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.