In 2019, for the first time, Disneyland® Paris made Magical Pride an official signature event on their calendar.
Magical Pride is a big step for the global company that has previously been hesitant to put its brand on anything LGBTQ+ related. The evening offered something for everyone, making it a suitable event for families, couples, friends or even solo travelers.
Here’s everything you need to know about the event; where it came from, What to do and Whether it was worth it or just another Disney business venture.
In this ultimate guide to Magical Pride I’ll share:
- The Backstory
- Magical Pride Tickets
- Getting to Magical Pride
- What to do at Magical Pride
- Empowering Event or Pink Pound Collection?
Since 1991, Disneyland parks have seen annual unofficially organized ‘gay days’, where the LGBTQ+ community meets up in the Disney parks in Anaheim, Orland, Tokyo, and Hong Kong together on an agreed date. And since 2014, an organization from the UK has arranged a similar event known as ‘Magical Pride’ at Disneyland Paris.
Until now, Disney has allowed these events to happen, but never officially supported or facilitated them.
However, this year, the first-ever Magical Pride event officially backed by The Walt Disney Company took place on June 1st in Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris.
It was a big step for the global enterprise, who have previously been hesitant to take bold stances when it comes to LGBTQ+ events or representation.
Magical Pride saw the Walt Disney Studios Park open exclusively to pride goers from 8 pm – 2 am and the event was attended by LGBTQ+ Disney fans and allies from across the globe.
And based on the success and popularity, I can only hope it expands to other Disney parks in the near future!
Magical Pride Tickets
Greatdays.co.uk, the original organizers of the Magical Pride, offered a number of packages you could choose from.
All options included:
- At least two nights of accommodation (option for 3).
- A two-day park hopper passes.
- A wristband for access to the pride celebrations at night.
You can choose from any of the Disney hotels, depending on your budget and 2019 packages started at £349 per person based on two people sharing (or £259 based on 4 people sharing).
While this is likely one of the most expensive pride events of the year, when compared to a regular weekend at Disneyland Paris, it’s pretty reasonable. The price is the same as attending on a non-pride weekend, so you essentially get the wristband and pride access FREE.
It is possible to just buy a ticket for Magical Pride if you’re staying in Paris and want to attend for the evening.
Getting To Magical Pride
Getting from Charles de Gaulle airport to Disneyland is simple in theory. In reality, depending on where you land in the airport and at what time, it can take around one hour.
Your options are as follows:
- A 9-minute TGV train from Terminal 2 to the park entrance (€17).
- If you’re staying in a Disney hotel (highly recommend for the convenience) then Disney run Magic Shuttle buses to and from the airport (€23).
Warning: if you land later than 9 pm at night, the TGV train and Magic Shuttle will have finished and your only option is a taxi for around €60.
What To Do At Magical Pride
Before we begin: There are two Disney Parks in Paris.
- Disneyland (the main one with the castle)
- Walt Disney Studios Park (the location for Magical Pride).
Dance at the Main Stage
The Main Stage in the Walt Disney Studios Park was the center of attention for the Magical Pride celebrations. Initially used by Natacha Rafalski, the President of Disneyland Paris, for an opening speech, it later transformed into a concert venue for performances by Boy George, Years and Years and the French DJ, Corine.
Meet the characters
Magical Pride had some Disney favorites who ready to meet and celebrate with guests. Dotted around Walt Disney Studios Park were a number of characters including Buzz, Woody, Lilo & Stitch. And of course, the infamous Minnie and Mickey.
Top tip: If this is what you’re coming for, get the VIP pass and skip the long lines to really make the most of your evening.
Enjoy some Pride-themed snacks
Disneyland did what Disneyland does best and offered themed snacks for the occasion. In addition to the regular fast food outlets and restaurants on offer, pop up stalls within the park were selling magical pride-themed doughnuts and cakes.
Ride some rollercoasters
It wouldn’t be Disneyland without the attractions. From 8 PM to 1:30 AM Disney operated the majority of the rides in the Walt Disney Studios Park. This included the massive indoor rollercoaster, Aerosmith, the iconic Hollywood Tower Of Terror, the surprisingly speedy Splash’s Coaster and some smaller favorites like the Magic Carpet and the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. And the best bit of all – No wait times! (Ok, maybe some, but like… 15 minutes max!)
Watch The Parade
Disney’s first-ever Magical Pride kicked off in true Disney fashion, with an all-singing, all-dancing pride parade. The March of Diversity Parade is a pretty terrible name for what was actually a super fun pride march. Largely made up of Disney cast members in colorful T-shirts and carrying marvelous rainbow Mickey balloons, it also included some lovable Disney characters and the headline acts of the night. The entire parade was done to a repetitive, but catchy number that I’m still singing weeks after the event.
Hop Over to Disney Illuminations
As hard as it may be to pull yourself away from the pride activities, I highly recommend leaving the Walt Disney Studios Park around 10:30 pm. At 11 pm each night the Disneyland Park puts on a spectacular show called Illuminations. Take advantage of your Park-Hopper tickets and head over for the 20-minute display of fireworks, lights, and music that will leave you feeling like you’re truly living in a Fairytale.
Have a Drink!
Unlike the Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park is licensed to sell alcohol and there was a colorful pop-up bar right by the Main Stage. Personally, I didn’t fancy doing loop the loop’s and corkscrews on a rollercoaster under the influence, but if you try it let me know how that goes.
Lip Sync your heart out
Now, I didn’t attend this one in person, but from what I’ve seen online, the Disney Magic Lip-Sync-Along and karaoke theatre experience is something I’ll be checking out next year. It was held in the Animagique Theatre opposite the main stage, and contestants could sign up between 8-8:30 pm on the night. The event ran in the form of a knockout competition with 3 finalists taking to the stage shortly before midnight.
