Everyone has that dream destination that they would gladly visit if they had a time machine. For me, that location is Disneyland — circa 1955. I've always enjoyed looking at photos of the park from that year, especially how everyone would wear their best outfits. This post focuses on the next best way to experience that era — Dapper Day at Disneyland!
Dapper Day is one of the most popular, and certainly the most fashionable, "unofficial” days at Disneyland. Guests get dressed up in their Sunday best to pay homage to the attendees when Disneyland first opened in 1955. There are two Disneyland Dapper Days each year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
On Disneyland Dapper Day, many guests wear vintage clothes from the 1950s or other eras. Others choose to step out in style while showing off the latest fashion of today. Over 10,000 guests in fancy frocks, white gloves, suits, ties and fedoras fill the park, magically transporting all guests back to another time when Walt Disney himself was still dreaming of Disneyland’s future. Perhaps Main Street should be called "Yesterdayland" that day.
Photo: LaurieScavo.com for DapperDay.com
Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Dapper Day
The Frog Family has experienced Disneyland Dapper Days of the past and look forward to getting all dressed up again for the 2020 Fall Outing. The 2020 Spring Outing was canceled due to the COVID-19 park closure. The organizers are hopful that a smaller Dapper Day event can take place on the Disneyland property in summer, so hop back for news of that. The 2020 Fall Outing will hoppen Sunday Nov. 15, 2020. When we attend, we post many of the creative and dashing designs over on our Instagram account. Be sure to find us there, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Fans young and young at heart converge on the park in their best outfits during Disneyland Dapper Day. For guests who are not into the vintage-inspired clothing scene, don't let that deter you from visiting! There will still be a majority of regular folks in their shorts and sneakers wandering around. On the other hand, some of you may be putting the finishing touches on your outfit. Whether this is your first or fifth Disneyland Dapper Day, we have some tips and ideas on how to make the most of your dashing time at the Happiest (Dapperest?) Place on Earth.
When Is Disneyland Dapper Day?
The Dapper Day website posts all of the dates and related events for Dapper Day. There are two Dapper Days each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Tips for First-Time Disneyland Dapper Day Guests
- Get there early. That way, you can take all of your pictures before you start to get sweaty and tired.
- Wear sensible shoes. Ladies, don't wear heels! If you do wear heels, make sure they are very comfortable and won't hurt your feet. There is a lot of walking at Disneyland.
- Parasols are helpful for your own personal shade. This accessory is decorative and functional! (A waterproof umbrella may come in handy if the forecast calls for rain in April.)
- Buy your ticket in advance. Dapper Day is a very popular event. While we haven't heard of a Dapper Day reaching park capacity, buying your ticket ahead of time is helpful. We're forecasting heavy crowds on this day. But the crowds are walking around and not affecting rides too much — roller coasters (or water rides) and good hair days do not go together. If you are going two or more days, you can save money on discount Disneyland tickets through Undercover Tourist.
- Bring a good camera. Be open to taking pictures with other people, but don’t sign autographs or represent Disney in any way.
- Getting on and experiencing attractions in Dapper wear is challenging. If riding Incredicoaster or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are important to you, choose your outfit with those in mind. We sought out gentler rides and attraction such as the Jungle Cruise, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and meeting characters when in our fancy clothes.
- Show off your hard work! Photo ops that celebrate the era in Disneyland Park include the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Lilly Belle train car, Main Street, the carousel and Snow White's Wishing Well. Dashing spots to take photos in California Adventure include the Hollywood area and Carthay Circle.
- Be appreciative of all the positive attention and compliments that being dapper will bring you!
Can You Wear Costumes?
In addition to Dapper wear, some Dapper Day attendees also "DisneyBound” in their attire. Since guests over 9 years of age cannot wear costumes in the park (except during Mickey’s Halloween Party), Disney fans get around that rule by DisneyBounding. Fans dress in outfits put together with regular clothes from their closet that are similar in appearance, theme or color scheme to characters’ classic looks. Someone dressing in the style of Snow White might wear a blue dress with a yellow cardigan and red bow. A purple dress with a shell necklace could be inspired by Ursula. Some guest channel elements from certain attractions or shows in the parks themselves. It's so much fun to see how creative people can be with their outfits!
Guests cannot wear face paint or impersonate a Disney character. No weapons, actual costumes, revealing clothes or wallet chains are allowed. DisneyBounding is a fun way to play tribute to Disney characters while respecting and following the rules of the park.
Off-site Disneyland Dapper Day Fun
A two-day Dapper Day expo is held at the Disneyland Hotel during the Disneyland Dapper Day weekend. The free expo features vendors showcasing their vintage and dapper best. There are also musical performances and celebrity sessions. It's a perfect last-minute stop for sunglasses or a fedora to complete your outfit.
Official Dapper Day Hoppenings in the Parks
Even though Dapper Day is not an official event at Disneyland, you can tell Disneyland is honored to get the attention. Look for special signs and photo ops around the park. You can also enjoy some dapper dining. On Nov. 1-3, 2019, guests could enjoy special Dapper Day foods and drinks. At Disneyland Park, guests had the option to dine on dapper dishes at French Market such as bowtie pasta with caramelized beef, sweet onions, herbs, and mushrooms in a cream sauce. At River Belle Terrace, guests could order the Hot Brown Sandwich, an open-faced turkey sandwich on parmesan garlic toast covered with cheese sauce, fried pork belly and green tomato.
At Disney California Adventure, you could raise a glass with a special cocktail at the upstairs bar of Lamplight Lounge. This dapper drink featured a mix of Italian aperitif, hibiscus and elderflower liquors, along with fresh lime juice. Both upstairs and downstairs at Lamplight Lounge, you could snack on chicken wings tossed in a mango-chipotle-spiced rum glaze and served with crushed tortilla chips and cilantro.
Are There Other “Unofficial” Days at Disneyland?
You bet there are. The first weekend in October brings us Gay Days. There are also Bat’s Day (goth), Minnie Pin-up Parade Day, Rock Around the Park (rockabilly), Galliday (Dr. Who), Star Wars Fan Days and several more. Disney does not create or advertise events that take place during normal park hours, which is why they are "unofficial." But these days can affect crowd levels and certainly the appearance of the guests in the park. Knowing about these days can help you navigate the park, jump in on the fun and help you plan the best time for your family to visit. Each unofficial day has its own website and often Facebook page that you can use to research and stay up-to-date on how to participate.
Next time you are in the park and see a lot of people dressed in a unique way or posing for a group photo, you might have landed yourself in the park on one of these special, unofficial days. If you are not sure, just ask them. Many guests will be happy to share the story behind their outfit. They enjoy getting recognized for the extra effort they put into their appearance, especially if they look particularly dapper. We love hearing about the many ways people enjoy themselves and celebrate Disney in the parks. If you are at all nostalgic — or just love a good reason to get dressed up — Dapper Day at Disneyland can provide some fancy family fun.
Will you be in your dashing best at Disneyland Dapper Day? Have you participated in this fashionable event? Let us know in the comments below!
Related: Free Things to do at Disneyland