If you thought Disney World was just for kids, prepare to have your entire worldview changed. The first time I went to Disney, I was nine, so I wasn’t exactly looking to score some sauce. According to my parents, at that time the best place to grab a drink in Epcot without sitting down for a full table service meal was at the Rose and Crown in the England pavilion. But over the past few years, there’s been a cultural change, and Disney has realized what the rest of us have known for years: screaming children are waaaaay more tolerable with some booze.
You may have heard of the Drinking ‘Round the World challenge, where people try to have a drink at all 11 pavilions in Epcot’s World Showcase. It’s presented as the pinnacle of Disney drinking, a pure challenge of both liver and mental stamina. But I’m here to tell you that it’s really just chump change. So you spent one day drinking around the world. BIG DEAL. I’m going to teach you how to do the real #DrinkingThroughDisney, spanning multiple parks, resorts, and every single day of your vacation.
Now, Disney is an extremely family friendly place (duh), and above all, private property. So I’m going to preface all of this with “know your limits.” I don’t condone doing anything that would get you yelled at or kicked off property, which includes trying to sneak booze past security or getting blackout shitfaced. I’m also not here to tell you how to drink through Disney on the cheap. At this point, you should have accepted that you’ll be paying $7.50 for a domestic beer. With that said, let’s get straight to where to get your drank on.
Epcot: Experimental Prototype Community of (getting) Totally (wasted)
Obviously, the best place to find alcohol in Disney is in Epcot. While it may be the most boring park for most kids, the World Showcase is basically if someone decided to create a theme park for adults too poor and lazy to travel the world. Each different pavilion features food, drinks, and shopping from 11 different host countries. The shopping is fun because you can actually find imported products you can’t normally find in the US (my favorite is the paprika chips in Germany). The food and drink is fun because, well, food and drink! For god-mode #DrinkingThroughDisney, visit Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring or the Food and Wine Festival in the fall, when they add special booths and kiosks throughout the World Showcase serving special food selections and most importantly, tons of beer and wine!
Since Disney is located in the swampy humid pit of sweat known as central Florida, you’re gonna want to find someplace cool to enjoy your adult beverages. My favorite places to hit up are La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion, and Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Italy. Both are indoors, heavily air conditioned, and nice and dark.
Cava del Tequila suffers from the occasional onslaught of drunk tourists with no indoor voices, but it’s worth it compared to the margarita stands around the park. But don’t let that limit you! You can find a way to get drunk at every single country. Shit, France will pour Grand Marnier on your gelato at L’Artisan des Glaces. Now that is the future that Walt Disney dreamed of.
…And The Rest of Walt Drunky World
Just because Epcot has the most booze, doesn’t mean you should rule out the other parks entirely. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom both have various quick service areas and lounges that boast an impressive bar. You can even find alcohol in Magic Kingdom, but with a catch: it’s only served at Be Our Guest, which is a table service (read: sit down, really long line to get in) restaurant. I find the best way to sneak alcohol into the Magic Kingdom is the old fashioned way: in your stomach. If you’re at all familiar with the Magic Kingdom monorail, you’ll know it makes a giant loop through the park, the Contemporary, the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. A great rainy day or pre-Magic Kingdom activity is to complete what I’ve dubbed “The Monorail Trail”. Take the monorail to the Contemporary and have a drink at The Wave on the ground floor.
Then, head over to the Polynesian to have a fruity tropical drink at the Tambu Lounge (and say hi to Walter, he makes great drinks). Finally, head over to the Grand Floridian and hit up Mizner’s Lounge, where they (usually) have a live jazz band playing outside. From there, you can head to Magic Kingdom, or watch the fireworks from the Grand Floridian dock by Narcoossee’s. (For a really awesome fireworks experience, head back to the Contemporary and head to the lounge at the California Grill — they pipe the music for the fireworks into the restaurant!)
Another good drinking spot is Downtown Disney, where you can liquor up and then drunkenly spend all your money at the Lego store. If you’re really desperate or you’ve spent all your money, every on-property resort (that I’ve seen) sells a selection of beer, wine, hard alcohol, and mixers in the gift shop. It is actually easier to buy a handle of booze at Disney than it is in some entire states I’ve been in. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, PENNSYLVANIA!)
