When Disneyland opened in 1955, it may have made many children’s dreams come true. However, one dream parents couldn’t fulfill (for themselves) was an adult beverage between rides.
At Disney World in Florida, EPCOT immediately started serving beer and wine; alcohol is also available at the Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) and Animal Kingdom theme parks. Plus, Disney’s second Anaheim Park, California Adventure, also serves beer and wine.
A new restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, based on Beauty and the Beast, will break their alcohol taboo.
The Magic Kingdom, along with the original Disneyland, have stayed basically dry, except for catered events and the exclusive “Club 33″ private lounge at Disneyland. (And of course the occasional beverage smuggling by college students and others.)
The restaurant, “Be Our Guest,” will be in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, with a Beauty and the Beast theme. It will serve beer and wine only at dinner, to complement an upscale French menu.
While a Disney blog writer was quoted as saying, “Some purists think that Walt is spinning in his grave,” the change is hardly going to turn the Magic Kingdom into an adult entertainment destination.
“Be Our Guest,” for starters, will be the only restaurant serving beer or wine; a new casual “Gaston’s Tavern” next door will not serve alcohol at all. Unlike at EPCOT, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, there will be no kiosks or stands selling adult beverages.
No doubt, this experiment will be a work in progress. The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s first California theme park, has assiduously cultivated a family atmosphere. With three resort hotels with bars and restaurants a direct monorail ride away, it’s not as if it’s been that hard to escape on a hot day for a break and a beer.
On the other hand, as an ex-Floridian, I used to watch families leaving Disney on late summer afternoons when parents were clearly at the end of their ropes.
Now, maybe those families came back in the evening, maybe not. But an option for an air-conditioned child-friendly dinner with adult beverage options at the park might have been a powerful inducement to stay. And, of course, spend more money.
They don’t nickname it “Wallet Disney World” for nothing.