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A Gay Couple exploring the world of Disney

A Gay Couple exploring the world of Disney

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration

The most magical place on earth became even more festive this year while we are celebrating Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary! These two gay travel bears were lucky enough to be part of Disney celebrations at the end of 2021 where we were able to capture our favorite moments for the LGBTQ+ community at all four parks in Orlando. With Daan being a huge queer Disney theme park fan, we were all set to explore the parks like pros – with pride! From deciding on which attractions to do first or where to find the best vegetarian options to pointing out how Disney is supporting the LGBT Community including details in a ride or show – we got you covered!

Join us on our rainbow ride through the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

 ❤️ 

Karl & Daan.

Hand in Hand in Disney World Orlando Florida - Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com
Celebrating the Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary with a kiss in front of Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle © Coupleofmen

Queer Disney characters?!

As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we always had a soft spot for Disney, and we can’t imagine we are the only ones. Representation might not always have been very visible, but through the queer coding lens we got remarkable characters like Ursula, Scar, and Hades. Yes, most of the time they are the villains, but don’t forget the Genie or Timon and Pumba, supportive side characters for the hero figure in Disney movies! Thankfully, also, Disney is catching up and being a little more transparent about who these characters are. Elsa from Frozen was a great step in the right direction, and with LeFou in the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, we got our first openly LGBTQ+ side character in a Disney feature film. With a new generation of creatives, let’s wish for more characters like Roberto, Guilia, and Luca and stories that outgrow stereotypes and just show the many rainbow colors that diversity has in store for us.

Tip: Definitely check out these Pixar Spark Shorts on Disney+: Purl, Loop, Out, and Twenty Something. Each short film zooms in on a different form of an underrepresented minority, and it feels so good to have this kind of representation available for so many people.

“Openly” gay characters Greg and Manuel in the heartwarming and hilarious Pixar Spark Short Out © Disney+

Our LGBTQ+ highlights at Disney World

Back to the most magical place on earth! The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is not just one theme park. The resort is imagined as a combination of hotels, shopping areas, two water parks, and the well-known four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All four Disney parks have their own style and theme, but they share the same eye for detail that makes sure you are fully immersed in the story that’s being told.

Magic Kingdom Park

The most visited theme park in the world has a special place in our hearts. Magic Kingdom Park has six distinguish themed areas that together make up the park: Mainstreet, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Liberty square. Like the original Disneyland in Anaheim, this is the park where you will find all the classic Disney rides like Pirates of the Caribean, Peter Pan, and the Haunted Mansion. Celebrating Disney World’s 50th anniversary, at night, Cinderella Castle becomes a Beacon of Magic that illuminates the park with “a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust”.

Hand in Hand in Disney's Magic Kingdom Park - Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com

Cinderella Castle celebrating the Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary © Coupleofmen.com

A diverse cast boarding the Jungle Cruise

Another classic in the Magic Kingdom Park that just received a major update is Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise. In this attraction, you board a small riverboat accompanied by a skipper who guides explorers through a pun-fuelled jungle adventure. With the new update, Disney’s Imagineering got rid of some out-of-date scenes and brought a sense of inclusivity into the ride. We also get introduced to a new backstory character in the form of Alberta Falls. She is the granddaughter of world-renowned Dr. Albert Falls, and the proprietor of the Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. Personally, we love all the easter egg details that now tie the Jungle Cruise into the storyline of Disney’s “imaginary” Society of Explorers and Adventurers (in short: S.E.A.) that connects different rides across the Disney parks all over the world.

The new mural of Alberta Falls at the Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom © Coupleofmen.com

EPCOT

Walt Disney originally imagined EPCOT (short for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) as the perfect example of a self-sufficient, self-sustaining city of the future. After his death in 1966, these ideas were reimagined into the concept of an “educational” theme park, dedicated to the human achievements of our society. The “World’s Fair” area of the park has celebrated international culture and cuisine since its opening in 1982. Today, the EPCOT theme park is divided into four neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase.

Hand in Hand in Disney's EPCOT - Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com
Showing love for the now-extinct 3D movie Captain EO and the just-opened Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Remix © Coupleofmen.com

Frozen Ever After: Let it go and celebrate who you are

One of the popular attractions at EPCOT’s World Showcase is the “Frozen Ever After” log flume dark ride in the Norway Pavilion. For this attraction, the EPCOT classic Maelstrom was completely transformed in 2016 and became the world’s first Disney park attraction themed after the immensely successful movie Frozen. To be honest, we both had tears in our eyes as we floated through Elsa’s Ice Palace at Epcot while she sang her hit song “Let it Go”. 

Frozen Ever After at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort © Disney

Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a theme park and zoo that raises awareness to look after our earth and the beautiful diversity it created. Instead of entering the park through the usual shopping street like Main Street at the Magic Kingdom Park, you walk into a forest with small different paths all leading up to Animal kingdom’s own Cinderella castle: the Tree of Life. With a staggering height of 145-foot (44 m), the man-made baobab tree towers over the rest of the park. If you look closely, you will see that the tree trunk is made up of 325 animal carvings from existing and extinct species. At night, the tree lights up through the art of projection mapping, and you can catch a glimpse of the tree animals moving around. For the 50th anniversary celebration, the Tree of Life becomes every night a Beacon of Magic as “enchanted fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature”.

