Disneyland is best known for its pixie dust, but it has its share of potent potables, too. From wine flights and craft beer, to cocktails like the Mosquito Mojito and the Smoked Turkey, you can fly higher than Dumbo. This is your guide to the good stuff.
Written by Christopher Schmidt, a former Disneyland Resort bartender, this ultimate guide to drinking at Disneyland distills everything you need to know about the extensive libations available at Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the resort hotels (with a special fantasy section on what might be served at Disneyland, if it weren't a dry theme park).
Schmidt's expert descriptions and analyses separate the spirit from the swill, and ensure you won't get a poor pour or a bad brew.
There's even a special chapter on drinking gymnastics to help you "disengage" from your family long enough to enjoy your favorite brews and concoctions without them calling a theme park intervention.
If you're going to get pixie-faced at Disneyland, you need this book.
Chapter 1: Drinking at Disney California Adventure
Chapter 2: Drinking at Disneyland Park
Chapter 3: Drinking at the Disneyland Resort Hotels
Chapter 4: Drinking at Downtown Disney
Chapter 5: Disneyland Drinking Gymnastics
Chapter 6: Disneyland Specialty Cocktails
Chapter 7: The Best of Drinking at Disneyland
Chapter 8: Disneyland Drinking Quick Reference
Chapter 9: Drinking Around Disneyland California Adventure
From day one, Walt Disney’s dream was to create a place where adults and children could come have fun together. There’s a plaque at the end of Main Street that says so. In the boardroom, where Walt’s people first brainstormed this now-famous ambition, I doubt anyone suggested Disneyland also become a place to come and get drunk.
Disney is all about family. A passion for Mickey Mouse, the Magic Kingdom, and the Matterhorn is a trait that is handed down through generations of dedicated Disney guests. The glint in a child’s eyes when they meet a real-life princess for the first time, pilot their first Dumbo, or don their first pair of mouse ears is what the dream is all about. A couple obnoxious “grownups” with substance abuse issues, and a misconception for what is expected of them, can leave a lasting scar on an impressionable child’s otherwise happy memory. Please, don’t be those people.
Whether visiting the Disneyland Resort as part of a family, or simply subjecting surrounding families to your own unavoidable influence, never lose sight of where you are. Be aware of the reason almost everyone else is there. From Walt’s earliest glimmer of imagination, to the present day, no one’s Disney dream entails or benefits from an interaction with drunken strangers.
Have fun. That is, and has always been, the point. If enjoying yourself involves becoming a public spectacle, please consider a more suitable venue; perhaps somewhere with a lower frequency of children, and people with less-childlike enthusiasms.
Having an exotically assembled beverage, rare vintage wine, and a refreshing, flavorful micro-brew, while immersed in theme-park paradise, is a life affirming experience. Do it. You are meant to. Disney wouldn’t offer alcohol otherwise. Just, please, pace yourself. If we, as adults, demonstrate we can be trusted to consume responsibly, one day these adult beverages may not be so prohibitively expensive, or at least not served in neon bright cups of shame.
What follows is a complete listing of every Disneyland Resort restaurant, bar, kiosk, and quick-service counter where you may find and purchase select alcoholic beverages. The beer, wine, and cocktails indicated are available at press time. Of course, that’s subject to change at Disney’s discretion, and change it does, often. If you risk missing your Soarin’ FastPass window to get yourself a Racer 5 IPA from the Alfresco Terrace, we admire your enthusiasm, though apologize in advance if it is no longer sold there.
Beer and wine varieties are listed by location. For bars and restaurants serving a full complement of liquor and offering an extensive wine list, it would be overly cumbersome to list them all. Select wines and specialty beverages are detailed for your contemplation and potential enjoyment.
Disneyland Resort draft beer is most often delivered in a 16-ounce plastic cup, especially at Disney California Adventure, where no one wants you tooling around with a glass bottle in your hands. 12-ounce bottles are available at non-Disney California Adventure bars, some restaurants, and gift shops.
Since Disney changes its prices so often, we don’t include prices in this guide. The more you drink, the less you’ll notice the prices, anyway.
Christopher Schmidt is a former Disneyland Resort bartender and author of The Complete Guide to runDisney: Disneyland Edition (Theme Park Press). If it involves amusement, attractions, athletics, adventure, and responsible enjoyment of exotic libations, you will find Christopher in the middle of it, eager to write and tell you all about it.
Every drinking establishment at the Disneyland Resort is cataloged in the book, with analysis and advice for making the most of your (drinking) time there. You'll learn when to dodge and where to drink.
Only recently appearing on the park map, and not even listed on the dining tab of the Disneyland Resort website, at press time, this scantily promoted beer outlet is one of the resort’s more popular attractions. Officially called Pacific Wharf Distribution Co., but lovingly known as the Karl Strauss Beer Truck, its following puts Flik’s, Luigi’s, and Ariel’s combined adventures to shame. Rivaling, often exceeding, crowds anywhere else in the park, the 12-tap craft beer walk-up counter warrants its own FASTPASS queue.
If you have even the slightest interest in truly well-made beer, become familiar with San-Diego-born Karl Strauss brewing. At any given time, Pacific Wharf has six varieties to suit most tastes and preferences. You won’t find a pure light beer here. For that you can skulk over to Cocina Cucamonga or Lucky’s Fortune Cookery, while your friends consume and cherish fountains of lovingly crafted brew.
