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Vote of the Week: Shanghai Disneyland signs with Pepsi; Which company's soft drinks do you prefer?

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Published: February 28, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Pepsi products are coming back to a Disney theme park.

Shanghai Disneyland announced this week that Pepsi will have the pouring rights at the Chinese theme park, which is expected to open late next year.

Wait a minute — "coming back?", you might ask. Theme park fans who know Walt Disney World and Disneyland as exclusive Coca-Cola territory might be surprised to learn that those parks once poured Pepsi soft drinks, too.

The Pepsi-Cola Company was the original sponsor of It's a Small World at the New York Fair and of the Country Bear Jamboree at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as the Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland, which the cola company continued to sponsor until 1990. For some years, the simple rule was that you'd find Pepsi poured on the west side of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, while you'd get Coke on the east side. Eventually, Coke bought the exclusive pouring rights for all Disney theme parks in the United States, and Pepsi disappeared from the parks.

It's a Small World, in New York
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Elsewhere in the U.S., Coke's been pushing Pepsi out from other theme parks in recent years, too. Three years ago, Coke acquired the pouring rights for the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens theme parks, again replacing Pepsi. You might not think this is a huge deal, but given the ridiculous profits that businesses can make on soft drink sales, pouring-rights deals often count into many millions of dollars. The SeaWorld/Coke deal is whispered to have helped finance a good amount of the expense of building SeaWorld Orlando's new Antarctica pavilion, for example.

We surveyed Theme Park Insider readers when SeaWorld made the switch and a plurality approved of the change over to Coke products. Now that Disney's made a step back toward Pepsi, let's ask the question again. Which company's soft drinks would you prefer to drink at your favorite theme park?


Fight the Great Soft Drink Flame War, in the comments. And before we start hurling fizzy drinks at one another, allow me a moment to thank you all, once again, for being part of the Theme Park Insider community. I'm always amazed at the diversity of theme park fans we attract from around the world, and want you all to know that you're always very welcomed and appreciated here.

Readers' Opinions

From Anon Mouse on February 28, 2014 at 3:28 PM
I prefer diet Pepsi over diet Coke. Coke doesn't do diet correctly. Coke Zero tastes worse.
From B Goodwin on February 28, 2014 at 3:46 PM
I'll drink either, however, diet pepsi over diet coke in my opinion. And as I've gotten older I find myself asking for the diet version more often than the regular - an not for any calorie-counting reason. My sweet-tooth has just faded away over the years, and I prefer the more mild taste of diet as-of-late. Coke Zero lands somewhere in between the two brand diet colas, for me.

That said, there is something inherrently American about Coke. And the same can be said for Disney. The two just go together. From the perspective of a non-American, having Coca-cola in the fountains of Disney just seems more...right.

From Vaughn Miller on February 28, 2014 at 4:02 PM
Diet Pepsi beats diet Coke hands down. I find, personally that if I must drink a Coke product that I lean towards Sprite. As mentioned earlier as I have gotten older I just don't like the sweetness of the regular drinks and diet Coke makes me want to find some small woodland animal so I can lick it's @$$ to get the taste out of my mouth.
From Jackie Stupack on February 28, 2014 at 4:25 PM
It is good old American Diet Coke or water for me! I don't really care if Shanghai has Pepsi, because the formula is so different for the Coca-Cola Light everywhere else in the world, I won't drink it. Even Canada is switching the different sweeteners in their sodas, making all taste like Pepsi (Yuck!)
From Jorge Arnoldson on February 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM
I prefer Pepsi over Coke, so I believe Disney made an excellent choice!

I would drink Coke if it was the only thing available at any given park, especially if they have Coke Freestyle machines (Universal Orlando's parks, for example).

This isn't the only single-company, multi-brand soda deal I've seen in the theme park industry; Legoland Florida serves Pepsi products (many of their restaurants offer free refills, so that's a plus), and I believe Legoland California, along with their "Discovery Centers" across the U.S. and Canada, serve Coke products.

The main factor that actually persuades me to buy a fountain soda (I don't do bottles) at a theme park is not necessarily the brand or flavor, but how it's served. If sodas are served behind the counter, then I'll just ask for ice water. If the restaurant has its fountain(s) in a place where customers can serve themselves, then I will gladly pay the $2.69 or so for a soda that I can refill as many times as I want (very rarely, the drink is included with your meal).

From David L. on February 28, 2014 at 8:28 PM
I guess growing up in Atlanta makes be biased, but a combination of my childhood and the overly-sweet taste of Pepsi makes me prefer Coke by a mile. But if we threw Dr Pepper into the mix, there'd be no contest.
From James Trexen on March 1, 2014 at 1:25 AM
I try to only stick to water at parks, but would gladly drink RC if it was ever offered.
From 184.88.51.173 on March 1, 2014 at 1:26 AM
With every theme park down here serving Coke products (except Legoland) I have to vote for Pepsi. I hate not having a choice and variety. Also, I love Mountain Dew. The only Coke product I'll drink is Coke. With Pepsi, I like Dew, Mug Rootbeer, and Cherry Pepsi.

I wish either Disney or Universal would switch.

From Annette Forrest on March 1, 2014 at 2:21 AM
I stopped buying pop for my family at home a year ago and we bought a Soda Stream machine. I now only make some as a special treat and my family doesn't miss all the pop. That said, I prefer Pepsi products to Coke. I don't like some of the things that Coca Cola as a company does and I also think Pepsi has a slightly better taste. My boys love Mountain Dew as a very, very special treat. They might get a can of it once a month.

