When I visited Walt Disney World as a kid with my family – and even during a school trip to the parks in high school – I never noticed anyone drinking alcohol. Maybe the hard stuff is just more pervasive now than back in 1989, but these days you can buy booze pretty much anywhere at Disneyland and Disney World (except the Magic Kingdom – the teetotalers won out there).
Epcot is by far the booziest of the Orlando parks – the annual Food and Wine Festival (September 28-November 12 in 2012) comes highly recommended – while your best bets in Anaheim can be found in Downtown Disney. Here are a few of the top places to tipple at the Happiest Places on Earth.
Best Places to Drink with Disney Characters
At the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot, Disney Princesses mingle among the tables for autographs and photo ops, while adults can knock back Norwegian-themed cocktails like the Stavanger (a frozen concoction with raspberries, vodka, and aquavit) or the Prince of Norway (apricot brandy, sloe gin, sour mix, and orange juice).
Over at Disney California Adventure, Ariel’s Grotto promises a similar experience at lunchtime with Ariel, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, as well as potent potables like the Magical Star Cocktail (mango and passion fruit liqueur, coconut rum, and pineapple juice; also available at Akershus) and the Superfruit Martini (acai-blueberry vodka, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice, agave nectar, and lemon juice).
Best Places for “Authentic” Drinking Experiences
Obviously everything at Disney World is, well, the Disney version, but washing down wurst and schnitzel with a stein of beer at Epcot’s Biergarten Restaurant is pretty enjoyable.
Not far off at the Italy Pavilion, you can sample 200 wines at the new Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar (opened May 1) while nibbling on bruschetta and cannoli.
Best Places for Happy Hour and BYOB
Tortilla Jo’s in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney has $5 margaritas and other rotating food and drink specials on weekdays from 2-5pm. The restaurant also stocks over 100 tequilas and doesn’t charge a corkage fee if you bring your own vino.
Down the block, Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar similarly waives the corkage fee, but sadly happy hours at Uva Bar have been suspended. (When I called to confirm, the hostess told me “it’s always happy hour.” Pardon me, but your $8.50 draft beers say otherwise.)
Best Cheesy (but Awesome) Places to Drink
At the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can watch sci-fi and monster movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s as you guzzle the ubiquitous Magical Star Cocktail and spiked milkshakes with names like Marsha’s Martian and Space Monkey. After enough drinks you can turn the show into your own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Over on Disney’s BoardWalk, Jellyrolls provides alcohol-fueled entertainment with live piano singalongs of your favorite pop and rock hits. Be sure to tip the musicians generously to ensure your song is played.