GayDayS Inc. moving host hotels, possible date change for 2019

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 1

ORLANDO | GayDayS Inc. will be right where you left it at the DoubleTree by Hilton at Sea World for 2018, but the Central Florida event–one of the largest LGBTQ events in the world–will be making a move in 2019.

GayDayS Inc. co-owner Chris Alexander-Manley says that the initial need to move is due to scheduling conflicts at the DoubleTree.

“[DoubleTree] changed ownership over the last couple of years and they have expanded their ballroom area. There is more interest from different groups’ events to use the space,” Alexander-Manley says.

The Doubletree at Sea World has been GayDayS Inc.’s host hotel for the last nine years. Prior to the DoubleTree they were at the Royal Plaza — now the B Resort — for nine years. GayDayS Inc. has been the largest client for DoubleTree since establishing themselves at that location making it seem odd that they would book the traditionally GayDayS Inc. week with another client, but when asked Alexander-Manley says he doesn’t suspect the decision has anything to do with the type of event it is.

“Most of my contacts there are members of our community so I don’t believe [being an LGBTQ event] had anything to do with the decision and I would hope that they wouldn’t put up with it [if that was the case],” Alexander-Manley says.

Alexander-Manley does say that all parties have hinted at possibly returning to the DoubleTree in 2020 but that no serious discussions on GayDayS Inc. 2020 are being had until 2019 is finalized.

GayDayS Inc. has narrowed the field of possible 2019 host hotels down to three, but until the decision is made Alexander-Manley can’t release who they are speaking with.

“The properties we are looking at are still in the I-Drive area but more away from the convention center,” he says. “We are looking, say from Kirkman Road over to Sand Lake Road on I-Drive, in that area.”

The change in venue will not affect primary events such as the expo and pool parties, but could affect some of the smaller events.

“Right now nothing is planned on changing other than the main location, but every year we adjust some of the events and we tweak all of the events to make sure they are enjoyable,” he says.

Along with booking rooms at a different venue next year GayDayS Inc. attendees may also need to book a different weekend. Alexander-Manley says they are looking at the possibility of moving GayDayS Inc. away from the first weekend of June, a weekend that has been the home to Gay Day at Disney since its inception 28 years ago.

“Gay Day was on one of the slowest weekends back when it started,” Alexander-Manley says. “Once the economy tanked 10 years ago, what I have been told by a lot of hotels, is that a lot of the national conventions were given the directive to find inexpensive weekends to hold their events to save money. [GayDayS Inc.] weekend was one of the least expensive for all involved. That’s why we are possibly even looking at changing the dates for 2019.”

GayDayS Inc. is looking at weekends from early May through the entire summer. When asked, Alexander-Manley says that it is a 50/50 chance the event will change weekends.

While the primary reason for moving dates is availability, Alexander-Manley says this will give them a chance to move to a weekend with less rain, something that has effected several of their events in past years.

“Sometimes change scares people but I always look at it like a great opportunity,” Alexander-Manley says. “Lucky for us everything that we have initially looked on as challenges have been good for the company and good for growth.”

Watermark reached out to the DoubleTree by Hilton at Sea World for comment but calls were not returned by press time.

A final decision on GayDayS Inc. 2019 host hotel and whether the dates of the event will change will be made by the end of the month.

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  • Perez Sykes

    It is very bittersweet to see the GayDays event leave the Double Tree, even if it is just for 2019. On one hand, many of us loyal attendees could probably navigate the Double Tree grounds blindfolded at this point. We also have our times of arrival and departure down to the minute, having taken the same roadways for the last 9 years. The Double Tree was a summer home of sorts for many.
    On the other hand, I think many of us were feeling (if not openly saying) that with one less pool, iffy summer weather, RISING cost thus rooms not selling out as they did in the past and with more of us in the LGBT community getting married and starting families, a change of some sort was greatly needed.
    Perhaps 2019 will breath new life into the event, which already receives direct and indirect competition from One Magical (or is it Mighty??) Weekend at the B hotel, as well as Pride events across the country.

    I am a little skeptical of the reasoning for the change as I’m sure others will be. You bump your biggest client… for what?? You almost get the feeling that new hotel ownership has simply “tolerated” the event for the last few years, but was never a big fan. Which makes you wonder if the decision to move the event for 2019, was more one sided than mutual. And also the Gaydays co-owner’s statement regarding other conventions being advised to book on less expensive weekends 10 years ago. So has Gaydays been in competition with other “conventions”? Was the weekend no longer an inexpensive weekend for Gaydays?? Would have greatly appreciated a few follow up questions on that statement.

    Regardless, I would suspect that 2019 is a “trial run” to see how the event might work at a different venue. I do like that they are site searching within the I-drive area, and not looking to move it another part of town all together. If it works out, I would suspect that Gaydays will have a new home going forward. If not I’m sure there will be meetings to bring it back to the DoubleTree.
    As far as the date change…not sure I am totally on board with that. The date (the first weekend in June) is as traditional as the event itself. Some might say that is the birth date and the core essence of the event. Its one thing to change host hotels (we took that in stride 9 years ago), but to change the iconic date, now you’re walking the tight rope. A lot of attendees plan their yearly vacations around that date. Also keep in mind this is June so there are many attendees that also attend other Pride celebrations throughout the month around the state and country (i.e Key West Pride the weekend after and St. Pete Pride at the end of the month). And outside of June, you have Fire Island and Southern decadence celebrations going on during the summer as well. Bottom line if you must change the hotel fine, but I would strongly advise against changing the iconic date(s). Can’t wait to see the final decision on all of this at the end of the month.