According to Disney legend, Walt Disney really hated the idea of alcohol being served inside Disneyland, which is why this park was dry the day it opened, and remains so to this day. Back in the 1950s, amusement parks and traveling carnivals had a reputation as being populated by drunks, and Walt Disney envisioned Disneyland as something different: a family friendly park where parents could bring their children without fear that alcohol (and potentially intoxicated guests) would be part of the experience. Over the years, additional stories about the smell of warm beer on pavement and a sour deal with Anheuser-Busch have also surfaced, but some have cast doubt on the authenticity of these anecdote in recent years.
No matter what the actual reason was for the banning of alcohol inside Disneyland (with Club 33 being the only exception, reportedly due to a compromise with Walt Disney), when it came time to start working on Walt Disney World, the mandate to keep the park dry stuck around. As most Disney fans know, Walt Disney unfortunately didn’t get to live to see the debut of the Magic Kingdom, but from this park’s opening in 1971 until 2013, this park remained completely devoid of alcohol. Of course that all changed three years ago when the controversial decision was made to begin serving beer and wine during dinner service at Be Our Guest,
Ever since the first drop of alcohol was served inside the Magic Kingdom over three years ago, many predicted that Disney would expand their alcoholic options inside this park some day. And now it looks like with the current upcharge-focused climate at Walt Disney World, Disney couldn’t resist another monetization opportunity, and will indeed be expanding the availability of alcohol at the Magic Kingdom, beginning next week. Here’s everything you need to know about what to expect from the expansion of adult beverages at this park.
1. You won’t find beer carts around the Magic Kingdom just yet
Right now, Disney is trying to implement alcohol at the Magic Kingdom gradually, and will be introducing adult beverages at all table service restaurants during dinner service sometime next week, just as the seasonal crowds are arriving for the Christmas holiday. Alcohol will not be served at all in this park prior to 5:00PM, and the amount guests can order with their meal will be limited. Of course, this restrictive policy is a far cry from the numerous walk-up bars and kiosks at other Walt Disney World parks, and while alcohol will be much easier to find at the Magic Kingdom, adult beverages won’t be as free-flowing as they are elsewhere at Walt Disney World, which seems like a good way to at least preserve the unique feel of the Magic Kingdom….for now.
Even though alcohol sales will be restricted pretty heavily early on, that doesn’t mean that a further expansion of adult beverages at this park won’t happen at some point. It only took three years for the availability of alcoholic beverages at this park to expand from one restaurant to five, so its not unreasonable to think that in the next few years, Gaston’s Tavern could actually serve beer, and the Wishes dessert party could include real champagne. Of course, Disney will be measuring guest response to this new addition in the coming months, and if it is positive, you can bet that the future at this park will be a lot more boozy than it is now.
However, for the immediate future, here’s what guests can expect when it comes to adult beverages at Walt Disney World restaurants…
2. There will be differently-themed drinks at each dining establishment
As mentioned previously, alcoholic beverages will only be available at Magic Kingdom table service restaurants, and only during dinner service. And in true Disney fashion, the drinks on offer at these various establishments will be highly themed, and will relate to the restaurant at which they are being served. Here’s what you can expect at the four new restaurants who will be serving alcohol beginning next week:
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant: This Italian restaurant at the front of the park will feature Italian wines and beers on offer, including a Chianti Superiore which is designated to pair with the grilled pork chop with mushroom-bean pancetta ragu and marsala reduction.
Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen: The newest restaurant at Walt Disney world will have a more global menu that will include international beers as well as mixed drinks.
Cinderella’s Royal Table: This iconic restaurant inside Cinderella Castle will have the most limited drink menu of all, only serving champagne and sparkling wine to guests during dinner service.
Full drink menus for all of these dining establishments are not available yet, but should be posted online at thier respective websites in the coming days.
The decision back in 2013 to add alcohol to the menu at Be Our Guest was a controversial one and it looks like in the three years since this event, the contention between fans about the presence of alcohol at this park has only grown. While some say that adding (and then expanding) the availability of alcoholic beverages to the Magic Kingdom is disrespectful to the legacy of Walt Disney, others argue that since Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and even Disney California Adventure on the west coast all serve alcohol, the ban on adult beverages at only the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland is superfluous and unnecessary.
What do you think? Is the addition of alcoholic beverages to the menu at these restaurants at the Magic Kingdom is a nice new option, or should the Magic Kingdom return to being an alcohol-free theme park, as it was just over 40 years?
-Originally published in Theme Park Tourist Saturday, December 17, 2016 05:58
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