Over the years, Gay Days has become one of Disneyland's most popular "unofficial" events. Gay Days draws crowds of over 30,000 people annually. In 2021, it shifted from early October to mid-September. In 2024, Disneyland Gay Days take place early, from Sept. 13 to 15. People come in March for "Mini Gay Day" on March 2, 2024. (It's for those who need a little red shirt boost in the spring, but fall Gays Days are the main events.)
You can also show off Pride during June — in 2023, there was even a Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite that took place June 13 and 15, 2023. Both Disneyland and Disney World had special food offerings, photo opportunities and merchandise during Pride Month. It was one of our "hoppiest" nights at Disneyland. We expect it to return in 2024.
Whether you are planning to attend Disneyland Gay Days or visit in June, here are some important details on how you can show or support Pride all year long!
Disneyland Gay Days Details
The Gay Day events are not presented by Disney. Disney does not endorse any group that meets during regular park hours. As such, Disney does not offer information about the festivities. Disney does put out rainbow Pride merchandise and adds special foods to the menus though.
The resort is supportive of the events and the many guests that Gay Days brings to its parks, hotels and restaurants. You might see special photo-ops (we did not encounter the photo-op signs in recent years, but ask in shops). Because this is an unofficial event, the parks are still open to the public. You don’t need a special ticket to visit the parks for Gay Days. Even though Disneyland does not present Gay Days, the event's sponsors include Disney’s Aulani Hotel, Adventures by Disney, Disney Vacation Club and Disney Pride, which is the company’s LGBT diversity group.
There is a schedule of events for each day of Gay Days, with one park playing "host" each day during normal operating hours. Gay Days at Disneyland usually fall on Saturdays, while Gay Days at Disney California Adventure usually fall on Sundays (the official schedule comes out in June 2023) — but you'll see attendees park hopping throughout the weekend as well. There are family-friendly events, in-park meetups, informal chats, celebratory cocktails, a concert and other events. You can find all of the fabulous details on the Gay Days Anaheim website.
Gay Days and Crowds
Disneyland Gay Days do bring in quite a few people, and the impact it has on crowds is growing every year — along with the generally higher crowds the parks see on weekends. The crowd levels can vary each year. When Gay Days aligned with Columbus Day weekend in 2018, there were massive crowds — we saw 300-minute waits for the Haunted Mansion Holiday! But other years, such as 2019 when it did not collide with a holiday weekend, it was not as busy. You'll want to book early to visit during Gay Days. With the park reservation system in place, these days can sell out early.
The advanced theme park reservation system is still in place. Mid-September is normally a more quiet time than early October (when Arizona and Utah schools are on break). A reservation system keeps the parks from being too busy, so it makes it hard to predict crowds and also makes it harder to get a reservation if you do not reserve in advance. Gay Days has felt much more manageable since the pandemic compared to previous years.
No matter what crowds are like, it's safe to say you should purchase tickets in advance and make your theme park reservations ASAP. If you are attending both days, a multi-day ticket can save you some green, especially if you purchase through your favorite froggy friends! Multi-day tickets can be used on any available day within 14 days, even on weekend days!
If you already have vacation plans for the Gay Days weekend, don't let the promise of increased crowds stop you, but make sure to arrive ahead of park opening for each day of your trip. Take advantage of the lowest crowds early in the day by riding the most popular rides when you first arrive. (You can also take a peek at our tips for maximizing your time at Disneyland, which always come in handy, whether the park is crowded or not.)
If you want to participate in the Gay Days events in the park, arrive early for each meal or ride. You'll see people line up early for rides and restaurants that are on the schedule.
If you're really concerned about the crowds and have a trip planned on these days, then look up the Gay Days schedule online and see the group meals and meet-ups. You can avoid those areas, rides and restaurants at those times to avoid crowds. With park hopping, you'll see red shirts in either park on either day. However, meet-ups and group rides are generally at Disneyland on Saturday and at Disney California Adventure on Sunday. People with Park Hopper tickets may hop between both parks after 11 a.m. Even with more crowds, Gay Days create a fun, festive atmosphere. To be honest, the sold-out park did not feel more crowded in 2021.
Wear Red or Purchase Disneyland Gay Day Merchandise
There is an official Gay Days red T-shirt that you can purchase. But if you don’t have or want the shirt, the organizers suggest you stick to red shirts. The red shirts help Gay Days participants identify each other and show their numbers.
You’ll see a lot of rainbow colors too! You can even purchase rainbow Mickey ear hats in the parks if you need the perfect Disney accessory for the event. We've seen a lot of Disney rainbow souvenirs sold in the parks, especially around Gay Days (and in June for Pride). It goes without saying, but you don't have to officially be part of the event to show your support!
Follow the Schedule
Gay Days participants can follow a schedule if they want to meet up with other participants. Consult the website to find out about parties, meals, scavenger hunts, group rides, group rides, group photos, discounts, teen events, concerts and free activities dedicated to families with children. Whether you are participating in Gay Days or not, knowing the general schedule can help you manage your time in the parks. The most important scheduling detail to know for all park guests is which park is scheduled for Gay Days. For example, the event is at the parks on the following days:
- Saturday — Gay Days at Disneyland Park
- Sunday — Gay Days at Disney California Adventure Park
There are other Gay Days festivities on Friday night, as well.
