What would you do? Finding Disney's answer to Butterbeer
Written by Robert Niles
Concept art of the upcoming Gaston's Tavern in the new Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is sparking rumors that Disney's working on its own version of Universal's wildly successful Butterbeer.Tweet
Unless Disney's planning on losing its liquor license and getting a record fine from the state of Florida, I think we can assume that the kids in that picture ain't drinkin' beer.
From the picture, Gaston's Tavern looks, uh, heavily inspired by the Hog's Head Pub in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure. This would hardly be the first example of Disney knocking off a competitor's design or concept. (Take a ride on the Log Flume at Knott's Berry Farm sometime.) But should Disney go for a straight copy of Butterbeer, or try something a bit different?
That's my "what would you do?" question for you.
Splash Mountain won raves and an enduring fan base not because it copied Knott's Log Flume, but because it took that basic design and layout and fused it with "Song of the South" to create a unique narrative and musical experience. If Disney thinks that offering "Butterbrew," or whatever they call it, in the Magic Kingdom will be enough to keep potential visitors from heading up I-4 to Universal Orlando, I think Disney's underestimating its audience.
Butterbeer's a hit not just because it's a tasty drink (which it is). Fans love Butterbeer because it gives them a rare chance to experience a beloved theme using their sense of taste, as well as their eyes and ears. Butterbeer was part of the Harry Potter books and movies and by tasting it - and using that additional sense to do so - fans feel even more connected with that Wizarding World.
Beauty and the Beast doesn't offer any such imaginary food. That puts Disney is a bit of a bind. First, there's no unique food or drink from the movie that fans have been dying to try. (Though I'd love to sit down for that animated feast!) Second, since Butterbeer was imaginary, Universal was free to make it taste like something unusual - which it did. Despite the fears of some parents, Butterbeer tastes nothing like alcoholic beer. It's a sweet, butterscotch-like drink that has as much in common with alcohol beer as root beer does.
If Disney simply copies that, it won't be offering a unique taste, as Universal did, for Butterbeer now already exists. And if Disney simply tries to create a non-alcoholic version of beer for its kid visitors, well, O'Doul's already exists, too, doesn't? And does Disney really want to endure the potential parent backlash from hawking that to kids?
So either Disney just settles for copying Universal (boring!) or it needs to find some unique flavor and identity for its frothy mug beverage.
Personally, a creamy chocolate/peanut butter drink sounds absolutely delightful to me. If I were in Disney's test kitchen, I'd be looking to popular milkshake flavors for inspiration in trying to find a new flavor for a creamy-headed soft drink.
But what do you think?
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