This June, Disneyland will host its first-ever officially sanctioned Pride celebration for the LGBTQ community as an after-hours ticketed event.
According to a the theme park’s website, the “Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite” event will be held on Tuesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 15 inside the Anaheim, California-based amusement park. The after-hours celebration will kick off with a three-hour pre-party mix-in, starting at 6 p.m., with the private party running from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Tickets for the Pride-theme event will be sold separately from regular park admission. The nighttime event will feature a “Pride Nite Cavalcade” featuring Disney characters; a Lilo & Stitch-themed “Ohana Dance Party” with music by a live DJ; a “Pride Nite Dance Club” under the stars along the park’s Rivers of America; and country line-dancing sessions at the Golden Horseshoe.
Attendees can take photos of themselves against various backdrops with inspirational messages or Disney characters, can partake in a variety of savory snacks and desserts, and can enjoy after-hours access to iconic rides and attractions within the theme park — with shorter wait times.
In addition to the special offerings during the “Pride Nite” event, guests will receive unlimited digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the party, along with commemorative keepsakes, including a souvenir credential and event guide map, according to the company’s website.
Tickets for the event, which must be purchased online beforehand and are non-refundable, cost $139 per person. They are already on sale for Magic Key holders, and will be made available to the general public starting on Thursday, April 20, at 9 a.m. PT (12 p.m. EST) through Disneyland.com.
Hosting a Pride-themed celebration — even after-hours, when children are less likely to be in attendance at the park — is a departure for the theme park, which has allowed unofficial events like the annual “Gay Days” celebration, but has never had an officially-sanctioned event honoring the LGBTQ community.
While the “Gay Days” event has been celebrated at both the California-based Disneyland for almost 25 years, it has never been officially recognized by the company. In fact, Disney officials have historically downplayed the event, in which attendees don red shirts to draw attention to their presence in the theme parks during the six-day event.
According to Eddie Shapiro, the organizer of the annual unofficial Gay Days event in Anaheim, in earlier years, Disneyland would post signs at the park’s entrance “warning” guests about Gay Days and offering white T-shirts to people who didn’t wish to be identified or linked to the event. Last June, the park offered specially-made food and décor, such as floral displays, to commemorate Pride Month, according to The Mercury News.
“I’m happy Disney is finally doing something, especially in the wake of what is going on in Florida,” Shapiro told The Mercury News, referring to the backlash that the company’s Walt Disney World resort has received from Florida lawmakers after the company’s CEO spoke out against a bill to restrict LGBTQ visibility or LGBTQ discussions in schools last year.
The bill, which has since been signed into law, is known as the “Parental Rights in Education” law but has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, who contend it seeks to stifle free speech and censor both teachers and out LGBTQ students, as well as students who come from LGBTQ-headed households.
Due to Disney’s stated opposition to the law, Florida lawmakers have attempted to strip Disney of the ability to appoint its own local government board — which collects taxes and approves land use and development projects for all Disney-affiliated properties — and instead install a panel of political appointees named by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis, who is rumored to have presidential ambitions, has railed against the Walt Disney Company for allegedly embracing a “woke” agenda and incorporating pro-LGBTQ or pro-diversity messages into its programming.
Even though Disneyland is in an entirely different state, some are watching to see if DeSantis — who seems eager to portray the Walt Disney Company as a villain — will take any further retaliatory action against the Orlando-based Walt Disney World resort simply to pander to potential 2024 Republican primary voters, who oppose companies attempting to “indoctrinate” consumers, especially children, into embracing liberal stances on various social issues.
Disneyland has argued that it was inspired to host an official Pride event due to the positive reception that Disneyland Paris has received from its own annual Pride celebration.
However, Shapiro predicts that there will be a backlash against the company, especially among American consumers, simply for choosing to host such an event.
While initial reaction to Disney’s announcement appeared to be largely positive, with many commenters expressing excitement about attending, some online trolls have accused Disney of pandering to the LGBTQ community and questioned why such an event is even necessary.
“Please explain me why based on sexual preferences Disney favors this people? Can some day Disney make a party for vegans??” one commenter wrote on the website post announcing the event.
“How sad! Mr. Disney would turn in his grave knowing that Disney’s original theme (Family ‘Biological man, Biological female, kids from that union’) has been perverted. Stocks down 50%, lost 250 million dollars on last two woke films: financial ruin if this keeps up. Families do not want woke…” wrote another.
But fellow commenters defended the Pride event as a good idea.
“Sounds amazing! Would love to see this in Orlando at Magic Kingdom! Excited to see all the pics from the event,” wrote one supporter.
“I LOVE this. So very excited to bring some friends with my husband and I. Thank you Disneyland. And it’s great pass holders can have early access,” added another.
“Only right that the Happiest Place on Earth celebrates love in all of it’s forms,” wrote a third commenter. “Sounds like so much fun!”
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