The Disney Curmudgeon is a weekly op-ed piece from your friendly Hyperion Papers admin staff. I use this space to publicly rant about things that bother me, sometimes about Disney Parks, sometimes about Disney entertainment, but usually about the online Disney community. Obviously my opinions do not reflect those of the Disney Corporation, and it would be presumptuous for me to think that Disney would even care about my lunatic ravings, but they should, on both counts. What follows is my honest assessment on a topic that I find irksome. The disclaimer: I will keep my columns PG-13, but there will be the occasional light profanity, and sometimes, I may even allude to something a bit lewd. If I offend you in any way, feel free to let me know in the comments, but I did give you fair warning.
When Disney announced that they would be installing Starbucks outlets at several existing cafes in many of their U.S. parks, I was very pleased. The existing coffee options in the parks can be summed up with one word: swill. Now, is Starbucks the epitome of coffee excellence? No, of course not. In fact in my little corner of Podunk City, Podunk, there are several smaller chains that have a better all-around product, but Starbucks offers a more than serviceable product that is easily integrated into many more difficult locations than an already operating bakery or cafe in a theme park. It’s a company with a proven track record, making a quality product, with the means to support a high volume operation. The whole of the online Disney forumsphere should have exploded in jubilation! Disney Parks brought in an outside vendor, and actually did it right for a change!
What did we get? Paranoia, cynicism, conspiracy theories and outright delusional behavior. I shouldn’t be surprised. These are the same people who threw a shit fit when Disney stopped screen-printing their trademark on their napkins. Napkins! Here are the facts: Disney never said that they were going to replace their existing cafe locations with Starbucks stores. They have always maintained that Starbucks was going to merely take over the coffee production and add in a few of their existing pastry and pre-made food items. In their own words from the official announcement: “The café will serve Starbucks items, including coffee and espresso beverages, Frappuccino® blended beverages, and signature breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Guests also will have their choice of Disney favorites, including signature sandwiches and other items, as well as delicious desserts and sweet treats.”
Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Well, the collective read this as, “OMG GUYS THEY ARE STEALING OUR CINNAMON ROLLS AND REPLACING THEM WITH SCONES! AND THEY AREN’T EVEN MADE BY DISNEY!” The latter half of that is the annoying part of that sentiment. Forget the blatant lapse in comprehension, the fact that these people think that a) Disney makes everything that they sell, and b) they have conveniently forgotten about all of the other major corporations who already have footholds in the parks. Oh, how soon we forget about the McDonald’s french fries vendors that used to be all over the parks. I don’t think anyone ever complained about those.
Disney actually had to re-announce the Starbucks additions to further reiterate, in much clearer language, that Starbucks wasn’t going to take over the bakery duties in the parks. This was hailed as a victory of the voice of the people. All they won was what they already had, explained to them like they were children. It’s discouraging to be associated by proxy with such uninformed, reactionary nonsense.
So, now with the impending grand opening of the revamped Main Street Bakery coming over the horizon, I’m hoping that all of this paranoia finally goes the way of the Dreamfinder, although I wouldn’t put it past some to still labor under the delusion that Starbucks has usurped the beloved bakery for nefarious plans, most likely involving world domination through non-fat lattes. Look, if you’re still wistful for the good old days of coffee that tastes like puddle water filtered through dirty underwear, it’s easy enough to smuggle in your own NesCafe. It is Disney-made after all, right?