Magic Kingdom to Serve Adult Drinks Starting This Fall

Magic Kingdom Beer

Snuck in at the bottom of a blog post on the Disney Parks Blog is a huge piece of news. When the Beauty and the Beast themed Be Out Guest restaurant opens as part of the New Fantasyland expansion it will serve beer and wine as part of its dinner menu. Outside of private parties, this will be the first time alcohol has been served at the Magic Kingdom, breaking a tradition that goes back to an edict from Walt Disney himself.

Walt did not want adult beverages served at Disneyland. He didn’t think it belonged in a family theme park. He did allow beer at the Holidayland corporate party pavilion, but it was outside the berm. Even then, the park had repeated issues with guests leaving for lunch and then re-entering a few sheets to the wind. Before Walt died, he did approve alcohol sales at Club 33, but went pretty far to make it a private club where the day guest would not be able to get served a drink.

We know that Walt was still against general sales of alcohol in his parks because of his attempt to build a second theme park. After Disneyland was a success, Walt looked east for a great place to build another park. After a lot of research, Walt settled on St. Louis, but when city founders insisted that Walt allow Annheuser Busch to sell beer in the park, Walt declined to build there. Instead he headed south for a little crossroads he remembered from an earlier trip to Florida – Orlando.

I’m in a bit of quandary here. It’s clear that Walt did not want alcohol served at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. He believed that it was a family park and the risk of abuse and general unpleasantness was too great. Walt firmly believed that word of mouth was his best advertising and he didn’t want some lout cause a family to go home and tell their friends not to come because the park was full of drunks.

And yet, beer, wine and stronger spirits are served at DCA, EPCOT, DHS, DAK and even the water parks and civilized behavior continues. It’s true that from time to time, you may encounter a group of person who is acting out after imbibing too much, but it’s a rarity, youtube videos to the contrary.

The only thing keeping adult beverages out of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland right now is tradition. There is a lot to be said for tradition. Much of Disney’s success as a theme park company is from entwining the Disney family vacation with the American tradition of family vacations. Making a trip to Disney a part of that family tradition has meant billions of dollars in income for The Walt Disney Company.

It’s not that I believe serving beer and wine at one restaurant in the Magic Kingdom will change people’s minds about visiting the park. But it is a slippery slope. Once beer and wine is introduced in one location, it will become a lot easier to sell it in others. And then, like a frog in a warming pot, you don’t realize that perceptions of the park have changed until it’s too late. Once Suzy Guest goes home and tells her neighbors that Disney World is full of drunken louts, you’ve lost that battle.

At this point, I’m undecided. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world either. Just another Disney tradition gone by the wayside like no cotton candy in the parks, no separate class of guests getting access to attractions (except for a few VIPs, of course), Swing Dancing at Disneyland (okay, that one might be coming back), and great shows gone forever (like the Golden Horseshoe Revue) just to save a few bucks.

Where do you stand on Disney serving alcohol at the Magic Kingdom?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
This entry was posted in Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Magic Kingdom to Serve Adult Drinks Starting This Fall

  1. ljc says:

    I am very disappointed in this decision. So many of Walt’s ideas have been watered down or totally eliminated. I am not against having a drink with dinner – just don’t think the MK needs to do this to survive. I always loved the fact that so many people celebrated New Year’s Eve in the MK – all without having to serve alcohol. Another Disney tradition gone. Sad.

  2. 1967WEDway says:

    Dang it, really?! What part of “family theme park” does not click with the idiots making these decisions? There’s an extremely legitimate reason for alcohol being barred from the Magic Kingdom, and it’s not just because of tradition: The drinking age directly discriminates against young people and 18-20 year old adults in this country. The primary directives at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom are to be parks where all families can have fun together, and drinking is certainly not an activity which families can share with each other. With the way things are now, removing the issue of alcohol from the environment is the only way to provide families and people of all ages equal access and opportunities to have an enjoyable experience. Drunkenness is yet another issue for the mix, though. And as you have put it, it’s a slippery slope for the “adult drink” to slide its way out from the berms of New Fantasyland. And for the record, I’m opposed to the sale of alcohol in the other parks, as well.

  3. Marty Roth says:

    I was surprised that DCA is now offering alcohol at quite a few of its eating venues, but I’m not dissappointed either. I think it’s sort of appropriate there, especially with the Napa/Caliifornia wine and cheese experience and some of the good ole boy aspects of Radiator Springs, and most notably, the posh Carthay Circle Restaurant (and cocktail lounge). We’ve been there 6 times this year, and have not yet seen anyone inebriated. I do, however, think it’s inappropriate in Disneyland proper. It’s kind of weird to say, but the DMK-side is a lot more for young youngsters than DCA. It should stay purely the Happiest Place on Earth. And I don’t mean happy in a tipsy way, either.

