When Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971, getting a beer or glass of wine on the premises after a day of dragging kids around to see the animatronic weirdness of the Country Bear Jamboree and ride like lunatics on Space Mountain was a total fantasy. It’s remained that way since then but, as any Disney fan can tell you, event the craziest dreams come true.
Some beer and wine lover must have been wishing on a star somewhere because, starting in November, Orlando visitors to the Magic Kingdom will be able to finally get a little bit of alcohol with their dinner. Fittingly, park guests will have to visit New Fantasyland in order to get it. The park will limit the output to dinnertime at one new restaurant, the new French-themed Be Our Guest, which is a brand offshoot of the 1991 film, Beauty and the Beast.
The Disney Parks blog raised eyebrows by slipping in the news in a pre-opening update thusly:
And just for dinner, select wines and beers will be offered that complement the French-inspired cuisine. “As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine,” says Stuart McGuire, Beverage Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The wines focus primarily on France’s famous wine-growing regions, including Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux. “We’ll also offer the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664,” says McGuire. “And, staying in the general region, we’ll also offer Belgian beers.”
Quoi?! It's all about creating an authentic brand experience, explained another Disney exec to the local newspaper. "You cannot walk into a French restaurant and not get a glass of wine or beer," commented Maribeth Bisienere, VP of food and beverage for Walt Disney Parks, to the Orlando Sentinel. "It made more sense to do it than not to do it."
Of course that doesn’t mean everybody is happy about it. According to AJ Wolfe, the editor of Disney Food Blog, reader comments on the booze news are split evenly between being for it or against it. "People are very serious on either side. There's not a lot of middle ground," she said, the Sentinel reports. "You have your purists. You have the people saying. 'Walt is spinning in his grave.' "
Of course, as the Sentinel notes, it was Walt who started up “the private Club 33 at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.,” where you could have a drink a little more powerful than a lemonade, while TIME notes that EPCOT boasts a biergarten. So maybe Walt would be happy to have a place to quaff at day’s end in his Magic Kingdom. We’ll never know.
On thing we do know is that the restaurant currently isn’t slated to serve any domestic beer. See? There’s always something more to dream for.
Disney released this behind-the-scenes look at the Be Our Guest restaurant, which opens Nov. 19th —