(EDITORIAL CORRECTION: Though our original source said Disneyland, we did a bit of confused post-pub checking, and it turns out the expansion is coming to DisneyWorld, not Disneyland. Sorry, California.)
Fantasyland is about to get wilder…in the most mild of ways.
When Disneyland sees an expansion in the Fantasyland section of their park this fall, a new Beauty & The Beast-themed restaurant (titled, what else, Be Our Guest) will have beer and wine offered on their dinner menu. The licensing of the restaurant will be a big break with longstanding tradition upheld by the late Walt Disney himself. Broken long ago elsewhere in the park, the Magic Kingdom area has been a holdout that harks back to a time when Walt moved his DisneyWorld plans from St. Louis to Orlando because the city insisted on serving beer. According to the Disney blog, there’s a concern that opening a new section of the park to alcohol could result in cases of obvious drunkenness, and lead to bad word of mouth due to the presence of “drunken louts”.
Hey! As a lout, I take offense to that!
For those not personally steeped in the Disney theme park culture (and it is its own subculture), or who are simply concerned parents, the whole thing can seem like a bad idea. Yet in reality, at least from personal observation, the point is fairly moot. Breaking out the ‘tradition’ stick is a daily process when it comes to Disney culture, which relies heavily on the nostalgia of park properties to draw in its adult customers. What Walt wanted seems to be talked about a lot, and honored at a much more curtailed level of actual commercial planning. Despite the tone of the in-house blog, there seems to be a pretty level-headed understanding among park higher-ups as to the probable difference in views between generations. (If you don’t think they do, or at least try to, you’ve clearly never seen videos of the Mad T Party.)
This also assumes a fairly straight-laced look at ‘families’ that is, frankly, squeakier and cleaner than is credible. It’s not like there’s a hard line here with bachelorette rager on one side, and wholesome, sober family fun on the other. One reason adults like to bring their kids to places like theme parks and fairs is that there’s something for everyone, including a little light day-drinking while the smaller ‘uns beg to get their picture taken with people dressed in giant cartoon animal suits. Disney is far from alone here. After all, Six Flags serves alcohol. Even Chuck E Cheese serves beer and wine!
It makes sense on the surface to desire a drink-free zone at an all-ages park. Or it would if that had already made a difference. Far be it for me to point out the most obvious, which is that Disneyland already serves alcohol, and lots of it. EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and others all serve not just wine and beer, but spirits. For those who want something a little harder than what Belle & Co. have on offer, they need only wander just outside the Magic Kingdom. Disney is an open park once you’re inside, more or less. It’s not as though you get breathalyzed at each subsequent area’s entrance. But while Disneyland is well known for its lively nighttime party scene, that is where most of the heavy partying seems to happen; when the kids are all back at their hotels. In the end, I anticipate that little is going to change.
Disneyland, I raise a glass to your expansion.
(via The Disney Blog)