Feb. 03, 2022

Legislation I am sponsoring to help Pennsylvania amusement parks deal with an antiquated state regulatory system, and keep communities in which they are located safe, is advancing in the House of Representatives. 

The issue came to my attention when Dorney Park’s application to change the way it uses its liquor license was denied by the Liquor Control Board (LCB). The park currently operates under a “restaurant liquor license,” as all amusement parks in Pennsylvania do. 

Dorney Park was seeking flexibility in the layout of alcohol sales on its property in South Whitehall Township. It is quite clear a “restaurant liquor license” is not a good fit for the park or similar attractions throughout the Commonwealth because it does not match the reality of their operations. 

My legislation would reclassify an amusement park as a “public venue.” This category already exists, and amusement parks would be treated similarly to other public venues such as hotels, golf courses, ski resorts, bowling alleys, museums, and science centers. This makes more sense and it allows for the flexibility of moving concession stands to different locations throughout the season as attractions change. 

Under House Bill 2049, amusement parks that hold a restaurant liquor license prior to Jan. 1, 2021, would be allowed to exchange it for a public venue license at no cost since they have already paid a greater amount for a restaurant liquor license. The restaurant liquor licenses, which are in high demand, would then be turned in and auctioned off by the LCB and guarantee revenue for the state. 

The bill, which has the support of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee in December. During the committee meeting, one member expressed concern that if the measure becomes law, expanded alcohol sales would be permitted at an amusement park for children near Philadelphia. However, that concern is unwarranted because other family-friendly attractions in Pennsylvania and amusement parks in other states currently have the ability to do this, and these amusement parks in question already sell alcohol in a controlled way. It is important to note that this is only an option for amusement parks, and they would still be required to follow all other laws relating to alcohol sales in Pennsylvania. 

It’s important that we update our state laws from time to time. This legislation will address an outdated system that does not match the reality of the operations at amusement parks in Pennsylvania while continuing our commitment to protect communities. 

I look forward to House Bill 2049 being considered by the full House of Representatives, which is the next step in the legislative process. 

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Andy Briggs
RepMackenzie.com / Facebook.com/RepMackenzie