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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Myths About Pepsi at Florida's Magic Kingdom

As you might remember from a previous post, Pepsi and Coke were both sold side by side at DISNEYLAND & Florida's Magic Kingdom for many years. There is an interesting story told in Florida about why Pepsi is no longer sold there...

According to this story, the first weekend of operation in Florida exceeded everyone's expectations. The park was so crowded that the restaurants were quickly running out of everything including Coke and Pepsi. When frantic park managers called up both Coke and Pepsi to get more supplies, the Coke representative personally opened the warehouse, which was closed for the weekend, and made sure that Disney's supplies were replenished. The Pepsi representative told Disney that they were out of luck and had to wait until Monday for new stock. Angered, Disney ordered Pepsi removed and Coke picked up the rest of  the park as a reward for its assistance on a busy opening weekend.

An interesting story, but it just isn't true. Attendance at Florida's Magic Kingdom was a bust on opening weekend. If Disney managers made calls to Pepsi or Coke, it was to reduce orders due to lesser than expected attendance. In fact, attendance for the first two months of Florida's existence was so bad, Roy Disney thought he'd made a huge mistake in building the park. Imagineers, loyal to Walt Disney, joked that since Roy threw out Walt Disney's plans for the Florida project that the park was cursed. Luckily for the company, attendance finally picked up two months later. It is interesting to note that had the same thing happened at DISNEYLAND in 1955, the company would have most certainly gone bankrupt. DISNEYLAND's success, however, gave its younger sibling the breathing room it needed to establish itself.

Another reason why this story isn't true? Disney didn't switch to Coke only until 1985. Florida's Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. That would be a long wait to "punish" a slacking vendor. The only reason Pepsi left the parks was because they were overbid for the contract when Disney decided to have an exclusive drink vendor. Interestingly, Pepsi recently won the drink contract at Shanghai Disneyland, so who knows? Maybe Pepsi will make a comeback in the Magic Kingdom.