In 1970, protests against the Vietnam War were at their height. Antiwar demonstrators had learned that publicity mattered more than sheer numbers, and elaborate stunts were likely to be covered in newspapers and on TV. The Yippies (Youth International Party) in particular were good at coming up with ridiculously disruptive stunts that often overwhelmed the message they were trying to send, and only confused those outside the counterculture. And that included the plan to take over Disneyland on August 6.
In the lead-up to the so-called “International Pow Wow Day,” organizers mounted an impressive publicity campaign. The Yippies distributed stacks of flyers and got several different iterations printed in underground newspapers. One such flyer, which appeared in the The Berkeley Tribe in late July, featured Mickey Mouse waving a top hat and a machine gun. But the most oft-quoted flyer listed a schedule of outlandish “events” for participating Yippies. As Koenig recounts, it included a “Black Panther Hot Breakfast” at 9 a.m. at Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House, a women’s liberation “rally to liberate Minnie Mouse in front of Fantasyland” at noon, a “mid-day feast” barbecue of Porky Pig, and a late afternoon infiltration of Tom Sawyer Island. “Declaring a free state, brothers and sisters will then have a smoke-in and festival,” the flyer read. “Get it over on Disneyland, August 6. YIPPIE!”
Disneyland was ready. Park security was beefed up and extra managers called to duty. Local police departments sent hundreds of officers to stand ready outside the park. But the actual event was far from what was planned, on either side. Read about the Disneyland invasion of 1970 at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Van Eaton Galleries)