Disney’s 2024 Pride Parties & Gay Days: Everything You Need To Know | PHOTOS

How to park hop, party and make a rainbow connection!

quick jump: | Orlando ▸ | Anaheim ▸ | Paris ▸

Let’s clear things up: what is Gay Days, exactly?

To begin, let’s clear up a common misconception. Many online articles and blogs don’t correctly explain what Gay Days actually refers to. Even fewer include the full array of all there is to do during a Gay Days / Disney Pride event.

Let’s learn some quick history!

Since at least 1991, LGBTQIA+ folks have been meeting up — via their own community-organized events — at Disney parks. They simply called it Gay Days.

The name stuck.

In the late 90’s, an event organizer incorporated the name Gay Days Inc. and trademarked their URL. Today, they’re just one of many professional companies that hosts events, parties and meetups during various weekends in Orlando and Anaheim. Some are free and open to the public, others are ticketed and held in private venues.

These events often overlap, so they compete a bit for visitors and attendees.

So if you perform a internet search for ‘Gay Days,’ do note that you might only see results from one organizer — not its competitors. Hopefully, you know that Gay Days events aren’t just for folks who identify as gay.

Disney uses the term LGBTQIA+ to refer to the whole community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual people — and their allies. In this article I’ll use other terms, too.

Thankfully, I’ll cover the full spectrum of all the top events and hosts in the article below. My name’s Chris, and since I’ve attended dozens of these events over more than a decade, I’ve got lots of expert insights for you about what to really expect.

I’ll point out which meetups and events are extra noteworthy, which hotels offer the best access, and which tickets you should be sure to buy now. Let’s make sure you don’t miss out on the good stuff!

One more clarification, if you’re not a Disney person. Disneyland is in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World is in Orlando, Florida. I’ll begin by covering the events in Anaheim, then go in-depth on the larger events in Orlando.

FLORIDA-BOUND? | Jump to the Orlando-area Gay Days events at Walt Disney World ▸

A group of friends in red t-shirts smiles on Main Street USA during Gay Days in Orlando, Florida

Anaheim

What is Pride Nite at Disneyland?

At Disneyland in California, Pride Nite is an in-park private party for all ages that invites members of the LGBTQIA+ community — plus friends, family and anyone who wants to come — to celebrate Pride inside Disneyland Park. (June is celebrated as Pride month in many parts of the world.)

As of today, it’s the only LGBTQIA+ event on the 2024 calendar that’s organized and hosted directly by The Walt Disney Company. (All others, as noted below, are organized by members of the broader queer community).

Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse welcome guests to Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite at Disneyland Park | Copyright: Disney
© Disney

When is Pride Nite at Disneyland?

2024’s Pride Nite at Disneyland happens on two nights:

  • Tuesday, June 18 2024
  • Thursday, June 20 2024

Here are party’s main features:

  • Nearly ALL the rides are running (with minimal wait times!)
  • Unique character meet & greets
  • A special Pride character cavalcade parade, led by Clarabelle Cow, featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, and lots of your favorite Disney pals
  • DJ’s spinning Pride-affirming tunes throughout the park
  • A one-of-a-kind fireworks show at Sleeping Beauty castle, featuring Disneyfied queer anthems like “Reflection” and “This is Me”
  • Unique Pride-themed treats, sweets & sips
  • Pride-themed merchanise (apparel, plush toys, accessories)

Disneyland locals are used to nights like these; Pride Nite is part of Disneyland’s series of Disneyland After Dark themed nights ᅳ like Star Wars Night or Sweethearts Night — where the park opens after hours for the special-event ticket holders. It’s similar to the way that Magic Kingdom closes early for its Halloween and Christmas parties.

BOOK ASAP | Get a Disney-area hotel pricing and theme park tickets ▸

The Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite character cavalcade parades down Main Street USA in Disneyland Park, June 2023
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Clarabelle Cow greet guests at Disneyland After Dark - Pride Nite in Anaheim, California

How do I get tickets for Pride Nite?

You must have a separate ticket to enter — a regular daytime ticket for Disneyland won’t grant you admission to the party.

The only way to purchase tickets is to buy them in advance on the Disneyland website. Or, while tickets remain, in-person at Disneyland Resort’s ticket counters.

Last year’s tickets were sold out about two months before the event took place. After the tickets are sold out, it’s highly, highly unlikely that Disney will offer additional ones. No tickets were sold at the entrance on the day of the event.

