Universal bans hundreds of under-age drinkers during Horror Nights

Posted | Contributed by Lord Gonchar

Universal Orlando has a zero-tolerance stance on under-age drinking that is getting hundreds of people banned from the resort this month during its annual Halloween Horror Nights festival, which takes place evenings every weekend. Robert Viands of Plantation learned the hard way Saturday after he bought an alcoholic "Jell-O shot" from a roaming vendor -- then let his 17-year-old daughter, Ashley, have a taste. He said the two of them and his daughter's friend, Sergio Jacas, 18, were quickly escorted out of the park and given trespass warnings that prevent their return.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Jeff's avatar

"It's a lose-lose for all involved. We go there all the time, stay inthe hotels, spend money. We're not bad people. They're kicking out goodpeople as well as the bad," Viands said. "It's not like we're teenagerswho would go there and get drunk and start a fight."

Yeah, and at stake for the park is millions in revenue if they lose their license, so do the math.

Every venue that I can think of that sells alcohol where there are also kids is at least this paranoid. You'd think that people would have more common sense.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

rollergator's avatar

"Robert Viands"? Some of you SHOULD recognize that name, LOL... ;)

eightdotthree's avatar

It's so funny to me when adults complain about things like this.

He should get a 12 year old to write to Universal for his appeal. That seems to be trend when dealing with parks and alcohol.

The Mole's avatar

Tresspassing warning? Seriously?

I'm as much against idiot teens, but still, can't they see that if you combine roaving vendors with idiot guests there will be huge problems? With such a popular event, wouldn't it be better to have lots of stands (aka Food & Wine) to sell such things at, have everyone ID'd, then let the parents do what they want with it?

I agree Universal needs to cover their ass, but in a crazy time and place as HHN, their sales practaces are a little odd. The only time there should be roaving consessions with alcohol, IMHO, are at stadium and other seated functions. Blue Man had Jello Shots too, but while there were lots of people at the show, they were in seats and organized in a bright area...

The parent in this case bought the drink and gave it to his kid. Having a stand sell the drink rather than a vendor doesn't help much.

Is a year-long ban maybe just a tad bit over the top? Sure. But, tough noogies. If you haven't read the article yet, here's another tidbit:

Normally, a person is banished for one year. Viands said he was afraid he, his daughter and Jacas were about to be arrested Saturday night, so he refused to cooperate fully -- and wound up being banned from the resort for life.

Last edited by Brian Noble,
Raven-Phile's avatar

Not that I'm defending Viands, but is it against the law in FL for a parent/legal guardian to allow their children to have alcohol?

I'm completely serious here, because in Ohio, if that happens it's apparently legal provided the parent/guardian ordered and paid for the drink.

Last edited by Raven-Phile,

You know what Raven-Phile, when I first read your comment I thought "Man, he is crazy!".

I then looked up Ohio drinking laws and your right, it IS legal!

Learn something new every day :) Thanks! haha

Last edited by SteveWoA,
Jeff's avatar

What do you expect from the state that banned gay marriage, removed the right of businesses to allow smoking and elected Bush? Twice.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Some states do not let under 21's into a place that serves alcohol
unless they are a restaurant (defined by 50% of gross sales must be Food)

I just hope this story doesn't paint a bulls eye on Universal The anti drinking crowd may find this as a reason to attack this park.Do you think without the alcohol revenue this event could even be held .

In an effort to disclose I have been to HHN staying on site and did drink till I had a buzz going. But not falling down, puking in the bushes like some of the people there.(I am 45)

What happens when a 18-20 year old with facial hair buys a drink on video and that is shown to the Alcohol regulatory agency .Do you think their would be cutbacks in operating hours. number of employee's,and the cutting of park hours without the sale of alcohol ?

What would have happened if this was not her father but some guy who lured her with alcohol .The story says he would not explain what happened did the park at that point know he was her father ? What is the park supposed to do if a middle age man hands or shoots alcohol into a minor? The story says "gave her a taste" but doesn't explain if he handed the whole things to her.

The whole thing boils down to the park was protecting themselves.their
license and most important THE UNDERAGE PERSON who should not be drinking in public .


kpjb's avatar

I don't know... I have to say tough crap to the guy.

I was raised in an Italian family, and regularly had wine with family meals when I was in my early teens. I think this country's puritanical views on alcohol and sex are ridiculous.

That being said, the laws are what they are. If you want to give your 17 year-old booze, Universal is probably not the proper venue. He should know better, and if something happens to the girl it's Universal's deep pockets that get sued.


Zero-tolerance policies for the lose.

Jeff's avatar

I agree that our views on alcohol are completely screwed up, but I don't think we can hold Universal accountable for that. I think their decisions are driven by the law and the dollar.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

coasterqueenTRN's avatar

I don't condone giving ANY amount of alcohol to minors but then again I don't see what the big deal was. I am sure he wasn't the first OR last to be caught giving booze to minors at any park.

I can see Universal's point, especially when their liquor license could be revoked, costing them millions as well as negative publicity. Personally I would of done the same for my 17-year old, but I would of waited till I got HOME! I would of been like "So how does that taste? Tastes like crap, right? REMEMBER that!" ;)

This is just a case of BAD judgement. The fact that he had to make a scene just made things worse.


Last edited by coasterqueenTRN,

As Jeff points out, the law is the law, and it's not Universal'sfault for following it---especially given the economic (dis)incentives.

But, I think Ohio's take is pretty reasonable. I like the custom followed in some European countries of serving a small amount watered-down wine to children at special dinners, and think that's not a bad way to help frame alcohol as something other than a means to get drunk. In Ohio, I'd be able to do that in a restaurant legally. Not so in Michigan. Technically, I can't even do it in my own home.

Of course, operationally I can't either, because the Mrs. is not on board with the whole watered-down-wine thing, and that's not a place I'm willing to spend husband points.

The Mole's avatar

Jeff said:
I agree that our views on alcohol are completely screwed up, but I don't think we can hold Universal accountable for that. I think their decisions are driven by the law and the dollar.

I agree in full about watching their backs and their check books, just how Universal sells the alcohol seems to reduce the respect for it and a good way to get people to second guess would be to change how they sell it. And the one year blanket banning is way too harsh, don't they have humans running this thing that can see this wasn't a case of parents buying tons of beers for their kids?

The More You Know: Ohio also toyed with the idea of reducing the drinking age to 18 again a few years ago, as all the states dictate the drinking age. The Federal Government placed pressure on them not to by threatening to withdraw road and school money if the law passed.

Its written into Federal Law that any state with a drinking age lower than 21 will not receive federal funding. So it wasn't the government threatening them so much as pointing out the consequences.


You're right, common sense would suggest that the reaction was probably too harsh. However, common sense and the law rarely have anything to do with one another.

The road money hammer goes way back---it was the mechanism the Reagan administration used to get the last few holdout states to move up to 21. Most of the holdouts were in the west, but if memory serves Ohio allowed 18+ to purchase beer with an ABV of 3.2 or lower.

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