Bats Day In the Fun Park Founder Noah Korda on Getting Official Disney Recognition, Who'd Win in a Fight Between Tim Burton and Walt Disney, and His Confection of Choice From the Park
- Click here to see images from the Bats Day 2011: Happy Haunts Swinging Wake
- Click here to see images from the Bats Day 2011: Black Market
- And click here to see images from the Bats Day 2011: Disneyland trip
This weekend, Goths from around the globe will converge on one of the most unlikely spots: The Happiest Place on Earth. Officially known as "Bats Day In the Fun Park," this annual event celebrates its 13th year in 2011, and Bats Day's organizer Noah Korda couldn't be happier . . . and yes, we know how ironic that sounds.
What began as a fun day out for Korda and a small group of like-minded friends in 1999 has now become a highly anticipated, epic Goth pilgrimage. It's so epic the number of attendees descending on Disneyland this weekend is expected to be close to 5,000. That's a whole lot of black clothing, folks. And Mickey Mouse ears.
Korda caught up with us to talk about the event's past, its future, and who would win in a fight between Mickey Mouse and Jack Skellington.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
OC Weekly: This year marks the 13th year of Bats Day, and it's gotten to be a huge event over the years, yet Disney still won't recognize it as an official "day" in the park. Do you think they'll ever give it the official nod?
Noah Korda: As far as I know, Disney doesn't make any of these unsanctioned events an "official" Disney event. Officials actually do recognize Bats Day In the Fun Park, but they don't support it. This year, I was told that Disney did have the event listed in the "Special Events" section on its website, so I think that was a pretty big nod to me.
If they ever do make it an official event, will you do everything in your power to ensure that no one shows up?
Uh . . . why would I want to do that?
This year, you've added the event "Bats Day Happy Haunts Swinging Wake: A Costumed Celebration." What can attendees expect?
"The Bats Day Happy Haunts Swinging Wake" is only one of the many events that happen during the weekend of spooky fun. This year, there are four events for the weekend: "The Nightmare Before Bats Day," which is a formal dining event; "The Bats Day Black Market," which has more than 60 spooky vendors; "The Bats Day Happy Haunts Swinging Wake: A Costumed Celebration," at which attendees join in the realm of the supernatural as the spirits gather for an evening of music, magic and merriment; and, lastly, "The Spooky Trip to Disneyland," also known as "Bats Day In the Fun Park."
We try to change things up every year. This year, we wanted to do something really cool for the 13th year of Bats Day, so we added the "Bats Day Happy Haunts Swinging Wake." This is an event for residents of the spirit world. Madame Elle and her assistants will be on hand to assure that no mortals will be allowed entrance. The only way foolish mortals can attend is to disguise yourself in suitably macabre garb to avoid detection, and you must possess a Death Certificate. In other words, it's a ghostly themed costume party, and you're all invited! Just remember that no mortals are allowed, so you better come in disguise.
Is it getting harder and harder to organize the event each year, especially with how large it has gotten? Does organizing it feel like a full-time job yet?
Actually, not at all. Every year, new challenges arise that make the event fun and new, but that is what makes it fun. It does take about a good nine or 10 months to put this event together, so sometimes it does seem like this is a full-time job, but I love doing it. Plus, I have a really good team that helps out.
The line that separates the Goth crowd from the Disney crowd is much thinner than one might expect. It's easy to point out the differences in the groups, but how do you see the groups being related?
The one thing I see that is related between the two is the love for Disneyland, though we may see a lot more of the darker side of it.
Who would win in a fistfight to the death (in their primes, of course) in each of these match-ups:
Tim Burton vs. Walt Disney: I would have to say Walt. I look at it like this: Tim was the one who trained under Walt after coming from CalArts, where Tim learned his craft.
Amanda Palmer vs. Sleeping Beauty: This would not be a fair fight because Sleeping Beauty would already be out cold.
Jack Skellington vs. Mickey Mouse: I think this would be a draw. They are pretty much both super-powers.
Trent Reznor vs. Randy Newman: It would be Randy because he'd start to sing one of his songs, and then Trent would want to go kill himself.
Bela Lugosi as Dracula vs. Gary Oldman as Dracula vs. Tim Curry in this video: Vampires are not real. ;)
This has nothing to do with Bats Day, but aren't the churros in the park the fucking best? Or are you more of a turkey-leg man?
Nah, give me the dark-chocolate honeycomb from the Penny Arcade or a Dole Whip.
Having started Bats Day in 1999, especially on the heels of Columbine and the ridiculous and completely unfounded hysteria that followed it, I'm sure people in the parks were much less accepting than they are today. In the beginning, were you met with rude comments and looks, and has that subsided over the years?
First off, the kids who did the shooting at Columbine were not Gothic. They were not into Goth. They wore trench coats and had problems all of their own. People really have to get off this Columbine kick. It was a terrible thing that happened, but did Goth have anything to do with it? No.
When this event first started, it was just a park meet at Disneyland that was started by two Goth dance clubs, one of which I was running. As far as I know, Columbine was not even in the picture or a factor when we did this. It was just a day to go to Disneyland with all the people we hang out with at these clubs. The group was much smaller back in 1999; there were only about 90 of us, so it was nothing like how it is now.
I never noticed any rude comments in the early years. I know that the third year, there seemed to be a bit more of a presence by Disneyland security, but our group also grew by about 500 people. Over the years, I've always heard about that one family from the Midwest who were taken off-guard by us being at Disneyland at the same time they are. But with any large event in a public place, you are going to be meet with some kind of resistance. I know that the Cast Members (Disneyland employees) love the event today. I have been told that a lot of them try to get scheduled to work that day.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Bats Day was originally in August, but it has since moved around to both November and now May. What was the reason for the move?
Back in 1999, the cheapest annual pass to Disneyland didn't block out the last weekend in August, and the park still had its summer hours. When I moved the date to November, it was a one-time special event for Bats Day's 10th anniversary. I wanted to do something different; the Haunted Mansion was all decked out in The Nightmare Before Christmas decorations. Now it's in May because it just got too darn hot in August.
How many attendees do you expect to be in the park this Sunday?
We think there will be more than 5,000.
What's your favorite ride?
The Haunted Mansion, of course.
Your favorite character?
I don't really have a favorite character. I am more of a fan of the park itself than the characters.
There have been rumors that Disney is considering opening a darker, more adult, villain-themed park. If they were to do that, would you consider changing venues?
Change venues?!? Are you kidding?!? I would do another event that would focus around that one.
When it started, Bats Day gave a voice to a group of people who weren't originally represented at Disneyland. Today, 13 years later, if you could parlay the success of Bats Day into another organized annual outing for another group of people, who would you choose?
Actually, I never thought I was giving a voice to anyone. To me, Bats Day In the Fun Park was just about going to Disneyland with a bunch of like-minded people who were into the dark subculture. I've never really thought about giving a voice to any other group. I don't think I should be the person to represent any other voice other than what I am into. I would hope that the people who are in those groups would want to represent themselves.
Learn more about Bats Day here.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.