While setting the stage for its August 2019 outing, GayDayS paves way for June 2020 return

By : Jeremy Williams
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In the story “The Wizard Of Oz,” a young girl named Dorothy—with dog Toto in hand—is taken over the rainbow by a tornado to the magical land of Oz. While there, she encounters a cast of characters that help her on her journey to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz who she says can get her back to her home in Kansas because, as she realizes by the end of the story, “there’s no place like home.”

Some similarities between that classic story and the events of GayDayS makes it even more fitting that next year’s theme for GayDayS, which will also be the 30th Anniversary of the original Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom, will be “Emerald City” as the organization returns its events back to its traditional dates in June.

Chris Alexander-Manley, co-owner of GayDayS, Inc., announced the organization’s 2019 move to August in April 2018. At the time, saying “A majority of people are not coming in for that Saturday at the Magic Kingdom. There are some that do come every year for that, which is great, but Magic Kingdom will be open for the Saturday of our event. I always say it’s not a national holiday like Christmas or New Year’s Day that [falls] on the same day every year. Change is good sometimes. Some won’t be happy but a majority will be very, very happy.”

Many people took to social media after GayDayS’ 2018 announcement to argue that for them it was a national holiday and that the first weekend of June would always be the time that they celebrate. One Magical Weekend, Girls In Wonderland and Tidal Wave—three organizations that also hold events during the traditional first weekend in June—banded together and renamed the weekend Red Shirt Pride Days this year, continuing their events under that moniker.

“Hopefully everybody that went in June had a good time,” Alexander-Manley says, “but why only show your pride out at the parks once a year. Even though we’ll go back to June, we should always do that. I think we should activate more days and different parks throughout the year. Hopefully the local community will build on that.”

Alexander-Manley says originally GayDayS 2018 was intended to be on the first weekend of June but that a deal with the organization’s former host hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton at Sea World, could not be reached.

“The DoubleTree chose to go into a different direction,” he says. “I guess I do have to blame myself in that I waited too long to secure something. I kept trying to find a hotel of the same size as the DoubleTree.”

With no deal reached, Alexander-Manley says GayDayS had to either move the dates or not hold their events in 2018.

“We didn’t want to skip a year, because we definitely enjoy the GayDayS parties,” he says. “We were very happy that we were able to find dates once again on the traditional weekend which should make the locals happy.”

The dates for GayDayS 2020 will be June 2-8 with a new host hotel, the Wyndham Hotel & Convention Center off Hwy 192 in Osceola County. The newly-remodeled property is “right in the heart of the tourist area and right at the back door of [Walt Disney World],” states GayDayS’ official guide.

“Kissimmee has been very receptive and very supportive of us participating in the Osceola area,” Alexander-Manley says.

Few details have been released about what we can expect to see at GayDayS 2020. Alexander-Manley says that along with the usual expo, pool parties and Taste of GayDayS, he hopes to open it up more to groups who have traditionally felt ignored at the events.

“Some of the new events we have, working with Two Spirit, we hoped to include more events focused on the transgender community and we hope to bring back the family component that we have this year,” he says.

Another component Alexander-Manley would like to see return is something GayDayS used to do in the past. “One thing that we did for years was we had recovery groups as part of GayDayS, which I think is very important because of it being a party atmosphere,” he says. “We partnered with local recovery groups and provided meeting spaces, so I hope that component comes back.”

While GayDayS has one eye on its 2020 planning, there is still a lot to do at this year’s events, says Alexander-Manley. GayDayS 2019 will be Aug. 13-19 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive, located next door to the ICON Orlando entertainment complex. A full list of the events can be found by going here.

“The ICON Orlando is such a great location, there is so much to do right there around the hotel with restaurants, shopping and entertainment,” Alexander-Manley says.

One of the biggest changes this year that Alexander-Manley thinks will make guests extremely happy is the hotel’s parking situation.

“Parking at the DoubleTree was an issue with having to pay to park,” he says. “The Wyndham has a massive parking lot right in the middle of the ICON Orlando complex and it is all free parking.”

The stage is set for the first, and possibly only, GayDayS in August as they move back into June in 2020. Alexander-Manley says he recognizes that a new name and set of events were established and he is willing to work with them to make sure that all the events on that weekend are successful.

“GayDayS is always going to be the name of our event,” he says, “but they bonded together and created another theme, which is great, and if they’re interested we’re more than welcome to cross promote. We’ve worked with them in the past and we’re always open to working with them if it’s a win-win for everybody.”

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