Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thoughts on Theme Parks and Alcohol

I enjoy alcohol and drinking at Universal and Disney parks. I’ve had Krakatoas Trader Sam’s, Martinis Carthay Circle, Carls’ Combo at Rose & Crown, Duffs at Moe’s, and Dragon Scales while watching a performance of Tales of Beadle the Bard. There’s a cognitive dissonance held when alcohol is discussed with theme parks, especially the ‘Magic Kingdom’ style parks. When it was rumored Disneyland was going to get a limited access restaurant with alcohol and Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest at dinner was going to have alcohol there were several people complaining about the decision. But why, and who are supporting this change?

When opened in 1955, Walt Disney did not sell alcohol in Disneyland to the general public. Club 33, a private venue for corporate sponsors and entertainment elite, did, but that did not open till 1967. How American culture views alcohol in 1955 is vastly different than it is today. Repeal of prohibition occurred in 1933, 22 years before the opening of Disneyland. To give some context, that’s the same distance between today in 2014 and the opening of Aladdin in theaters. In reverse, cigarette advertising was allowed on TV and radio was allowed up till 1971, while ‘distilled spirits’ advertising on the same mediums was banned until 1997. The climate of acceptance has advanced the 60 years since Disneyland’s founding, and as such the park should adapt to those changes.

Disneyland is designed as an escape from the reality and burdens of society. For some, one of these stresses is alcohol. Not limited to those who’re on a path to sobriety, alcoholism is a disease that affects many. And not just alcoholics can take in too much, but regular guests can abuse the drug too. Here are several tweets from Chad, aka ExTrashcan on Twitter, who said it better than I ever could.

In my opinion, these comments don’t really reflect the state of Disney’s treatment of alcohol. My issue is Disney does not respect the adult nature of alcohol. Take a look below, a snap shot of the Disney Parks blog:

Two alcoholic mixed drinks, with foam and glow cubes, ‘themed’ around the movie Frozen. How is this appropriate? How can it stand where Cast Members are not supported to cut guests off from alcohol sales? Any other business that doesn’t respect alcohol and the effects it has on people cannot function, so how can Disney? Can you actually call someone a guest if you do not look out for their well-beings? Are you a host or an enabler with open cash registers? 

My trouble point and question to Disney and Universal is how does alcohol fit in a theme park? Is it through sweet drinks with glow cubes? Black coolers or carts set outside of attractions full of the major beer options? I do not think these are the answer. While I am not against alcohol sales, any sort of fantasy element to it or backing of cast/team member cannot happen. I do not have the answers and won’t pretend to, what I want to do is ask why are people against these changes. What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I definitely do not agree with this commentary. Thousands of people drink in theme parks without causing problems. (I've seen that as both a Disney Cast Member and guest.) One of the quotes says "for a minority, the persence of alcohol in the park will bring an unwanted, negative element that adds an unnecessary level of discomfort in a place that was intended to be an escape". Sadly, many people can't grasp the notion that not everything in this world will be tailor-made for them. If you can't handle being around alcohol, don't go to places that serve alcohol. But, don't try to make the rest of us feel badly for drinking responsibly.

    To show how nonsensical this is, let's reframe the "unnecessary level of discomfort" argument: What if a group of combat veterans came forward and said that fireworks make them uncomfortable? Would you be calling for the elimination of all fireworks at theme parks?