Find Gay Days Menu Items
Over the years, we have seen (and enjoyed!) special Gay Days dessert menu items, and even some meal packages at several quick-service restaurants in each park all weekend. The culinary team creates special Gay Days rainbow food items (and a rainbow tumbler) for both March Mini Gay Day and the official gay days in September. You may see some fun rainbow items and merchandise out in June for Pride as well. You'll see fewer items in March but definitely look on the top of mobile order menus to find rainbow-inspired eats.
We go on a hunt for Pride food items in the park:
- Rainbow Pride Cookies (various locations)
- Pride Cotton Candy
- Rainbow Cake at Paradise Garden Grill, Flo's V-8 and Plaza Inn
- Pride Tumbler and Straw Clip
- Pride Popcorn Bucket
Check out our favorite quick-service restaurants in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for some ideas on where to eat. Since you can expect weekend crowds in the parks, you might also make an advance reservation at a table-service restaurant to secure your table.
Look for Photo-Ops and Entertainment
In doorways, restaurant entrances or storefronts, keep an eye out for fun photo-ops with signs and giant photo frames. We did not catch any in 2021 or 2022. You might find a rainbow Mickey, a rainbow Disneyland sign or a rainbow picture frame. You can have a cast member take your picture to commemorate the day. If you follow the official Gay Days schedule, you can also jump in some group photos (in each park). That sea of red shirts in front of the castle just keeps growing and growing each year!
Outside of the amusement parks, there are pool parties, mixers, live music, DJs, dancing, brunch and other events in Downtown Disney and the hotels. Some require tickets, but many are free.
Enjoy Halloween Time, But Watch Out for Oogie Boogie
Gay Days in the fall also hoppen to fall during Halloween Time at Disneyland, so a lot is going on in the parks that weekend. This can also affect your planning. In 2024, the Disneyland Halloween Party, Oogie Boogie Bash, shortens the regular park hours at Disney California Adventure on Sept. 15. Oogie Boogie Bash takes place from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Party guests start arriving at 3 p.m. The park closes at 6 p.m., so we use our park hopper ticket to hop over to Disneyland at about 3 p.m.
Some people like to extend their trip to make a long weekend of Gay Days. If that is your plan, keep in mind that Halloween parties fall on the Thursday before and the Tuesday after Gay Days weekend. Disney California Adventure closes at 6 p.m. those days, as well. Plan ahead by checking the schedule for future Gay Days.
All Halloween parties sell out early. In fact, they sold out all dates in 2023. But no worries; you can have plenty of Halloween fun during regular operating hours. In case you missed it, Undercover Tourist is now selling discount 2-day, 3-day, 4-day or even 5-day Disneyland Resort tickets. If you still need tickets for Gay Days weekend (or any day of the year), you can get a jump on savings.
If you are interested in other unofficial events at Disneyland, check out our post on Dapper Day. These unofficial days at Disneyland offer a unique way to experience the parks and meet other people. They can also affect crowds. Knowing about them can help you join the fun or plan the best time for your family to visit.
Pride Month and Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite
Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite is a separately ticketed, sold-out event. It celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community and allies. Pride Nite occurred June 13 and 15, 2023, inside Disneyland Park. This after-hours event, like other Disneyland After Dark events, includes special entertainment, Disney characters, one-of-a-kind photo opportunities, dance parties, cavalcades, specialty menu items, event merchandise and more! What is especially fun about After Dark events is that adults can DisneyBound and dress up.
Attendees can start arriving between 6 and 9 p.m. PT, as the private party runs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. PT. Guests can ride some popular attractions after regular park hours with short wait times. They will also receive unlimited digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the party, along with a commemorative keepsake credential and event guide map.
Special quick-service food items for the party become available at 8 p.m. You can reserve a Café Orleans dining package for between 8 p.m. and midnight. It has many different Monte Cristo sandwiches. How ever will we choose? Hop over to our Pride Nite post to learn more.
Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite tickets went on pre-sale for Magic Key holders April 18, 2023, and to the general public on April 20, 2023, on the Disneyland website. Each night is $139 per person. Parking fees are not included. After Dark parties can sell out quickly, as this one did. We'll keep you updated with all of the fun details in our Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite post.
If you did not get your Pride Nite ticket, don't worry. You can still celebrate Pride Month at Disneyland June 1-30, 2023. You can find special Pride food items, sippers, popcorn buckets, straw clips, tumblers, clothing items and other merchandise at Disneyland theme parks and in Downtown Disney. Our Pride Month foodie guide has all the deets! Look for the colorful rainbow floral Pride display in Downtown Disney.
How do you celebrate Pride at Disneyland Resort? If you have any tips or questions, please leave them in the comments below. If you are looking for discount lodging in the Anaheim and Los Angeles areas, Undercover Tourist now books discount hotel rooms for Disneyland Resort hotels and many more Los Angeles area hotels!
Related: Full Schedule of Disneyland Events