  4. Dan says:

    The really interesting part is that they decided to sell alcohol in Fantasyland, one of the areas specifically themed for children. Serving beer at a dance club in Tomorrowland or at a tavern in Frontierland would give a different feel. It is a shame to see this change. But it is also terrible to see this added steps away from classic children’s attractions.

  5. Kaz says:

    I don’t think Magic Kingdom needs it. Those who wish to have more than one drink will still stick to Epcot to go “around the world” and get much better beer and alcohol than will likely be served in the Magic Kingdom.

    And I agree – keep it family-friendly. People can go one day (or at least a majority of a day) without alcohol. You certainly don’t need it to enjoy the magic kingdom — there’s too much fun to do there.

    Now, Hollywood Studios on the other hand…

  6. Eileen says:

    People are acting like Disney just announced that they’ll be selling Jell-o shooters in line for Space Mountain. I don’t think that serving alcohol in one restaurant for a limited amount of hours each day is going to ruin the family-friendly atmosphere. They released the prices of the beers – they run between $6 – $10 each – not exactly cheap to get out of control! Plus, people will be eating while drinking and they cannot take drinks with them out of the restaurant. As is the case at all of the parks, I’m sure Disney will be on the look out for people displaying unsavory behavior.

    • twinnstar says:

      Seriously!!! Whats the big deal? I understand that it breaks tradition, but its not like World Showcase where its an invitation to get drunk off your butt. Its in a sit down restaurant, like you mentioned – with a meal. No one is going to be falling over and vomiting into garbage cans. Kids wont notice the difference, and us adults can enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner if we so choose. Its not cocaine or porn people, chill out!

  7. michael stapf says:

    i toally disagree with this decision, the magic kingdom is a family oriented theme park, the idea of selling alcaholic beverages in the park is wrong, if mr. Disney said no alcaholic beverages were to be sold, then that’s the way it should be, milk, soda, juice, or iced tea would be more to my liking

  8. j says:

    my jaw is literally on the floor…

    never thought i’d see the day.

  9. Dawn says:

    I am disappointed, to say the least. The Magic Kingdom is, in the minds of many, the Disneyworld equivalent of Disneyland. The efforts made to create an image of Disneyland as a clean, safe, family-friendly place is beyond legend.

    As a regular visitor to the Disneyland Resort, there is a real difference between the two parks beyond which lies north or south of the central plaza. I love California Adventure and all the new changes. I adore the World of Color. But I don’t adore the number of guests who have crossed lines with “adult” beverages and compromised the experiences of the children (and other guests) with their behavior. Given the high price of alcoholic beverages in DCA, it amazes me – I have seen it range from simple bad judgement to absolutely sloppy drunk, and the ages have ranged from youthful to should-have-known-better.

    Come on, you can get alcohol in every other park at Disney World. While everyone is aware that adult beverages are the ka-ching in restaurant economics, shouldn’t one place in the (Disney) World be sacred? It’s not Cinderella Jello Shooters, but what is to stop them in the future? Yes, this is a slippery slope, and probably a negative turning point in Disney history. All in the name of money.

  10. Pingback: Magic Kingdom to Begin Selling Beer and Wine in Fantasyland - Dad Logic

  11. Shelley says:

    It’s a slippery slope…rather than the “only” MK location, I’m betting it will be the “first” MK location to serve beer & wine. Yes, it’s not much of a problem in the other parks – though I will never, ever visit EPCOT during Food & Wine again, people’s behaviour totally ruined my Saturday afternoon. Still, there is a difference in the “feel” of each park, and I think this will change the “feel” of MK, maybe not quickly, but eventually.

  12. Pat says:

    A very bad idea. Walt Disney would be so disappointed.

  13. maarch says:

    I don’t like the idea of loosing this tradition.
    But, like anything, time move on. We had tradition in our world and many disappeared over time.

    Be Our Guest, might be the first restaurants on the same level of quality than some at Epcot and HollyWood Studio ( putting aside Cinderella Story in MK, but with probably lot more kids and the princess in there, alcohol probably wouldn’t work ).

    So I can see why they would put it in that restaurants only since it “fit” with the theme of the restaurants. And since the story happen in France ( best country for wine ) and that beer was part of the story to.

  14. CJB says:

    I do not like the idea of beer being sold in the Magic Kingdom. Yes, times have changed, and time rolls on, but can’t we please keep Walt Disney’s dreams alive as he saw them? There’s plenty of places in WDW that serve beer, keeping it out of one park would be detrimental to the company.

