WALT DISNEY WORLD—Staff at Disney’s Epcot theme park recently decided to relocate a nondescript garbage can. For the trash bin’s thousands of admirers, Disney’s decision to tinker with it was rubbish.
The receptacle in question is more beastly than beautiful: roughly 4-feet tall, grayish in color, and dinged with lovingly documented scratches and rivets. The trash can has been “baptized” by a Roman Catholic priest. Its name is “Binny.”
For the last two years, Binny has reigned as the official mascot of the Disney Day Drinkers, a fan club based at the theme park. Also known as D3, the group was started by self-proclaimed Disney Adults who enjoy socializing over the signature cocktails at the various bars inside Walt Disney World.
Binny’s founding story—detailed on the trash can’s very own page on the club’s website—starts in late 2021, when some D3 members were “drinking around the world”—a common pastime at Epcot, where nation-themed pavilions line the shores of a man-made lake.
The Rose & Crown Pub at the U.K. pavilion, then operating under Covid-prevention protocols, required tipplers to go outside to imbibe. With few tables in sight, the group congregated around Binny, whose flat top made an enchanted place to set down drinks.
“Someone said, ‘This club needs a mascot,’” says Skip Sher, a 57-year-old former radio personality and marketing executive from Richmond, Va., who founded the club.
Fortunately, one of those present was Fr. Sean Knox, a now-retired Air Force chaplain and Roman Catholic priest from Tallahassee, Fla. He sprinkled a few drops from his pint of Smithwick’s ale onto the trash bin and said, “I now bless you the official mascot of the Disney Day Drinkers Club,” according to members who recall the moment. Then everybody toasted the wastebasket.
It was no throwaway event.
Binny and the Day Drinkers themselves soon entered the strange world of Disney superfans, known for starting clubs and engaging in obscure rituals that make them feel like they are in on an exclusive secret.
The Disney Day Drinkers culture has ballooned to a group with more than 85,000 members registered on Facebook and at least two spinoff clubs—one for running marathons and the other for singles looking to meet their own Mickey or Minnie. At least four couples who met through the singles group have become engaged, and one is already married.
Bars around Walt Disney World, including the Yak & Yeti inside the Animal Kingdom park, offer a secret menu of cocktails to club members. “Take me to the summit,” D3 members say to the bartenders—a private password that gives access to the secret menu.
D3 members also started a tradition of visiting Binny to pay homage to a mascot who the club’s website says is “always trashed.” (The site also cautions, “Don’t trust any other trashcan.”)
The group’s Facebook page racked up hundreds of posts showing members posing with Binny. Families plastered Binny with stickers and placed knit koozies on it. The Day Drinkers’s meme-makers adapted the mascot into a famous silhouetted image of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand, substituting Binny for Mickey.
Then, in September, the clock tolled midnight for Binny. In a move only an evil stepsister could love, Disney staffers spirited the can away from its usual spot in front of the Rose & Crown pub sign, to a new location across the street in front of the Sportsman’s Shoppe.
The club’s discussion page on Facebook exploded in outrage, with grumpy D3 members complaining they didn’t know which bin was Binny anymore.
“People were just going crazy, saying, ‘Oh my gosh—why would they do this?’” recalls Knox, the priest who did the Binny blessing. “It’s something you had a part of at the very beginning, then someone takes it away.”
Too many people were lining up for photos with Binny, blocking the pub’s entrance and causing safety issues, says a Disney spokeswoman.
Moving Binny was a big deal, says Sher, the founder, because of Disney superfans’s obsessive attention to detail, and fandom that can border on fanaticism.
During a Fourth of July promotion in 2018, for instance, Josh D’Amaro, then president of Disneyland Resort, had staff place Independence Day-themed merchandise inside the Main Street Cinema, one of Disneyland’s original attractions. The small movie-projection room with a Victorian marquee loosely follows Walt’s memories of his childhood in Marceline, Mo.
Annual passholders, many who enjoy spending hours sitting on the benches in the park’s Main Street, U.S.A. section, objected. “They couldn’t believe that we had made changes to something that was so sacred to Walt,” D’Amaro told the Journal in 2022.
D’Amaro, now chairman of Disney’s entire theme-park division, regarded the experience as a teaching moment about fans who take Disney traditions seriously. (D’Amaro declined to comment about Binny.)
In early December, meanwhile, the tangled Binny story took another turn when Disney moved the famous bin back in front of the Rose & Crown.
“I know it’s just a trash can,” one club member wrote under an image of Binny again by the pub. “But I have to say, my heart instantly lept [sic] for joy at this photo.”
Club members started buying airline tickets to Orlando to get a picture with Binny in its original locale.
But before all those fans had photos in the can, Binny was moved again, a twist that disappointed Binny followers and has many hoping anew for its return.
Sher, the founder of Disney Day Drinkers, grew up in Washington, D.C. as the child of a divorce, and remembers going to Walt Disney World with his stepsisters and his father. For him and many lifelong Disney fans, the perks in place during their childhood have fused with their favorite memories.
“When I enter the parks, I just feel really good. It brings back all those childhood memories,” he says. “That’s really magical as an adult, especially when you introduce a few cocktails.”
Despite the Binny saga, the Disney Day Drinkers are soldiering on, and embracing other rituals. A popular one is their “challenge coins”—modeled after a military tradition where one serviceman produces a token at the bar, and if a comrade from the same unit or drinking club is unable to produce his own token, he buys a round. The D3 coins are emblazoned with the motto, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.”
Clubs such as the Disney Day Drinkers attract adults who might otherwise skip theme parks.
Dan Roberts, an electrician who lives in Maryland, says he used to visit Walt Disney World because his wife forced him to. This year, however, his brother-in-law, Chris Himmelwright, an airline worker who lives in Florida, told him he had joined Disney Day Drinkers.
Now, Roberts is a D3 member too, and has signed up for an annual park pass. One recent evening, the two men stood outside the Rose & Crown, drinking pints of Old Speckled Hen near Binny’s original home. Their wives and children were off exploring rides. Where, exactly? Who knew? They’d been at the bar since 2 p.m.
Write to Robbie Whelan at firstname.lastname@example.org