Let your pride flag fly this year as theme parks around the country add plenty of thrills to the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, special pride events — officially sanctioned and third-party ones included — at theme parks nationwide will celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Most notably, this June, Disneyland will be hosting its first-ever Disney-sanctioned Pride Nite in the U.S.
Whether your idea of fun is riding the coasters or being the designated bag-holder, exhilaration is in the air at these rip-roaring LGBTQ+ community events this summer.
Where: Orlando, Florida
When: May 31 - June 4, 2023
One of the country’s longest-running LGBTQ+ theme park gatherings, GayDays welcomes more than 180,000 queer folx from all 50 states and around the world to Orlando’s theme parks. The easiest way to participate is to check the calendar for which Disney World and Universal parks are featured each day and attend those parks wearing any red t-shirt. An expo, pool parties, dance parties, and more will occur mostly at this year’s anchor hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.
Expert Tip: Looking to snag a dining reservation at a popular spot in Disney World? Mouse Watcher’s alerts are $5 each, but by far the best, most efficient way to be alerted when a reservation time becomes available in Disney World.
Pride Celebration at Six Flags Great America
Where: Gurnee, Illinois
When: June 3 & 4, 2023
An excellent coaster park worth the one-hour trip from Chicago, Six Flags Great America’s Pride Celebration will be a two-day event this year. Start the day by picking up some new official Pride merchandise before beelining to the hair-raising Goliath coaster. This year’s Pride celebrations will feature fireworks on the first night, along with a parade. This year's new food options include a few fun twists to your standard theme park fare, including a bubble tea station, chicken and sweet waffles, and a beer garden with 16 seasonal beers on tap.
Expert Tip: As you leave the park for the night, pick up some of the best regional fast food at the local Culver’s drive-through right down the street. What’s better than some post-park late-night fries and a shake?!
Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite
Where: Anaheim, California
When: June 13 and 15, 2023
Disneyland is designating two evenings as Pride Nites this year for the first time in forever. This after-hours party will run both nights from 9 p.m. until 1 p.m. featuring an epic dance party, plenty of photo ops, special character meet-and-greets, and reduced wait times for all attractions. While both nights are sold out, there’s hope these Pride Nites will return in future years.
Expert Tip: Save room for all the complimentary goodies available with your admission, including ice cream, popcorn, and select beverages.
Read more: Disneyland vs. Disney World
Pride at Hersheypark
Where: Hershey, Pennsylvania
When: June 18, 2023
Celebrate Pride at Hersheypark this year with a festive picnic and fun day in the park. This year’s celebrations, hosted by Harrisburg’s Outzilla, will feature a special discounted group rate for a day at the park and a catered evening picnic (available for an additional purchase). Hersheypark’s superb theming and incredible thrill rides make it one of the top theme park destinations in the country. This summer will see an exciting debut of Wildcat’s Revenge, the 15th coaster in the park, which is sure to make waves with the world’s longest underflip.
Expert Tip: The Hotel Hershey is one of the grandest hotels in the country. If a night’s stay at the hotel is beyond your budget, don’t pass up the chance to grab a drink at its celebrated Iberian Lounge, famous for its variety of Hershey’s chocolate cocktails.
Pride Celebration at Six Flags America
Where: Bowie, Maryland
When: June 20 - 25, 2023
About 45 minutes east of D.C., Six Flags America’s new Pride Celebration will be a week-long celebration featuring specialty food, decor, and merch honoring the queer community. Park highlights include Roar and The Wild One wooden coasters and the Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth extreme swing ride.
Expert Tip: Looking to make the most of your time here? The FLASH Pass can be a worthwhile add-on for busier days in the park, when ride times can stretch over an hour.
Holiday World Pride Day
Where: Santa Claus, Indiana
When: June 24, 2023
This year’s Pride Day at Holiday Word will be held on the last Saturday in June. While every day’s a holiday in Holiday World, Pride Day will be a lot more fun with plenty of queer folx from around the region gathering for some coaster thrills. The park’s top-rated coasters include The Voyage, a thrilling wooden coaster that sends riders down one of the steepest drops in the world before careening through five tunnels on over a mile of track. This year’s celebrations will include a catered meal for an additional fee.
Expert Tip: Don’t leave the park at night until you’ve seen the park’s impressive drone show. This year, the park will add 100 more drones for a 400-strong drone spectacular of dazzling shapes, icons, and patterns.
Pride Picnic at Knoebels Grove
Where: Elysburg, Pennsylvania
When: August 12, 2023
There is so much to love about Knoebels Amusement Resort, the country’s largest free-admission theme park. This year’s Pride Picnic is a free potluck welcoming to all LGBTQ+ folx and their allies. Bring a covered dish, hot or cold, to share, and enjoy the company of other thrill-lovers. Once you’ve had your fill at the picnic, head to the main attraction, Phoenix. This one-of-a-kind wooden coaster thrills with incredible airtime moments you’ll never see coming.
Expert Tip: While not required, wearing a red t-shirt to the event and in the parks on Pride Day is custom.
Out on the Mountain: Six Flags Magic Mountain
Where: Los Angeles County, California
When: August 18, 2023
Get ready for a complete queer take-over of the world’s top coaster destination, Six Flags Magic Mountain. From 6 p.m. until midnight, you’ll have access to all 20 coasters in the destination park with reduced lines, multiple dance parties, and special performances. Plus, the park has so many amazing rides, including the two racing coasters (Twisted Collusus and West Coast Racers) and the thrilling launches of Full Throttle.
Expert Tip: If you’re concerned about getting in the maximum number of rides, your ticket is valid from 10:30 a.m. So, plan for a whole day of thrills before the private event starts at 6 p.m.
Gay Days Anaheim
Where: Anaheim, California
When: September 22 - 24, 2023
Get out your red shirt and prepare for an all-encompassing weekend of Disneyland joy. Gay Days Anaheim is a weekend-long immersive retreat into all things queer and Disney. Disneyland joins in on the fun with specialty food and beverage activations throughout the park, and they even lend Imagineers for special talkbacks and events. While this year’s event calendar is yet to be published, previous years have included drag queen performances, special movie screenings, cocktail parties, and a Disneyland park scavenger hunt.
Expert Tip: If there’s room in your budget, the Genie+ add-on comes in handy to reserve rides ahead of time, cutting down on your wait time in the queue.