Long after my initial romp as a Disneyland cast member, starting in 1999, a curiously strange and clearly "unofficial" event began at the Park - Bats Day.
It started as a promotion put on between "goth/industrial and death rock clubs Absynthe and Release the Bats," according to the official Bats Day site at http://www.batsday.net/.
Gee, when I worked there I think Sparks was about the most "cutting edge" thing to enter the Park.
Now, a hapless guest at Disneyland on the weekend of May 18 - 20, 2012 will stumble upon herds of folk in black "Goth" attire, eye liner, pancake makeup, fishnets, high leather boots and occasional vampire fangs.
And those are just the toddlers of the group, tagging along in strollers with their similarly-clad mums and dads.
Disneyland and Goth/Death Rock.
Practically peas and carrots, coffee and donuts, salt and pepper, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, Simon and Garfunkel, or any other natural pairing, right?
I remember stumbling into my first Bats Day as a guest.
A child in black crepe with eye liner and black lipstick was walking ahead of me with a Mickey Mouse balloon in his small hand.
His proud parents, dressed as what can best be described as a zombie bride and groom, walked on either side of him, beaming with parental pride (as much as folks can "beam" while wearing pasty white makeup!).
A longtime resident of Southern California, I chalked it up as a typically family visiting from the San Fernando Valley or maybe North Hollywood.
But then I saw another group of folks in similar dark attire.
Soon enough I began to feel somewhat out of place in shorts, t-shirt, Nikes and a baseball cap.
Putting self-consciousness aside, I decide to strike up a conversation with one of these guests, to see just what in the heck was up.
"Hi. I'm Mike and I love the top hat and death's head cane! Are you guys with a wayward youth group or something?"
"Oh no," came the friendly and smiling reply, "It's Bats Day!"
Now I had been in and around Disneyland for many decades, but "Bats Day" had never made it onto my Park radar.
He may as well have told me it was "Opossums Day" or "Capybaras Day."
"Ah. Bats Day," I said.
"What...uh...what is Bats Day?"
"It's like when Goth people come to Disneyland for some fun. This is our second year!"
Clearly this was no accident. It appeared to be an event that happened regularly.
"Well, have a great time! Enjoy the Haunted Mansion!"
"Oh, we've been on that three times already! Now we're going to Snow White!"
That went well, I thought.
The rest of the day, in lines, along walkways, in shops and food service locations, I encountered and conversed with Bats Day participants, never quite getting the concept but enjoying the outfits and conversations.
I felt like the guy giving candy on Halloween.
"Look! What a cute little undertaker/dark overlord! Honey, come see!"
Without exception, the people I met were nice, happy to share and genuinely were enjoying themselves.
Maybe this year I'll sport a Dead Skipper or Guest-Control-of-the-Damned costume.
Disney does not officially sanction this gathering, but they seem happy enough to sell admissions, churros and bat-Mickey ears to the participants.
Well, I'll be da...darned.
Hurry! You have only about 60 days to get your outfit together, book your hotel and rent a hearse for the 2012 edition of Bats Day(s)!
Oh, the angst!