GET TICKETS ASAP | Purchase tickets for Disneyland After Dark – Pride Nite ▸

A lesbian couple in pastel sweatshirts hugs and smiles during the Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite party in 2023 in southern California
A trio of friends smile and hug during 2023's Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite party at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California

What are the hours of the party and when can we enter?

The party officially begins at 9 PM — that’s when the music changes, the themed light effects spark to life, and the special entertainment begins. The rides and restaurants close at 1 PM; that’s when it’s time to head toward the exits.

Those with Pride Nite tickets can enter Disneyland Park at 6 PM. So there’s a window of about 2 hours when ticket holders mix in to Disneyland’s regular day guests. You’re free to exit and re-enter the park if you need to, but keep in mind that the price of Disney parking is not included.

A sign welcoming guests to the Event Check-In at the Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite party in June, 2023 at the Disneyland Resort

How do they know who has a ticket and who doesn’t?

At the entry gates, there’s an Event Check-In where Disney Cast Members will invite you to scan in the bar code that you’ll receive via e-mail when you buy your ticket. You’re not required to show ID. Cast Members give each Pride Nite ticket holder a lanyard and special wristband to distinguish them from regular day guests. Starting at 8 PM, Cast Members direct those who don’t have the wristbands toward the exits.

Do note: if you also have a normal Disneyland theme park ticket for the day, you can get your wristband at a designated distribution center inside the park (typically in Tomorrowland, beside The Star Trader shop). You won’t need to exit and re-enter.

Two women exchange a sweet kiss on the cheek during the Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite event at Disneyland Resort in June, 2023

What’s the best hotel for Pride Nite?

Thankfully, this is my area of expertise. As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I can help you find the best hotels for your travel dates & budget. I know the ins and outs, pros & cons of the three Disney-owned hotels:

  • Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
  • The Disneyland Hotel
  • Pixar Place Hotel (newly renovated, the former Paradise Pier Hotel)

It’s fair to say that all the Anaheim-area hotels are LGBTQ+ friendly, but here’s a spoiler alert: the Good Neighbor Hotels are not not created equally. Thankfully, I know which of the nearby hotels are up-to-date and new, and which properties are desperately in need of some room renovations/maintenance work.

Pride Nite goes pretty late — 1 AM — so if you’re like me, you’ll want someplace nearby to rest your head. And maybe a great relaxing brunch the next morning. I’ve got just the spot.

My assistance is free (check out my testimonials). I can set up not only your hotel, but your additional theme park tickets, too. Wondering how many days you’ll need in Disneyland? Whether you should get the Park Hopper or Genie+? Which of the best hotels are within comfortable walking distance? I’ve got the answers.

If you invite Wishful Thinking to book your hotel or tickets, here’s what you’ll receive:

  • Insightful price quotes for Disney Hotels
  • Recommendations and comparisons to the best Good Neighbor Hotels
  • Personalized one-on-one travel planning & logistics
  • Assistance with booking all your dining reservations and hard-to-get experiences (like Savi’s Workshop Custom Lightsabers)
  • Wishful Thinking’s Brilliant Guide to Disneyland, featuring dozens of expert-tips on everything from the best snacks to Genie+, Lightning Lane, and the best way to avoid long waits

Get pricing for a hotel / tickets at Disneyland ▸

The new Villas at the Disneyland Hotel tower rises above a twilight sky at the Disneyland Resort

What’s Pride Nite actually like?

To put it simply, it’s a lot like any other night at Disneyland, but with far fewer people and far more rainbows.

Highly-saturated theme lighting casts a spectrum of sparkling color throughout the parks. Instead of overhearing space-age music in Tomorrowland or plucky banjos in Frontierland, you’ll hear pop tunes spun by live DJ’s. Think Radio Disney, Pride Edition: a whole lotta first-named divas like Britney, Christina, Cher, Whitney, Madonna. You get the idea. No one’s remixing EDM or deep tribal dance beats.

But there is a country music dance floor in Frontierland’s Golden Horseshoe that will undeniably be Beyoncified this year!

A group of young adult friends embraces tightly during Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite in June, 2023 at the Disneyland Resort in California

What Disney characters appear during Pride Nite?

At least year’s event, Clarabelle Cow was stomping, slaying, and owning the place. The parade route was her own personal runway. She was everything, especially at special photo-ops in front of the Main Street U.S.A. train station. Disney’s already said that she’s returning.

Stitch will be back too, showing off his best Elvis hip swivels on the dance floor. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and pals will be decked out in their prideful, colorful best.

