Disneyland Resort in Anaheim since I was a toddler growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” has long held a special place in my heart. It certainly helped to inspire my childhood creativity, no less so than when I attempted to re-create the park’s fabled Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion attractions in my unassuming neighbor’s house while I was in the 3rd grade.
My more frequent visits as an adult — now that I reside in Southern California and have an annual pass — continue to provide me, my friends and visiting family members with good times and fond memories. One doesn’t have to be gay or lesbian to enjoy Disneyland, of course, but it can heighten our experience as park visitors in some ways. The music, colors, fantasy and theatricality of the Disneyland Resort hold special appeal for many GLBT people.
In recognition of this, Gay Days at the Disneyland Resort was established in 1997 by a small group of gay fans of all things Disney. The event has since grown to attract more than 30,000 GLBT people annually from throughout California and the US. Gay Days 2010 will be held October 1-3. Attendees traditionally wear red shirts to identify themselves as GLBT, since Disneyland and its neighboring theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, remain open to the general public during the weekend.
Disneyland marked its 55th anniversary this summer, having opened in June 1955. Countless GLBT designers, performers, managers and other “cast members” have helped Walt Disney’s original dream of a park where families could spend quality time together and forget their everyday cares continue to grow. Gay Days can be seen as an annual tribute to them as well as a celebration of our community’s growth.
This year’s Gay Days will feature a spectacular new event: PLUNGE! The first-ever Gay Days pool party, PLUNGE will take place on Sunday, October 3 at the Anabella Hotel in Anaheim. Gay Days event tickets, discounted park passes and hotel rooms, and official red T-shirts can all be purchased through Gay Days Anaheim's official website, where you can also find the complete schedule of Gay Days events.
Gay Day at Disney’s California Adventure (Sunday, October 3) will also include the new, rainbow-rific spectacle World of Color. I saw this amazing combination of special water and light effects, footage from classic Disney films and soaring music during the summer. It is absolutely dazzling and not to be missed. “World of Color” will be performed at least once after dark; check the park schedule for exact show times.
As fun as Gay Days is each year, it isn’t necessary to attend to have a gay old time at Disneyland. One of the best times I ever had there was in the summer of 1995, when six of my best gay friends from various points across the country joined me on my “honeymoon” at Disneyland following my ordination as a priest. We shrieked together on Space Mountain, laughed at Fantasmic’s camp value (thoroughly confusing a young, scared child seated next to us) and posed for a group picture in which we are each wearing a different Disney Princess headpiece.
Yes, a gay man can crack jokes at the expense of Woody, Buzz or “It’s a Small World” (and let’s not even mention Winnie the Pooh) any time of year. However, Gay Days at the Disneyland Resort does offer a unique opportunity to join with thousands of other members of our tribe once a year and find acceptance as a princess, a pirate, a bear or simply a kid at heart.
Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.