One month after Disneyland worker unions won their battle for a $15 hourly starting wage, the company announced a move that’s sure to help them afford those raises: The Anaheim park will soon serve alcohol to the general public for the first time. While a sibling park, Disney California Adventure, makes booze widely available, the original Disneyland has been dry since it opened in 1955, with the exception of Club 33, a members-only luxury lounge. But when a new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction opens, “libations for adults” will be available to regular guests at a sci-fi-style cantina.
Thank God. It’s time to get soused at Disney.
I’m kind of a Disneyphobe, so the opportunity to gulp down pre-mixed alien martinis feels like one of the only things that could actually get me through the front gate. Among Disney stans, however, the bar is deeply controversial — part of a tectonic shift for the brand that has enraged the prohibition crowd.
Earlier this year, these same people fumed over a newfound abundance of alcohol at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, which didn’t serve it at all before 2012. They claim that these decisions go against the wishes of Walt Disney himself, who supposedly demanded a dead-sober clientele for his theme parks, and bemoan the erosion of this rule. “Can’t we draw a line somewhere?” a Disney dad wrote in a “rant” about the Magic Kingdom policy. “Can’t we keep the feeling of wholesomeness in the very symbol that is guarded by none other than Walt Disney himself? What would be the problem with that. Walt didn’t want this,” he argued.
Okay, but grown-ass people getting steamed about threats to the Disneyland’s purity is hilarious. You’d think the Han Solo look-a-like serving beer were pissing on Walt’s grave.
Over on Reddit’s r/disneyland, some frequent park visitors predicted long lines for the Star Wars cantina and wondered if there would be a drink maximum. Others were — you guessed it — outraged. Right now, the top post on the thread is bringing the sanctimony:
The teetotaling traditionalists are such a notoriously sour bunch that some more liberalizing Disney fans have a name for them: the WaltRight. If they share a quality with the alt-right, it’s probably that they act like Disneyland is their ethno-state to preserve.
Strangely, however, I haven’t seen many horror stories of drunk scenes at Disney parks where spirits flow freely. Except for this frankly amazing California Adventure anecdote:
So, what did old Walt really think when it came to his customers hitting the sauce?
Not long after Disneyland opened, he gave an interview to the Saturday Evening Post that the anti-drinking faction always quotes to prove their point: “No liquor, no beer, nothing,” Disney said of the concessions at his new amusement venture — which also didn’t sell chewing gum or peanuts in their shells. “Because that brings in a rowdy element. That brings people that we don’t want, and I feel they don’t need it. I feel when I go down to the park I don’t need a drink. I work around that place all day and I don’t have one.”
You get the sense that whatever his levels of racism and misogyny — these have long been a matter of dispute — Disney was fairly insufferable in his elitism. And if the notion of people knocking back a few in his creepy control-freak pastel wonderland truly has him “rolling over in his grave,” well, then I’m even more in favor than I was a minute ago.
But by all means, keep on whining, guys. A dry Disneyland is a very relatable priority.
In the end, of course, these tantrums mean as little as those thrown over Disney, Star Wars and Marvel films viewed as insufficiently loyal to their origins: The noise dies down and the “childhood-ruining” movie makes a billion dollars anyway. Nobody can be surprised that a megacorporation will do pretty much whatever the hell they want to pump up profits — including reverse an alcohol ban implemented by a man who’s been dead half a century — and it’s not as if the anti-liquor prudes will forgo their next $1,149 Disney Signature Plus Passport. It’s one nerd bar, all right? Not Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras. Not the Pirates of the Caribbean chugging rum. Honestly, have a drink and just relax.