Whether you love or loathe Disney World, it is an almost inevitable journey for those of us with young (and often not-so-young) children. However, a vacation for the young’uns doesn’t have to be entirely without some adult diversions and, luckily, Disney has accommodated (at premium prices, naturally) a number of adult tastes in the past few years, including a number of areas to get some good drinks.
Of course, the best — and most inexpensive — place to drink at Disney World is poolside at your hotel with a cooler of your favorite beers by your towel. While you might be able to get away with that for part of the trip, family obligations will most certainly demand that you leave the lounge chair and head off to a park or another family destination.
All of the Disney parks now serve alcohol. That even includes Magic Kingdom, which had been dry from the park’s opening in 1971 until 2012, when the Be Our Guest restaurant broke the seal on serving booze in “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Epcot, the most adult of the parks, has long been known as a place where visitors like to “drink around the world,” going from stouts in England and cabernets in France to lagers in Germany and sake in Japan, and finishing with obligatory tequila at the Mexico pavilion, if you have pesos left by then.
Drinking at the parks, however, is rarely as good idea as it may seem — given all the walking, heat, small children and spinny amusements that you have to negotiate. Better to leave the imbibing (or at least the serious imbibing) until after the Tea Cups are done.
Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) offers a number of places to grab a brew, or something stronger, while the rest of the gang shops the novelty stores. You can buy a beer, margarita or even a rum-infused Dole Whip at a number of stands throughout the area to take with you as you walk around, and there are also some nice bars to sit down and take a load off. Raglan Road is a great Irish pub, with all the Irish beers and spirits that you would expect to find, while Jock Lindsey’s is an Indiana Jones-themed bar with great outside seating.
Unable to resist the Indy theme, we stopped by Jock Lindsey’s on a recent family vacation to take a break from the heat and recharge. It offered a nice variety of well-known beers from around the world, as well as craft beers from Florida, and, to my tremendous surprise, even had a happy hour!
I tried an Old Elephant Foot IPA from Tampa Bay Brewing Company, which I had not heard of before and was very good — a classic, hoppy IPA. Others in my group tried selections from the Florida Beer Co. in Cape Canaveral. The Key West Sunset Ale was a light amber ale, while the Sunshine State was an even lighter amber lager — both were good on a hot afternoon.
Another option if you want to have some drinks with a unique Disney experience is to go to some of the themed hotels, most of which have really neat bars. You don’t need to be a guest to enter the hotels, and some, like the Victoria Falls Lounge in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village Resort, are really unique spaces.
Chattanooga’s Big River operates the only microbrewery at Disney World, the Big River Grille & Brewing Works at the BoardWalk Inn. The beer is brewed on-site; they have four year-round brews and usually another five seasonals on tap at any time. The beer is good, if not spectacular (I liked the Treatment of the Week, a raspberry light lager and the Citra Grove, a really easy-drinking double IPA), but the most impressive thing (for Disney World) was that the prices were pretty much in line with craft breweries in many places. My wife had a pint for $7 and I had a flight (of six beers) for $12. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in Mouse Land.
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