After decades as the happiest and one of the driest place on Earth, Disneyland has decided to make a change. The massive amusement park plans to open an on-site brewery, the first of its kind on a Disney property. Though construction has not yet commenced — the company might be a bit more focused on Star Wars World — the project is already coming into focus. The (excellent) San Diego based brewery Ballast Point will open the 7,300-square-foot facility in Downtown Disney before the end of this year.
While there are already a very small handful of places to drink up inside Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney, the Ballast Point brewery represent a huge expansion of options as far as alcohol is concerned. Despite Greater Disneyland being one of the most frequently visited spots on the west coast, when Walt Disney opened his first park in 1971 he wanted families to focus entirely on spending time with each other so he prohibited the sale of alcohol. Getting a drink at a Disney park has been difficult since day one.
The new brewery, which is part of Ballast Point’s noteworthy expansion — the company was purchased by Constellation Brands in 2015—won’t just be a spot to stop and catch a buzz. Visitors will be able to sit down and eat at a Ballast Point restaurant and also visit a “research and development” brewery where they’ll be able to sample unreleased brews. The facility will, naturally, be kid friendly. In a sense, it seems to represent the slackening of Disney’s historically rigid corporate culture. On the other, it seems in keeping with the adoption of new social norms: Breweries and beer halls have been, as many urban parents know, become increasingly kid friendly over the last decade.
Still, Disney is isn’t going to change its core values just to pick up some alcohol revenue so don’t expect a bunch of fathers to start teetering around the park. Walt wouldn’t have stood for that. When beer tycoon August Busch Jr. reacted to a plan to build a theme park in St. Louis by saying that “Any man who thinks he can design an attraction that’s going to be a success in this city and not serve beer or liquor ought to have his head examined,” Disney famously took him at his word and built elsewhere.