The Walt Disney Company’s 100th Anniversary Celebration
The most magical place on earth became even more festive this year! The Walt Disney Company celebrates it’s 100th Anniversary! These two gay travel bears were lucky enough to be part of the Disney celebrations in 2022. That year Disney celebrated The Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. With Daan being a huge queer Disney theme park fan, we were all set to explore the parks like pros. And with pride being celebrated at the same weekend, we captured everything rainbow! So how did this gay couple experience Disney’s support for the LGBTQ+ Community? Check out our favorite moments for the LGBTQ+ community at all four parks in Orlando. Which attractions not to miss? Where to find the Pride Murals? We got you covered!
Join us on our rainbow ride through Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Karl & Daan.
Queer Disney characters?!
As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we always had a soft spot for Disney. Actually, 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. Remember Ursula, Scar, and Hades? Yes, most of the time they are the villains, but don’t forget the Genie or Timon and Pumba!
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. We applaud the team behind Strange World for introducing us to Ethan Clade, the first openly gay lead character in a Disney animated film. The world needs 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. We think it really shows how Disney supports the LGBTQ+ Community. It feels so good to have this kind of representation available for so many people.
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, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. All four Disney parks have their own style and theme but share the same eye for detail. This way you are always fully immersed in the story that’s being told.
Magic Kingdom Park
The most visited theme park in the world is the Magic Kingdom. It 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. For instance Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, and the Haunted Mansion. During the Celebration of Disney World’s 50th anniversary, at night, Cinderella Castle became a Beacon of Magic. Illuminating the park with “a dazzling glow that sparkles with pixie dust”.
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.
Magic Kingdom’s Pride Mural
As a gay couple, did we experience Disney’s support for the LGBT Community? Well, we found this Disney Pride Mural in the Magic Kingdom on the fan favorite “purple wall” near the entrance to Tomorrow Land. Can you imagine an actual pair of Mickey Ears like this? We love our black “leather” Mickey Ears (especially combined with our black leather caps) but we would definitely wear this progress pride flag version!
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. The concept of an “educational” theme park was born, 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.
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. It 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 while she sang her hit song “Let it Go”.
EPCOT’s Pride Mural
Okay, finding this mural was an expedition! We knew it had to be somewhere in the World Celebration neighborhood. After searching for it on our own, we asked several cast members if they knew where it was. We got a lot of different responses! One cast member send us completely in the wrong direction while another said they did hear about it but had no clue if there was an actual Pride Mural at EPCOT! Finally we found two cast members who were part of our queer family and who gave us the right direction. This EPCOT Pride Mural was located in front of the toilet group on the backside of the Imagination Pavilion. We strongly suggest that Disney will find a better suitable spot for this cool Pride Mural in the years to come. Because there are so many ways how a gay couple could experience Disney’s support for the LGBT Community!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1989. It was the third park that was built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It was the combination of a theme park and a working movie and television studio. Here, people would get 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. Guests become part of the story created in themed areas and attractions.
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 theme park to come up with something that can compete. Maybe even for Disney. You board the que of Rise of the Resistance at a Resistance encampment near Black Spire Outpost. Your mission as a new recruit is to board a ship. Basically too rendezvous with General Leia Organa herself (gay gasp) on a faraway planet. As a good attraction ought to be, things go wrong. Now, 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. Rather travel to one of the American Disney parks and experience this amazing ride firsthand. You might have to stand in line for several hours but as mentioned before, it will be worth the wait. Also, Stormtroopers…
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Pride Mural
This cute balloon Pride Mural at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was fixed on one of the huge backstage gate doors between Star Tours and Muppet Vision 3D. We just had lunch at the Backlot Express where we got this super cute Pride cupcake. During Pride month in June Disney has many Pride food items to choose from. Just be aware that you will get a sugar rush and you might find eatable glitter in your beard for the rest of the day.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a theme park and zoo. This zoological theme park raises awareness to look after our earth and the beautiful diversity it created. You won’t enter Animal Kingdom through the usual shopping street like Main Street at the Magic Kingdom Park. Instead, you walk into a forest with small wavy paths. They all lead up to Animal kingdom’s own Cinderella castle: the Tree of Life. With a staggering height of 145-foot (44 m), this artificial baobab tree towers over the rest of the park. 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. Make sure to catch a glimpse of the tree animals moving around.
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. But even here, we learned 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 it will go 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?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Pride Mural
No one could miss this Disney Pride Mural in Animal Kingdom! It was painted on two big backstage doors on the path towards Pandora: World of Avatar. A great gesture to show this gay couple how Disney supports the LGBTQ+ Community. There was even a Disney photographer standing by to take our picture! Do tell any Disney Photographer how you want your picture taken so you won’t end up with missing feet or a cut-off mural in the background saying “ove”.
Celebrating who you are
At the heart of the Anniversary Celebrations, Disney is celebrating its Cast Members with the implementation of a new “Disney Look”. This is a set of guidelines on appearances for the Disney Cast Members. A more inclusive approach is being handled where there is 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.
Next to appearance, Disney has been putting more emphasis on inclusion in their Cast Member’s training. This way Disney is creating 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 Disney Pride collection
Disney made this year a statement right in front of Pride month (June) by renaming their “Rainbow Disney Collection” 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. This happened 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 were 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 also got our hands on some of the items of this new merchandise line. We especially love the Pride products from a galaxy far, far away!
The Disney Gay Days during One Magical Weekend
Do you need your Disney World Celebration to be even more magical and full of rainbows? Then the Gay Days or Red Shirt Pride Days in Orlando are right up your ally! Since the start of the event in 1991, the LGBTQ+ community has been coming to Disney World to celebrate diversity, creating 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 seperate events proceeds will be donated to the KindRED Pride Foundation. Their 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. Here, 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 of any queer-minded Disney experiences or gay-friendly accommodations nearby the Walt Disney World Resort? Can you tell this gay couple other ways to experience Disney’s support for the LGBT Community? Should we be spreading the word about them? Email us or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.