Last year’s party also included the chance to chat up characters who aren’t seen often, like the Queen of Hearts — shouting “off with her head!” (as a face character)! The Muses from Hercules were there, beat for the gods, naturally. Tinker Bell was working her pixie cut with all her Hollow friends. And beloved villains were serving full camp, like Cruella DeVil, Maleficent, and Snow White’s Evil Queen.

It was all delicious. The crowd ate it up like a poisoned apple.

The Pride Nite souvenir map, which you’ll receive upon arrival, shows where the character meet & greet locations are. Unlike the attractions, you should expect significant wait times (20+ minutes) for some of these character meet & greets. Cast Members keep things moving efficiently.

Disney will surely offer fresh surprises this year. I’d LOVE to meet out-and-proud characters like Alisha Hawthorne (Lightyear), Ethan Slade & Diazo (Strange World), Oaken (Frozen / Frozen 2) — or from the MCU, Loki or Deadpool!

At the Magic Kingdom, a family celebrates Gay Days with rainbow Mickey Mouse ears, rainbow Mickey Mouse stickers and big adorable smiles

Is Pride Nite appropriate for young guests and children?

Absolutely.

You’ll see a fair share of kids with pairs of moms or dads, and more than one ‘guncle’ who’s vying for the Uncle of the Year award. Especially in the earlier evening hours, you’ll see the little tykes before they’ve hit their bedtime.

The vast majority of guests are grownups, but everyone during Pride Nite is very aware that they’re at Disney. Public displays of affection are simple and sweet. Everyone’s on their best behavior.

Specialty cocktails, beer and wine are only served to those who are seated at table service resturants, which keeps the atmosphere serene.

But the night is a rather sober affair.

When it’s time for fireworks, you’ll definitely spot some lovebirds who are holding hands, hugging, and wiping away tears. It’s all wonderfully endearing.

A close family, all dressed in rainbows, hugs and celebrates Pride month during Disneyland After Dark Pride Nite in June, 2023

Are straight parents who want to bring LGBTQIA+ kids welcome at Pride Nite?

Yes! Not merely welcomed, but celebrated! If you’ve got a LGBTQIA+ identifying kid — or if you simply want to raise a child who knows that you love them no matter what — Pride Nite (and Gay Days at Walt Disney World) are wonderful, age-appropriate ways to show your kid know that you’re in their corner and you want their dreams to come true.

A latino gay couple show off their DIsneyland After Dark Pride Nite merchandise in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in 2023

Is the Disney Pride merchandise better at Disney or online?

Every year, Disney releases new items as part of a Pride month merchandise line. In the last few years, nearly every item that you’ll see in the parks is also available at ShopDisney.com, so if you’ve got your eye on something, it’s probably best to buy it online before it sells out. It’s not unusual to see Disneyland’s shops run out of sizes once Disney’s rainbow-ravenous shoppers comb through the racks.

If you’d rather wait and try things on, at Disneyland look for Pride merch at the Emporium and the Disney Showcase on Main Street U.S.A. and Engine Ear Souvenirs in Toontown. Plus, the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney carries nearly everything, and you don’t need a theme park ticket to shop there.

Jump to: Pride merch locations for Walt Disney World ▸

What’s the difference between Pride Nite and Gay Days at Disneyland?

Pride Nite is an event created and hosted directly by The Walt Disney Company. Its first year was 2023.

Gay Days, however, is a privately held annual event organized by third-party & community organizers (distinct from the crew behind the Orlando events), which began hosting annual events many years ago. In 2024, Gay Days Anaheim will take place over the weekend of September 13 – 15.

At Magic Kingdom, two dads in red t-shirts smile with their son at Gay Days in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

What happens at Disneyland during Gay Days?

Heaps of LGBTQIA+ visitors will visit Disneyland Park on Saturday September 14th, dressed in red t-shirts. A regular Disneyland theme park ticket (and theme park reservation) are required. For many Southern California locals, that’s the full extent of their Gay Days activities; everyone’s invited to a giant photo-op in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at 2 PM.

But many other weekend visitors enjoy privately-ticketed events, parties, comedy shows and concerts within event spaces & ballrooms at Disney-area hotels. Recent years’ special guests have included RuPaul’s Drag Race stars like Jackie Cox and Nina West and Broadway luminaries like Chita Rivera and Audra McDonald.

View the full 2024 Gay Days Anaheim calendar ▸

How early can I plan a trip to Disneyland for Pride Nite or Gay Days?

