Should Disney Limit Drinking at the Theme Parks?

Drinking has become a pretty big deal at Disney — alcohol is now sold in so many locations, even at a number of table-service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. With Disney’s recent decision to ban smoking from the theme parks we’ve heard a lot of people saying that alcohol was a larger problem and should be banned as well.

Drinks at Sebastian’s Bistro ©Disney

Interestingly enough, Disney already does a pretty good job of monitoring alcohol consumption in its parks.

Alcohol Locations

Disney currently sells alcohol at all four Disney World theme parks. Of course, at the Magic Kingdom alcohol is only served at table-service dining locations — click here to view the locations. At every other Walt Disney World theme park alcohol can be purchased not only at table-service and quick-service locations, but also multiple other kiosks and carts. Limited-time alcohol offerings are also part of Epcot festivals, like the Food & Wine Festival.

Disneyland Park will be serving alcohol to the general public for the first time with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Read all about that here.

Beer at the Rose and Crown

Disney does its best to monitor guests’ drinking because it realizes that some people may get intoxicated — maybe even more than a little.

Cast Member Training

Cast Members who sell alcohol are trained to serve no more than two alcoholic beverages per customer. This is intended to limit the amount of alcohol that can be consumed. Disney also stresses the importance of checking IDs and passports to ensure that guests are of age.

Cast Members are also told to look out for a few telling signs. If a person is visibly drunk — for example, swaying, slurring their words, unable to walk properly — they will no longer be served alcohol.

A Cast Member can literally tell a guest, “I’m sorry, but I am no longer able to serve you.” I have seen this happen on a few occasions. Once when a guest was clearly too drunk for his own good, and another when the person was not necessarily behaving in a drunk manner, but had been served a large number of drinks in a short period of time. This sometimes happens at restaurants or locations like Trader Sam’s. If the server feels like you need to be cut off, they will do so.

Wine Bar George Brunch ©Wine Bar George

And if things get out of hand when this occurs (which unfortunately happens more often than it should), Disney will not hesitate to escort the person from the park, resort, or restaurant.

Cast Members are also told to offer water with alcoholic beverages at restaurants to try to help the guest stay hydrated.

A long day filled with heat and alcohol really don’t mix well and can spell trouble for not just the person drinking, but for those around them. Most importantly, Disney is concerned with guest and Cast Member safety. I’ve heard of a few situations involving entertainment Cast Members that got out of hand due to a guest having drunk too much. No one wants to see anyone get sick — or hurt! — from drinking too much!

Harambe Market in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our Readers’ Thoughts – Pros and Cons

The overall guest consensus from guests seems to be split 50/50 when it comes to drinking in the parks.

There are people who feel like drinking doesn’t have a place in Disney at all, especially since Walt didn’t want alcohol in the parks. Here are a few recent comments from our readers:

“Would appear that Disney decision makers are being ruled by the money men, or succumbing to what they think the public want. Alcohol is not needed at Disney. I enjoy a drink, but can wait until we leave the park. A few years ago we were disgusted by the drunks we saw at Universal and commented that we were glad Disney wasn’t alcohol-oriented. They are family parks, let’s try to keep some innocence.”

“Tired of seeing more and more about alcohol, this is a family environment. To have drinks available is fine, but as much as Disney is pushing this is not. I don’t take my family halfway across the country to see drunk and rude people, we can do that at the local bar.”

As our readers have noted, the “cons” to allowing drinking throughout the parks include belligerent behavior, abusive language, people getting sick, kids witnessing the above behaviors, parents not able to supervise their kids.

If Disney were to limit drinking more, some argue, this would also limit these behaviors and keep the parks more family-friendly.

Though there seems to be a little bit of guest pushback, it seems that Disney has decided to increase locations that serve alcohol. That’s probably because there are many guests who prefer things the way they are. They note that they enjoy sipping on a glass of champagne while walking around the parks or grabbing something to drink after a long hot day.  Our readers on this side of the debate have left us comments like the following:

“Not everyone who has a drink is looking to get drunk. My husband and I appreciate the option of having a glass of wine at a sit-down meal that is costing us $200+. After a long day with our twins, it’s a nice way to relax. Although I understand why people may be opposed to the idea, the issue isn’t so black and white.”

People clearly enjoy drinking while on vacation at Disney. Just take a walk around Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival and you’ll see so many shirts themed to “drinking around the world.” People travel to Disney for bachelor and bachelorette events, 21st birthdays, family reunions and so much more — and often those gatherings involve touring the parks while enjoying a drink or two.

