Will Gay Days Las Vegas Challenge Gay Days Orlando?
For two decades, Gay Days has been synonymous with Orlando. It
started as a way for the local gay-and-lesbian community to celebrate
gay pride with an annual high-profile visit to Walt Disney
World’s Magic Kingdom theme park, but it quickly grew into a nationally
known festival with a week’s worth of parties, networking, social
events and theme-park trips. It is estimated the LGBT travelers equal about $20+ Million for Orlando.
But the festival, which ended this weekend,
has some cross-country competition this year — of its own
making: The organizers of Gay Days Orlando are also making preparations
for their first Gay Days Las Vegas this September.
Gays Days historically has always been associated with theme parks, and
Central Florida has had a lock on that market. Since its start in 1991,
the festival has become a major gay-travel event that organizers say
draws about 150,000 people.
Gay Days Orlando is one of the most-read articles on About.com’s Gay
Travel site — and editor Andrew Collins said it has been getting more
views this year than it did last. He also doesn’t expect Las Vegas to
cut into Orlando’s traffic.
“They’re at such different times and
at such different places,” Collins said. “I think if you like one, if
anything, you’re likely to try to attend both.” – but one must have a lot of disposable income. With hotels, airfare and meals, it adds up.
Still, as the Gay Days brand expands to the West, to the nation’s gaming mecca, Orlando is losing its grip on an event with strong Central Florida roots that was built around theme parks.
“At least in the short term, I don’t think it’ll decrease here in
Orlando,” said Paul Queen, marketing director for Converge Orlando Inc.,
a recently launched gay-and-lesbian visitors bureau. “But I worry a
little about it being a generic brand for a gay celebration, versus an
But Gay Days does not have any buy-in from Visit Orlando, the area’s
primary convention-and-visitors bureau. In contrast, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau was an early sponsor of Gays Days Las Vegas.