Gay Days Disneyland in Anaheim – Queens in the Magic Kingdom October 2 – 4
For 12 years, gays and lesbians wearing red shirts have descended on Disneyland in California for Gay Days, an annual event that forces mainstream Americans and Mickey Mouse to deal with the LGBTQ community face to face.
Much different than the week long Gay Days held in Orlando each June at DisneyWorld, which draws lots of circuit boys and party-goers, this weekend in Anaheim draws over 30,000 people, but is a real mix of men, women, twinks, daddies, bears, couples and gaybies.
Years ago, Disneyland used to have a private party one night of the year for gays and lesbians. When the event was canceled in 1998, Gay Day Anaheim was created. “We based the happening on our big sister event in Orlando, Gay Day, which attracts over 100,000+ gays and lesbians from around the world each June.
Like the Orlando event, Gay Days Anaheim is a “mix in,” meaning gay people and straight people mingle together; the park is open to the general public. Also like Orlando’s Gay Day, we wear RED shirts to identify one another and show our numbers.” says producer Eddie Shapiro.
Disney doesn’t endorse any group that comes into their park during regular park operating hours. While they may reserve space (like they do for the Gay Days group), that does not connote an official endorsement. In order to make it truly official, “we’d need to rent out the entire park, and they don’t do that during regular operating hours.”
“Disney has been wonderfully supportive of the event, especially as it has grown over the years. They are involved in all of the official aspects of the event (hotel room blocks, the Info Center), and have been very accommodating. But they are not involved in the actual ‘unofficial gay days’ in the park. This year, however we continue to work closely with PRIDE, which is Disney’s LGBT diversity group, and they have done a great job of integrating the event as much as possible into Disneyland’s schedule.”
Saturday is the main day at Disneyland, and Sunday is the main day at Disney’s California Adventure. But producers of the event, Eddie Shapiro and Jeffrey Epstein always plan a weekend of festivities to please everyone.
“It’s important for us to be very inclusive of the entire LGBTQ community. We try really hard at scheduling the weekend with all kinds of activities that we hope will matter to all the different diverse tastes that make up our community. “
Past events have included a youth scavenger hunt, teen dance party, bears gathering, book reading, family photo ops, singles gatherings, couple dinners, lesbian lunch, movie screenings, celebrity meet-and-greet, ice cream social, morning wake-up work-outs, cocktail parties, and a big evening dance party at House of Blues.
“We really want EVERYONE to feel welcome and there is something for them!” explained Eddie.
It’s always interesting to see the straight men and women who show up at the park that day, unaffiliated with Gay Days, who appeared to be rethinking the red shirts they slipped into that morning, now finding themselves dressed in the same color as half the park’s patrons, most of whom were walking arm in arm with someone of the same sex!
For the most part, families are friendly and everyone has a great time. There are always those few right wingers who are upset that they chose the same weekend as the gays, and you may hear them muttering something under their breathe.
There have never been any reports of physical confrontations between gay people and homophobic guests during Gay Days. While I have heard of a few isolated incidents of people muttering rude remarks under their breath, 99% of the comments are overwhelmingly positive.
Last year a family struck up a conversation with my partner and I, and they were very much in support of equality for gays and the legalization of civil unions. Plus, while Disney does not endorse the event, they are aware it happens so security are on alert for any harassment, and the people in guest relations do a great job of handling any problems which may arise.
In 2007, The Walt Disney Co. changed its policy to allow same-sex couples to participate in a popular Fairy Tale Wedding program it runs mainly at its two U.S. resorts and cruise line.
Disney previously had allowed gay couples to organize their own weddings or commitment ceremonies at rented meeting rooms at the resorts, but had barred them from purchasing its Fairy Tale Wedding package and holding the event at locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World that are set aside specifically for weddings.
“We believe this change is consistent with Disney’s longstanding policy of welcoming all guests in an inclusive environment…
…We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests. We are in the hospitality business and our parks and resorts are open to everyone,” a Disney spokesperson said.
There are lots of discounted rooms available for the Gay Days Anaheim event.
Stay at one of the fabulous Disneyland Resort hotels for a fraction of the regular price! Last year they sold out in advance. DON’T MISS OUT!
Also many local hotels particiapte with the Gay Days group offering weekend special pricing.
Holiday Inn Buena Park
New Gay Travel Guide recommends Hotel Menage. A wonderful boutique hotel right next door to Disneyland.
There is LOTS to see and do in Anaheim, and if you can afford the time, I would urge you to take an additional couple days to explore Anaheim, Orange County (the OC) and all of the surrounding beach and art communities. It’s a beautiful area of Southern California packed with inviting beaches, unparalleled shopping and entertainment, trendy restaurants, nightlife, championship golf, lively art districts, beautiful historic landmarks and the ultimate of family attractions.
Gay Days aficionados Jeffrey and Eddie immersed themselves in Disney culture so much so, that they even penned Queens in the Kingdom in 2007.