People who do not think that Disney needs to change its policies on drinking, counter that the ability to relax with a cocktail, especially at the pool or dinner, or even in a lounge, is a vacation highlight. Many people also feel that festivals like Epcot’s Food and Wine are great places to try new drinks and make for great adult-focused vacations.

Want to Escape Disney Drinking? Go Here!

So what’s the answer? Clearly, Disney does its best to control drinking and keep its guests from over-indulging. And it doesn’t seem that drinking in the parks is going to go away anytime soon.

So what if you are not into the whole drinking scene? Do you need a bit of a break from it all? Your best bet is to head to Magic Kingdom, where alcohol is not served out and about in the parks. It is only served at certain table service locations, as we described above. Other than Magic Kingdom, though, it seems you’ll find most other Disney locations serving up a variety of adult beverages.

So, where do you stand in this debate? Do you think Disney should limit drinking in the parks? Should they monitor the situation more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 

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55 Replies to “Should Disney Limit Drinking at the Theme Parks?”

  1. I agree that there should not be any alcohol in the parks. Folks could have them at the resorts with a limit. If cast members wait till guest start showing signs it is too late. I main concern is families with little ones seeing someone who has had a few to many would cause them not to come back & they would tell everyone who would agree with them & they would not go either. For Disney to put the hard stuff in the parks just for the high profit margin is a poor move. They are also going against Walt’s wishes & Company policy. They are also going to ruin Walt’s, Lilly’s (Walt’s wife & Roy’s legacy. If the Disney company keeps this up it means that they do not care for what Walt wanted. And if guests still want their buzz from alcohol they do not care what they look like to small children & their parents & grandparents. So to me it is all about the kids period.

  2. There is nothing wrong with having a drink or two while on vacation. I don’t drink at all, but I understand that there is nothing wrong with an adult having a beverage or two while eating or relaxing poolside. But there is something very wrong with having so many beverages that you can’t control yourself. I don’t know of anyone who wants to see people puking all over World Showcase, using bushes as toilets, etc. More guests than not are perfectly capable of being responsible with alcohol. There needs to be balance: a way of letting guests enjoy their drinks, yet making sure nobody can enjoy them to the point of public intoxication. The trick is establishing and enforcing those limits. A tracker in magic bands perhaps…smaller sized beverages…make them more expensive…I don’t know what would work best to prevent public drunkenness. But I also don’t think the many responsible guests should be punished for the few who can’t control themselves.

  3. A few years ago we were in Epcot leaving the pavilion where living with the land is & there was a VERY drunk guy by the front doors giving directions & acting out scenes from the Lion King. We waited a few minutes to see what security would do but he left before they got there. On the way out he tried to high five a kid in a stroller & I thought the father was going to knock him out. About an hour later we saw him in the German restaurant so drunk he was slumped over. When the oompa band started his friends blocked him from getting up so he couldn’t embarrass himself any further.
    My feeling is if you are old enough to drink you should be responsible enough to police yourself unfortunately that is not always the case. Maybe they can scan your magicband whenever you purchase a drink & it will limit the amount you can be served for the day. How many bars get sued because of over serving ? a lot . I’m sure people will be against that idea but honestly you are on private property they can tell you not to smoke, not drink how to dress etc that is their right. You can always choose to exercise your rights & spend your money somewhere else. If you are spending Disney prices to take a vacation don’t you want to remember it?

    1. You say, “My feeling is if you are old enough to drink you should be responsible enough to police yourself unfortunately that is not always the case.”

      I feel the same way about voting,

  4. I’m shocked at how many “Americans” are trying to tell others what to do with their lives and on their vacation. That is a pretty pathetic statement.

    If you don’t like something, your thoughts shouldn’t be to prevent others enjoyment but instead to stay at home in your safe space so you don’t get hurt.

    1. I can see both sides of this issue. It’s a tough one. And it has brought out a lot of emotions. Alcohol, like religion and politics, can be a very polarizing topic. And, many Americans have always stuck their nose in other people’s business. But, thank god we have the constitution to set things right.

