For over 40 years no alcohol was served in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It was a well-known tradition established by Walt Disney himself at Disneyland, where alcohol is still only available at the secretive members-only restaurant Club 33. Disney thought drunken adults could damage the family-friendly atmosphere of his theme park, and thus Disneyland was dry. When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, five years after Disney’s death, the same policy was in place.
That changed in 2012 with the opening of Be Our Guest Restaurant. The massively popular Beauty and the Beast-themed joint served alcohol during its dinner hours. It proved so successful that in 2016 beer and wine was eventually expanded to four more table-service restaurants in the park. And now, as Disney quietly announced on Friday, the remaining sit-down restaurants at the Magic Kingdom will also be serving beer and wine. You’ll be able to crack open a cold one at the Crystal Palace, down some drink at the Diamond Horseshoe, or just otherwise enjoy a nice bit of booze at any of the park’s eight table service restaurants.
This brings the Magic Kingdom in line with the three other theme parks at Disney World, which have all served alcohol for years. Indeed, Epcot has basically made alcohol one of its chief attractions, between the massively popular Food & Wine Festival and the whole “drink around the world” aspect of the World Pavilion. The Magic Kingdom was kept booze-free for decades out of deference to Disney’s original vision, but once alcohol became such a big draw at Epcot and sold well at Be Our Guest it was only a matter of time before it spread throughout all of Florida’s castle park. And there’s never been such a restriction at Disney’s main Orlando competition, Universal Studios, so there might be an element of keeping up with the Joneses here.
Restricting alcohol sales to sit-down restaurants is a smart choice. People will be able to enjoy a drink or two but won’t be able to just drink non-stop. And since it’s exclusively in restaurants there won’t be any risk of empties or floaters littering up Fantasyland or Liberty Square. I’ve never been at the Magic Kingdom and thought “hey, a nice, cold Bud Lite would really make this place special,” but then I’ve also never been with young kids and thus don’t entirely know how exhausting that can be. As long as they keep alcohol out of the counter service and walk up spots, it’ll basically be there for all the people who really need it, and out of sight and out of mind for the rest of us.
Oh, and if you’re the kind who digs memes, #HammeredDisney is currently trending on Twitter because of this news.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He shares stories and photos from his Disney journeys on Instagram at @disney_lowdown. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.