Booze In Disney Parks: The History Of Why You Couldn’t Drink There & Now You (Sometimes) Can

When Disneyland first opened in 1955, it was “dry” – no alcohol was served. When Walt Disney World opened 16 years later, it was also an alcohol-free park. However, that’s all changed over the years.

Club 33, an exclusive, members-only restaurant at Disneyland (most regular guests would never have access to it, due to membership requirements), has sold beer, wine and hard liquor since it opened in the 1960s. The story goes that Walt was against the idea of selling booze in any part of his park, but it was easier to sell memberships if alcohol was available at the restaurant. Similarly, Walt Disney World has served alcohol at select hard ticket events (special events that are held outside of regular operating hours and for which you have to buy a special ticket to attend) for decades. For example, when we had dinner inside the Haunted Mansion in 2002, a hard ticket event offered by Disney’s Dining Experience (now Tables In Wonderland), wine was available before and during the dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our dinner inside the Haunted Mansion included a different wine with each course

Other U.S.-based Disney parks, such as Epcot, Disney’s California Adventure, etc., have sold alcohol since their respective opening days. However, the “Magic Kingdom” parks didn’t for a long, long time. But now they do. Here’s more about it…

Walt Disney’s World began selling alcoholic beverages at select Magic Kingdom locations to adults age 21+ in 2012. They added boozy drinks to the menus of the final 3 “dry” restaurants in 2018.

Disneyland remained alcohol-free until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land opened in Spring, 2019 – they serve beer, wine and cocktails at Oga’s Canteen. However, drinks are not allowed to leave the Star Wars themed land, which continues to leave the rest of Disneyland virtually “dry.”

Oga
Disney’s conceptual drawing of Oga’s Canteen

It would be an understatement to say that those who think Disney parks should remain alcohol-free and those who welcome the addition of alcohol to the parks are very strong in their respective opinions. Here’s a breakdown of the two camps:

Reasons To Keep Disney Parks Alcohol Free

  • Disney is a family park for adults AND CHILDREN. Because Disney parks are open to children and adults, and alcohol isn’t appropriate around children, there shouldn’t be alcohol at Disney parks.
  • Alcohol causes people to get drunk. If people get drunk at Disney, they’ll do stupid, embarrassing and possibly dangerous things.
  • Walt wouldn’t have wanted that. Walt Disney didn’t want alcohol served in his parks; we should respect that.

Reasons To Serve Alcohol At Disney Parks

  • Disney parks are for children AND ADULTS. Some adults want to be able to have adult beverages while walking around the Happiest or Most Magical Place On Earth, just like they do at Universal, Six Flags, county fairs, and other places that are for customers of all ages.
  • Not everyone gets drunk. True, there are some people who do, maybe on purpose, maybe not. But most people drink responsibly and can have a couple of drinks throughout their day without winding up puking in a fountain or staggering to their car.
  • We don’t know what Walt would have wanted nowadays. Walt was almost always willing to make changes, so there’s no saying what the Walt of the 1950s and 1960s would have said about the parks and guests of the 2000s. That being said, I would think he probably wouldn’t have wanted his parks to be so expensive that it’d be out of the reach of such a large percentage of potential guests, but that’s what they’ve done.
  • It makes good business sense. Restaurants and bars generally make roughly 80% profit on alcohol sales. Disney parks, I’m sure, buy in huge bulk and usually tend to have higher-than-average prices, so I’d suspect their profit is way above 80%.

What does the future look like for alcohol at Disney parks?

At this point, it appears that alcohol in Disney parks is here to stay. I suspect if it hadn’t gone well when they sold it in Epcot, California Adventure, Downtown Disney, etc., they wouldn’t have ever considered selling it at the Magic Kingdom. Assuming that sales go well at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, my prediction is that the next step will be alcohol being sold at Disneyland. Regardless of what Walt would have wanted.

Which camp are you in? “Keep Disney dry” or “Yay booze at Disney?”

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

4 thoughts on “Booze In Disney Parks: The History Of Why You Couldn’t Drink There & Now You (Sometimes) Can”

  1. Great point about Walt not wanting the parks to be priced so crazy expensive.

    On the percentage profit for alcohol, it’s actually much lower on average, although there are a bunch of factors. A fountain soda normally has a much better percentage cost for the business than alcohol. The exception is if you charge insanely high prices for your alcohol. I know this because I own a bar.

      1. No BYOB, eh? Well, I suppose it kind of fits with the way their pricing has gone over the last few decades. Disney has eliminated a lot of value, but I still find their prices better than Universal. At least for tickets.

      2. They do bag checks and nope, no BYOB either (which isn’t to say little mini bottles haven’t made it through in a pants pocket). As for prices, nowadays it’s just “charge as much as people are willing to pay.”

        Ticket prices for the two are almost equally as bad. WDW starts at $109, Uni at $115. Universal has better deals though (buy 2 days, get 2 days free). And their AP is cheaper…but they’re also 2 parks and the option of a water park (which they call a theme park. But it’s not. It’s a water park) and WDW is 4 parks and the option of 2 water parks.

Leave a Reply