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A lot is going to change at Disneyland and Walt Disney World next year when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the largest expansion either park has ever seen, opens to the public. It's been implied that Galaxy's Edge is going to be unlike anything any Disney theme park has ever shown us before; an immersive experience like nothing we've seen before. Along with this massive facelift that Disneyland is about to get, it's time for the park to make another major change. It's time for one of the policies that has been around since 1955 to end: Disneyland should start serving alcohol.
Ok, so there's a lot unpack here, so let's start at the beginning. When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney decided the park should be dry, which is to say, alcohol-free. He wanted to separate his new Disneyland experience from the carnivals and circuses that came before it. Alcohol flowed freely there and that wasn't necessarily the best place for little kids or families who weren't looking to have that sort of fun. When the Magic Kingdom opened at Walt Disney World in 1971, the same rule was implemented. However, Walt Disney died before the next park opened at Walt Disney World and the decision was made that while Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom would remain dry, other new parks would sell alcohol. The mold would be broken in 1992 when Disneyland Paris opened. It would be the first Disneyland-style park to sell alcohol because it was France, and the French weren't going to accept a place where they could not have wine with food.
The prohibition against alcohol at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom (save at Disneyland's Club 33, which is not open to the general public) remained in effect until 2012 when the Magic Kingdom's Be Our Guest restaurant opened. They sold adult beverages, though they were only allowed inside the restaurant itself and could not be taken out into the park. Since then, and as recently as this week, alcohol has been made available at every table service restaurant inside the Magic Kingdom.
This leaves Disneyland as the only U.S. park where the general public can't get a beer or a glass of wine. It's honestly a bit surprising that we haven't already seen Disneyland follow a Magic Kingdom-like model and allow beer and wine at table service restaurants, but with the creation of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, it makes all the sense in the world for that to happen. In addition to the two major E-ticket attractions that the area will have, a new restaurant will also open in the land. The one at Disney World will almost certainly serve adult beverages because what adult Star Wars fan won't want to try a Star Wars-themed cocktail, regardless of how ridiculously expensive it will be? The same will certainly be true of those dining at Disneyland, and it would be easier for all involved if the two locations have identical menus, right down to the drink options.
The expansion of alcohol in the Magic Kingdom was done in phases, but still only covers table service restaurants. The same can be done at Disneyland: start with Galaxy's Edge before adding it at the Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans and other table service locations.
Many Disneyland traditionalists will take issue with this idea. Walt wanted Disneyland to be alcohol-free, and thus it should always be. I'm not against following some traditions for simply traditions sake, but the fact is Walt also expected Disneyland to be forever changing, and the man enjoyed the occasional drink himself, so he wasn't against the idea entirely. It's crazy to not consider this change.
Not wanting people to get drunk inside Disney Parks is a perfectly valid and worthy goal. The thing is, it's just not a huge issue. You are free to wander around Disney's California Adventure or Epcot with a drink, and while certainly people have been known to drink too much (especially those who try to "Drink Around the World" at Epcot's World Showcase), the fact is that simply isn't a major issue. It happens, but it's not a problem. By limiting the alcohol to table service locations, the risk of problem guests is diminished that much more. The Magic Kingdom's recent expansion of restaurants that serve alcohol is proof there have been no issues.
There's no reason for Disneyland to keep this prohibition in place, and the opening of a new table service restaurant that will be in high demand for years to come is the perfect time to make the change. The fact that it's new will make it easier to swallow for traditionalist fans, and once that door has been opened, expansion of the new policy will be much easier. If we want to keep alcohol out of the main park area, that's fine, but let the people who want to have wine with dinner be able to do so.
Besides, Disneyland is easier for me to get to, and I want a ridiculously expensive Star Wars cocktail.