“Pride Nite” is officially coming to the Happiest Place on Earth in June.
Disneyland announced Thursday that it will hold its first official LGBTQ Pride Nite on June 13 and 15, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets for Pride Nite, part of the theme park’s “Disneyland After Dark” series, will go on sale April 20 for $139.
The Anaheim park drew inspiration from its Parisian sibling for Pride Nite, according to Disneyland officials. In 2019, Disneyland Paris was the first to hold an official pride event. After a three-year hiatus, the event will return this summer.
Disneyland’s announcement comes as the Burbank entertainment company continues to face backlash in Florida for opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis, have been in a dispute with Disney since the company opposed a state law last year that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. Under pressure from Disney employees, Disney’s then-Chief Executive Bob Chapek said he called DeSantis to “express our disappointment and concern” over the bill, which was signed into law last spring.
In response, DeSantis and the state dissolved the special tax district where Disney operates Walt Disney World, Epcot and other resorts, with near complete autonomy.
With Disneyland’s announcement that Pride Nite was coming to the West Coast, the reaction on social media was mixed. Many expressed excitement and suggested which Disney characters, like the Country Bears and Ursula, should make an appearance.
“Better late then never,” wrote Twitter user @nate_lawlor.
Others posted homophobic and transphobic comments, with some stating that they would not attend Disneyland on those days.
Pride Nite will include a dance party with characters in “special attire” and photo opportunities with “pride-themed backdrops,” Disneyland officials said.
Pride Nite comes more than 25 years after the unofficial but immensely popular “Gay Days,” which began as an after-hours event when the park could be rented out for private parties.
Gay Days is now held during park hours and attracts thousands of LGBTQ attendees each year.
Organizers of Gay Days Anaheim responded positively to the announcement of Pride Nite.
“In the wake of everything that’s happening to the country, that Disney is coming out in support of the community and inviting the community in, in this way, I think is a great thing,” said Eddie Shapiro, organizer of Gay Days Anaheim.
“Disney is obviously saying out loud, ‘We as a company are not cowed by [events in Florida],’ nor should they be,” Shapiro said. “I’m glad that they’re saying that.”
But Shapiro also noted the irony of Pride Nite being held in similar fashion to the first iteration of Gay Days.
“I think it’s kind of funny that 25 years later, Disney is ready not to have an unofficial thing but an official thing, and we’re back to having an after hours, late night event,” he said.
Although Shapiro expressed some ambivalence about Disney stepping into a space Gay Days has been filling successfully for more than two decades, he also said the events can and will coexist.
Disney can put on lavish and theatrical productions with LGBTQ themes, Shapiro said, while Gay Days can host its own events and parties outside the parks.
“I think we will both continue to be able to do things that the other can’t,” Shapiro said.