    2. How do you get that it’s “Americans” only? For all we know, Hong Kong Phooey started this debate. lol What you said can go both ways though. It could easily be said that people who want to drink all day should go to their local pub and stay out of Disney. I’ve never had any issues while in the parks with drunks, but I definitely get that no matter how you slice it, WDW was, is and always will be a family theme park, meant primarily for younger children. Us old folks just happen to like it too. That being said, I don’t think it would kill anybody to leave the alcohol to Disney Springs. No one should run the risk of having some drunk in their babies faces at a kiddy park and in no way shape or form should anyone be expected to “stay at home” instead of deal with inebriated a**holes. They didn’t serve alcohol for yeaaars. No one ever died. They need to just stop trying to make a buck at every turn. That’s all this is.

  5. If Disney only allowed consumption of alcohol at the locations where it’s sold that could be controlled, however allowing people to wander around the parks, particularly in Epcot, carrying their drink as they go/wobble on their way is like being in a cheap Spanish costa and is totally out of place and out of tune with what my idea of a Disney park is.
    ‘Stag’ and ‘Hen’ parties have no place in a theme park and shouldn’t be permitted – they are about people over-indulging in alcohol and those participating typically have little or no regard/respect for others. The parks don’t have to be the latest party venue for the selfish!

  6. Walt Disney always wanted no alcohol served in his family-oriented parks. Remember when, before deciding on Florida, Walt was considering building a new park on the riverfront in St. Louis, Missouri due to its central location. Augie Busch, CEO of Budweiser at the time, said no alcohol, no park. Walt then moved on to central Florida to a location we all love.
    Walt and Roy both drank alcohol on a regular basis, but they recognized that their family focus and alcohol were incompatible. Above all, keep alcohol out of the Magic Kingdom; there should be some limitation to greed-driven profit so the focus can go back to family-friendly entertainment where everyone can be comfortable.

    1. I was right there with you till you had to throw in the phrase “greed-driven profit.” Please tell us all exactly what is the amount of profit that Disney can make before it becomes greed-driven?

  7. Last October while at EPCOT, we saw many drunken groups…mostly college age but also witness some older people who had a bit too much. It’s out of hand and should be limited but not eliminated. We chose not to drink – our choice.

  8. I think there should be even more alcohol. My wife and I bought our DVC timeshare specifically for La Cava Tequila in Mexico-Epcot. Without that bar, we would not have spent $60,000 on our points, nor made it a point to visit WDW 3x each year.

    For us, it isn’t even about just having one drink. We go to have multiple flights of tequila and margaritas. Not to mention the bottles of wine that we buy each and every night with dinner, beers on the golf course, cocktails by the pool, etc.

    I honestly couldn’t imagine going to Disney without drinking. It is one of the main draws for us. The free transportation which takes away driving is what seals the deal. There are very few places on Earth that have such a set up. We frequent Las Vegas to gamble and drink. We frequent WDW to ride rides and drink.

    And just wait…once marijuana is legalized across the United States, that will offer an even better experience. Edibles, beverages, etc. As someone in the food industry and who attends trade shows… it is coming. Infusion meals, beverages, etc. It is the future!!

    I can’t wait!! Don’t ever change WDW.

  9. i beleave in compromise! i think that disney should reinstate smoking areas in the park,in far off corners were nobody but a smoker need to go! i also think they should have drinking areas too! whats fair for one vice should be fare for the other!everbody unwinds differntly weather a smoke or a drink!i do belive disney promotes alcohol so much is because of the money to be made,thats buisness.they wont stop selling booze,but to be only fair reinstate the smoking areas in the park!

  10. It’s all about the money. I will admit to getting buzzed at Epcot World Showcase during a nighttime visit. I have also had some beers at Hollywood Studios at night. I would not drink to excess and would not drink at the Magic Kingdom.

  11. If Disney is intent on alcohol sales, do it just as Magic Kingdon is set up to do…serve only at table service restaurants. Absolutely no need to sell it everywhere in the parks. I take my family to Disney to enjoy Disney, not put up with intoxicated persons. I am only one, but, if Disney insists on doing this, there are other wonderful parks that I can take my family to that does not allow alcohol.
    TOTALLY NOT NECESSARY!!!!!

  12. I’ve been going to Disney World in FL since I was 11. In all the times I’ve been I have not once seen anyone fall down drunk. The cast does amazing things to keep the magic going.
    Don’t have alcohol near children? If you don’t drink theres nothing wrong with it, but if you think you can shield a child forever you’re dreaming.
    My child has seen all the adults at our many parties drink for their whole life, they know what it is, and know that it’s an adult beverage, not for child consumption.
    That being said, I have however walked through many clouds of people’s cigarettes. I agree with the smoking ban. That’s going to harm my child more than seeing someone having a couple beers or cocktails with their lunch or dinner.

