Disney is no stranger to ticketed special events such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties. However, did you know there are unofficial events, and fan-generated events held annually and regularly at the parks as well?
In honor of recent festivities at Walt Disney World in Orlando, I’d like to introduce you to a pretty big unofficial event that frequently takes place within the parks. By now, you may or may not have heard of Dapper Day which takes place twice a year with all guests in attendance dressed in quite fancy, vintage attire for the occasion – in fact, looking their very best, or ‘dapper’. The event was sparked by an old soul, Justin Jorgensen, who came up with the great idea to visit the parks in style just as the original Disney Park sketches depicted guests. The first event was held in Disneyland in 2011 and the popularity quickly spread like wildfire. Today, Dapper Day is celebrated at Disneyland, Disney World, and Disneyland Paris in the spring and fall.
For those considering attending, let me tell you the event is like no other. Disney parks naturally ooze nostalgia, especially when walking good old beautiful Main Street USA which provides for a perfect backdrop for guests walking around in full vintage garb. Ladies are seen strolling the streets with their parasols in hand dawning their fascinators and curls while men are pulling at their suspenders and tilting their fedoras. In recent years, the event has even included disneybounding outfits. A Disneybound outfit is an ensemble that subtly resembles a beloved Disney character without crossing the line of a cosplay or costume. This new trend was introduced by Leslie Kay on the interweb and has since taken off. I recently attended Spring Dapper Day at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Disneybounding Ursula and Jasmine.
Many in attendance Disneybound in everything from characters, movies, specific parks and even rides all while maintaining that dapper underlying theme dressed in one of the many fashion trends from each decade such as the roaring 20’s, 40’s, nifty 50’s and more. I saw everything from Roger and Jessica Rabbit, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, the Avengers to Kylo Ren. Some groups even select an overall theme such as two groups in particular over at Disneyland which all dressed as Monster’s Inc characters and Chip n Dales Rescue Rangers. During my visit, there was an amazing group at Magic Kingdom which dressed as several popular attractions such as Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mad Tea Party, Enchanted Tiki Room, Astro Orbiter and even the Monorail (her monorail headpiece even spun!).
Walking around and seeing these lovely guests’ sitting around enjoying the park dressed to the nines never loses its charm. Everyone is so positive and friendly towards one another spending most of their day complimenting each other and taking photos together. “Happy Dapper Day” wishes can be heard left and right. This event in particular for me shines a light on what it means to be part of such a joyous Disney community.
Although Dapper Day is not an official Disney event, and a fan created one, they have begun acknowledging its presence in the parks. It began last year with subtle shout outs during parades but has expanded to Disney selling themed goods, cupcakes and setting up special photo ops with the trolleys throughout Main Street USA. This year they even advertised special picnic boxed meals which included the choice of either a Greek wrap, Caesar salad, Pulled Pork Sandwich or Fried Chicken accompanied by chips, fruit, soda and a themed cupcake for a mere $14.99. I also like to credit the Dapper Day success as the idea behind recently opening the Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane at Disney Springs. It’s difficult to predict what Disney’s involvement will be moving forward but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an acquisition of the rights at some point in the future.
Unofficial Disney events are all the rage on the west coast as it seems a larger local crowd attends these themed outings such as Bats Day and Pinup Parade. Bats Day is an unofficial event where all dress in dark, gothic, villainous getups paying homage to movies such as the Nightmare before Christmas. Luckily for the east coast this year, Spooky Empire has announced a two-day similar event called Spooky Day in the Parks which will even include special guests, expo and private dining events.
I hope we continue to see more events pop up over the years as they provide a new experience especially for an avid visitor like myself. Have you visited the parks during any of these events? What events would you like to see brought to Walt Disney World?
Alexandra Gonzalez operates the online Disney fan site If I Ran Disney World. Check out her site for even more Disney fun!