Theme Park Insider

Insider's Update: It's a Dry Look at the Week's Disney News

September 27, 2014, 12:33 PM · Sure, the Backlot Studio Tour is closing today at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but Disney would like to remind everyone that the Frozen stuff that way more people probably care about anyway is still going strong:

Disney's also switching up a couple of quick-service menus over at Epcot, adding a "Surf and Turf" crab-cake-topped burger and "Red, White, and Blue" salad with craisins and blue cheese at the Liberty Inn. Disney's also dropped the mac and cheese burger at the Electric Umbrella in favor of a "French Dip" burger, topped with brisket, crispy onions and Muenster cheese. (How those toppings constitute a "French Dip," I have no idea. Maybe a dry version of a French onion soup?) There's also a new Italian sausage sandwich and veggie Naan sandwich to try.

Surf and turf burger
The "surf and turf" burger, topped with a crab cake and tartar sauce ($11.49). Photo courtesy Disney

Did you know that the Walt Disney World Resort was one of the top 10 honeymoon destinations in the United States? USA Today reported on data provided by Facebook on check-ins to find that Lake Buena Vista — home of Disney World — was the 10th-most checked in location in the country by people who'd just gotten married. Las Vegas topped the list, which was otherwise dominated by locations in Hawaii.

Tokyo Disney has announced its entertainment schedule for 2015 [Google Translate link], including a new Tangled float for Tokyo Disneyland's Dream Lights electrical parade. The big new attraction at the park for 2015 will be the previously announced Stitch Encounter, coming to Tomorrowland. It's a clone of the "Turtle Talk"-like attraction from Hong Kong Disneyland.

Stitch Encounter
Stitch is evicting Michael Jackson from Tokyo Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

Here's an interesting study that might provide a thoughtful twist to the controversy that flared when Walt Disney World started serving alcohol in the Magic Kingdom, at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the evenings. A Washington Post report claims that 30 percent of American adults never drink alcohol and that another 30 percent consume less than one drink per week, on average. Extrapolating from that data, this suggests that the average American is more likely not to drink any alcohol than to drink in any given week. So who's consuming all this booze? The report says that it's the top 10 percent of drinkers, who, on average, are consuming more than 10 servings of alcohol per day.

How does this apply to theme parks? If these data are accurate, it suggests that the majority of the adult American public is perfectly satisfied with avoiding alcohol. But for the fewer than 20 percent of American adults who do drink daily, a substantial percentage of them probably find it difficult to modify their habits and to go an entire day without a drink. Now, how does the profile of theme park visitors compare with the profile of the American public when it comes to drinking? I don't know, but given the widespread popularity of theme parks, I suspect that the profiles are similar. Anyway, I thought that this report might provide some interesting data for anyone who wishes to keep debating how much, if any, alcohol theme parks should serve.

Update: Universal Orlando announced this afternoon that it will close the NASCAR Sports Grille in CityWalk on November 1, to replace the restaurant with another, as-yet-unannounced concept.

Replies (8)

September 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM · I think that there's also a big difference between having a drink on vacation/at a theme park/baseball game/whatever than having a drink at home. I will RARELY drink at home, but if I'm at a theme park or ball game I'm much more likely to get one.

As always, I think the greatest indicator of how much theme park fans drink can be found in the Disney Company's bank account :P.

September 27, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Strong point there. The difference isn't in the demos of theme park visitors vs. American adults. It's in that a theme park visit is not a typical week.

Well, unless you're living a very, very good life. ;^)

September 27, 2014 at 7:18 PM · I was informed today by a cast member that Frozen ice skating rink's last day is tomorrow, Sunday the 28th. And that sometime in October they hope to complete the move of the Frozen Sing Along to the old American Idol Stage. The show will continue on in the current theater until the transition. No word on whether the fireworks are staying or not.
September 28, 2014 at 5:55 AM · I drink alcohol, but I would not drink in a theme park. It would just diminish the experience. However, Be Our Guest is aiming for a fine dining experience, and a nice bottle of wine does compliment that. On the other hand, Walt's reasoning for no alcohol at Disneyland is well founded. It places a barrier between the parents and the children. Now there is something that the entire family cannot do together. I will state my exception: Epcot. I will have a glass of Guiness at the Rose and Crown and a glass of beer in Germany, but Epcot is not your typical theme park (and I do hate the idea of the Maelstrom being removed). I do not see this being a big controversy, since I have never seen an intoxicated person at an Orlando theme park, but I am sure it happens. To sum up, it is not that big a deal, I wish they had no alcohol at Magic Kingdom, I will have two beers at Epcot, and I like Maelstrom.
September 28, 2014 at 7:36 AM · No alcohol at the Magic Kingdom never really seemed like an issue to me - But I guess if I was spending $150+ for a family dinner at the Beauty & Beast restaurant, then I would want to have a glass of merlot with my prime rib. Then again, fine dining and Magic Kingdom have never been a necessary combination for me.
Epcot, however, there's nothing I love more than drinking around the world (I have kids now, so I test far fewer of the beers than I did pre-parent stage in life). Same with having dinner at a nicer restaurant: it's a must at Epcot.
I don't think I've ever had a drink at Animal Kingdom. And yet at Disney Studios, there's nothing I love more than taking a break, grabbing a beer from one of the small kiosks, getting a churro for my sons, and sitting on one of the staircases outside the fake building fronts in the Streets of America. It's a mini-tradition.
It's funny how something as similar as Disney Theme Parks can still each create a different mood for different patterns of activity - down to something as simple as deciding to have a drink or not.
September 28, 2014 at 9:13 AM · The people who don't alcohol are in the majority who don't drink. It is the minority of heavy drinkers who are the problem. Nonetheless, I can see why Disney wants to cash in on the drink free spenders. Go to any sporting game like baseball, football, or basketball. There is no shortage of drinkers that easily buy two or more drinks per person.
September 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM · That "surf & turf" burger is surprisingly delicious. I had it back at the beginning of September. Actually went out of my way to go back to the park in a massive rain storm to try out this burger. It could use a little more of the sauce, but otherwise it's a delicious combination.
October 1, 2014 at 9:33 AM · I think the no drinking rule at Magic Kingdom is pointless when you can walk, take a boat or a monorail to the bars in each hotel ten minutes or less from the Magic Kingdom.

Having each bar on the same level as the monorail encourages bar hopping and binge drinking before entering the drink free zone and enhances the magic of the park for some people. Pirates is more fun when you are drunk like one.

I think in time more sit down restaurants at Magic Kingdom will add beer and wine because people expect to at least have the option when they are paying over $100 a meal.

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