More Disneyland Restaurants Adding Alcohol

Disneyland has announced new menus and meal services at three restaurants, which will also see alcohol added to their menus for the first time ever. This post covers the updated menu items, along with rehashed commentary about the controversy of booze being served in Disneyland.

Let’s start with the menu updates. Carnation Café and Café Orleans will both add new dishes to their menus, including appetizers, entrees, and desserts starting September 12, 2023. River Belle Terrace will do the same, while also expanding to a brunch meal service. All three restaurants will add alcohol for the first time–debuting beer, wine, and specialty cocktail menus, with new non-alcoholic beverages also joining the lineup.

According to Disneyland, the addition of alcohol at Carnation Café, River Belle Terrace, and Café Orleans is intended to create a consistent and enhanced guest experience as part of the food & beverage program across all table service restaurants inside Disneyland. While full menus aren’t yet available, Disney has offered a sneak peek at some of what’s coming on September 12, 2023:

Café Orleans:

  • Potato & Sausage Soup (returning fan favorite)
  • Pimm’s Hurricane (alcoholic beverage)
  • Bayou Punch (non-alcoholic beverage)

Carnation Café:

  • Veggie Skillet (breakfast)
  • Walt’s Chili-Cheese Omelet (breakfast)
  • Breakfast Mimosas
  • Bloody Mary (alcoholic beverage)
  • Peach Pie Margarita (alcoholic beverage)
  • Orange Cream Soda (non-alcoholic beverage)

River Belle Terrace

  • Roasted Summer Squash (lunch/dinner)
  • BBQ Burnt Ends Pasta (lunch/dinner)
  • Wildberry Mule (alcoholic beverage)
  • Mississippi Mud Pie (non-alcoholic beverage)

Disneyland has attributed the addition of alcohol to more menus to guest demand, and has further added that the menus have been thoughtfully updated so that they drink options pair with or reflect the cuisine of each table service restaurant. Disney has also added that there are no plans to add alcoholic beverages to counter service restaurants inside Disneyland.

This update marks the first time that alcoholic beverages will be served at these restaurants. The only restaurants that currently serve alcohol in Disneyland are Oga’s Cantina, Blue Bayou, and Club 33. That last one isn’t available to the general public, and both Oga’s and Blue Bayou can be difficult to book.

This follows the addition of beer and wines to select menus in Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland in recent years, as the unwritten rule that castle parks only served alcohol in the private Club 33 and its lounges has gradually been eroded.

Historically, any changes at Disneyland have been controversial. Alcohol in Disney’s theme parks has also been a polarizing issue. However, as noted above, the expansion of alcohol has occurred gradually over the last several years, to the point that we have our commentary on the topic fine-tuned.

In all seriousness, is anyone surprised by the announcement that alcohol will be served at three more restaurants in Disneyland? Do we honestly even care at this point? I feel like whatever outrage existed about this was exhausted years ago. It wasn’t even that much of a surprise back when the menu for Oga’s Cantina was announced. The writing has been on the wall for a while.

In my view, this is hardly cause for concern from a practical perspective. While guest “conflicts” have seemingly increased over the years, I haven’t heard of a single incident being attributable to alcohol being served at Oga’s Cantina, Blue Bayou, or Club 33 at Disneyland.

However, I have personally witnessed several guests who appeared to be stone-cold sober lose their cool in a variety of high-stress situations. Honestly, if I had to bet on what has led to more fights or conflicts in Disneyland, line-skipping or booze, I’m taking the former in an instant. Genie+ and Lightning Lanes are a far bigger “problem” from this perspective than is alcohol.

There’s also the reality that for the last two-plus decades, guests could walk 100 yards to Disney California Adventure where booze is ubiquitous, and get drunk, then return to Disneyland.

In addition to that, the cost-barrier to getting wasted at DCA or Disneyland is significant. Prices have increased across the board at Disneyland Resort in the last several years, but that’s especially true of alcohol. I had a bit of sticker shock when the Port of San Fransokyo Cervecería opened earlier this week and drinks were $13 to $14. And that’s just beer!

I’m not complaining about those prices–it’s probably a good thing that getting wasted at Disneyland is cost-prohibitive for the vast majority of guests. Likewise, I’d rather have higher prices on “unnecessary extravagences” like beer and soda than on park tickets or counter service entrees. (I know it’s not actually one or the other, but still.)

In any case, to the extent there even is any, the controversy here will be less about the actual outcome and more about history. This is really only an issue for longtime Disneyland fans versed in Walt Disney’s personal beliefs about alcohol in his park.

