If you’ve been to the Disneyland Resort for any length of time over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed the many social clubs that have popped up in Southern California.
The groups, with names like Flynn’s Riders, Neverland Mermaids, White Rabbits, Main Street Elite, or the Main Street Fire Station 55, meet up in the parks and share their “nerdy obsession for all things Disney.”
According to Bill Oliver of the Nightmare Crew Social Club, “we just go to the park and socialize and ride the rides but we wear vests.”
The vests that the social clubs wear resemble those worn by motorcycle gangs, but most feature a Disney character and are covered in Disney pins and buttons.
The members of the social clubs tend to tour the theme parks together, and while their appearance may seem intimidating to others, there aren’t usually any issues with other clubs. Members of other clubs will wave, or stop to chat and exchange pins.
However, that’s not always true.
Back in 2016, members of the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club planned a September 11th walk and fundraiser inside Disneyland, to benefit families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
According to the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court in September of 2017, John Sarno, one of the founders of Main Street Fire Station 55, was approached by Jakob Fite, head of the White Rabbits, and four of his fellow members. Allegedly, Fite demanded $500 to “protect” the participants at the event, and threatened that if he didn’t pay, Fite and the White Rabbits would make sure that Sarno was never able to get into the theme parks again.
Sarno did not pay and the event went on as planned. Sarno claims that ever since, Fite and the White Rabbits have been spreading “malicious rumors” about him online. When Sarno announced plans for a 2017 walk, the “harassment” escalated, prompting Sarno to file the lawsuit.
In addition to 19 members of the White Rabbits, the lawsuit also names Disneyland and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Kaiser allegedly released Sarno’s medical information to Fite, who then provided it to “unauthorized users.”
Neither Disney nor Kaiser has commented on the lawsuit, and in fact, Disney claims that they have not been served.
The Los Angeles Times contacted Sarno and his wife for comment, but received a statement from their attorney saying that the couple “have no desire to publicize their circumstances or to take any action that could be construed as their own re-publication of the false and defamatory statements that have been circulated by the defendants in this case.”
Members of other social clubs feel that the Sarno-Fite feud is an isolated incident, and is not indicative of the behavior of most clubs.
Jesse Flores, founder of the Sons of Anakin Social Club, feels that this is a personal dispute, adding, “It’s not a club thing.”