Bill would allow expanded alcohol sales at Dorney Park, other Pa. theme parks

Written by on January 18, 2022

Bill would allow expanded alcohol sales at Dorney Park, other Pa. theme parks

By Emma Illick-Frank
January 18, 2022

Pennsylvania’s amusement parks have more on tap than just roller coasters.

Parks like Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in South Whitehall Township serve alcohol, but their liquor license only applies to certain locations. Now, lawmakers in Harrisburg are considering a bill that would allow large theme parks to sell alcohol anywhere on their property. 

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State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh/Berks, sponsored the proposal. He said Dorney Park reached out to him last year, seeking more flexibility with alcohol sales.

“The issues that they were facing were around moving concession stands mid-season,” Mackenzie said. “Because they have a restaurant liquor license, they were unable to make the changes, operationally, that they were looking for.”

The new bill would allow theme parks that are 40 acres or larger to replace their restaurant-class liquor licenses with public venue licenses. This would place fewer limitations on where they can serve drinks.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that more alcohol sales could make amusement parks less family-friendly, but Mackenzie disagrees. 

“The operations of an amusement park are much more akin to things like stadiums, arenas, museums, ski resorts…that already have this type of public venue license and are family-friendly,” he said.

Mike Fehnel, Dorney’s vice president and general manager, said the park wanted the same flexibility of alcohol sales given to other popular destinations, such as zoos and stadiums.

“The legislation would help level the playing field with what we believe are similar public venues,” he said. 

The House will vote on the proposal in the coming weeks. 

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