Starbucks Opens at Disney World: What Would Walt Say?

Starbucks lands at Disney World

Main Street, U.S.A., the gateway to Disney's Orlando park and a nostalgic evocation of small-town America, is the heart of the Magic Kingdom for many Disney lovers. That's why some patrons are balking at a Starbucks' providing refreshments at the Main Street Bakery, a popular institution along the strip.

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Despite a complaints on Disney blogs and a petition on (with 2,000 signatures so far) seeking to ban the corporate coffee giant from moving into the eatery, famous for its freshly made cinnamon rolls, the chain had a soft opening last weekend

"I used to work for Starbucks and I love coffee but seriously Walt Disney World is a place of DREAMS not NAME BRANDS!!! KEEP DISNEY WORLD A DREAM NOT A SELLOUT!!!" was one comment on the petition.

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For those who mourn the loss of the original "old world" bakery, it's important to keep in mind that Starbucks will not be operating the location and Disney invited the coffee giant into the park. The blog The Motley Fool also notes that Disney World has accepted corporate sponsorship in the past — its ties to PepsiCo go back to 1964, when Walt Disney was still alive. Kodak and Bank of America have funded attractions. McDonald's french fries are sold in some restaurants. A Disney Spokesperson pointed out to Yahoo! Shine that the Starbucks is providing refreshments in the restaurant space, which was renovated by Disney, and the Main Street Bakery hasn't been shut down. "One thing that we have consistently heard is that our guests want to enjoy Starbucks products while visiting our theme parks," he added. "We see this as adding to our theme park experience while still maintaining what our guests love about Main Street, USA."

Many critics lamented that they go to Disney to get away from the ubiquity of chains like Starbucks. And they pay a lot of money for the escape. The Orlando location just raised its ticket prices to a staggering $90 a day and Disneyland in California suspended discounts for state residents and hiked its prices to $92 a day. 

"When we go to WDW, we want to experience a different world to normal life. We want escapism — to have a Starbucks will make it like my local shopping mall. Main Street is old time — Starbucks is modern, it doesn't go with the theme. I don't think this was the image that Walt had for his Magic Kingdom. Personally I will be gutted if Starbucks takes over," a visitor from the United Kingdom expressed on the petition.

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Another wrote: "This is the worst idea ever. You would be destroying the small town early century America that this part was designed to represent! It also doesn't make sense to close a place that so many love. What's next? The Emporium will turn into Walmart? If I want to see this stuff, I could stay at home. Don't let the outside world into the Magic Kingdom."

A Starbucks spokesperson told Yahoo! Shine over the phone that it was the first time she had heard complaints about the opening. "We continue to be excited about the partnership with Disney and are committed to bringing the high-quality experience our customers expect from us to this location," she said. Disney did not respond to Shine's request for comments. 

While Main Street Bakery lovers are up in arms, it's hardly the first time the opening of a Starbucks has courted controversy. Considering there are more than 17,500 cafes worldwide and more than 3,000 new additions expected by 2017, it's a wonder it doesn't happen more often.

According to the blog Mouseplanet, Roy O. Disney, Walt's older brother, first included a description of Main Street, U.S.A., in his first proposal for the development of Disneyland park in 1953: "Main Street has the nostalgic quality that makes it everybody's hometown…It has a bank and a newspaper office, and the little ice cream parlor with the marble-topped tables and wire-backed chairs. There is a penny arcade and Nickelodeon where you can see old time movies." Now brought to you with Frappuccinos and WiFi.