Disney announced its dates for Pride Nite in early December. The Gay Days organizers typically announce their event dates about 9 months in advance. As soon as you know when you’d like to visit, it’s wise to start planning your trip.

Get pricing for Disney-area hotels and theme park tickets

A Mickey-shaped krispie rice treat with rainbow sugar, held aloft on a sunny day at Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World

Orlando

How did Gay Days begin at Walt Disney World?

Let’s dip back into history. When Gay Days began in Orlando in 1991, the USA was living through the height of the AIDS pandemic. Gay men were often treated as someone to fear.

But a local group of queer folks in Orlando wanted to show the world that they were just normal, fun-loving, Disney parks fans. Nonthreatening. They decided to meet up at the Magic Kingdom on the first Saturday in June.

To play it extra safe, they chose a simple, blend-in-unless-you’re-looking-for-it identifier: red t-shirts. As the event grew in size, it grew into an entire weekend, and the entire central Florida community got involved. It’s now it’s one of the largest Pride events in the world.

A smiling group of men, women, and non-binary LGBTQ+ friends hug and laugh with a rainbow umbrella and red t-shirts during Disney's Gay Days weekend in Orlando, Florida's Magic Kingdom

Historically, how has Disney supported the LGBTQIA+ community?

Several gay Imagineers — including Disney Legend Bob Gurr — worked alongside Walt Disney himself. In the 1980’s, Walt Disney Animation Studios hired the out gay writer Howard Ashman, one of the pioneering figures who was most responsible for the era now-known as the Disney Renaissance. His work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast revolutionized and enlightened the studio for years to come. Howard Ashman became the first Academy Award winner who died from AIDS; Disney supported his surviving life partner when he movingly accepted an Oscar for “Beauty and the Beast.”

DISNEY PLUS | Watch the incredible documentary on Howard Ashman’s life and legacy ▸

In the mid-1990’s, when the Walt Disney Company acquired ABC television, Disney became one of America’s first major corporations to offer employee benefits (like health insurance) to same-sex partners of its employees. (This was decades before legalized same-sex marriage in America, so unmarried couples couldn’t expect the same benefits that married couples received.) It led to significant pushback and unsuccessful boycotts from conservative organizations. Undeterred, Disney stood by Ellen DeGenenes when she made history by coming out on her hit television show.

A rainbow Mickey Mouse plush doll, part of the Disney Pride merchandise line, at Walt Disney World

In 2018, Disney began selling rainbow Pride merchandise in its shops and theme parks, donating a portion of the profits to GLSEN, an LGBTQ+ non-profit that helps combat bullying and promote gay-straight alliances in American high schools.

However, if you’ve had an eye on politics, you may know that in 2022 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took aim at Disney over its support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Disney responded forcefully, filing lawsuits against the state and announcing that it would donate 100% of the profits from its Pride merchandise line to LGBTQIA+ organizations.

Women in dresses form a rainbow spectrum in the Cinderella Castle hub at Magic Kingdom during the annual Gay Days celebration in Orlando, Florida

Thanks to tireless efforts from phenomenal groups like Equality Florida and activists like Brandon Wolf, in 2024, parents groups won a lawsuit against the state of Florida, and students and teachers in Florida schools can proudly say “gay.” Florida settled its lawsuits with Disney in 2024, and courts struck down Florida’s efforts to curb Disney’s diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Disney has continued to proudly support the LGBTQIA+ community, sponsoring and marching in many local Pride events around the world and adding visible queer characters to its TV, film, and animation projects like Lightyear, Strange World, Love, Simon and the 2024 Academy Award-winning film Poor Things.

Gay Days Orlando, a smiling woman in a rainbow skirt and red tshirt shows off her fashion and pride at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, in Orlando Florida

When is Gay Days at Walt Disney World?

In keeping with tradition established back in the 1990’s, Gay Days is always held over the weekend with the first Saturday in June. In 2024, the main events are from Thursday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2.

At Magic Kingdom, two older men in red t-shirts saying Peace and Love, plus rainbow Mickey Mouse ears, smile at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Does Disney sponsor Gay Days at Walt Disney World?

No. In Orlando, Gay Days weekend is a combination of community-led events and privately hosted events. I’ll highlight the top events & tickets below.

Which Disney theme parks do visitors attend on each day of Gay Days weekend at Walt Disney World?

