Have you ever been to a Disney meet-up or other unofficial theme park event? A lot of bounders have. After all dressing up alone is fun, but dressing up in a group is better. Dressing up in a large group of anywhere from 50 – 5,000? Best thing ever!
Do you need to be a member of a group to go? Not usually, but you won’t likely hear about a meet-up if you’re not a part of the group. Most groups are trying to grow, so they will welcome newbies with open arms. Always check the event page on the group’s social media for details in dress code expectations, behaviors, or secret words for free goodies.
How many meet-ups do groups have? Well, that depends on the group. Some may only do one per year.
Does it cost anything? That’s complicated. Meet-ups can cost you money for the parking and admission, but they often don’t have a specific admission fee. The official Dapper Day Expo has started to charge $10 admission to the expo floor at the Disneyland Hotel, but most group meet-ups are smaller. I’ve attended a few dozen at least with no cover charge. Events like Pin-up Parade at the Park or Frontier Day at the Park just involve getting into Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure.
Will I go to more than one meet-up? Whether you go just once or every year, you’re bound to get emotionally attached to the events. Recently, we were all sad to hear that the organizers of Bats Day in the Park have decided to end their group tradition after 20 wonderful years. Their community members were understandably emotional about seeing an end to their traditional meet-up.
Is it difficult to start a new group or event? You may run into scheduling issues with other groups. There are only so many weekends in the year, and the Disney community loves meet-ups. Recently, my friend @atomic_redhead started Frontier Day at the Park to celebrate her love of all things both Disney and Western. She and her husband put months of work into organizing the day’s events. For a more in depth look, check out her blog on it. If you are going to launch a new group event, make sure you give people a reason to come to your event. Free giveaways or trivia contest prizes are motivation.
What do you do? Usually the events include at least one group picture, a group ride on an attraction tied to your theme, and trivia contests. How many of each event varies according to the tastes of the organizer. I’ve been to events that also included group dinners at the park, but that’s relatively rare.
Is this just for bounders? Not necessarily. Bats Day at the Park started as a group of goths who wanted to have a fun Disney day. I’ve also seen Lolita-style groups doing meet-ups. Dapper Day is only tangentially connected to Disney. Bounding groups are definitely doing meet-ups, but it’s not a requirement.
What should I bring? Check the details on the event, but they usually don’t demand anything special. Dress appropriately for the weather and have a fun day!