Gaydays Orlando Florida 2003

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Gaydays 2003

Quoted as being America’s largest gay party weekend, Gaydays is just that, a 72 hour party spectacular. The event started 13 years ago as a gay day out at Florida’s Walt Disney World, no circuit party, just an unofficial Gay day at the Magic Kingdom theme park. Then it attracted about 3,000 happy homos, which has now amplified to more than 130,000. Just in case you don’t have an eye for the groups of gay boys amongst the hetero families, people wear red clothing or specially printed red Gaydays t-shirts. The annual event, always the first Saturday in June, generated plenty of controversy in the early days. Homophobic religious people used to stand along the motorways leading into the Disney World complex with placards condemning us all. This happened every year until a few years ago. Controversy also leads to plenty of media coverage, which must have actually benefited the event nationally and internationally. It was this media coverage of the protesters that lead me to hear about the event. So thanks to all the homophobic religious people that protested, otherwise I would not have known about it. It back-fired on them!

This was my 3rd consecutive year. When you’re invited back to be the event photographer by the biggest pool party promoters it’s impossible to say no. Especially when you are given one of the best rooms in the complex. It was slap-bang in the middle of the action. Open your curtains in the morning, and in front of you was the best sight any gay boy could dream of, a pool full of gay speedo-clad, muscle boys.

Sexy Miami BoysSix years from the first Gayday, Jeffery Sanker saw the potential and organised an official after party at Disney’s MGM Studio’s, called One Mighty Party. Now when a party promoter like Sanker, a Disney theme park and the hot Florida weather come together you get one hell of a mighty party. A Friday night pre-party was also organised at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, called Beach Ball. Both parties keep some of the rides open throughout the night and being both outdoor events, it makes them even more special. Unfortunately these two parties were moved to clash with each other this year as Beach Ball was bought out by a Miami based party promoter- Mark Baker. It sounds like London doesn’t it… party promoters not talking to each other. Instead of the clashing and competing wouldn’t it be great if they picked up the phone and worked something out between them. They both put on fantastic parties, but it’s a shame they can’t work around each other. “Beach Ball or One Mighty Party” that was the talk of the weekend. Working as press we managed to blag tickets for both events, and spent 2 hours at each. Beach Ball was as amazing as ever and seemed as full as previous parties. The hardest part for us was dragging ourselves away halfway though the night with all those sexy swimsuit dressed boys dancing around the beach. Unfortunately Sankers party didn’t seem to have even half the turnout as in previous years, seeming very empty. The atmosphere was still as good as ever, and it was a fantastic party. It’s just a shame numbers were down. I’ll say it again… Sanker and Baker make that call...

Drag QueensMark Baker pulled out all the stops and seemed to take over the weekend from start to finish this year. You’ve got to hand it to him; he did a fantastic job. He must have invested a huge amount of money to get it all together, and seen a good profit too. This year he had 6 parties to look over in 3 days and all were a massive success, apart from the first night. 1,500 people (including us) were left stranded outside of the venue. Tickets were over-sold and fire chiefs threatened to shut it down if more people entered the building. Picture it… spend $65 on your ticket, get dolled up in your best gear that you’ve bought especially for the occasion, Taxi up the motorway for ¾ hour and get to the gates to be told that the events been over sold, “no one else is being allowed in”. It was a real blow with people getting fearfully angry outside. Some were shouting, some almost in tears. The ticket oversell wasn’t really any one person’s fault. The event has always been a sell out each year because it’s limited to the buildings size, rather than an open-air theme park as other parties. The problem came this year when someone came up with the idea of expanding the party into the Hard Rock Café next door. Both venues hold a certain amount of people but the café area part didn’t get very busy. This meant the main arena was overcrowded, which lead to the fire hazard risk. Many people were blaming Mark for being greedy with ticket sales but it wasn’t his fault. You can’t oversell tickets, that side of things is computer controlled by the venue owners-- Universal. It’s just unfortunate that both areas didn’t function as organisers first thought they would. We tried bluffing our way in but didn’t succeed. A couple of friends got in by telling door staff they were the gogo boys and supposed to be onstage in 10 minutes. Damn, we should have thought of that one!

The biggest party of the weekend was Mark Bakers Dino-Stars Party at one of the Universal Studio’s theme parks. Last year it was the first one and was massive.  This year it returned and was bigger than massive. It was one of the largest parties I think I’ve ever been to, 1000’s of sweaty topless circuit boys, DJ Manny Lehman, and gigantic three-dimensional Dinosaurs. What a spectacular finally to a truly magical weekend.

One quite big factor to the Gaydays weekend is where to stay. There are many nominated hotels listed on the web site. The one I’d most recommend for the party boys is the Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa with-in the Disney World Resort. It’s book able via This is where the biggest pool party of the weekend takes place. If you stay at the hotel you get free access to the pool parties.

If you ever get out to Orlando at a time other than Gaydays week check out the local gay venue Parliament House and another good thing to remember is Mannequins Nightclub with-in Disney’s Pleasure Island turns gay every Thursday night.