Amidst a nationwide debate, a popular event has returned to the sunshine state.
Finally, after a three-year hiatus thanks to COVID-19, Gay Days has returned to Orlando. This comes just as Pride Month begins nationwide. However, this also comes at a time when nationwide debate is still rampant over Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” legislation.
In a story from Orlando Sentinel, Guests visiting for this event shared their thoughts and opinions on the current political situation in Florida.
“More than ever, I think we need to make our presence known, and we need to let the legislators know that we are here,” said Eric Green, 52, of St. Louis.
According to Gay Days Inc. President Chris Manley, “Gay Days is not a political event, but it is a statement.”
“We won’t be silenced because that’s when we lose,” Manley said. Gay Days’ schedule has visits planned for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom along with trips to other theme parks in the area such as Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld.
The Walt Disney Company actually bought an ad in Gay Days’ magazine, which featured a person wearing rainbow Mickey ears while in the Parks. The ad begins with the line, “To all that come to this happy place, Welcome!,” quoting one of the most famous lines from Walt Disney himself.
Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger had this to say, “During Pride Month and throughout the year, we want everyone at Walt Disney World Resort to feel seen and celebrated not only because of the environment we create but also because of our meaningful contributions to the community,”
While everything is going to plan, it’s hard to forget the troubled journey the Walt Disney Company has had in the last few months regarding its relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
The last few months have been an incredibly tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company. As soon as word got out that the company had actually backhandedly supported Florida’s controversial Parental Rights law, fans, employees, and leaders were stunned. This resulted in the company backtracking with CEO Bob Chapek even pledging millions of dollars toward the Human Rights Campaign.
This firm stance against the new bill caused friction between the company and the state of Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis continuing to escalate the battle with incendiary words and potential actions.
In recent months, Gov. DeSantis heightened the stakes, publicly announcing he was considering terminating the special treatment Disney has been receiving due to the state’s Reedy Creek Improvement act. This caused even more outrage, with concerned citizens actually suing Gov. DeSantis for his actions.
This lawsuit was dismissed but recently resubmitted, showing how passionate a certain population is regarding Gov. DeSantis and his plans. Despite what may seem like an anti-LGBTQ+ attitude, the community is set to completely take over the Disney World Resort.
The Gay Days event as well as other LGBTQ+ events held at or near Disney property this week are expected to draw huge crowds. Nearly 700 rooms at Avanti Palms Resort & Conference Center are sold out.
Gay Days has a big impact on the economy of Central Florida and helps make Orlando a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, said Tatiana Quiroga, executive director of Come Out With Pride. Whatever the future looks like for the state of Florida, the LGBTQ+ community is a strong one with deep ties to the Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Parks in general.
Will you be attending Gay Days?
At Magic Kingdom, there is so much to see and do! Cinderella Castle is decked out for the 50th anniversary and soon Festival of Fantasy and Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire will return. You can ride the three big mountains: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, or calm things down on Peter Pan’s Flight. Rope drop the Park to get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then enjoy a mid-day snack with some Dole Whip. Be sure to meet Mickey Mouse and enjoy the firework show, Disney Enchantment!