Disneyland Resort Update: Dapper Day Spring 2017

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

Welcome to the second half of back to back Disneyland Resort updates.  Today, we take a look at the latest iteration of the dressiest biannual tradition at Disney: Dapper Day.  From humble beginnings as a small, unofficial event put together by fans wishing to celebrate the old mid-century style of going to the parks in one's finest wardrobe, Dapper Day has grown to become a wildly popular unofficial Disney holiday that takes place across three different parks--each twice a year, during the spring and the fall.

Westcoaster incorporated Dapper Day coverage into a regular construction update last year, but this year, I figured I'd give the event its own post, especially given all the photos I had on hand.  This past weekend, tens of thousands of guests converged upon Disneyland and Disney California Adventure dressed in stylish digs, some inspired by their favorite Disney characters or attractions, others paying homage to vintage traditions, and still others simply dressing up and looking good.  Though Dapper Day itself was formally Sunday, the two day Dapper Day Expo meant that many a dressed up guest could be seen on Saturday as well.  It's truly turned the parks into a very fashionable sight during this time of year.

Dapper Day was originally borne out of the nostalgia of Disneyland in its early days, during the 1950s and 60s.  Back then, the concept of a theme park was relatively new, and no one had ever seen an amusement park so thoroughly themed as Disneyland was that it transformed once's perceptions and experiences of the environment around him or her.  As such, it was a special occasion to visit--one that demanded dress in wardrobe more formal than what we see most guests wear today.  Of course, it didn't hurt that suits and button-ups for gentlemen and nice dresses for the ladies were more standard fashion back then, but the result was people going to the parks looking stylish and chic. 

Look at the old mid-century renderings of Disneyland, and you'll see the aesthetic outlined on many a guest.  People looked nice, elegant, and classy.  And though reality back then probably wasn't quite so rosy as historical images portray, the romantic feelings of how things seemed persist.  So it wasn't hard for Dapper Day to gain popularity when it first began.  Its concept offered the same type of escapist environment that Disneyland Park itself pioneered--except that in this case, the guests themselves played the vital part of the filling the escapism.

Over the past few years, however, the "dapper" aesthetic has gradually been surplanted in popularity by "Disneybounding."  Think of it as "Cosplaying Light."  Rather than put together an outfit that exactly imitates the specific look and detail of one's favorite Disney character, Disneybounding is an iterative and interpretive exercise in fashion creativity.  Generally speaking, one borrows the general color palette and translates that into modern wardrobe that communicates the spirit of said Disney character.

The idea is not limited to characters either.  These days, Disneybounders can pay homage to ride attractions, themed lands, and shows.  It just takes some outside-the-box thinking.  Because Disneybounders aren't dressing up exactly like characters who might appear at the park, they are free to come to the park in whatever (appropriate) outfit they want.  In addition, they create a fun environment conducive to guessing what character or inspiration a guest is meant to be.  Many times, it's obvious.  Sometimes, it's open to interpretation.  But that's part of the fun.  There's no single correct answer, and it's all about unique self expression.

If you're interested in learning more about Dapper Day, you can visit the official web site for dates and information about the event as it occurs at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.  If you're intrigued by Disneybounding and want ideas, the Disneybound web site (which is effectively a Tumblr page) is a great resource too.

The lovely part of Disneybounding is that it's not really limited to special events like Dapper Day anymore.  I see people Disneybound at the parks all the time.  But Dapper Day is the unofficial holiday where fans come together in masse in their favorite fashionista tributes, and it makes for a very enjoyable and entertaining time--be it for participants or casual guests who become onlookers.  And personally, of all the unofficial theme holidays that occur at the Disneyland Resort, this one is by far my favorite!


If you enjoyed these photos from Dapper Day, head over to my daily Disney photo site, Disney Photoblography, for more photos from this weekend.  A few overlap what's been posted today, but most are different.  You know, if you can't quite get your Dapper Day fix!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.