The real magic starts with a Walt Disney World cocktail. From wine flights and craft beer, to special concoctions like the Gullywhumper, the Dorma Nesmond Martini, and Viking Coffee, 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 Walt Disney World distills everything you need to know about the extensive libations available at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, the water parks, and the resort hotels.
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. Don't forget to pack your breathalyzer!
There's even a special section on how to navigate Epcot's World Showcase for the alcoholic marathon known as Drinking Around the World without family, friends, or Disney security calling for a magical intervention.
If you're going to get pixie-faced at Walt Disney World, you need this book.
Chapter 1: Epcot
Chapter 2: Disney's Hollywood Springs
Chapter 3: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Chapter 4: Magic Kingdom
Chapter 5: Disney's Water Parks
Chapter 6: Disney's Resort Hotels
Chapter 7: Disney Springs
Chapter 8: Walt Disney World's Best Beverages
An incredible amount of good fortune surrounds the creation and publication of a Disney drinking guide. This being the second of two such guides, I am doubly grateful for the people and forces that have contributed to turning this incredible opportunity into a companion-volume reality.
In part, I wish to show my gratitude by imploring every Disney enthusiast I can influence to conduct themselves as adults. Such admonition applies to life in general, and as it regards behavior within a Disney-fashioned family resort, most especially. Unless you happen to be an actual child. In which case, put this book down and go ride some rides, would ya?
The privilege of enjoying a Berry Bellini on a fountain-festooned Epcot patio, or the world’s most delectable IPA on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort, is as enviable as it may be fleeting. Disney is delighted to make the kind of margin afforded by alcohol sales. Still, Disney is, above all else, an entertainment company. They understand it is the mouse, creatively themed roller coasters, and prestige that bring in the masses. Surely, the parks attract a few more people, a little more often, since a certain demographic has fairly easy access to alcohol. You can be equally sure, Disney would mothball every wine bar, beer stein, and margarita machine if they measured a dip in attendance by those who don’t drink (see families), as any result of those who do.
Instances of purely poor park behavior are, fortunately for us all, relatively rare; at least when compared to anywhere in the real world. If we could convince ourselves not to engage in the truly foolhardy “Drinking Around the World” pursuit, incidents might well be negligible.
What I endeavor to impart is how additionally wonderful a Walt Disney World visit can be with a glass of wine before the parade, or a poolside fruity Grey Goose concoction. Magic abounds for everyone when no one is subjected to, or experiencing, the negative effects of compulsive alcohol consumption.
Have a drink. You’re meant to. Alcohol wouldn’t be available throughout Walt Disney World otherwise. Enjoy less than your absolute limit, and let everyone within your circle of influence enjoy their day.
Christopher Schmidt is a former Disneyland Resort bartender and author of The Complete Guide to runDisney: Disneyland Edition and the counterpart to this book, The Unofficial Disneyland Drinking Companion (both from 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.
If you don't want to quaff your beer in a bustling buffet full of kids meeting Mickey, or sip your cocktail on the busy by-ways of Epcot's World Showcase, unpack your thirst at the quiet, elegant, and little-known Mizner's Lounge at the Grand Floridian.
Similar to the understated and elegant Ale & Compass, at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, simply crossing Mizner’s threshold transports you to another world of peace, serenity, and positive lounging. While living your life properly, you cannot but be passionate about Disney World. Sometimes, though, you just gotta get away.
Four theme parks, two water parks, the BoardWalk, Dole Whips, Disney Springs, forty or so hotel properties, with twice as many pools, miniature and standard-sized golf courses, boating, bowling, Hoop-Dee-Dooing, shopping, horseback riding, movies, Galaxian for the cool kids; it can get overwhelming. Mizner’s is a perfect place to get away from your getaway, if only for a while.
When you come to a new venue, and there’s a drink on the menu with the name of the place in it, order it. The Mizner Cooler, on paper, is a cross between a gimlet and a gin mojito. Don’t ever order the latter, even with Nolet’s Gin, unless you can monorail home. The Mizner Lounge makes everything taste good, even a combination of two drinks you don’t really want.
