Disney Gay Day Expected To Draw 170,000 Guests

The 23rd annual Disney Gay Day is expected to draw 170,000 guests to the Orlando, Florida, theme park. Walt Disney World has never publicly endorsed the event. However, they have prepared for this weekend’s festivities by stocking up on red and rainbow themed merchandise.

Orlando’s Gay Days started out as “Gay Day” in 1991. Around 3,000 guests representing the GLBT community, and their supporters, were encouraged to visit Disney World on the first Saturday of June. The guests were asked to “Wear Red and Be Seen.”

As explained at GayDays.com, the event has morphed into a week-long celebration in the city of Orlando. The main event remains Gay Day, which is still celebrated at Disney World on the first Saturday every June.

This year Disney Gay Day is expected to draw close to 170,000 guests. In the last 23 years the event has gained international attention and support. Disney expects to make quite a profit from the influx of guests over the weekend.

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Disney does not display the word “gay” on any of their merchandise. However, they have stocked up on everything in rainbow and red colors. Disney World spokeswoman Bernadette Davis explains that the colorful merchandise is an attempt to “offer a wide range of merchandise items that appeal to guests of diverse backgrounds.”

Marcus Blake was visiting the park with his partner this week. As they tour the park regularly, he and his partner were surprised to find the rainbow merchandise on display:

“We kind of think it’s funny that Disney doesn’t sponsor Gay Days, but they cater to us. We were here just a couple weeks ago — and they didn’t have that shirt. But they put it out for this weekend.”

The event has sparked criticism and controversy throughout the last 23 years. They have been admonished by Pat Robertson and numerous conservative religious groups. Despite the controversy, the event is now endorsed by Orlando’s Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners.

Walt Disney World may not endorse Disney Gay Day, but they certainly enjoy the additional profits generated by 170,000 guests.

via Disney Gay Day Expected To Draw 170,000 Guests.

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Gay Days Orlando: Rainbow Mickey merchandise part of Gay Days experience – OrlandoSentinel.com

Earlier this week, Disney began to sprinkle merchandise throughout its parks with designs including rainbows, symbol of the gay-pride movement. Red tank tops with rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse heads began arriving in shops along Main Street USA a few days ago. They were paired in store displays with other rainbow items usually found in the parks year-round, such as rainbow pins and antenna toppers.

A rainbow mug can be had for $12.95; a rainbow wallet for $14.95. Mickey Mouse Vinylmations in rainbow — $12.95 apiece — were also prominently displayed.

“We offer a wide range of merchandise items that appeal to guests of diverse backgrounds,” said Walt Disney World spokeswoman Bernadette Davis.

Disney has sold such products in years past. This year’s merchandise, which makes no mention of Gay Days, was being snapped up Thursday by people in town for the event.

Chuck Stickler, who visits Disney about every six months from San Antonio, picked up a rainbow Mickey T-shirt, which went with a rainbow Mickey pin he bought years ago.

“I look good in red. Everybody says it,” he quipped, adding later: “I’m happy to see some Gay Days merchandise — well, it’s not really Gay Days merchandise, but rainbow Mickey merchandise.”

Gay Days’ organizers say they expect 170,000 people to participate in some aspect of this year’s event, which started Tuesday evening and runs through Sunday. In addition to visiting Disney World, participants have a range of planned events from which to choose across the tourism district and the rest of the Orlando area, including a Taste of Gay Days restaurant exposition, a charity auction, pool parties and other social gatherings.

Gay Days, which is based in Orlando, expanded its reach to the Western half of the country last fall with the introduction of Gay Days Las Vegas. And that inaugural event created extra buzz for Gay Days Orlando, organizer Chris Alexander-Manley said.

“Actually, we have a lot of people here that were at Gay Days Las Vegas last year. And that was the first time they had attended one of our events,” he said.

Marcus Blake and David Mendelson, who said they regularly attend Gay Days, bought red rainbow T-shirts as they toured Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of Gay Days’ Thursday agenda. It’s not often they see such rainbow merchandise in the giant resort’s stores, they said.

“We kind of think it’s funny that Disney doesn’t sponsor Gay Days, but they cater to us. We were here just a couple weeks ago — and they didn’t have that shirt. But they put it out for this weekend,” said Blake, who’s from Tampa.

Blake has watched Gay Days grow since his first visit in the late 1990s. One positive development, he said, is that the event has lost a lot of its shock value.

“The first couple of years that I came, those who were not participating in the Gay Days festivities were kind of shocked to see the large number of red shirts and what it represented,” he said. “[Now] we have friends who come here with their

via Gay Days Orlando: Rainbow Mickey merchandise part of Gay Days experience – OrlandoSentinel.com.

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Gay Days expecting record attendance, economic boost | www.wftv.com

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Beginning on Tuesday, more than 150,000 people will be in Orlando for the annual Gay Days event.

Eyewitness News learned that event organizers are expecting record crowds, and hotels are already booked solid.

Gay Days started 20 years ago as a celebration of gay pride at Orlando’s most famous theme park, but now it is an economic powerhouse that pumps significant money into local businesses.

The Parliament House Resort and Night Club has been planning for the event since November.

“We couldn’t do it if we didn’t start that early,” said Drew Sizemore with the Parliament House Resort.

The hotel caters to gay clients and its 130 rooms are sold out and so are the 950 rooms at the Double Tree near SeaWorld, where most of the events are being held.

For the first time, Gay Days is expecting more than 160,000 people

via Gay Days expecting record attendance, economic boost | www.wftv.com.

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