By Davey Wavey
The fervor, passion and enthusiasm with which so many men and women—gay and straight alike—regard Disney can almost be described as religious. For these people, a trip to Disneyland is like a visit to the Holy Land. It’s sacred ground.
It seems that gay people, in particular, have a special appreciation for Disney. I spent a few minutes talking with one of the Gay Days Anaheim cofounders, and he had no shortage of theories. “Well, gay men love a clean room—so maybe that’s why we love a tidy theme park,” he joked. Or maybe so many gay people love Disney for the same reasons we love our divas. Disneyland is over the top. It’s colorful. It’s fabulous. Or perhaps, on a slightly darker note, it’s a chance to experience the childhood of which so many of us were robbed—instead dealing with bullying, name-calling and struggling with our identities. Being gay has a way of making you grow up fast.
While I appreciate Disney, I’m not a fanatic. I didn’t get goose bumps walking down Main Street, as many had promised. And the crowds—which were a good mix of straight families and red shirt-wearing gay attendees and allies—were enormous and overwhelming. Many of the lines stretched on from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on the ride. But here’s what’s so astonishing: No one seemed to mind. In fact, just the opposite. By and large, everyone was just so excited to be visiting “the happiest place on Earth” while showing some LGBT pride and spirit.
While Disneyland is clearly the main attraction at Gay Days Anaheim, I spent some time exploring the rest of the city. As the locals call it, I got a look “behind the ears.” The truth is, in my humble opinion, some of the best that the city has to offer isn’t within the gates of Disneyland. Anaheim, for example, has been investing a great deal of time, money and effort into rejuvenating an area called The Promenade. They have some great restaurants like Healthy Junk and the Gypsy Den—and even a local brewery with a rich history.
During some down time, we traveled out to nearby Laguna Beach, and then to some of the shopping destinations like the famed South Coast Plaza with more than 250 shops ranging from H&M to Versace and Hermes. It’s an Orange County icon.
My favorite side-journey was a visit to the nearby Korean neighborhood. A friend and I, inspired by some great reviews on Yelp, tried a Korean BBQ restaurant called Mokangkak. It was so delicious that it literally changed my life forever. We tried the recommended house specialty, which must have included two pounds of meat, and innumerable side dishes of kimchi, rice, sauces and the like. At one point, I counted 22 plates between the two of us. If you’re in the area, you have to try it.
For many people, Gay Days Anaheim combines their two favorite things: Disney… and being gay. If you’re one of those people, you’ll be on cloud nine. If, on the other hand, Disneyland, long lines, overpriced food and screaming children aren’t high on your list, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by everything that Anaheim has to offer. There’s truly something for everyone.
For more information, check out the Davey Wavey Travel Blog!