Tom Richmond, from Scotland, shares his views on the ‘Magical Pride’ weekend at Disneyland Paris and whether it really lived up to the hype!
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As I sit here in Charles De Gaulle airport I’m both reflecting on and recovering from a truly marvellous Magical Pride at Disneyland Paris.
This was my second visit to Magical Pride but this is the first time that the event was officially organised by Disney themselves.
My first visit was back in Oct 2017 with my husband, when the event was run by Manchester Pride and GreatDays Travel. As well as an exclusive night in the Studios park there were multiple social events each evening, such as karaoke, Disney quizzes, VIP firework access and a welcome meal at Planet Hollywood. It was at this welcome meal that we met a couple from Frankfurt, Germany who have since become our friends for life.
We booked again in 2019 through GreatDays. They provided us with the hotel, park tickets and the Magical Pride party ticket. This time around there were no events planned in the days running up to the main event in the park. Instead we had park access and free time to explore the resort.
Our trip began on Thursday morning when we left Glasgow airport on our flight to Paris. A few G&Ts and a short skip over the Channel later we arrived at Charles De Gaulle. After a slight delay in the airport due to a suspicious package we were soon on the Magical Shuttle to the resort itself.
We had chosen to stay in the Hotel Cheyenne, a very cute Wild West themed hotel with Woody from Toy Story themed rooms. Our receptionist was the perfect example of Disney cheer but she was extra excited that we were here for Pride.
Once checked in we explored the Disney Village, a retail area open to all, where there are plenty of bars, restaurants and stores filled to the brim with Disney merchandise. It was here we first encountered the official Magical Pride merch. It was their first Pride and Disney were naturally not going to let the opportunity to make a few more Euros pass them by. The merchandise came in the form of collectible pins, magnets, key rings, T-shirts, hats and ears, all adapted to use the rainbow flag, Mickey and messages of love.
Some people may see this as a selling out to a big Global corporation but what I personally saw was people being genuinely delighted that their Disney fandom was now embracing their community and they could show the world their Disney pride and LGBT+ pride combined. What was also lovely to see was the merchandise being bought and accepted by all walks of life and not just those attending the event. Whether they just liked rainbows or accepted the LGBT+ community was irrelevant, they were embracing the message that love comes in every colour.
We met up with our German friends and we spent the next few days being children again, enjoying meeting characters (Captain Marvel you rock!), stuffing our faces with sugary treats and of course running from ride to ride. Our favourite rides were the terrific and terrifying Tower of Terror, the now Star Wars themed Space Mountain (Hyperspace Mountain) and Crush’s Coaster (a high speed spinning rollercoaster themed on the turtle from Finding Nemo).
As it was a holiday weekend in France and glorious summer weather of 25 degrees, we were naturally faced with long lines and crowds. This did not dampen our spirits though as we managed to successfully use our extra magical hours (early morning access to the parks if you stay at a Disney resort hotel) and Fast Passes to gain access to all of our favourite rides.
The main event was the Magical Pride party in the Disney Studios park on Saturday night. This provided us with exclusive access to the park from 8pm-2am, most of the rides open with smaller lines, projections of rainbows and love on the Tower of Terror and a concert featuring Years and Years and a Boy George DJ set.
A highlight of this for me was the exclusive Magical March of Diversity parade, a typical Disney parade but with the added bonus of Disney staff dressed in T-shirts of each colour of the rainbow flag, all dancing and celebrating their freedom as LGBT+ people or allies.
After the parade was over, these T-shirts were given out free to those who attended the event, a lovely touch which saved on them going to landfills and a rare glimpse of Disney giving you something for free. It was a nice gesture as some people may not have been able to afford the official merchandise available in the stores.
The party in the park was an event that was full of joy and fun. Everyone seemed to be there to celebrate love for all and no one in my experience ruined the event with their behaviour. It was a fun, safe and family friendly experience for all to celebrate, ofcourse with that a splash of that Disney flair and charm.
We had very few negatives on our short break at Magical Pride, infact most didnt involved Disney atall, but instead were caused by poor service from the GreatDays travel operator. It felt a like some of the sparkle of previous years was diluted as there was a lack of social meet-ups and poor communication from the operator, something I hope they can work on for the future.
I’ve read and seen some homophobic articles about petitions for Disney to cancel this event as it is disgusting, not family friendly and it excludes everyone who is not LGBT+. Unfortunately you will always get this sort of reaction but that’s what makes this sort of event and other Prides so important.
Thankfully Disney did not bow to the vocal minority and carried on as planned. What I experienced was an inclusive, fun, family friendly event which promoted equality, diversity and an overall and overwhelming message of love and acceptance.
The eyes of the world were on Disneyland Paris for this event and in my opinion they shone like a giant Mickey-shaped rainbow flag of love!
Bravo Disneyland Paris!