Thursday, June 21, 2018
Travel

Despite Walt Disney's wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant

Well, you did it millennials. As of this month, every sit-down restaurant in the Magic Kingdom now serves alcohol.

It was a big deal back in 2012 when the world’s most visited theme park broke with Uncle Walt’s mandate to keep alcohol out of the park, offering beer and wine for dinner only at Be Our Guest, the restaurant themed around the French castle in Beauty and the Beast.

Prior to that, the park had a strict no-alcohol policy since its opening in 1971 as part of Walt Disney’s original vision to create a family-friendly experience. The rule remains in place at the original Disneyland park in California, except for Disneyland’s VIP Club 33.

When the Magic Kingdom rolled out the new policy at Be Our Guest, a park spokesman said it was in response to customer requests, especially international tourists and millennials, who are now parents of young children and fond of their craft beers.

The park slowly moved on from there.

In December of 2016, the Magic Kingdom added four more restaurants — Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, Liberty Tree Tavern, Skipper Canteen and Cinderella’s Royal Table — that now serve alcohol during lunch and dinner.

BOOZY KINGDOM: Once alcohol-free, Disney’s Magic Kingdom to expand beer, wine sales

Then on Friday, Disney quietly let it be known at the bottom of a press release on new food offerings that three more restaurants, the Plaza Restaurant, the Crystal Palace and the Diamond Horseshoe, will offer on-theme beer and wine lists. That makes every sit-down restaurant in the park alcohol-friendly.

Disney’s representatives declined to talk about the topic further.

Unlike other at Disney parks, the new Magic Kingdom policy does not apply to counter-service establishments, which will remain alcohol-free. So you have to sit down and have a meal if you want a drink in the Magic Kingdom. Other parks, such as Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have beer carts and bars set up. And groups of visitors are known to declare their plan to drink around the world, often turning Epcot into a boozy scene.

Has there been backlash to the slow integration of alcohol at Magic Kingdom?

"None whatsoever, zero," said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based consulting firm. "Today, alcohol is perceived differently than it was 60 years ago, that’s for sure. At one time nobody served alcohol. But it does have a higher profit margin than anything, including food."

For some longtime Disney fans, it was sad to see Walt Disney’s wishes for an alcohol-free park disappear, said Robert Niles, found and editor of Theme Park Insider.

DISNEY PARTY: Six things you must try during a night out at Disney Springs

"Anytime Disney makes a change it gets a social media backlash," Niles said. But once the reality showed no spike in drunken incidents, he said, Disney fans accepted the change.

"I have some empathy for people who wanted the four parks to each have their own character and not be carbon copies," Niles said. "The Magic Kingdom is different and distinct. I don’t know that it has to necessarily be dry. I just don’t want it to turn into Epcot."

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