By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel
Visiting The Magic Kingdom this winter?
Then you’ll be relieved/enraged to hear that, for the first time EVER, you’ll be able to drink alcohol inside Florida’s family-friendly theme park.
A new ‘Beauty and the Beast’-themed restaurant opens its doors on November 19th. Entitled Be Our Guest, it will offer select beers and wines to pair with its traditional French cuisine.
The Magic Kingdom opened 41 years ago on October 1st, 1971. It’s been a dry town ever since. Despite all those hours waiting for rides under the hot Orlando sun (temperatures reach 34 degrees Celsius in July), you’ve never before been able to buy a cold one in The Magic Kingdom.
So if this so-called ‘magical’ place has been teetoalling since Nixon was bashing hippies, why start now? What’s so special about this Be Our Guest restaurant?
The answer is quite simple: Tourist Expectations. Disney felt it was easier to serve alcohol than to not serve alcohol.
“You cannot walk into a French restaurant and not get a glass of wine or beer,” Maribeth Bisienere, VP of Food and Beverage for Walt Disney Parks, told the Orlando Sentinel.
The Beverage Director at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Stuart McGuire, said, “As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine,” said McGuire.
To go with braised pork, grilled strip steak with pommes frites, French onion soup, and vegetable quiche, McGuire is serving wines from famous French regions like Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux. McGuire said the restaurant will also offer France’s leading beer, Kronenbourg 1664, as well as Belgian beers because, well, Belgium’s next door to France and Belgian beers rock. Here’s a link to their drinks menu.
Other Disney parks serve alcohol and Epcot even has a Biergarten (beer garden). But The Magic Kingdom is a different beast indeed. So they’re gently introducing alcohol instead of, say, forcing kids to chug a mickey before they can ride on Splash Mountain.
The new drinking rules at Be Our Guest:
1) you can’t buy anything stronger than beer or wine
2) you can only order it during dinner hours, and
3) you can only order it if you’re sitting down to a meal [because apparently stand-up drinking leads to things that simply cannot happen at Disney, such as flirting, liberalism, and STDs]
Be Our Guest, by the way, is one of the classic musical numbers from Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s hit animated film from 1991. And let’s face it: if you’re going to name your restaurant Be Our Guest, then you must respect the lyrics sung by the dancing cartoon beer steins —
“Come on and lift your glass /
You’ve won your own free pass /
To be our guest”
— and the welcoming words sung by the Cockney teapot:
“Wine’s been poured and thank the Lord”
In related news from Albuquerque, New Mexico, over at AMC’s new ‘Breaking Bad’ theme park, tourists can now order pounds of ‘Blue Sky’ crystal meth that’s cooked and bagged by a grim, bald chef.*
— Ken Hegan
*This is totally not true yet
Read all Ken’s travel stories here