhere it's just a sign of the times

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Beer is sold at pretty much every amusement park in Germany, I've never seen a drunk there. I'm sure it happens, but if they're going to get drunk they'll just bring their own anyway. Spare me your banal petty mores.

world_infamous1969
world_infamous1969

What's the difference between these guys and the Johnson Family Reunion or the Ortiz Family Annual Disneyland trip they're both two groups of 10+ ppl wearing matching outfits Tshirts/hoodies...

dj.jbras
dj.jbras

@world_infamous1969 It's not even about the vest or being a social club, it's about the 3 patches. The Ruff Ryders are a social club too and you don't see them going around wearing 3 patches and they do have the numbers to back it up. 

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

@world_infamous1969 You sound like an insecure dope, cry baby. Go drink some more of mommys breastmilk and come back at me. Guess what, all those tattoos? Permanent. Good luck finding a respectable job, because you had to "Keep it Gangster." you and all of your Kat Von D rejects. I feel sorry for all of you, mutilating your body so you can feel appreciated by the world. I only get tattoos when it means something, not because I want a "Bad ass Wave and Koi fish to signify absolutely nothing." -  What these people don't realize when they cover themselves in ink-shit, not everyone accepts them except other ink-shit covered people. Permenently marked low class. Good luck with that. I respect prison inmates who get a tattoo every time they shank someone, more than some dipshit who wanted to fit in at the  local hipster dive bar and signify the loss of his virginity with a heart.Nobody gives a shit! It's really sad young people think covering their arms in tattoos will make them unique. Just makes them a unique piece of trash. And real MOTORCYCLE clubs would TRASH you disneyland fanboys. As for fat chicks, THEY'RE FAT AND DISGUSTING, THAT'S WHATS WRONG. Take notes and thank me later.

CalebKabalsDisneyBF
CalebKabalsDisneyBF

@CalebKabal Hey, just because I told you I was in a Disney club while you were blowing me behind the Matterhorn doesn't mean we all do that. Remember? You wanted to stick your finger in my b-hole but we didn't have time because our Space Mountain fast passes were about to expire? You had me blow my load on your Churro so you could eat it like a Cinnabon. Miss you! XO

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

A bit obsessed with faggots and handjobs, aren't we?

world_infamous1969
world_infamous1969

Allow me to retort, some of the heavily tattooed ppl in these clubs are succesful business owners or ppl who have high paying jobs in other companies so your whole theory of not getting a good job cus your sleeved up is out the window. 2nd if you read a book you'd understan that the koi and "finger waves" actually do symbolize something it's not just badass imagery you ignorant fuck, a lot of the tattoos ppl have do symbolize milestones in their lives not just cool things to put on your body. We aren't getting tattoos to be unique snowflakes we get em ask to mark events in our lives or to decorate our body like an old suitcase with stamps or stickers from all the places we've traveled. I'm sure all you have is a bunch of memorial tattoos or your wife and kids names, that's too bad.... As for MCs we respect them, some of us ride and some of us have family in local clubs they know what we do and they know we aren't dissing them so shut it down. My last statement to you is "the bigger the berry, the sweeter the juice" you don't like fat chicks perfect more big titty big booty mamas for me. peace!

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

@CalebKabalsDisneyBF @CalebKabalDamn bro that only took you a week to come up with that shit congrats? Are you sensitive I am talking trash on your disney crew? I'm sorry. Go around and be merry, hipster tatted fags with fat girlfriends.

CalebKabal
CalebKabal

@CalebKabalsDisneyBF @CalebKabaldamn bro it only took you a week to come up with that shit. Good job fag. BTW, have fun getting it from your "disney gang" buddies, bunch a pantywipe hipsters.

 
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