June 27, 2019
LGBT+ Travel at Disney
You may have heard of the Gay Days at Disney, the (technically) unofficial days in June that have been happening annually since 1991. LGBT+ people and their families and allies from around the world visit Walt Disney World together. These days can be amazing, fun, and let you enjoy the freedom of feeling safe to express yourself in public without fear. In addition to the Gay Days, the LGBT+ community enjoys Disney properties while being publicly out all year long.
Marriage, Honeymoons, and Vow Renewals
Disney properties first began allowing same-sex marriages to be held at their parks in 2007 and after marriage equality was ruled on in 2015, that only opened it up more. The Disney parks are very popular destinations for honeymoons. The fun, nostalgic environment tied together with an air of openness can make for an extremely enjoyable time for a newly married couple. I went there on my Honeymoon with my wife, and we are planning to go to Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii for our 5th anniversary. Whatever sort of celebration you are having, make sure to ask for a button at the guest services, because cast members and even other guests are all too happy to congratulate celebrating guests. If you are a first time visitor, they have a button for you too.
Just this year, a Disney park held the first official, Disney Sponsored, “Magical Pride” parade at Disneyland Paris, which had been occurring unofficially since 2014. This marks a milestone in the continued movement towards acceptance within the parks that has occurred over the last two decades. Disney has a long history of supporting same-sex couples, including providing health benefits for same-sex partners of their employees and standing against the Defense of Marriage Act back in the 90s. The current sitting president of Walt Disney World Resorts, George Kalogridis, is their first openly gay president. Meanwhile, the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index which surveys how pro-LGBT the policies and practices of corporations are, in this index, the Walt Disney Company has rated a perfect 100 from 2005 to 2019.
Disney has created a wide variety of merchandise focused on Pride in the last few years. Rainbow Mickey Mouse products, ears, pins, clothing, and more are made readily available around the Gay Days and generally you can find them in the larger Disney stores at their parks year-round.
Where to be Cautious
While Disney is very pro-LGBT+, there are a few cases where one should be cautious, especially outside of the parks. While both Orange County and Orlando have passed a number of protections for LGBT+ individuals and have substantial LGBT+ communities, when interacting with residents and businesses outside the parks themselves, it’s always best to use your own intuition. Also, when in the parks, though instances are very rare, consider that some guests may have negative reactions to LGBT+ guests. If you should feel threatened, harassed, or otherwise feel unsafe due to another guest while in the parks or surrounding properties be sure to reach out to a cast member for assistance.
Finally, if you are in Asia visiting Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Shanghai Disneyland, please consider that these parks are not entirely owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, and may have their own policies, local biases, and lower levels of safety for LGBT+ travelers (Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland are majority owned by the Chinese Government, with Disney owning about a 47% stake in each, and Tokyo Disneyland licenses the Disney name to a separate company).
Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise lines, Adventures by Disney, and Aulani Resort are all wonderful, safe, friendly places for your next vacation!