We treat pop like liquid candy. It is okay once in a great while but they are not drinking pop with dinner. No way. Pop is like a dessert treat. Pop should be had in moderation just like alcohol.

Now, when we are in the parks, I let the boys have as much as they want. On vacation, I let them go nuts. I don't think it harms their health because on vacation we are also walking A LOT so I think it evens out.

From Tim Hillman on March 1, 2014 at 7:12 AM
Diet Mountain Dew is my soda of choice, and one of the pleasures of going to Busch Gardens Tampa was being able to sip on my favorite beverage while walking around the park. Unfortunately, Coke products had taken over the park on my last visit, and I opted to drink more water out of protest instead of buying a Coke product. I felt pretty stupid when I realized that the bottled water was a Coke product.
From Gabriel Schroll on March 1, 2014 at 5:26 PM
I find it strange that each park gets to sign their own deal. I just assumed it was Disney + Coke, and not Disneyland + Coke, Walt Disney World + Coke, Shanghai Disneyland + Pepsi, etc.

I almost never drink soda anymore, but I only drink Diet Pepsi and Coke Zero when I do. Once in a blue moon, I'll drink Sprite or 7UP, but Diet Coke is absolutely revolting, and Pepsi is too sweet. I agree with the previous comment about RC Cola, as it's hands-down the best cola around. It used to be served from the fountains at the local Arby's when I lived in Ft Lauderdale, but that was a long time ago and I haven't been to Arby's since, so I don't know what they pour from their fountains.

But that's just me. And seeing as how I am very unlikely to go to Shanghai Disneyland any time soon, this deal is interesting, but doesn't affect me in the least.

From Tony Perkins on March 2, 2014 at 12:14 AM
Neither, they should stock Virgil's. Once you try it you'll never go back to Coke and Pepsi's high-fructose corn syrup swill.
From 97.96.212.121 on March 2, 2014 at 12:52 AM
These little "pouring" rights that these companies fight for are absolute bull. A theme park shouldn't put a limit to what corporation provides soft drinks. Why? Because that puts a restriction on the variety of soft drinks for the customer (the person providing money to the park in the first place)to drink. There will always be customers unsatisfied with a park for not carrying or completely steering clear of their favorite drink, and its business deals like these that cause it. People should simply be able to choose what they want to drink, not settle for second best, just because the park only cares about money. It's Un-American! Soda is as American as the flag. Why are we being told which flavors to drink by the dictators who rule these theme parks? No more pouring rights, let us choose!
From 68.38.83.228 on March 2, 2014 at 8:32 AM
I don't think that anybody should eat or drink anything with artificial sweeteners in them, other then those who can't eat sugar. That being said, I don't do diet anything, but diet Pepsi has got to be one of the worst diet drinks ever. My wife drinks diet Coke. Any time that we are somewhere that serves Pepsi products, she will say with the diet Pepsi, I guess that will do. She thinks the same as I do that diet Pepsi is the worst. I don't drink cola very much, but if I did I would drink Coke.
From Kathy B on March 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Coke 100%!!!!! Pepsi is too sweet and no fizz. You need that great taste of coke with your food it adds a zing in your throat. love it!!!!!
From Kathy B on March 2, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Coke 100%!!!!! Pepsi is too sweet and no fizz. You need that great taste of coke with your food it adds a zing in your throat. love it!!!!!
From Anthony Murphy on March 2, 2014 at 4:21 PM
I do not drink Pop, but I picked Coca Cola because I believe they own Minute Maid. I could be wrong!
From Kelly Muggleton on March 3, 2014 at 8:49 AM
I'm a Pepsi gal and always have been.
But..due to varying degrees of Anti-Pepsi-ism (yes I made that up) in restaurants and parks and arenas etc I am forced to tolerate Coke.
Well maybe technically I dont mind that much, but I have a strong Pepsi preference and will always take that if I have a choice.
I actually remember taking the Pepsi challenge in Seaworld Orlando once!

With the huge mark up on soda these have to be an incredible cash cow for whatever company gets the deals. Kerching.

From Ted Heumann on March 3, 2014 at 12:54 PM
To Anthony Murphy, Coke owns Minute Maid, Pepsi owns Tropicana.
To an earlier poster, Coke owns Dasani and Pepsi owns Aquafina (both water brands).

And to all you Pepsi haters, Pepsi also owns Frito Lay (pretty much EVERY chip is Frito Lay), Cracker Jacks, Quaker Oats, Gatorade, Sobe, Naked Juice, Aunt Jemima and 7-up outside the US borders.

As to the primary question, I prefer Coke Zero, but I enjoy Diet Pepsi as well. I have to agree that Diet Coke is my least favorite.

From 173.227.104.102 on March 4, 2014 at 3:34 PM
Coke zero is the best zero-calorie soda I've ever tasted!

But diet Pepsi is better than diet Coke. So if they don't have coke zero, I prefer diet Pepsi.

Cocacola Light tastes weird!!! I didn't like it, it tasted too much like fake sweetner.

My favorite sodas are actually the '10' products. 7-Up 10, Dr. Pepper 10, Canada Dry 10, etc. Those are actually the best diet sodas I've had, but the 10 calories is kind of cheating.

From 108.241.62.17 on March 4, 2014 at 3:34 PM
Coke. And usually that means Sprite. And Pepsi has Sierra Mist which is not good.

Pepsi must pay better these days as you see it more and more at public places (ala airports, etc) and at large venues (including hotels), even at their bars where coke should be used in mix alcoholic drinks, not Pepsi.....ever heard anyone order a rum and Pepsi or a Jack & Pepsi? NOPE.

And even per your poll results, Coke is the favorite by a very wide margin.

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