  • Thursday: Animal Kingdom
  • Friday: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Saturday: Magic Kingdom
  • Sunday: EPCOT

The Magic Kingdom on Saturday is undeniably the main event of the entire Gay Days weekend in Orlando. If there’s one thing you really must do to understand the heart of Gay Days, this is it.

No special ticket is required; you’ll simply need to purchase normal theme park tickets for the Disney parks.

But this is important: post-pandemic, Disney strictly LIMITS the number of those who can enter each day. Magic Kingdom tickets typically sell out well in advance, so you should get your theme park tickets ASAP.

THEME PARK TICKETS | Get the best pricing & options for your Walt Disney World Gay Days theme park tickets ▸

A headband sporting rainbow-hued mouse ears atop a Magic Kingdom guest at Walt Disney World during the annual Gay Days celebration

Where can I find Disney Pride merchandise at Walt Disney World?

Each Spring, Disney announces its new annual Pride Merchandise line, with unique items themed to MARVEL, Star Wars, and Pixar characters. Most of the items are available online at ShopDisney.com, but some Walt Disney World exclusive items are only found at Walt Disney World. Nowadays, the stores remain well-stocked through the Gay Days weekend, into July and beyond. Here are the locations where you’ll typically find the largest selection of merchandise:

  • DISNEY SPRINGS | World of Disney
  • MAGIC KINGDOM | Emporium
  • EPCOT | Creations Shop
  • HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS | Keystone Clothiers
  • HOTELS | During May and June, you’ll also see a decent selection of items in the Disney Resort hotels merchandise locations
The Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom audience is full of men and women in red t-shirts celebrating Gay Days and their LGBTQ+ pride

Are there any special events or meetups inside the Disney parks during Gay Days?

In recent years, Disney has constructed Pride-themed photo backdrops in each Walt Disney World theme park (plus Disney Springs), where a PhotoPass photographer is on hand to shoot pro-level pics of you and your crew. Pics have included Pride-themed ‘magic shots,’ too. Learn more about PhotoPass ▸

Disney hasn’t offered any distinct entertainment or character meetups in their Florida parks during Gay Days. Operationally, it’s just another day in the park.

Community groups have traditionally held two major meetups in Magic Kingdom on Gay Days Saturday:

1 PM | Country Bear Jamboree | The entire audience fills with red t-shirt clad guests who whoop, stomp, and holler along with the most tuneful furballs in Frontierland. (I will never forget someone waving their dollar bills at Teddi Berra as she descended from the ceiling on her swing!) Sadly, in 2024 this show is closed for a major renovation, but whenever this attraction reopens, you can count on seeing a whole lot of bears here.

Late afternoon | Huge Group Photo in front of Cinderella Castle | Community organizers invite anyone and everyone to gather in front of Cinderella Castle for a massive squish-everybody-into-the-frame photo. It’s a great moment to actually stop and talk to folks you’ve been seeing in the parks all weekend! The meetup time depends on the temperamental Florida weather, but expect the meetup around 3 – 4 PM. Ask around — someone will know.

At Gay Days, two men wear humorous shirts saying I'm A Bear and I'm a Bear Necessity at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

What are the main private parties and events during Gay Days weekend in Orlando?

Beyond the Disney theme park days, here are two privately-hosted parties that are exceptionally popular and fun:

Riptide at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park | Friday May 31, 8 PM to 2 AM | Get tickets ▸

For many Gay Days visitors (21 and over), this the weekend’s main must-do. Hosted by One Magical Weekend, the LGBTQIA+ community takes over Disney’s best water park for an entire evening full of fun.

The party is huge. Thousands of attendees. It’s an incredibly well-oiled machine by now, and here’s why I think it deserves extra accolades:

  • It’s diverse. OMW’s organizers have made very concious, intentional efforts to extend invtations to all segments of the LGBTQIA+ community. Year after year, you’ll see a great representation from bears, women, trans folx, Black, Latino and AAPI community members. If you thought you’d be guetting another carbon-copy circuit party, you’re wrong.
  • It’s incredibly well-organized. Lines for ticketing, security, coat check and bartenders — nearly non-existent. As I said, a very well-oiled machine!
  • Many different vibes. The party’s so huge that you can really choose-your-own-adventure. The water slides are running, and so is the gigantic wave pool! SO much fun. Some folks make a whole night of simply sipping tropical cocktails and chumming it up in the lazy river. Other folks get their groove on in the sandy beach dance parties — there’s usually more than one DJ spinning so you can follow your musical arrow.

