A bar inside the Dolphin Resort at Disney World
Last week the official Disney Parks blog revealed a detail about the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the new Fantasyland expansion, one that breaks a tradition held by the Magic Kingdom since its inception: Be Our Guest will serve alcohol.
The decision came when Walt Disney World execs contemplated the theme of the restaurant. In keeping with the setting of “Beauty and the Beast,” the film on which the restaurant is based, execs wanted to offer the finest French cuisine. Part of the French dining experience is to serve alcohol, so they don’t want to forgo that.
Alcohol will only be available at dinner at Be Our Guest, even though the restaurant will be open for lunch. The majority of the wines on offer will come from the famous French wine-growing regions: Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Loire. The most popular French beer, Kronenbourg 1664, will be offered, as well as Belgian beers (in an attempt to stay in the general region).
I’ve written about the Disney parks for years, and I’ve known that there are a variety of places to get beer, wine, and spirits throughout Disney World. I never knew that there was none to be found in the Magic Kingdom. What I actually find surprising, however, is the tone around this announcement. Park execs seem like they’re treading carefully, in order to not offend: see the fact that they’re emphasizing how most of the alcohol on offer will be French.
Some of the comments I’ve seen on articles with this story, even more surprisingly, are disappointed. Apparently having the Magic Kingdom be dry is a long-standing tradition: it’s something Walt Disney wanted for his parks, only offering alcohol at very exclusive locations.
But here’s how I see it: the Disney parks broke that tradition years ago. Most of the restaurants in Disney World and Disneyland serve alcohol now. Yes, the Magic Kingdom was one of the parks imagined by Walt himself (unlike, say, The Animal Kingdom), but so was Epcot, and that park happens to host a little something called the Food and Wine Festival every year.
I personally don’t care either way whether or not alcohol is served in any of the Disney parks, as long as it’s kept in the restaurants, kept classy, and people are held to be very responsible when consuming it. It guess this isn’t one of the Disney traditions, like like innovation and preserving the movies, that I really care about.
Enough with the controversy: I want to look at the food. The official Disney Parks blog has some gorgeous pictures of some of the entrees that will be on the menu at Be Our Guest. Check them out here. The restaurant opens on November 19 (the same day Fantasyland is open for previews, though the rest of Beast’s Castle, and the Enchanted Forest, won’t be fully open until December 6), but reservations are being accepted now. To make one, call (407) WDW-DINE or go to www.disneyworld.com/dine.
*(The above image by markhillary is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)