Gay Days is an annual event that takes place during the first week of June in Orlando, Florida. During this time, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people come together to visit the Orlando area theme parks. This is an unofficial event and Disney does not offer any special theme park events or merchandise during Gay Days. However, the parks are open to the general public and regular ticket prices apply.
The event was started in 1991 by subscribers to an Orlando computer bulletin board who picked a day and urged attendees to wear red shirts to easily identify one another. It grew slowly and, at the time, was considered more of a fun Pride event than an overt protest. Disney had concerns, but did not actively discourage attendance, even as the crowds grew and drew the attention of anti-gay opponents.
Over the years, the event has become more and more popular and has expanded to include activities beyond the theme parks. Hotels and restaurants offer mixers, brunches, pool parties and other events. Some require tickets, but others are free. During Gay Days, you might see rainbow Mickey Mouse signs, photo frames and other fun photo-ops in doorways and storefronts.
Although Disney does not sanction Gay Days, its Cast Members treat it as any other day. Still, the company faced a backlash from opponents who complained that by refusing to discourage the gatherings, they implied that Disney condoned them. Even before the debate over domestic-partner benefits, this issue was a flash point that forced Disney to confront its conservative critics.