Karl Strauss Tower 10 IPA has been served at the beer truck since shortly after it became available to the adoring public. Along with erecting the Matterhorn, procuring Star Wars, and repeatedly casting John Ratzenberger, such decisions are a measure of Disney’s signature cleverness and brilliance. If you like IPA, you will love Tower 10. If you don’t, get yourself into a position where you do. Your world will be the better for it. That such an amazing substance can be acquired and enjoyed within a Disney park in southern California represents a near-perfect confluence of my personal interests.
Tower 10 has recently given way at this location to new Karl Strauss standout Aurora Hoppyalis. It is an American style IPA that arouses within me blasphemous impulses. I think I like it better than Tower 10. I know! Try one, or two—adults are allowed to get two drinks at a time. See if I’m not mistaken.
Part of the beauty of the beer truck is its central location. Once you get through the unfortunate line—I’m old enough to remember when they didn’t have to put stanchions out—you have a few excellent options. You may sidle over to one of the many available tables and enjoy your excellent beer in the beautiful wharf-replicated setting and sunshine. At lunchtime, during Disney’s peak season, is about the only time this seating area fills up. You don’t want to hang out here then, anyway. The hordes of kids illegally feeding the ducks, while their negligent parents strew trash in your personal space, can tarnish even the most pleasant of beer-relishing experiences.
Another equally wonderful option is to take your beer and head through the sandstone arch to Cars Land. Sip glorious ale in the presence of the latest Disney-fashioned creativity. Marvel at the landscape and wholly novel Radiator Springs Racers attraction. Contemplate what type of person is willing to spend an extra thirty to one-hundred minutes in the Racers’ standby line. Considering I often lament the five minutes it takes to get a beer, I am not one of those people.
This year (2017) opened with a fairly ale-heavy Karl Strauss beer lineup. With Mosaic Session IPA joining Hoppyalis and Pintail Pale on the menu, beer connoisseurs are going to be compelled to make multiple trips through this line. Tips for how to maximize enjoyment of incredible Disney beer, without jeopardizing your family’s Disney vacation are discussed in our “Disneyland Drinking Gymnastics” chapter. For now, appreciate how the Karl Strauss Beer Truck is moored in the geographic center of the park. Don’t make your party stand around while you negotiate your way around the alcohol policy. You will likely pass through this area multiple times during the day.
Continued in "The Unofficial Disneyland Drinking Companion"!
You're not at Disneyland just to drink. (You're not - right?) You're there on a vacation with your family. But don't let that stop you. Christopher Schmidt has lots of ways for you to keep your cover as a responsible parent while still enjoying lots of beer, wine, and alcohol. Here's one of them:
“I forgot something in the car.” This one is a gem, though it requires some serious commitment. There is no such thing as a good parking spot at Disneyland. What can arguably be called the best spots are a country mile from the front gate, and grow logistically more difficult to reach the farther you get into the parks. This excuse is flawless, though you should only use it as a last resort. It will eat up a huge chunk of your Disney day, and you are going to have trouble living with yourself for a while.
The guilt will come from lying to your loved ones, at Disneyland. Because, to make this method work in your favor, you aren’t really going all the way back to your car. An actual trip to the parking lot leaves no time for getting or enjoying a drink. So, again, you’re going to lie. If you have an ardently developed sense of self-delusion, you don’t have think of it as lying, or sneaking off. At this point, you are not being honest with yourself, but you can look at it like you’re protecting the feelings of those you care about, by intentionally misleading them.
Your conscience aside, the toughest part of this caper is remembering to hide the thing on your person, which you will later claim to be fetching from the car. It should be concealable, practical, and not something sold at the park. Pretending to go back to the car for a hat, pen, or batteries, will get you an unwanted trip to, and purchase from, the nearest gift shop.
Glasses are a perfect false flag. They work best if you actually wear glasses, and if your family pays little enough attention to you that they won’t notice you getting out of the car without them. At the height of desperation, say, when your crew chooses to get in a 40-minute Dumbo line, make your move.
Claim you need to go back to the car. Don’t worry about anyone volunteering to accompany you, or go in your stead. If they couldn’t be bothered to look out for you in the first place, are they going to do anything so noble now? If you are parked in the Mickey & Friends parking structure, hop the monorail for the most convincing exit with the least amount of walking.
Once out of eyesight, head for the nearest tavern or dispensary of your choice. Pull your glasses out of your secret pocket and read the menu with clear vision, despite your conscience, which will be anything but.
I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but don’t pretend to be without your glasses if you truly can’t see without them. I applaud desperate measures, but sacrificing any part of your Disneyland visit to blindness is hardly worth that one drink. Except, this maneuver really grants the shameless perpetrator two or three drinks. It’s what makes it almost worth all the dishonesty. A trip to the parking lot and back can conceivably take over an hour. Then factor in how your family is surely not going to wait at the monorail station for your return. Reaching a meeting point, then, justifies even more time.
It is essential you do not forget the item you purported to go after. Try to explain to even the most gullible person you know how you managed to fail at the one thing you left to do, and how it still took you an hour to do it. Now, imagine getting through this story without anyone in your incredulous family catching wind of the alcohol on your breath.
Continued in "The Unofficial Disneyland Drinking Companion"!