Get The Most Bang for Your Magic Band Buck
I know I said I wasn’t going to tell you how to do this cheaply, because the cheapest way would be to smuggle your own flask everywhere, which takes all the fun out of things. However, there is something to be said for planning your drinks wisely. Some of the more standard drinks that are served at every resort and park follow a strict recipe, or may even come pre-mixed, which means one thing: WEAK. In these cases, you’re probably better off ordering wine or beer.
However, keep an eye on your bartender if possible. If they’re rushed, bored, or feeling generous, they may be doing more boozy pours. Be vigilant and order accordingly. The standard rules of drinking apply here as well: Be nice, tip well, and you’ll be taken care of. Really, you should be nice and tip well without an ulterior motive, but I’ve worked in customer service for too long to believe in that.
Don’t Stay Thirsty, My Friends
Drinking plenty of water is one of those rules of drinking that you know but pretty much ignore, if you’re anything like me. On a normal night of drinking at home, I can get away with not having as much water as I should, and just suffer the worsened hangover the next morning. However, at Disney, most of your drinking is going to take place outside, in 80+ degree heat and blazing sun, so water is key. I’ve seen people feel faint, pass out, and even need EMS due to dehydration in the parks, even when they were sober. Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you and refill or replace it as soon as it’s empty. If you go to a sit-down restaurant, order a water with every drink. Trust me, you’ll need it. I also recommend buying a case of water to stock your hotel room with, mostly because tap water in the Disney area is the most disgusting tap water I’ve ever tasted in my life. I’m not normally a snob about these things, but it tastes like oily backwash. 0/10 do not recommend chugging when waking up hungover.
The Morning After
Speaking of hangovers, they’re gonna happen. Either because you’re having too much fun in the happiest place on Earth, or because you ignored my previous advice about staying hydrated. This is where your water bottle stash comes in handy, because that tap water will definitely induce vomiting. The other thing to keep in mind is your recuperative medications. Disney sells a limited selection of pharmaceuticals, which includes pretty much every big-name painkiller, but not many antacids or other stomach aids. If you have a preferred brand or type of drug (or if you’re a weirdo with heartburn issues like me, a favorite flavor of Tums), I recommend bringing it from home.
If you’re staying on-property, the concierge actually has a service that will go out and buy any OTC drug for you and deliver it to your room, which can be a godsend if you don’t have a mode of transportation off-property. The other key thing to know is that pretty much every store in the parks is stocked with painkillers and a variety of other drugs, even if they aren’t on the shelves. Just ask at the counter and they’ll pull out a big bin of tupperware and provide you with some blessed hangover relief. This is especially handy for when you think you’re recovered enough to go to the parks, and find out the hard way you aren’t.
But They Still Won’t Let You Take It on The People Mover 😦
I’m from New York, where there are pretty strict rules about where you can and cannot carry open containers. But let me clue you in on my favorite #DrinkingThroughDisney pro-tip: Because Disney is private property, and Florida has looser open container laws, you can carry your alcohol anywhere on property. That’s right, ANYWHERE. I found this out leaving dinner when our waiter told us that we could literally pop our resealed bottle of wine open on the bus and start drinking without getting in any sort of trouble. I tested this the next day when I bought a beer at Epcot and carried it from the World Showcase, through Future World, out the gates, and onto the monorail without anyone so much as batting an eye at me.
The next day, I saw a dad sitting alone in the lobby of the Grand Floridian drinking white wine straight out the bottle (like I said, the easiest way to bring booze into the Magic Kingdom is in your tummy). Obviously, this doesn’t mean you can just waltz into one of the parks with a handle, but don’t feel like you need to chug your drink before leaving the seating area. You’re on vacation. Relax!
Rome Wasn’t Drunk in a Day
A lot of people feel the pressure to never stop moving at Disney, because there’s so much to see and do, and they want to cram it all into one trip. If you’re Drinking Through Disney, this is a recipe for burnout, because sadly, if you’re old enough to drink, you’re too old to have someone carry you out of the parks on your shoulder if you get too tired. (I’ve tried. My dad said no.) Even if you’re not the type to schedule out your vacation activities, try to set aside some time for chilling by the pool or hanging in the lobby, preferably sans alcohol. Your liver and feet will thank you. It may be easy to drink all day and night while you’re lounging on a beach, but throw in the stress and crowds of Disney, and you’ll welcome the mini vacation-from-vacation.
So, now that you are armed with this #DrinkingThroughDisney knowledge, go forth, my friends. Don your Mickey ears, sensible footwear, and sunscreen…and drink!