In a 1956 interview with the Saturday Evening Post, Walt said: “No liquor, no beer, nothing [in Disneyland]. Because that brings in a rowdy element. That brings people that we don’t want and I feel they don’t need it. I feel when I go down to the park I don’t need a drink. I work around that place all day and I don’t have one.

In context, this interview was about how Disneyland differed from a traditional amusement park, and how it offered an inviting atmosphere for families. The interview also specifically addresses clean toilets and was intended to reset expectations about what Disneyland, an unknown quantity at the time, would be, and how it would differ from amusement parks of the era.

The full interview is an interesting, enlightening, and amusing read. In context, it’s fair to say that Walt’s interview offers a “sales pitch” for Disneyland, informing guests of this new concept and clearly differentiating his new park from other amusement parks of the era. Strong emphasis on of that era. 

Over 65 years later, Disneyland is very much a known quantity. No sales pitch necessary. Disney PR does not have to mention restroom cleanliness or other signifiers of how Disney theme parks differ from Six Flags or local state fairs. The difference is patently obvious, and Disneyland’s reputation precedes it. Even those who have never been to one know that Disneyland is in a different league than regional amusement parks.

From a business perspective, it’s inarguable that it now makes sense to sell alcohol in Disneyland. There’s no need to establish a reputation for Disneyland at this point that would differentiate it from lowbrow amusement parks. That was a savvy, calculated business move in Walt Disney’s era. Similarly, pivoting to sell alcohol is a savvy business move in today’s era.

With regard to this topic or any, “what Walt would do” in the year 2023 is unknown by me and by you. Feigning outrage and proclaiming that Walt would hate every little change is as absurd as claiming he’d roll in his grave over the Country Bears no longer meeting at DCA. (Even if he totally is.)

My opinions change from year to year, and I don’t even have that much going on upstairs. It’s fair to say that a visionary mind like Walt’s would’ve evolved on a variety of topics over the course of several decades. And that’s putting it mildly. Maybe he would’ve changed his mind about alcohol in Disneyland; maybe not. We’ll never know.

Frankly, it’s frustrating when people say “Walt would want/do ___.” The overwhelming majority of the time, the person making that claim is projecting. No one has ever said that “Walt would want” something in conflict with their personal beliefs about Disneyland. It’s simply a way of trying to lend more credibility or gravitas to their own opinions. No one cares if you say “Tom wants more Country Bears.” But if you say, “Walt would want more Country Bears,” well, that might be more persuasive!

Nevertheless, we think it’s somewhat understandable that fans are perturbed by the sale of alcohol in Disneyland. Walt Disney has explicit quotes on this very topic. His position was crystal-clear…albeit it nearly 70 years ago.

Moreover, it’s hypocritical on Disney’s part. Pretty much any announcement of an attraction closing or a potentially unpopular is usually justified with some Walt Disney quote about progress or moving forward. The implicit message is always clear: “what we are doing is okay because this is what Walt would have wanted.”

This cherry-picking of Walt Disney quotes to justify business decisions is disingenuous at best, and emotionally manipulative at worst. The fact is, no one knows what Walt Disney would have wanted or done decades after his death, and to apply very vague quotes to very specific decisions is inappropriate.

The Walt Disney Company should own all of its business decisions based on whatever current circumstances exist, not use Walt as a convenient PR shield when it so suits the company. In every situation, the modern Disney company is acting in its own contemporaneous best interests without regard to Walt Disney. At this point, he’s basically a corporate mascot, little different from the mouse he created.

Ultimately, I have nothing against alcohol being sold at table service restaurants in Disneyland as has been the case for two decades in Disneyland Paris and now at Magic Kingdom for several years. Despite that, neither of those parks have devolved into amusement parks with roaming gangs and spontaneous ruckuses. We’ve never witnessed any alcohol-fueled incidents in Disney California Adventure, either. Literally the only Disney park in the world that ever seems to have problems is EPCOT, which has cultivated a competitive culture of drinking around World Showcase.

Besides, if someone wants to be wasted at Disneyland, they can chug a few drinks at Disney California Adventure and be inside Disneyland within 10 minutes. From a practical perspective, it has long been possible to be drunk at Disneyland (even before DCA, there were convenience stores ~10 minutes from the Esplanade), so this shouldn’t really change the vibe of the park. To the extent that this is still a controversy, it’s somewhat understandable–as Disney does use Walt as an excuse for changes when convenient, so it should be of little surprise when fans do the same in an attempt to contest changes they dislike.

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

What do you think of alcohol being served in Carnation Café, River Belle Terrace, and Café Orleans at Disneyland? Are you surprised by this news or “over” the alcohol at Disneyland controversy? Agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? We love hearing from readers–even when you disagree with us–so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

23 Responses to “More Disneyland Restaurants Adding Alcohol”
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