Meet the Happiest Baristas on Earth

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DisneyIf you're hankering for a Starbucks (SBUX) Cinnamon Dolce Latte between rides on Space Mountain and Peter Pan's Flight, Disney (DIS) is ready to fulfill your caffeinated cravings.

Disney will soon offer Starbucks locations at all six of its domestic theme parks. The first store will open this summer at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim.

Don't expect to see patrons toting Wi-Fi-sipping laptops and baristas wearing green aprons. Disney, after all, runs theme parks. The stores will be themed to wherever they may be in their respective parks, and that will include decor and employee uniforms.

The plan is just to offer patrons a taste of what they may crave outside of the parks, just as Disney has sold McDonald's (MCD) fries and other treats in the past.

Taking a Page Out of the Regional Amusement Park Playbook

Six Flags (SIX) and Cedar Fair (FUN) have turned to national chains to fill in the gaps of their self-branded dining options.

Cedar Fair has franchised the West Coast classic Pink's hot dog stand at a couple of its theme parks. Papa John's (PZZA) has been the exclusive pizza provider at Six Flags for years. Johnny Rockets retro burger joints can be found at parks owned by both Six Flags and Cedar Fair.

Disney, on the other hand, has been a holdout. The company prefers to immerse patrons in its themed environments, and that's usually at the expense of shutting out the outside world.

It's a Small World After All

One of Walt Disney's greatest laments was not acquiring enough land for the original Disneyland park. Despite using landscaping and architectural tricks to immerse patrons in his theme park experience, the neighboring third-party hotels and restaurants were occasionally visible. When he was secretly scouting Central Florida for his next gated attraction, he made sure that his company acquired dozens of square miles of land to ensure that there would be no regrets.

Restaurants and even rides may have corporate sponsorships, but the marketing is usually subtle. Even if Disney resorts to a food court, the company doesn't want it to look like the one at your local mall.

Obviously this doesn't mean replacing Starbucks' signature siren with Ariel -- from The Little Mermaid -- but it's highly unlikely that the in-park locations will feel exactly like your friendly neighborhood Starbucks.

Will the menu at the park be as varied as that of the traditional stores? Will prices be even higher than the premium coffee house's already elevated ransoms? Will the serving sizes shrink to make sure that folks aren't walking around the park spilling hot coffee on mouse-eared toddlers on runaway strollers?

We'll just have to wait for those caffeinated responses.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Papa John's International, Disney, and Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, Disney, and Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing covered calls on Starbucks.


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