This story broke last week and quickly raced through the Walt Disney World fan community with nearly universal acceptance. I spent some time, over the weekend, and I am about to throw some cold water on that acceptance. I don’t think this is a good idea for the Walt Disney World resort. I think it is a case of short-term profit taking over the long-established traditions of the Magic Kingdom. Below I will lay out my case for why I think this is a bad idea.
It takes away the one thing that made Magic Kingdom stand out from other theme parks
I can already hear you say, “well, Be Our Guest started to serve alcohol back in 2012.” If I was blogging back in 2012, I would have stated, then, as well that it is a bad idea. Be Our Guest started Magic Kingdom down the slippery slope to the news breaking that alcohol will be available at all Magic Kingdom table service restaurants for lunch and dinner.
Magic Kingdom, until 2012, had always been a dry park because it is an entire family park first and a theme park second. People should be able to sacrifice that glass of wine or bottle of beer at lunch or dinner for a trip inside the Magic Kingdom. I’m not saying that it should stay dry because the park has always been a dry park. I’m saying adults should be able to sacrifice one day of having a drink with lunch or dinner and enjoy the day with their family/kids.
Now, the Magic Kingdom has been reduced to just another theme park when it comes to beverage service.
Disney will probably need to increase security inside Magic Kingdom
This won’t be a response to the group of people who only need to have one glass of wine or beer with their meal but to the group of people for whom one glass is not enough. Why have one beer with dinner when you can have four or five? Then, this group will come back into the park and mix in some line-cutting or disagreement over a Fastpass and the potential for trouble is there.
Will this turn into what EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival has turned into on weekends with groups stumbling their way around the world late at night? Probably night but now the possibility of it happening is there. If the possibility is there then Disney needs to be prepared for the possibility before it happens not after. This could mean extra security roaming the parks on a daily basis. Will the cost of increased security offset the increase of revenue from alcohol sales making this new benefit have a revenue neutral outcome? Only time will tell.
One of the ways that Disney could be pro-active in preventing incidents is empowering the cast members in the restaurants to be more pro-active in over-serving guests. In other words, stop a potential problem before it becomes a real problem. In my mind, the Magic Kingdom is someplace special and that magic should not be ruined because one person or group of people decided to have too much to drink at lunch or dinner.
I don’t expect there to be problems with guests having too much to drink and I would expect that Disney would be pro-active about this. However, the possibility of an alcohol-related problem is greater than it was before this addition takes effect.
Where does the slippery slope end?
If the addition of alcohol to the Magic Kingdom proves to be a revenue positive addition, where does the slippery slope end? Do we start to see the addition of alcohol service to kiosks throughout the park? Do we start to see the addition of lounges/bars adjacent to existing restaurants? If we do see the addition of lounges/bars, when do the “Drinking around the Kingdom” unofficial parties begin? There are just too many questions that need to answered about where does this slope end that will probably go unanswered until Disney makes an announcement about the expansion of service or addition of lounges.
I go back to the point that should not be very difficult to sacrifice alcohol for one meal. The Magic Kingdom, in my opinion, is designed to be a park for kids (and kids at heart) and this addition flies in the face of that concept. It is not like the entire resort is dry. There are plenty of places at the other three theme parks and resorts where guests can go have a drink. But, in my opinion, the Magic Kingdom should remain a dry park (or as the case is now limiting alcohol service to just Be Our Guest).
What are your thoughts on this new addition to the Magic Kingdom?