I definitely recommend getting your tickets in advance, which will make your entry a breeze.

RIPTIDE AT TYPHOON LAGOON | Get tickets here ▸

Riptide at Typhoon Lagoon by One Magical Weekend, copyright Wishful Thinking, all rights reserved | A group of friends hug and laugh as the Gay Days annual water park party gets underway
During the Gay Days annual party Riptide at Typhoon Lagoon, party goers float through a lazy river and laugh
At RIPTIDE at Typhoon Lagoon, two friends joke about the festivities during Gay Days in Orlando, Florida
Riptide at Typhoon Lagoon sees an illuminated beach dance party on the sand during the annual Gay Days weekend

RED Buccaneer Party | House of Blues at Disney Springs | Saturday June 1, 8 PM to 1 AM | Get tickets ▸

This annual party is one of the more fun-loving events of the whole weekend. They’re promising a “pirate-themed gay extravaganza where fantasy and revelry collide!” Expect a buzzy bar scene, a sweaty dance floor, and more than a few tipsy twinks. Many of Disney’s own queer Cast Members end the night here. Thankfully, the night’s dress code is the same as the day’s: red!

Note: if you’re coming here straight from Magic Kingdom, here’s your fastest route: walk from the Magic Kingdom exit to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and then catch a free bus to Disney Springs. House of Blues is on the Disney Springs West Side, near the huge Cirque du Soleil white tent.

A group of young men pose in red t-shirts during Gay Days at Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

What are all the other parties and events during Gay Days in Orlando?

If you want a full lay of the land, begin by having a look at the full schedule of events from the three main party host / event oranizers: GayDays and One Magical Weekend (which both primarily focus on men) and Girls in Wonderland (which caters to women). They’re all linked below.

There is no one “official” host hotel for Gay Days weekend in Orlando. Rather, each of these organizers has their own host hotel (not on Disney property), and they’re not within easy reach of one another. Their ticketed event spaces host everything from a vendor expo to drag queen comedy shows. GayDayS.com sponsors a Mr. Leather Contest and dance floors with sultry go-go boys, while One Magical Weekend hosts an LGBTQ+ sports clubs athletic championship, The Pride Cup.

Although each of them promote theme park days in Sea World and Universal Orlando Resort (which are perfectly fun spots to spend the day, if Disney’s not your thing), far more attendees visit the Disney parks.

But if you’re looking for all-night circuit dance parties, the names on their DJ lineups are impressive. If you’re curious about the vibe of each, you might want to check out their free (or cheap) afternoon pool parties, which are an easy way to stop by and check out the crowd. Most of these organizers will continue sell tickets at the door for each of their nightly ticketed events — they don’t typically sell out.

But like any major Pride weekend, this isn’t all that’s going on. To connect with Orlando’s most fun-loving locals — both during Gay Days and any weekend during the year — head to the longstanding nightclub / party Southern Nights, where a welcoming, ethnically diverse crowd is ready to throw down the kinda dance moves that get your heart pumping. They typically post their party calendar online about 2 weeks in advance.

Check out Southern Nights on Instagram ▸

Two gay men hug at the Magic Kingdom for Gay Days at Walt Disney World, celebrating LGBTQ+ pride

What are the host hotels during Gay Days in Orlando?

As I mentioned above, each of the event organizers above has its own host hotel — all of which are perfectly pleasant. (I’ve personally stayed in all of them during my own trips to Orlando.) Are they the right fit for you? Here’s what you should know about each host hotel:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld | 2024 host hotel for GayDayS.com | If you’re a big roller coaster fan, Sea World right nearby has Orlando’s best collection of coasters. This hotel’s about a 15-minute drive from Universal Orlando Resort, but you should expect about 45 minutes to an hour (with traffic) to make it to / from the Disney parks. The hotel’s rooms are in need of renovations – the in-room air-conditioners are pretty loud and janky — but it’s a perfectly clean, solid property.
  • Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista | 2024 host hotel for One Magical Weekend | The OMW organizers have bought out the whole hotel, a rare treat. The Sheraton’s rooms surround its own pool courtyard — which makes for some hoppin’ DJ booth acoustics — so don’t expect a whole lot of peace & quiet here. Do note that there are multiple Sheraton hotels in Orlando — this one quite a bit closer to Disney property — the Disney Springs area is very easy to reach by car (about 15 minutes).
  • Crowne Plaza Lake Buena Vista | 2024 host hotel for Bear Jamboree | As with the DoubleTree above, this hotel’s a bit long in the tooth, which is why its room rates are pretty affordable, but rooms did get a refresh a few years ago. You can easily walk to the Sheraton above — just across the street.
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott and Town Place Suites by Marriott at FLAMINGO CROSSINGS | 2024 host hotel for Girls in Wonderland | Leave it to the ladies — they’ve got the best hotel(s) of the lot. These sister properties share a terrific central pool, spacious suites with kitchens / kitchenettes, a Target supermarket within walking distance, and heaps of great restaurants nearby. Best of all, this recently developed area (home to Disney’s sparkling new housing for its College Program) also enjoys the fastest, lowest-traffic commute right onto Disney property. A 5-minute drive.

