Last weekend, Disneyland's Goth Day—officially known as Bats Day in the Fun Park—died on its 20th birthday.
Over the years, the event evolved from a minuscule macabre meet-up to an enormous emo extravaganza featuring off-site parties, attendee keepsakes, live music, a marketplace, and photos shot by official Disney photographers outside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the Haunted Mansion. Discounted park tickets and hotel rooms were also available. In recent years, organizers estimate as many as 8,000 goths turned up for the event.
But then, disaster struck: In March, Bats Day organizers cancelled this year’s concert. Last week, they announced the market and Disney-sanctioned group photo were dead, too, with no plan to bring any of it back.
This year’s event featured just a park meet-up, and a “wake” at a nearby hotel.
“We’ve been watching the climate, we’ve been watching what’s been going on with our economy, we’ve been watching political aspects of everything, and tax situations, and we kind of saw this coming,” Noah Korda, Bats Day’s founder, told me in a phone interview. “And it wasn’t not that we didn't do everything we could—we ran different scenarios to see whether or not we could keep doing this, and we did a lot of research, a lot of research with tax attorneys and with our tax attorney, and, unfortunately, it just wasn’t feasible to actually continue to do the event with the way that we run the event.”
The problem, he said, was that after changes to the law as a result of the Republican-penned tax bill signed into law by Donald Trump last year, the deductions organizers were able to take advantage of have disappeared. "We really can’t do 100 percent of our deductions that we’ve always been able to do," Korda said. "Mind you, we can still do some deductions, but it’s not nearly as much as what we have been able to do."
“I am actually quite sad about it,” he added. “I feel like it’s taking a big hit to the community.”
Korda sees the decline of Bats Day as just one symptom in the sickness that’s killing goth. “Honestly, I want to say goth pretty much died out around 2005 [or] 2006,” he explained. “Really, what the goth community was, it was all about the music. And unfortunately, due to the lack of new goth music coming it, it’s sort of metamorphosized into sort of like a, I guess you could say, like a style.”
It’s impossible to know how many people turned up for the farewell event, but at 5 PM Sunday, about 800 goths gathered in front of the castle for a group shot.
After the photo was taken, Korda shouted to the crowd that this was not the end of Goth Day, insisting that, though the organized portions were disappearing, goths would still gather at Disneyland every May.
And even without the Bats Day events, there's plenty to attract a goth to Disneyland. While I was there Sunday, I saw Haunted Mansion, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Disney villain merchandise on sale across the park. (But then again I guess Disney caters to any demographic that has disposable income: I also saw Disney-branded Kwanzaa, rainbow flag, and Hanukkah merch on sale.)
"It will still be there in one form or another," said Korda. "It’s just unfortunately, on the grand scale of things, the full weekend [is] just unfortunately not going to happen. But… anything can happen. I could win the lottery tomorrow and the event would come back."