Disney World Leans Into a Change Walt Would Hate

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The company’s legendary founder believed in certain things that have steadily been dropped by his namesake company.

Walt Disney created the modern theme park, but his vision actually touched upon a very old-school set of values. Disney the man, built Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report the company around family entertainment. His version of family entertainment was G-rated with a touch of a certain type of naivete that was perhaps once considered loveable.

The creator of the Disney brand not only wanted entertainment the entire family could enjoy together, he believed everyone could enjoy it the same way. That may have been true when Disneyland opened in 1965. Perhaps in the 1960s and 70s, entertainment was so limited that adults found “Mr. Toad's Wild Ride,” “Mad Tea Party,” and other opening day Disneyland attractions as delightful as young kids find them today.

Disney certainly believed so as he had a rigid policy when it came to something that has now become a staple — even a major feature — of theme parks.

“No liquor, no beer, nothing. Because that brings in a rowdy element. That brings people that we don’t want and I feel they don’t need it, said Disney to the “Saturday Evening Post.”

Perhaps those comments didn't sound quite so sanctimonious in 1955, but Disney's no alcohol policy stayed in place at Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom for decades.

Disney

Disneyland Still Mostly Stays True to Walt's Vision

Disneyland kept a rigid no-alcohol policy in place from 1955 through 2018. That's 63 years of adults having to sit through the theme park's kid-focused rides, parades, shows, and character meet and greets without so much as a beer or a glass of wine.

The policy changed in 2018 when the company opened “Star Wars: Galaxy Edge,” which serves alcohol at its Oga's Cantina Pub.

“Just as our theme parks have evolved since Disneyland opened, so have our guests’ desires,” Disneyland spokeswoman Liz Jaeger told the Los Angeles Times. “Providing a memorable guest experience that exceeds our guests’ expectation is very much the essence of what Walt Disney set out to achieve, and we feel that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will offer that kind of experience.”

Disney World Brings Alcohol Someplace New

Disney World began adding beer and wine to certain Magic Kingdom sitdown restaurants in 2012. Not doing so seemed a little silly with Epcot — a park kind of built around alcohol (and food) — right next door. Still, the Magic Kingdom does not offer any quick-serve alcohol. Drinks are only served in certain restaurants and hard liquor was not introduced until this past September.

That seems impossibly outdated, but Disney has long been protective of Walt's vision at Magic Kingdom. That's why the park still features the “Carousel of Progress,” a ride where progress ends around 1984, and other hokey throwbacks to a long-gone era.

Disney has generally kept parts of Magic Kingdom intact and that has included being protective of the company's characters. Only Skipper Canteen, Liberty Tree Tavern, The Diamond Horseshoe.and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant serve cocktails at Magic Kingdom. None of these are themed character experiences.

Now, the company has done something its straight-laced founder would likely hate. It has added alcohol to two restaurants built around some of the company's most-iconic characters.

“Even more restaurants have received specialty cocktails at Magic Kingdom. Guests can now enjoy whisky, gin, and vodka in specialty cocktails at Cinderella Royal Table in Cinderella Castle and Be Our Guest Restaurant in Fantasyland,” Blog Mickey reported.

This isn't Mickey Mouse hawking beer from a cart or Goofy doing tequila shots, but it's a notable loosening of a long-standing policy.

Walt wouldn't like it, but even at a theme park that had no issues with the theming of “Jungle Cruise” or “Splash Mountain's” questionable “Jungle Cruise” ties, until recently, change is unavoidable.