Gay Vacations in Orlando, Florida

View of downtown Orlando, Florida, at night
Orlando, Florida (Purestock/Purestock/Getty)

Orlando Highlights

  • Plan everything, especially meals. Having a master plan of what you really want to see will save you a lot of time wasting. Restaurants at Disney World can book up solid, so make reservations (you can reserve months in advance, which is recommended!). Better yet, get a hotel room or condo with a kitchen.
  • Use the Fastpass system. Disney World offers Fastpass machines that allow you to use your park tickets to make appointments for the most popular rides rather than having to wait in long, long lines. You're only allowed to make one reservation at a time, so get to the major rides early.
  • Take side trips. Tampa and beachy St. Petersburg—both popular with gays—are about an hour and a half west of Orlando and offer a nice break from the inland heat. Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center are less than an hour's drive to the east.

The theme park capital of the world not only is home to Walt Disney World's mammoth Magic Kingdom, but also Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, Camp Disney, Pleasure Island, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. And then there’s Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Gatorland, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, water parks, and a zillion other attractions in the area. If you haven’t already figured it out, you’ll never be able to see it all in one trip, even though more than 40 million visitors try every year. Beyond the theme parks, Orlando is home to world-class golf courses, spas, resorts, and (if you haven’t spent all your money yet) major shopping. And just for good measure, there’s a Cirque du Soleil theater as well.

Family-oriented Orlando is actually gayer than you think. Beyond the plethora of resident queer employees who populate the theme parks, Orlando offers several gay bars and clubs, gay hotels, and tons of LGBT sporting clubs. Areas to explore include the Vi-Mi gay shopping district, the restored homes in the very gay Thornton Park district, downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola and Winter Park’s old Floridian streetscape and mini Central Park.

Most LGBT tourists come to Orlando for the wildly popular Gay Days on the first Saturday in June, with huge dance parties and special women’s events that make the whole Magic Kingdom feel as gay as can be. The annual Orlando International Fringe theater festival in May is also worth seeing, with outdoor performances in downtown Orlando.

Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »