It has been four years since I came out as bisexual, four years since I stopped living in fear of what people thought of me. Four years since an ex of mine decided to tell everyone I was gay bringing me out six months before I was ready to. Just a few weeks after I started to understand myself who I truly was. When I found this pride event being advertised very close to the anniversary of my coming out, I just knew I had to attend.
The event was created by the combined efforts of Disneyland Paris, Manchester Pride and Great day’s holidays. Creating the @magicalpride team. Bringing together hundreds of people from the community as well as allies to create one very memorable and extremely reasonably priced weekend. Package including two days park tickets, hotel, meal at Planet Hollywood, a hot lunch package, character breakfast and VIP access to certain bar areas and events. With the option to also include Euro star tickets, extra meal plans and so on.
We started on Thursday the 13th of October 2016, we all met in Planet Hollywood for the first night of the event. Sharing a lovely meal, with entertainment from Lee Peart including quizzes. Lee is a presenter, actor and comedian who has worked as a warm up act on several TV shows including Jeremy Kyle.
Friday and Saturday were park visiting days. With the option to follow the itinerary to meet up at certain key big rides over the weekend with the rest of the group. Perfect for those who may have been going to the park alone, or were nervous of travelling the rides. Have to admit I am not much of a ride person so I didn't join in with these. I did however turn up for the autumn parade meet up and Disney Villain’s show on the Friday. I loved the autumn parade, I actually thought it better then the end of day big parade. Which to me at least was rather disappointing. Plenty of flashy floats, but the music and dance was nowhere near as special as the Halloween one. Which was full of all the rich colours, the pumpkin kings, autumn ladies, toadstools, scarecrows. Catchy music, exciting, still humming it now! Ooops. I perhaps also learned the dance to it, but I will deny it.
The villains show was nicely worked out, on a lovely stage behind the castle covered in creepy thorns as well as smoke machines. Watching Maleficent lead her group of villain’s into the show which my only negative would be it was too short. I understand that they put the focus on the princesses, however given the time of year (and weirdoes like me) I would have liked to see a lot more made of the villains. The meet and greets for them after the shows were always packed. If you lurk around Disney Village at night you may well be harassed by three flying witches, which is very very cool! Maleficent also has a meet and greet by the thorn bush behind the castle during the day, as well as Jack Skellington in Fronterland. However if you are an adult meeting jack please be warned he only gives good interaction to children or groups with children. Where as Maleficent was creepily awesome to everyone equally. As was the Queen of hearts and Jafar. The others I didn't get the chance to meet.
Disney park magic hours just be warned that Universal and two whole sections of the Disney side do not open 8/10am so think twice about whether or not those hours work for you. I attended the first day, using that time to get my head around how to navigate the park as I had never attended. It is also very helpful if you want to go on any of the big rides in the open sections without queues. Or even show before it gets crazy and trust me it does! Frontier land unluckily was mostly closed, as well as Alice's Maze, and several of the other big rides. I understand that repairs and changes have to be done. Just it left Frontier land as basically meet Jack, go in the haunted house (which I must say was epic, I visited that quite a few times over the weekend. Look out for a tall black gentleman called Jeffrey he very clearly loves his job at scaring people. He makes the event even more scary in a good way) and a couple of places to eat. Slightly disappointing. Make sure you visit the Buzz Light year ride, and get yourself killing some aliens.
Universal Studio's park is mostly big rides, a few younger rides dropped in to take up space and shows. I would greatly recommend the Universal Studios behind scenes tour, and prepare to get wet. Certainly get yourself into see Mickey's show in the Animagic Theatre. Loved it! Also look out for Lucy at Tower of Terror with her singing, and very funny lyrics to calm down nervous people.
I would strongly suggest check in all the little places you wouldn't think to look! You will find hidden rides, mazes to explore, a tree house, the Aladdin story. The more time you spend just walking around the more little secrets you will locate. Do also use those later hours in the park. Not only do rides have low queues as everyone has gone off to eat, but also the park looks truly amazing in the dark when you can see the lights better.
Happy hour at King Ludwig's Castle (5/7) offered on the menu every night, very good prices and great service. The places to eat can be very expensive in the Village, however take a peak into the sports bar, they have the most reasonably priced food for a budget. Optional Friday night was Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, very expensive even for a single person yet alone a group booking. I gave this a miss and stayed in the Village until the 9pm meet up at Billy Bob's for music and dancing all night with a good band on stage.
Saturday night was the crowning glory of the weekend. Not only did we have Disney Dreams with a special VIP area right on the roundabout directly in front of the castle, but also karaoke in Planet Hollywood taking over the entire bar for VIP's only, and finally priority access to Billy Bob's until 2am. Dreams was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Using projectors, lasers and fireworks to create a special show superimposed over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Dreams is on every night, I just only went Saturday as we had VIP. Wanted to keep the night special, I was a fool. Next time I would certainly go every night I possibly could.
The organisers of the event were very helpful, esp Dan who sorted out a few issues for me in the booking (my mistakes not his). They were always on hand should you need anything the whole weekend. Always asking how you were, did you have any problems, could they help with anything? The guests were amazing, very friendly, very open and accepting even of my straight friend ally who came with me. I ended up with a crazy bunch of awesome people every night, right in the middle of it all. Okay, yes I did sing the last night. Nothing like an entire bar singing backing to you on Let It Go. I can not wait for next year, I certainly would whole heartedly recommend this as the greatest pride event I have ever attended. Keep an eye on their fb and twitter pages for details on next years event and others.
For those of you still in the coming out, or just come out stage. Do attend these events, do get yourself out there and feel like you belong. It’s the greatest feeling of acceptance you will ever experience to be in a group of hundreds like yourself. Who have been through everything you have, and understand the pain. It gets better! It just takes time. Be strong!
(photo credits: Skirmantas Petraitis for taking the image. Featured: Natalie, Dan, Kristina and Richard. All other photos copyright Sarah Beth James)
Sarah Beth James