The lounge is not open in the morning, and food service is limited. When available, take advantage of it, as they clearly have access to Cítricos’ kitchen. As your wild day winds down, send the kids to Gasparilla for pizza, and sneak into Mizner. Curl up with a complicated cocktail. Ignore the television. Realize that you are blessed. A live orchestra plays nearby. You will be tempted to ask to have your mail forwarded. (Disney does not say no, often, but they will say no to that.)
Mizner Cooler: St-Germain, Nolet’s Gin, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water, and fresh mint
Salted Caramel Manhattan: Palm Ridge Whiskey, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, salted caramel syrup, bitters, and pineapple juice
Continued in "The Unofficial Walt Disney World Drinking Companion"!
While the hoi-polloi dine and drink in expensive splendor next door at Tiffins, you, my informed friend, will be able to drink—if not so much dine—in cool, dark seclusion right here at Nomad Lounge.
There are certain signature attractions, views, and venues that define Walt Disney World: Spaceship Earth, California Grill, Cinderella Castle, Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. Also, as in the case of Be Our Guest, we witness how Disney creativity shapes many restaurants into attractions themselves.
As much for the experience as the food, certain restaurants, pool bars, and taverns appear on your every-visit must-do list. For those who’ve discovered it, Tiffins has become one such place within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The attached Nomad Lounge is now a personal favorite.
I think I would have loved it, even if my first visit wasn’t on a sweltering autumn afternoon. Nomad Lounge is the sort of place to which I travel when I am daydreaming. Rustic, dark-ish, littered with character and distraction. (I also dream about the contempo-modern, brightly lit California Grill Lounge, but, hey, diversity is a sign of sophistication, right?)
I love the theme, as well as walking in the footsteps of ambitious adventurers, and the very cast members who wandered the globe, turning another Disney dream into reality. My first crack at writing was composing family travel journals as a kid. I was disappointed when National Geographic failed to publish my eight-thousand-word Yosemite masterwork. Can’t claim to be surprised, especially when my own family’s interest was, at best, fleeting. I try not to hold a grudge. Not their fault they weren’t blessed with a pioneer’s vision and spirit.
I still adore the classic Disney specialty drinks menu. This has more to do with sentiment than any continued interest in the now arguably stale cocktails. The new Nomad Lounge menu is as brilliant as it is spiritually and physically refreshing. Even though it still hurts to think about Nat Geo and my pandering family, the menu’s travel-journal format, reflecting emblematic Disney creativity, elicits predominantly positive sentiment. The beverages themselves will have you lining up outside Tiffins, waiting for rope drop.
Those of a mind, or adolescence, to order a non-alcoholic specialty beverage, I recommend the Zingiber Fizzie. Besides being a positive pleasure to say out loud, a Zingiber Fizzie is an exceptional drink. It is the unleaded version of the Annapruna Zing (also fun to say), described below, from the Indonesia pages of the journal. The Annapruna is ridiculously good. It is exactly what you envision when you taste the Fizzie and muse, “This would be something with some gin in it.”
For atmosphere, aperitifs, and appetizers, you are unlikely to find anyplace as amazing as California Grill. Without meaning to, perhaps, in the Nomad Lounge we have stumbled upon one. I wish Nomad wasn’t so far from the park entrance. I wish it wasn’t so enticingly close to Pandora.
It is a must-do. I will come here every time I visit Walt Disney World. I will sip creative, whimsically colored cocktails, with intriguing backstories, as the less mindful pass by to fill prohibitive Pandora queues. I will fret, with pettiness unbecoming a Disney park, as Pandora flunkies spill over into my intimate, beautiful bar. I will take advantage of copious tipping, that the Nomad cast may remember me for all the right reasons, and I will get my drinks ahead of the masses.
Do not believe you can bribe a Disney cast member. But if it comes down to a coin flip between someone huffing and waving a menu like a fly swatter, or someone they recognize, who has been patient, and, in the past, memorably generous, who do you think gets their elaborate drink first?
Annapurna Zing, Indonesia: Bombay Sapphire East Gin, passion fruit purée, mint, simple syrup, and lime Juice, topped with ginger beer
Jenn’s Tattoo, Asia: Ketel One Vodka, watermelon, hibiscus, and lime juice
Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale: USA, 16 oz. draft
Continued in "The Unofficial Walt Disney World Drinking Companion"!