  15. Whit says:

    I don’t have a problem with it — especially at DL where people can walk five minutes and buy a drink at any number of Downtown Disney places, may as well put the money in Mickey’s pocket.

    • michael stapf says:

      dear WHIT,
      it’s not putting money in mickey’s pocket because the magic kingdom is a family friendly/oriented place, i’d prefer that no alcahol be sold there at all to be honest with you :(

  16. Tim says:

    Let me start by saying that I drink just barely more than not at all, and I have two small children. That said, I just don’t see the big deal. I tend to view Walt Disney World as a whole. The entire resort is designed to be family friendly. If it is okay to sell alcohol at the other parks, I don’t see why Magic Kingdom is any different. I don’t think that encountering “a bunch of drunken louts” at Magic Kingdom is any worse than encountering “a bunch of drunken louts” at Epcot. Suzy Guest isn’t going to make that distinction when she goes home. In fact, this very blog entry proves that point. It says Suzy Guest is going to tell her neighbors that “Disney World is full of drunken louts.” Wherever someone has their negative encounter with a group of drunks, it is going to be attributed to “Disney World.”

    I would also point out that people aren’t making the complaint about running into drunks at the other parks. If they were, we would hear about it. And since it isn’t happening at the other parks, why is there any reason to believe that it would happen at Magic Kingdom? The only real reason to continue to not sell alcohol in Magic Kingdom is tradition. And I’m not sure that tradition, solely for the sake of tradition, is the best way to make decisions.

  17. Jane says:

    If Walt didn’t want it, it shouldn’t be happening. I agree that alcohol does not belong in the parks. This is one of the reasons I don’t like Disneyworld. At least at Disneyland the only place in the park you can get alcohol is at Club 33. Can’t anybody go 12 hours without a drink!!?

  18. I don’t think the drunken lout issue is that big a problem for the Disney Parks. I’m sure they come and I’m sure they’re taken care of by the ever helpful cast members. The kind of lout you’re thinking of really isn’t into and doesn’t do Disney. Disney attracts Disney sorts of people generally, which is why you can find alcohol served in the other parks and the water parks and still see civilized behavior. My favorite parks are Epcot and Hollywood Studios and when it’s time to take a breather I head for Cava Del Tequila or the Tune-In Lounge. I could wish bars like those with customers like the ones I’ve chatted happily with inside of them existed outside Disney World but as I said Disney attracts a Disney sort of visitor and that’s why they don’t.

    That said, Magic Kingdom is unique and I wouldn’t mind if it stayed dry. Magic Kingdom is where I take my inner kid and he doesn’t drink. He’s not old enough.

  19. Ryan says:

    It is the right decision – and should be taken a step farther. Alcohol has not affected the other parks – nor would it affect the magic kingdom. How about a 2-3 drink maximum per adult ticket? That would prevent any craziness.

  20. Gabriella says:

    I have a few opinions leaning towards the pro side even though I’m not a drinker. The restaurant in question is a French restaurant after all so NOT serving a glass of wine with dinner at a French restaurant seems immature and preposterous. Also, Walt did say that alcohol would not be served in the Magic Kingdom BUT he also said that the parks would forever be growing and evolving. To those who said that drinking is not a family activity, do they never go out for dinner with their families?!? All family friendly restaurants serve alcohol and I’ve never seen unruly moms and dads walking out of Olive Garden or Outback with their children in tow. I’m totally ok with the decision.

  21. Michael says:

    I’ve been to Disneyland/California Adventure and Disneyworld countless times and can honestly say that I’ve never seen anyone enebriated in the parks (other than New Year’s Eve, which is great). I really believe it has to do with the marketing of alcohol in the park. Take, for example, Universal Studios, where they tend to have beer banners everywhere and a stand everywhere you turn your head. I like the Universal Experience, but I can honestly tell you that it feels like it’s being broadcasted a lot more.
    In my humble opinion Disney does an incredible job of offering alcoholic offerings without prostituting it or pushing it in the audience’s face, even during big events. I think it’s even tasteful during the dance parties in California Adventure.
    Although I agree with keeping tradition, I think that we are a developing society and traditions and standpoints change. You wouldn’t want women to be forced to wear dresses to the park, would you? Sounds crazy? Well, think about it. We have to evolve as a society and Disney, of all companies, knows this.
    Trust them. They will do a great job and not inhibit any of your Disney experience. When it comes to the magic of a theme park experience, there is no better. Leave this in their capable hands and I think that you’ll all be in for a treat, maybe even a nice, cold liquid treat.
    Cheers,
    Michael

Comments are closed.