Hand in Hand in Disney's Animal Kingdom - Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com
A Couple of Men standing in front of The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom © Coupleofmen.com

Exploring nature’s diversity with Kilimanjaro Safaris

This E-ticket attraction takes visitors on a jeep safari through different parts of the East African Jungle. With a little help from Florida’s tropical weather, the vegetation is flourishing. Seeing some of the animals again, made us feel like we were right back in Africa on a safari, where we learned so many new things about Africa’s Big Five. For instance, do you know what elephants, giraffes and lions have in common? For these animals (and many more) there is extended documented evidence of homosexual behavior. According to Bruce Bagemihl, “research shows that homosexual behavior, not necessarily sex, has been documented in about five hundred species as of 1999, ranging from primates to gut worms”. Teaching ourselves about our planet’s diversity is an endless process with new information, sometimes going against our existing knowledge or believes. But with keeping an open mind, there is so much more to explore. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Spotting two African bush Elephants during our Kilimajaro Safari at Animal Kingdom © coupleofmen.com

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1989 as the third park that was built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The concept was the combination of a theme park and a working movie and television studio, where the park focused on giving people a look behind the magic of movie-making. Over the last couple of years, the park has gone through a massive transformation. Instead of getting to peek inside a studio, the park now focuses on immersive storytelling, where guests become part of the story created in themed areas and attractions. With the 50th anniversary celebration, the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel becomes a Beacon of Magic at nighttime, “evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure”.

Hand in Hand in Disney's Hollywood Studios - Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com
The Disney’s Hollywood Studios icon: The Hollywood Tower Hotel © coupleofmen.com

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Being part of the Star Wars mini land Galaxy’s Edge, this attraction brings immersive themed entertainment to the next level. It will be hard for any other theme park, and maybe even for Disney, to come up with something that can compete with this whirlwind of an adventure. Without giving away too much, you start your adventure with boarding the queue of Rise of the Resistance at a Resistance encampment at the outskirts of the Black Spire Outpost. Your mission as a new recruit is to board a ship and to rendezvous with General Leia Organa (gay gasp) herself on a faraway planet. As a good attraction ought to be, things go wrong, and you find yourself right in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

We would encourage everyone not to look at the POV videos online, but to travel to one of the American Walt Disney parks and experience this fantastic ride firsthand. Yes, you might have to stand in line for several hours but as mentioned before, it will be worth the wait. Also, Stormtroopers…

Stormtroopers photobombing our rebel-scum-selfie at Galaxy’s Edge © coupleofmen.com

Celebrating who you are

At the heart of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, next to additions to the park in the form of attractions, entertainment, food, and merchandise, Disney is celebrating its Cast Members. With the implementation of a new “Disney Look” (a set of guidelines on appearances for the Disney Cast Members) a more inclusive approach is being handled where there is more room for personal expression. Now all Cast Members can wear colored nail polish, an expanded type of jewelry like bracelets and earrings, tattoos, facial hair, and headwear for religious purposes. These policies are gender-inclusive and create a more open and diverse approach to everyone’s Disney experience. We love the fact that a red-bearded Cast Member at the Haunted Mansion can now wear black nail polish and earrings, or someone can walk around with rolled-up sleeves to show off their tattoo.

Be who you are - like Chewbacca is ;) © Coupleofmen.com
Be who you are – like Chewbacca is 😉 © Coupleofmen.com

Next to the appearance, Disney has been putting more emphasis on inclusion in their Cast Member’s training to create a safer and more welcoming space for guests and other Cast Members. These are worldwide guidelines, meaning that all Disney parks owned by The Walt Disney Company will be implementing a more diverse and inclusive standpoint.

The new Disney Pride collection

Disney made this year a statement right in front of Pride month (June) by renaming their Rainbow Disney Collection into The Disney Pride Collection. This might not seem a big diverence but by explicitly using the word Pride, Disney is sending out a clearer message about supporting the LGBTQ+ community after the unfortunate events following the controversy surrounding the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. 100% of the profits from The Disney Pride Collection sales from 16th May 2022 through to 30th June 2022 will be donated by The Walt Disney Company to support LGBTQIA+ youth and families through a numerous amount of organistations across the world. The new collection includes Disney’s big brands Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. We can’t wait to get our hands on this new merchandise, especially some of the Pride products from a galaxy far, far away!

Disney supporting LGBT Community with the new Disney Pride Collection © Coupleofmen.com
Different LGBTQ+ pins from the Rainbow Disney Collection at Animal Kingdom in 2021 © coupleofmen.com

The Disney Gay Days during One Magical Weekend

Do you need your Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration to be even more magical and full of rainbows? Then the Gay Days or Red Shirt Pride Days 2022 in Orlando are right up your ally (pun intended)! Since the start of the event in 1991, the LGBTQ+ community has been coming to Disney World to celebrate diversity and create visibility while enjoying the theme parks with friends and family. By wearing a red shirt on the first Saturday of June, people of the community and their allies show that they stand for love, acceptance, and kindness. Over the last thirty years, the event has grown into a week, full of events, parties, and theme parks. A part of the proceeds will be donated to the KindRED Pride Foundation whose mission is to support the endeavors of like-minded charities for the education, promotion, and celebration of Diversity, Inclusion, Equality, Safe Expression, and Kindness.

Not enough? Then make sure to also attend the events of One Magical Weekend during the first weekend of June. Their signature event RIPTIDE is held at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, where six thousand sailors and merman will dance to the beats of international DJs while sliding down the water rides or just chill out inside one of the world’s largest wave pools.

Do you know any queer-minded Disney experiences or gay-friendly accommodations nearby the Walt Disney World Resort for us worth spreading the word about? Email us or drop us a line on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

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