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Late last year, the web lit up with news that Disney would soon release its very first animated film focusing on two gay lead characters. Titled Princes, the movie of course ends with a fairytale same-sex wedding.

Princes turned out to be an Internet hoax, but one detail of the story was based in reality: the part about the storybook gay Disney wedding. Since 2007, the Happiest Place on Earth has offered commitment ceremonies to same-sex couples at its five theme park destinations, as well as aboard its cruise ships. Here’s what you need to know before planning a same-sex wedding at the theme park.


1. Mickey loves equality

Launched in 1995, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons service makes dreams come true for over 1,000 couples annually. If you ever wanted your own fairytale ending – complete with a horse-drawn, glass-enclosed carriage and costumed characters greeting your guests – Disney will make it happen, regardless of local marriage laws.

For instance, Japan’s government has yet to legalize same-sex marriage, but that didn’t stop Koyuki Higashi and her bride Hiroko from becoming the first lesbian couple to wed at Cinderella’s Castle in Tokyo Disneyland a couple years ago.

Disney World in Orlando – the most-visited vacation resort on Earth – has performed scores of storybook same-sex commitment ceremonies since 2007, and more since same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Florida earlier this year. Orlando is now anticipating a same-sex wedding boon. More than 24,000 same-gender couples are expected to say “I do” in Florida over the next three years, generating over $182 million (with $42 million of that from out-of-state visitors).

2. A wedding as magical as the Magic Kingdom

Consultants with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons program work with couples in choosing a venue and ceremony to suit their needs and budget. The 43 square-mile Disney World Resort is home to four Disney theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) and two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) as well as the 230-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the 120-acre Downtown Disney area and the 45-acre BoardWalk shopping and entertainment plaza.

The Disney World Resort’s 31 themed lodgings present even more options. Your wedding and/or reception and/or honeymoon can happen while on African safari viewing roaming beasts (at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), with fire-twirling dancers at a Hawaiian luau (at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) or with a rock band wailing next to a guitar-shaped pool (at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort).

Most couples simply choose the non-denominational Victorian-style chapel at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion. Located on its own private island in the Seven Seas Lagoon, the picturesque setting seats up to 250 guests and is framed by views of Cinderella’s Castle.

Disney’s wedding packages range from $2,500 to over $45,000, (depending on how much magic you require), with the average cost hovering around $28,000. Disney wedding planners can arrange everything from photographers to cakes to bridal gowns, as well as romantic engagement events.

3. It’s not such a small world after all

Don’t forget the other part of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons – after getting hitched, newlyweds are presented a wealth of vacations right within Disney World Resort. Disney’s planners can also send couples almost anywhere via a Disney Cruise, on an Adventures By Disney group tour or at a Disney’s Beach Resort.

To begin planning your Disney World dream wedding, use the online planning tool.

To get a glimpse of a gay wedding day at Disney World (including a dancing flash mob!), check out Luke and Matt’s 2014 wedding page.

Plus, 7 tip for planning the big day at Disney

1. Disney’s wedding venues can book up months or even years in advance, so begin planning early.

2. Most private events cannot start until 90 minutes after the park closes, to allow time for the team to set up your wedding site.

3. The Disney theme park in Orlando with the most wedding venues (and the most easily bookable) is Hollywood Studios. The Orlando theme park most difficult to reserve (and with the fewest venues) is The Magic Kingdom.

4. If you don’t see your desired Disney World venue listed, don’t hesitate to ask about it anyway. Oftentimes, they will try to accommodate your request if possible.

5. For an extra fee, certain rides and live shows can be operated after-hours for just you and your wedding guests, from Indiana Jones to Fantasmic!

6. Even if you have your own wedding photographer, be sure to book a pre-wedding photo shoot with Disney. They can dress both newlyweds in tasteful themed clothing and at a themed setting that matches your wedding package.

7. Of the 31 Disney World Resort accommodation options, the upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the most popular with both wedding parties and gay travelers. The hotel is the closest one to the Disney Wedding Pavilion.

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Tagged: California, Disney, Florida

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Matthew Link

Matthew Link

A world traveler since growing up on his father's sailboat as a teenager, Matthew has contributed to TIME magazine, Newsweek, Conde Nast Traveler, MSNBC, and many others.

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