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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Disney Talks About Its Gay Days Celebration

The Mouse House’s efforts in establishing and maintaining corporate leadership and an employee base representative of the diverse communities it serves has not gone unnoticed. The Walt Disney Company is currently ranked one of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc, a media group dedicated to promoting the business value of diversity-management initiatives.

Closer to home, the Human Rights Campaign recently awarded Disney a perfect score of 100 in its most recent Corporate Equality Index. Disney received top marks for its employment benefits for workers and their spouses/partners, as well as offering transgender-inclusive health insurance. Also considered in HRC’s scoring system is a company’s public commitment to, and responsible citizenship towards, its LGBT employees.

Walt Disney World employees, or “cast members” in Disney-speak, are encouraged to participate in the company’s Diversity Resource Groups. The clubs focus on individual populations represented in Disney’s workforce. And while becoming involved can certainly provide an employee benefits, Disney considers these groups more of an employee resource, much like training opportunities and information shared on the company’s intranet, that can be useful both on the job and in life.

Disney’s Diversity Resource Groups include: CastABLE, focused on differently-abled cast members and their allies; HOLA, which promotes Hispanic/Latino heritage; PULSE, dedicated to the development of cast members of African descent; FAMILIES, for parents, caregivers, potential parents and those impacted by parental interests in the workplace; VINTAGE, for older cast members; and PRIDE (People Respecting Individual Diversities in Everyone), which provides resources, learning opportunities and a supportive network to gay, lesbian and ally cast members.

via Disney Talks About Its Gay Days Celebration.

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Jim Winsor’s Out & About: Your handy-dandy guide to Gay Days Anaheim | San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

Yep, it’s time once again for us to don our mouse ears and red shirts and head up the I-5 to Gay Days Anaheim, the unofficial day to be gay at Disneyland!

This is a fun, fun weekend I look forward to every October; if you’ve never been, you can check out my photos of previous GDA weekends HERE. I know many other San Diegans are planning to trek up there as well.

Jim Winsor’s Out & About: Your handy-dandy guide to Gay Days Anaheim | San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

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Las Vegas tourism officials embracing value of LGBT dollars – Business – ReviewJournal.com

At the Bagatelle Beach Club, DJ Roland Belmares spins a song while young people dance their Friday away. Cocktails flow as servers walk the area, ensuring no glass is empty.

It’s just another pool party in Las Vegas, ladies and gentlemen. Or is it?

This weekend, thousands of gay and lesbian visitors will gather in Las Vegas to celebrate at the Pride Las Vegas parade, festival and satellite events. Many of those tourists can be found at the Tropicana, home of Gay Days Las Vegas.

Gay tourism is on the rise in the city, propelled by word of mouth, new programming and targeted efforts by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

For its part, the travel board creates dedicated advertising campaigns aimed at the LGBT community that appear in gay media publications such as Curve and Out. A recent one features a stereotypical male-female couple standing in the middle of an all-male pool party under the phrase “Everyone’s welcome, even straight people.”

Kevin Bagger, senior director of marketing for the authority, said that in terms of popular gay tourist destinations, New York tops the list, while Las Vegas and San Francisco are tied for second.

“It is important to the LGBT market that the market they visit is welcoming and authentically so,” Bagger said. “You have to do more than just have a rainbow-colored logo.”

via Las Vegas tourism officials embracing value of LGBT dollars – Business – ReviewJournal.com.

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Gay Days weekend 2012 booms with capacity crowds

Gay Days 2012 was the event’s biggest year yet, with organizers and partners reporting record-breaking attendance and sales numbers.

“Our host hotel sold out two weeks earlier than last year and attendance at all of our events was up,” said Chris Manley, who is the co-owner of Gay Days along with his partner, Tommy. The Gay Days host hotel was the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, which has 1,000 rooms. Manley said the hotel reserved 900 rooms for Gay Days visitors but because they sold out so quickly, they were able to secure an extra 50.

See Watermark’s complete Gay Days coverage!

“This is our third year with Doubletree and we’ve signed another three-year contract,” Manley said. “We’re their largest client and I think that finally reached up to Hilton, which owns Doubletree, so [Hilton] came on as a sponsor this year.”

Manley reported that they sold all 120 available spaces at the Gay Days Expo and those vendors reported bigger sales than previous years. The Expo is held on the ground floor of the Doubletree Hotel, but Manley said they also sell vendor spaces outdoors and in the women’s wing, and both locations had four times the number of vendors as last year. He said this is the first year they offered vendor space in the Bear wing, as well.

“I think the economy is improving little by little,” Manley said. “The power of our marketing we do around the country and around the world gets the message out to more and more people.”

via Gay Days weekend 2012 booms with capacity crowds.

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Gay Days 2012: Orlando’s visitors bureau making more of an effort to reach gay travelers – Orlando Sentinel

Tens of thousands of visitors are in Central Florida this week for one of the biggest annual events on the gay community’s nationwide travel calendar, yetOrlando’s primary visitors bureau had little to do with their presence here.

After years of ignoring gay and lesbian travelers, however, Visit Orlando is starting to make more of an effort — some say an overdue effort — to promote the nation’s leading leisure-travel destination to this niche market.

For the first time in its history, the publicly subsidized convention-and-visitors bureau has a page on its website targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors. It is working with a gay-oriented marketing agency to attract more German tourists, and it recently spent $3,500 on a national print advertisement aimed at the LGBT market, in cooperation with other tourism-promotion groups.

“We have continued to grow our presence in that market,” said Danielle Courtenay, Visit Orlando’s chief marketing officer. “It is certainly a market out there that Orlando can continue to benefit from.”

Still, Visit Orlando doesn’t do nearly as much as many other destinations do to woo LGBT travelers, known for their above-average disposable income and propensity for travel.

via Gay Days 2012: Orlando’s visitors bureau making more of an effort to reach gay travelers – Orlando Sentinel.

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‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.com

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Officials say Orlando is expected to see a boost in the local economy as more tourists and tourist dollars flow in as the annual ‘Gay Days’ event reaches its peak.

The organizers of Gay Days say the six-day event should bring millions of dollars to the local economy.

“We’ve been eating and going out every night,” one visitor told WFTV. “There was a big party at Typhoon Lagoon last night and we all dropped a couple hundred bucks.”

The streets of Disney were packed with tourists celebrating the annual event that started 21 years ago and has continued to grow since. Officials expect 160,000 people to be in town for the event this weekend.

Disney does not officially sanction the event, but participants praised the theme park for being so accommodating.

“I think it’s a great thing for everyone to be able to come out and get together every year, in a place that accepts everyone no matter what they are,” visitor Justin King said.

The president of Gay Days says the event could bring as much as $600,000,000 to the local economy, but some tourism officials believe that number is a bit high.

Gay Days began in 1991 and while the event has faced criticism from some conservative groups, it has reportedly grown every year

via ‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.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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