Each of these organizers focus on events that are directly aimed at adult guests; those with young ones in tow will probably have more fun — and get more sleep — in a Disney hotel (see below). But if you’re eager to mingle, you’re traveling solo or you’re just in town to party like it’s 1999, you can guarantee that the the pool parties (and dating apps) will be all aflutter with the twitterpated!

Should I stay in a Disney resort hotel during Gay Days?

If you’re a real Disney fan or you want to get the most out of the Disney experience, nothing beats staying in one of Disney’s own themed resort hotels. From value to moderate to deluxe hotels, Disney’s perks for their own on-site resort guests make a huge difference.

  • Get in early | Early theme park admission to all four Disney parks, every day
  • Get around for free | Complimentary transportation (resort bus, monorail, shuttle boat, gondola) between your hotel, the Disney parks, and Disney Springs shopping & entertainment district
  • Get hard-to-get dining | Access to book Disney dining reservations & experiences (like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique) before the general public
  • Hotel resort activities | On site recreation, playgrounds, crafts and pool-side fun for young guests
  • Pre-paid meals | The ability to pre-pay and save money with Disney Dining Plans
  • Early access to must-have ride reservations | The ability to reserve Genie+ Individual Lightning Lanes before regular guests — this alone is a major game changer for many
  • Flexible bookings, refunds, & payment plans | Wonderful flexibility to modify your vacation dates, resort hotel, theme park tickets, and more, and a simple, refundable deposit to hold your reservation

I’m an expert on Disney’s 30+ resort hotels and I can help find the best options for you and your travel party — both for theme park tickets, hotels, and bundles that combine the two.

We can typically start booking Walt Disney World resort hotels about 500 days in advance; it’s always wise to book as early as possible.

Get pricing & availability for a Walt Disney World vacation ▸

The sunlit lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa welcomes guests at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World

What if I’m not sure about my sexuality? Would I be welcome at these events?

Yes. Go. Make some new friends. You’ll be glad you did.

Gay Days Orlando -- three men in red t-shirts show their LGBTQ+ pride at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

Are there any special meetups during Gay Days for solo travelers?

Yes! Here’s a terrific LGBTQ+ Facebook Group that organizes meetups during Gay Days and throughout the year.

During Gay Days weekend a family with two moms hug their young kids, wearing rainbow Mickey Mouse ears and celebrating LGBTQ+ pride

Is Gay Days appropriate for young guests and children?

Remember, Gay Days in Orlando isn’t just one thing.

Nearly all the private nighttime parties during Gay Days weekends are only for guests 21 years of age or older, the legal drinking age in the United States. Even if you’re very clearly older than 21, state laws are very strict. You’ll need to show government-issued identification at the entrance (US drivers license / identity card, or a passport if you are not from the USA).

However, for each day in Disney’s theme parks, yes. Gay Days in the theme parks are appropriate for guests of all ages.

Because the members of the community are extra visible — wearing red t-shirts, Disney Pride apparel, rainbow mouse ears, etc. — you’ll see a broad spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community each day. They’re most visible at Magic Kingdom on that Saturday, but even so, most of the guests in the parks aren’t wearing red shirts. The friends-of-the-family typically seem like about a quarter of the park, give or take.

So if you’ve got very young kids who don’t really know what words like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ mean, they probably won’t notice anything out of the ordinary — other than perhaps that the crowds seem more smiley than usual.

We’re talking about Disney parks, here. Everyone’s wonderfully friendly, respectful, and polite.

As with Pride Nite at Disneyland, public displays of affection within the parks are exactly the same as what you’d expect from straight couples. Yes, you’ll see gay or lesbian couples walking hand in hand, and — because this is Disney — you’ll probably see some of them nearly at their wits’ end with their screaming kiddos, too.

