ORLANDO | GayDayS, Inc. has a new location and dates for their annual Gay Days celebration, according to organization co-owner Chris Alexander-Manley.
GayDayS will call the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive home starting in 2019 as it becomes the event’s new host hotel. The event will change dates as well moving from its traditional spot on the first weekend in June to Aug. 13-19.
“What that offers us now, with St. Pete Pride at the end of June and San Diego Pride and L.A. Pride they are all at the end of June and in July, we can go to a lot of the early summer events to promote,” Alexander-Manley says.
This will mark the first time since Gay Day at Disney began 28 years ago that the event will not be at the beginning of the summer. Alexander-Manley admits that while diehard traditionalists will be upset over the move he does not feel that will be the response from the majority of attendees.
“Gay Days is a vacation event. I think a majority of those attending nowadays follow our lead of what dates we put out there,” Alexander-Manley says. “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.”
Alexander-Manley says moving the event to later in the summer and changing the host hotel will allow them to offer better room rates. The Wyndham also offers more dining and shopping options within walking distance as well, something Alexander-Manley thinks will appeal to the event’s guests.
“We love the DoubleTree but it was pretty isolated and the parking was atrocious. The Wyndham has a massive parking lot right in the center of all these restaurants and businesses, and it’s free parking which is another benefit for locals and visitors who may be staying at other properties,” he says. “They won’t have to jump into a Lyft or Uber to get anywhere, they can walk right across the parking lot to one of numerous great restaurants and shopping and other attractions.”
Over the last three decades, Gay Days weekend has built a variety of events from several groups — the largest of which are One Magical Weekend and Girls In Wonderland — that have combined pumped millions of dollars into the local economy. GayDayS has not been in contact with either group.
“I’m sure they are hearing the fact that we have the dates and the hotel, so it will be up to them,” Alexander-Manley says. “If they stay on the other dates it will just be beneficial for Central Florida tourism, but I think their success has been basically riding the coattails of what we bring into the city and the exposure and promotion that we do for GayDayS overall.”
Watermark reached out to both One Magical Weekend and Girls In Wonderland for comment on the move.
“Girls in Wonderland and One Magical Weekend are committed to LGBTQIA+ events at Walt Disney World Resorts during the first weekend of June for 2019 and many years thereafter,” says One Magical Weekend co-owner Tom Christ. “It has been the same weekend for 28 years and the date is the date. There are reasons that this date was chosen in 1991. These reasons still exist. For cast members and the thousands and thousands of travelers from around the world, the first weekend in June is inked on their calendar. Coming to Orlando to celebrate and express our Pride at Disney has held fast over the years. We will continue to kick-off Pride Month the first weekend of June in 2018, 2019, 2020…and beyond at Walt Disney World Resorts.”
Girls In Wonderland co-founder Allison Burgos agrees and says they will not be moving dates either.
“It has always been the first weekend of June, at least for us, and it will continue to be the first weekend of June,” says Burgos. “Moving the dates does not make sense for us or our brand, or for the history of what’s been created.”
Burgos continued, saying she feels disappointed that GayDayS did not reach out to anyone at Girls In Wonderland about the move and is saddened that the events will not be sharing the same weekend in June.
“August is hotter and has more rain, it’s the heart of hurricane season. I don’t want to be running around the parks or the pool in the middle of August. It seems like a bad choice to me,” Burgos says.
Alexander-Manley addressed the concern that the event will take place in the middle of hurricane season.
“Even though it’s hurricane season the state of Florida gives free insurance policies to event planners to motivate groups to book their events during those months,” he says.
Watermark also reached out for comment to the Parliament House, which throws one of the biggest Gay Days parties in the city every year. Parliament House advised us that they will have comment within the coming days.
GayDayS 2018, with the DoubleTree by Hilton at Sea World’s final year as the host hotel, will be May 29-June 4.