  13. Walt meant for the Disney Parks to be “family parks”. Therefore, I personally think that he would not like or condone the sale of alcohol in the parks.

    If a person who is at the age limit for consuming alcohol cannot wait until they are out of the parks away from their children or other children, they have a problem.

    However if a person goes to one of the sit down restaurants outside the parks, there are plenty to choose from, and have a drink with their meal that might be ok. I think that Disney should still limit these drinks to one; no more than two. My reasoning for this is because some of these people will re-enter the parks after they have had dinner.

    I know people will not agree with me. But, the Disney Parks were meant to be family parks. Not a place to walk around with booze on your hand.

  14. They sure don’t seem to be monitoring # of drinks or behavior at Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT – I haven’t seen issues at other parks or venues but I think F&W has really gotten out of hand.

    1. I would agree with this as I have seen some people get into after drinking too much at Epcot and now more and more shirts “Getting Drunk Around the World”. Why can’t they do some limit, like issuing them a card that has a certain number of drinks for the day or something? And they have to show that when they get drinks. Or if there are different sizes , have a limit on certain ones. Thoughts ?

      1. I agree with you that I have only witnessed this at Epcot. I for one enjoy trying something new at Epcot F&W and will have 1 or two drinks occasionally. I am there with my family and know I need to keep going the rest of the day so I don’t over due it. Even my daughter will say as twilight approaches, ok time to get out of here away from the drunks. I don’t like stopping fun, but when you affect others, it is a problem. I have seen great cast members having to follow groups of drunks and eventually step in. I like the limit as well.

        I will add that Walt was ok with drinks in some restaurants, think of Club 33. That is a social situation, with food to help with the alcohol.

        I just want to be able to go to Epcot in the evenings and enjoy it. I have seen drunks every visit now and we go at least one if not more times a year

  15. I have no problem with alcohol being available however the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is out of control. Three years ago was the first time I ever felt concerned for my safety and will no longer go to Disney World while it is on.

  16. Just returned yesterday from a 10 day trip to WDW. I have to say after 19 years of visits, the one thing that bothered me the most was the amount of alcohol that was being consumed- especially at EPCOT. I have been there during the Food and Wine Festival many times. We avoid it at all costs Fri-Sun due to the massive amount of local drunks that fill it. However, I thought the Flower & Garden Festival would be different. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The new thing to do now is for the 20 some yr old crowd to do is to rent handicap motorized vehicles to get the from country (bar) to country. So not only were they loud, rude, and drunk- they were on motorized vehicles with families and children walking around the park! I’m not a prude- I like a good glass of wine. I really don’t understand how they can monitor the consumption when they are moving from place to place. You pay so much to take your family to a nice family friendly place to have to deal with that. I was really disappointed. It really took away from the essence of the magic of EPCOT- which is one of my top 2 parks there.

  17. Saying Walt wanted it that way doesn’t mean he would have kept it that way. He also wanted male cast members to have zero facial hair. Things have changed. People that are rude and use bad language will continue to do those things with or without alcohol involved.

    1. That’s one of the problems now. EPCOT is not (and should not be) a kiddy place. Although the imagineers are hell bent to turning it into one.

      1. Disagree. EPCOT was built to be a learning place. How can you say it was not built to also accommodate kids?

  18. I think drinking and Disneyland don’t go well together..but I think having to leave the park to smoke is ridiculous and I’m not a smoker

  19. While I don’t like drinking at any of the Disney parks, nor did Walt; and I find it incredibly sad that people cannot have a good time without a drink in their hand, I realize that the bottom line is money. It would be nice if alcohol was only served at secondary parks. For example, no alcohol at the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, but serve limited alcohol at Epcot and at California Adventure.

    1. Sorry Liz, it doesn’t work that way. Smoking ban isn’t going to cost WDW one dollar of revenue. Whereas alcohol is a huge revenue earner. It’s not going anywhere.

  20. I grew up in the alcohol business as my family owned a liquor store which we all worked when we were of age to. I do remember declining to sell alcohol to people who clearly had enough. Selling for consumption is much harder. I feel that NO alcohol should be sold in the Magic Kingdom. Walt set it up that way and it should remain so. I have no issue with alcohol being served in the other parks. I do feel that the cast members serving alcohol outside of restaurants should be licensed bartenders. This may be the case already and that’s a good thing.

