One of the country’s most inclusive destinations, Orlando rolls out the red carpet for millions of visitors each year — regardless of their personal preferences. What’s more, in addition to a wealth of LGBTQ-friendly nightlife and entertainment, we proudly host several high-profile events that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community. In short, Orlando is ready to welcome you with open arms.
Orlando GayDays and Related Events
Orlando’s broad acceptance begins at our theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando, which all factor into the annual GayDays extravaganza. Starting as a one-day event in 1991 at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, it’s since grown to encompass several days around the first weekend in June, with nearly 200,000 revelers bringing the party to other Orlando theme parks in the process.
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GayDays organizers have pinpointed other Orlando attractions for attendees’ consideration. Most are in the International Drive area — Orlando’s main tourism district. Standouts include Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, ICON Orlando, I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing, iFLY Orlando, Madame Tussauds Orlando, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows, Topgolf Orlando, Whirlydome, WonderWorks and Zombie Outbreak.
If you’re coming to Orlando for GayDays, you’ll want to make note of two concurrent events: Girls in Wonderland, which is focused on female members of the LGBTQ community, and One Magical Weekend, one of the world’s largest LGBTQ pride and music festivals.
Then, in September, Rosen Centre on International Drive hosts the Hope & Help Gala. Formerly known as the Headdress Ball, this annual fundraiser aims to stop the spread of HIV worldwide. And in October, downtown Orlando’s Come Out With Pride festival educates the general public while encouraging LGBTQ citizens to live openly and with pride.
Dynamic Orlando Accommodations
The epicenter of the action for GayDays can be found at DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, the official host of the GayDays Expo. The hotel — which recently underwent a multi-million-dollar makeover — is set on 28 lush acres featuring sparkling pools, tropical fountains, native palm trees and an incredible courtyard area with a massive outdoor fireplace.
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DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld is adjacent to Orlando’s International Drive tourism district, which in turn boasts dozens of other lodging options that deserve your attention, including Hilton Orlando, Hyatt Regency Orlando, Rosen Shingle Creek, Vista Cay Resort by Millenium and Castle Hotel, Autograph Collection, to name a few. Furthermore, both Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando are close by, with Universal being home to onsite lodging such as the elegant Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.
You’ll also find numerous accommodations close to Disney. Choices include Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek and others, including Walt Disney World’s onsite properties.
If you’re mostly interested in downtown Orlando’s dining and nightlife, opt for the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Or, book a stay at Winter Park’s Alfond Inn, which puts you at the heart of that charming city’s refined dining and retailers, and just 20 minutes from everything downtown Orlando has to offer. And culture-lovers, take note: Both of these hotels have extensive collections of art for you to enjoy.
Orlando Nightlife, Entertainment & Dining
There’s no need to wait for special events to have the time of your life in Orlando. Vibrant live entertainment and dance clubs in and around the downtown area, combined with our welcoming nature, have helped make Orlando famous among LGBTQ travelers.
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For example, Parliament House has been a must-visit for four decades, thanks in no small part to its outrageous live shows and legendary pool parties. It’s less than 10 minutes from downtown Orlando.
In Orlando’s trendy Milk District, which is also 10 minutes from downtown, Southern Nights is a frequently packed nightclub that’s perfect for dancing the night away. The Milk District is also home to The Plaza Live, which is the only place to see performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus.
At SAVOY Orlando in the Ivanhoe Village district adjacent to downtown, the Men of SAVOY dancers perform nightly. You’ll also find The Venue in this area, where you can catch burlesque shows every Friday night.
More burlesque can be experienced at downtown’s Stardust Lounge, right next to beautiful Lake Eola Park. And in downtown’s Church Street District, you can take in an authentic drag show and other forms of entertainment while enjoying gourmet burgers and a full bar at Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille.
Speaking of dining, you’ll find world-class eateries throughout the destination, particularly at Disney Springs. Other culinary hotspots include the International Drive area and nearby Restaurant Row, as well as downtown Orlando and Winter Park, which is about 20 minutes north of downtown.
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Orlando even has several high-profile restaurants that are LGBTQ owned and operated. One of the most notable is Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen. Located at Disney Springs, it pays tribute to Florida’s diverse agricultural heritage by serving farm-to-table cuisine that highlights local ingredients.
OnePULSE Foundation Memorial in Orlando
While you’re in town, you’re invited to pay your respects at the former site of the Pulse nightclub — which is also the future site of the onePULSE Foundation Memorial.
Once complete, the structure will be a permanent homage to the victims of the largest hate crime against a targeted group in U.S. history, as well as a reminder of the outpouring of love from around the world in the tragedy’s wake. It’s located in Orlando’s SoDo district, just south of downtown.
In the interim, the Pulse serves as a gathering place for those who wish to honor the fallen and survivors, reflect on the ensuing unity, and convey support for the LGBTQ community. Admission is complimentary.