A family with a transgender teen visits from the midwest to celebate Gay Days at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, dressed in rainbows, red-tshirts, and rainbow Mickey Mouse ears

Do LGBTQIA+ visitors bring their families to Gay Days in Orlando? What about straight parents of LGBTQIA+ kids?

As we mentioned above, it’s very common to see families who have all traveled together with someone who’s queer. Often times, it’s a same-sex couple who are raising kids together. Sometimes, it’s a straight couple who want to support their transgender or non-binary teenager. I’ve met lesbian grandmas who were treating the grandkids to their best day ever.

But if there’s one Gay Days convo I’ll never forget, it’s the inspirational, multi-generational family who had traveled all the way from India to show support for their gay adult son. Their journey of love and acceptance had all of us tearing up and hugging in the late afternoon shadow of Cinderella Castle. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

An Indian family supports their LGBTQ+ family member and hugs during the Gay Days celebration at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Park

How welcoming are Disney’s straight guests during Gay Days?

Plenty of straight visitors who are Disney regulars know that Gay Days is going on; they make a point to let the community know that they’re an ally. You’ll see hetero moms wearing a rainbow flag pin, straight dudes in t-shirts that say “Straight but not Narrow,” and whole families decked out in matching t-shirts that say “Love is Love.” It’s inspiring.

No guests should feel pressured to respond or dress differently — the majority of Disney guests simply enjoy the parks like it’s any other day.

But angry stares, negative comments, or bullying are nearly unheard of. Disney does not permit rude behavior or political slogans anywhere on Disney property.

Josh D'Amaro, Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, greets guests during Gay Days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in June 2022
Josh D’Amaro, Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, greets guests during Gay Days at Walt Disney World

Are LGBTQ+ people welcome all year ’round at Disney?

Without question. There are many, many out and proud LGBTQIA+ employees (known as Cast Members) at Disney, and you’ll see visible same-sex couples every day within the Disney theme parks in Florida, California, and beyond.

Whether you’re checking in to the Animal Kingdom Lodge as two princes who’d like a King, two lovesick ladies-in-waiting-for-a-table-for-two at Cinderella’s Royal Table, or a group of swashbuckling bisexuals ready to shiver yer timbers with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney nourishes a very queer-friendly atmosphere, every day of the year.

During Gay Days at Magic Kingdom, two friends hug in front of Cinderella Castle and pose on Main Street USA

How do I avoid Gay Days at Walt Disney World?

Some folks prefer not to interact with or affirm the LGBTQIA+ community. (Last year — to my surprise — search engine queries for “how do I avoid Gay Days?” were one of the top questions that sent people to this article.) If that’s you, here are a few thoughts and suggestions that might be useful.

To begin, it’s important to know that happy, out and proud LGBTQIA+ people are visible in Disney theme parks every day of the year. Studies show that more and more Americans in younger generations are coming out; the community’s visibility will only increase. In Disney parks and beyond.

And if those don’t interest you, here’s an indoor theme park in Abu Dabi.

The rest of us are heading to Disney and we’re going to have a marvelous time!

A female couple and their son enjoy Magic Kingdom park during Day Days celebration at Walt Disney World in June, 2022

How early can I plan a trip to Walt Disney World for Gay Days?

Considering that Gay Days in Orlando always happens over the first weekend in June, it’s smart to plan your trip as early as possible. Early birds always get the best hotel availability, and when you book your trip through Wishful Thinking, we can apply future promotions to existing bookings. As always, our help is free.

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Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse welcome guests to Magical Pride at Disneyland Paris

Is Disneyland Paris hosting a Pride event in 2024?

This year, Disneyland Paris is hosting Pride event during normal theme park hours on June 29, 2024. They’ve announced that they’ll have unique character meet & greets, Pride merchandise and unique photo meet & greets. This is quite different from what Paris hosted in 2019, 2022 and 2023, when Disneyland Paris hosted a separate ‘hard ticket’ Pride party with celebrity appearances and a live concert stage show during evening hours after the parks had closed to regular guests. No special ticket is required for this year’s celebration — you’ll simply need to enter the parks!

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Pride Nite at Disneyland, Gay Days in Orlando and Anaheim -- see every event & all the ticket details to plan a magical getaway. We're here to set up your hotel, theme park tickets & more.

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Dining reservations, theme park reservations, lodging, character meet & greets — we’ve got insightful advice and Disney’s best pricing. As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, we guide guests through Disney destinations every day, and we can tell you all the expert tips you’ll need to know.

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