When Disneyland opens Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in 2019, guests over 21 will be able to publicly buy alcohol in the park for the first time since 1955. Previously only reserved for guests dining in the exclusive Club 33 or visiting Disney’s California Adventure, alcohol has never been available to park guests in Walt’s original park until the new Star Wars themed land opens next year.
The new land will feature a themed cantina and serve drinks that fit into the Star Wars universe. Park spokeswoman Liz Jaeger told the Orange County Register, the bar would be “a completely immersive true-to-story experience. Given our commitment to offering fans an immersive cantina experience, we felt this was an opportunity to offer alcohol and non-alcohol based beverages in the context of the story.”
As a surprise to no one, Disney purists are losing their mind. There are all kinds of reasons being floated around why this is a bad idea. Some have at least basis in logic and others are total nonsense. Today, I will address the top 5 reasons why serving alcohol in Disneyland for the first time since 1955 is actually ok.
#5 Walt Was A Progressive
This may come as a shock to you, but Walt Disney passed away in 1966. Sure, he didn’t want alcohol served in his parks. But that was over 50 years ago. Shock #2: a lot has changed in the world over 50 years. This includes the perception of alcohol. What was once something parents hid from children is now more of an open conversation.
More importantly, for you, as a fan of Walt Disney or Disneyland to assume you know what Walt would want in 2018 is blasphemy in itself. All too often, Disney purists use Walt’s words and ideals against him if they think current management isn’t living up to the standards and dreams that he was passionate about 50 years ago. Assuming Walt was alive today in 2018 (which would be impossible since he would be over 116 years old), who are you to say that he wouldn’t adjust his feelings and beliefs to current standards and conversations?
If you think Walt Disney was a genius (and he was) and you think he would never change the way he felt about anything at all? You don’t know Walt at all. He was always forward thinking when it came to not only entertainment but even transportation and urban planning. Would he be ok with alcohol in 2018? Maybe not. But for you to say he absolutely would not means you don’t understand Walt as a visionary at all. Walt never said everything ever spoken or written by him must be taken as gospel and never changed under any circumstances. Stop treating Walt quotes like Bible quotes. He was an extremely smart guy, but not someone who could decide what the public wanted or needed for all eternity in every aspect. That makes no sense, so please stop doing it.
#4 Alcohol Is More Family Friendly Than You Think
There is a huge difference between serving booze at a 21+ bar with a DJ in Las Vegas and selling alcohol at a theme park. Don’t believe me? Check out the difference between nearly any bar in any major downtown in America on a Friday night. Contrast that with any theme park that sells booze literally anywhere in the world and it’s a decidedly different tone and clientele.
If you still don’t believe serving alcohol in a place designed for families can ruin it, I encourage you to do some research into the following locations: Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, etc and so on and so forth. Those parks have all served alcohol since they opened and families continue to flock to them year after year.
#3 Drinking Varies Depending On Your Location
But what about Epcot, you say? You’ve heard people go to the International Food and Wine Fest and get drunk from time to time? Sometimes guests even are a bit disorderly? That’s true. It does happen. In that case, the operational risk doesn’t outweigh the potential to make more guests happy (who don’t get drunk) and yes, you can turn a profit as well.
I spend a decent amount of time in all kinds of theme parks and in my decades of experience, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen guests drunk to the point where they become a nuisance or disturb other guests in some way. The reason? Mostly money. It ain’t cheap to get drunk at Disney. Which brings me to my next point.
#2 Drinks Aren’t Cheap
I am not privy to the pricing of items at the new Galaxy’s Edge Cantina, but odds are it will cost a pretty penny for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. This means if you really want to get wasted? It’s going to set you back. Most likely? People will want to try a drink or two and head out. Theme park bars aren’t like the sitcom Cheers. Guests typically don’t pay to get in and then decide to spend hours and hours drinking. They’ll sit and relax and have a few drinks and then head back out.
Understanding the behavior of how guests handle alcohol in different situations is crucial here. Just because alcohol is being served anywhere (including a theme park) doesn’t mean it invites disorderly conduct or the experience has to change. It absolutely can. But in this case, there is a very small chance you’ll notice any differences. Why?
#1 You Can Get It Just A Few Steps Away Right Now
Ever since Disneyland became a resort with the addition of Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney and new hotel offerings, getting a drink has been ridiculously easy if you’re going to Disneyland. Since 2001, you could have a drink at dozens of bars or restaurants and then simply walk into Disneyland. That walk is typically about ten minutes tops. Therefore, if you think people have been going into Disneyland 100% sober since 2001? You’re living in Fantasyland.
If you want to know the true test of what Disneyland would be like with booze? Just set your time traveling clock back to literally any date between now and 2001 and stroll into Disneyland and see how it’s different. That’s right! Even though guests aren’t getting their drink on at Disneyland itself, they’ve been knocking a few back in locations surrounding the park and strolling on in directly after for over 16 years (and longer)! It’s been happening right under your nose for decades and you had no idea.
But what do you think? Are people being over dramatic? Is Disneyland somehow sacred? Can we finally put Walt to rest and not second-guess everything he would have wanted 50 years after his death? Would love to hear your thoughts.
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