  21. The title “Should Disney Limit Drinking” is the key. I don’t think any reasonable person would suggest banning alcohol consumption in the parks all together. Just like no reasonable person would suggest allowing toilet-hugging drunkenness to take over the parks every night. The biggest argument in favor of eliminating alcohol is children being present. Well guess what folks, any chain restaurant you eat at serves alcohol. Where is your “it’s all about the children” argument there? How about going to a cookout at the neighbors house on the 4th of July? I bet children will be there also. Should we ban any consumption of alcohol in the presence of a minor now? Other than employee training and ENFORCEMENT of the rules nothing else can be done.

    1. Right on Big John! I’ve been saying for years that children are way way overrated. When they grow up they can make their own rules. Until then, they can bring me my beer.

      1. Shielding children away from things has left us with our current “everyone deserves a trophy” generation.

  22. Alcohol doesn’t belong in the parks. Period! I’m tired of seeing inebriated people stumble around the parks, get belligerent with cast members, etc. Leave the alcohol for Disney Springs!

    1. Why does it not belong in parks, but it is alright at any other restaurant where you live? Last time I went out to eat I saw many small kids and the crazy thing was the restaurant served alcohol.

      I have also seen inebriated people at the parks (only at Epcot and usually only on Saturday’s). However, even those sightings have been few and far between. Your recommendation to a small problem is a very large and drastic fix. It’s like saying people drive cars poorly so lets ban all automobiles. I would push for more security and actual police officers in the World Showcase during the evening hours. If a person is obviously inebriated then they need to be asked to leave the park.

        1. No Ken. I talking about actual uniformed Deputies and not the weaponless Mickey Mouse cops. They usually have one or two standing at the entrance to the parks. I have seen them walking the World Showcase during Food and Wine, but not nearly enough of them. I felt much better seeing real cops there walking around.

  23. My family and go to several theme parks, and with younger children I have always ask …WHY DO WE WANT ALCOHOL AROUND CHILDREN. It has no place at any theme park let alone “family friendly” Disney

    1. Do you go out to eat ever? Do you ask yourself “why do we want alcohol around children” when you go to pretty much any chain restaurant?

      1. There’s a huge difference in going out to eat and paying a crapload of money to take your child to see Mickey Mouse. Apples and oranges.

  24. With the exception of Food and Wine, I have never seen a drunk guest at WDW, whether in a park or a resort. A cold beer by the pool after a day at the parks is really refreshing. Food and Wine is actually the exception this in every way.

  25. My opinion….I’m not a heavy drinker but I do enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail, occasionally. I know some people don’t drink alcohol and this leaves a debate that is endless. My opinion on this goes many different ways, like dogs in the resorts and smoking at Disney World. (I don’t smoke and I don’t have animals) With that in mind, I don’t think animals or smoking should be allowed at Disney…… Now, look at what I just wrote (pure insanity)… I don’t smoke and I do know second hand smoke harms others. I don’t have animals and I do have allergies to pet dander. Just because some don’t like it, all should do without? Honestly, it’s a no win situation for everyone so we must compromise. It’s not about entitlement …It’s about everyone and trying to accommodate society in general. Alcohol is unavoidable and has been around for years, never mind the fact it brings in loads of revenue for Disney. Disney can’t control alcohol consumption entirely so rules are set in general. That’s all Disney can do. Afterall, it’s everyone’s vacation.

  26. If a guest is willing to buy one drink for 15-20 dollars let them buy 2 per hour. They can always go to downtown Disney if they really want to drink more and it’s cheaper.

  27. Walts dead. I like a drink in Epcot, and a mid-day beer with a meal at Yak and Yeti really hits the spot.

    Cast member for education with solid support from Disney security is key.

  28. I am weighing in with what I imagine will be an unpopular opinion here on allears.net. Serving alcohol at sit-down restaurants in the Magic Kingdom will have nearly no impact on the average guest experience. 1. Most guests will have made their dining reservations 6 months in advance of their meal, and have planned their vacations around them- will they throw that all away? 2. With the pacing of the seatings, it’s highly unlikely that guests will be served more than two drinks per meal- in most cases it takes a whole lot more for someone to get “falling down drunk.” 3. I trust that servers recognize when a guest is showing signs of drinking too much and will be cut off. and 4. At an average price of $10 plus tax and gratuity, that’s a hefty pricetag to reach the level of inebriation.

    1. No you are nearly 100% correct. Serving beer and wine at all MK restaurants would not be a problem. No more of a problem than if it was Red Robin or Chili’s.