Disneyland Gang Accused of Running Protection Racket

Inside lawsuit between biker-vest-wearing Disneyland social clubs
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2018 6:04 PM CST
In this Jan. 22, 2015 file photo, visitors walk toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – There's a gang war brewing at the happiest place on Earth, reports the Los Angeles Times in a fascinating look at a lawsuit between two of Disneyland's burgeoning social clubs. The clubs resemble motorcycle gangs in their sartorial choices (matching biker vests covered in Disney pins) and some initiation rituals, if not in their actual behavior. "We just go to the park and socialize and ride the rides, but we wear vests," says a 49-year-old member of the Nightmare Crew. Oh, they also have names like the Nightmare Crew, Tigger Army, and Neverland Mermaids. Since exploding in 2013, there are now about 100 Disneyland social clubs with anywhere from five to 100 members each. The members are mostly adults who meet up at Disneyland at least once a month. "We are grown-ups but we act like children in the parks," says the Nightmare Crew member.

But sometimes these children get litigious. A lawsuit filed by the founders of the Main Street Fire Station 55 social club accuses 19 members of the White Rabbits social club of defamation, conspiracy, invasion of privacy, and more. John Sarno says he was planning a Fire Station 55 fundraising walk for Sept. 11, 2016 at Disneyland when he was approached by Jakob Fite, head of the White Rabbits, and four of his fellow club members. Sarno says Fite demanded $500 in protection money for the fundraiser. When Sarno refused to pay, Fite spread harmful rumors about him among other clubs via social media and his podcast, the lawsuit claims. Fite denies the allegations. The lawsuit also blames Disneyland for not cracking down on the White Rabbits. Read the full story here for more on the lawsuit and a peek inside Disneyland social club culture. (Read more Disneyland stories.)

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