Get a Pride makeover
Wella had a popup stall on the night and was offering hair, nail & makeup makeovers as well as giving out fun colorful bandanas. The line was fairly long, so I didn’t check it out for myself, but it was an awesome addition for anyone looking to jazz up their pride look.
Indulge in the gift shop
Did you even go to Disneyland if you didn’t get sucked into the gift shop? Naturally, Disney was prepared with dedicated Magical Pride merchandise in both Downtown Disney and the Studios Park. Over the weekend, the rainbow Minnie ears become something of a rare gem as stocks ran low. It’s sadly not clear how much (if any) profits went to LGBTQ+ causes from the Magical Pride merchandise sales. However, the main Disney Store Rainbow Mickey collection does incorporate a donation to various European & American charities.
Empowering Event or Pink Pound Collection?
Every year, when June rolls around we see brands hop on the LGBTQ+ inclusion bandwagon for a month, slap a rainbow sticker on an existing product, collect in the pink pounds (or Dorothy Dollars) and call it a day.
It is exhausting to see companies make a profit on LGBTQ+ targeted products, without doing the leg work for equality or inclusion all year round. This isn’t a new concept to discuss. However, it would be hard for me to talk about Magical Pride and promote all that it offers, without also addressing a critical question to be asked of any corporate involvement pride events:
Is Disney doing enough for the LGBTQ+ community to offset the undoubted profits they made by hosting a pride event?
On this, I have no correct answer. But I do have a few thoughts.
Disney’s Lack of Representation
I was skeptical, when I first heard about Magical Pride, given Disney’s lack of positive (or any) LGBTQ+ representation in their films and TV shows. In the past year, they have made some progress, with the Disney Channel show Andi Mack airing their first ever coming out scene. The conversation occurs between the lead character Andi and his best friend and was handled with taste and in a pleasantly understated way.
But when it comes to film, Disney is failing miserably. They thrive on the rumors of Elsa being a lesbian, without ever making a statement of support or denial. And, we are yet to see if they’ll do anything about it or give her a girlfriend in the upcoming Frozen 2 movie.
The existing LGBTQ+ characters Disney does have in their films are questionable too. After months of hype that Beauty & The Beast would feature a gay character in 2017, fans and the LGBTQ+ community were disappointed when it came in the form of sidekick LeFou. Even then, the film only featured subliminal messages and less than a second of handholding in the closing credits. Beyond that, you really have to stretch to find any queer representation. With the best, you can find is a glimpse of Oaken’s partner in the Sauna during Frozen, or a ‘potentially’ lesbian couple pushing a pram in Finding Dory.
Disneyland’s Inclusive Culture
Whilst they are largely failing the community in their films, Disney has always fostered an inclusive culture in its theme parks. Whether it be by making the parks and attractions accessible to all ages and abilities, or creating a judgment-free zone for children and adults alike to be their most authentic selves. Disneyland is where you can go to escape the real world and live in an inclusive, judgment-free fantasyland, even if just for a day.
Pride as a Safe Space
As I mentioned at the top of the blog, unofficial, ‘Gay Days’ have been occurring in Disneyland Parks since 1991. This is a definite testament to the safe spaces the Disneyland empire has created. In our ever-increasingly scary world, where hate crimes of homophobia, transphobia, and racism are on the rise, so too is the importance of protecting, and nurturing safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.
Sure, in an ideal world everywhere would be accepting, and we wouldn’t need to buy a ticket to a Pride event to access that. But sadly, that’s not the world we currently live in.
At the end of our weekend in Disneyland Paris, my girlfriend asked me what my highlight had been. I thought about the rollercoasters, meeting Mickey Mouse, the incredible weather and the yummy food we’d eaten. But none of it stopped being in a safe space for a whole two days, where we could be unapologetically out and proudly ourselves.
I ran about in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with a pride flag, I kissed my girlfriend on ‘It’s A Small World’ and we leaned on each other’s shoulders while waiting in the long lines. We did all this without ever thinking twice about the possible dangers or negative consequences. I cannot say the same about everywhere we have visited.
My highlight of Magical Pride was the ability to be visibly queer without fear of stares, hurtful words or worse. And to Disneyland, for that, I am thankful.
Disney as an Employer
It’s no good to promote LGBTQ+ events and inclusion to customers until you’ve sorted yourself in-house. And Disney has done just that.
This year, The Walt Disney Company was awarded full marks in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the 13th year in a row and was once again recognized as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
According to their website the company has contributed “to diverse communities through service and donations to organizations including Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Trevor Project, GLSEN, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.”
In the UK and Ireland, the Disney Pride Staff Network has raised over £18,000 for LGBTQ+ charities in the past few years and was nominated for best Network in British LGBT Awards (2016).
Disneyland Paris has had an Inclusion and Diversity manager since 2007 and the inclusive culture shone through when the hundreds of cast members marched, all singing, all dancing in the colorful opening parade of their first-ever Magical Pride.
Conclusion … for now
It’s undeniable that Disney has miles to go when it comes to TV and film representation. I dream of a world where kids grow up to idolize a non-binary superhero or a trans-Disney princess. When the day comes (and I must believe it will), I will probably cry my Disney-geek heart out.
But when it comes to fostering the critical spaces that we need as a community, where we can feel not only safe but celebrated from who we are, you really can’t blame or judge Disney for being the ones to provide that.
Sure, I hope that there’s a future where these spaces aren’t needed. Pride events should always exist, but hopefully as a celebration and commemoration of the fights and sacrifices of those who got us to that point. But right now, in 2019, when I reflect on the two days of absolute bliss that I had, being out, proud and without a drop of fear that anything would happen to me because of it, Disney can have my money.