Kids, of course, reign at Walt Disney World. But a surprising number of adults without children in tow make their way to the Florida mega-resort. Taking a ride aboard Dumbo while wearing a mouse-ear hat brings out the child in even the most jaded adult.
Sometimes, however, adults just want to be adults at Disney World. And that might mean heading to a bar.
Walt Disney banned liquor from being served at Disneyland, and that rule remains in place today at the California park. Its Florida counterpart, the Magic Kingdom, relaxed its no-alcohol policy a few years ago. Beer and wine are now available at a limited number of restaurants to accompany meals, but there are still no bars to be found along Main Street U.S.A. or anywhere else in the park.
However, there are tons of places to grab drinks at Disney World's other three theme parks, hotels, and the dining and shopping areas, Disney's BoardWalk and Disney Springs. As with virtually everything at the carefully Imagineered resort, most of the bars and lounges come with whimsical backstories and plenty of themeing. Let's run down ten of Disney World's best bars, mouse-ear hats optional:
Trader Sam's Grog Grotto – Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
As the "head" salesman mentioned by the Jungle Cruise skippers for decades, Trader Sam is a cherished part of Disney parks lore. Apparently the entrepreneur has taken some of his ill-begotten profits and opened his own tiki bar. Inspired drinks include the Shrunken Zombie Head, which is made with rum and tropical juices and served in a, well, shrunken head, and the Spikey Pineapple, which features the Adventureland staple, Dole Whip, spiked with rum.
AbracadaBar – Disney's BoardWalk
Of all the gin joints in all of Disney World, the magic-themed AbracadaBar may have the coolest name. The story here is that back in its Victorian-era heyday, the BoardWalk featured many magicians, and the bar served as something of a secret-society hangout for them. Unfortunately, no actual magicians perform card tricks or saw any ladies in half today at the cozy AbracadaBar, but you can find mementos of their glorious past as well as retro cocktails.
Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar – Disney Springs
This is where Jock Lindsey, Indiana Jones' pilot, refuels – and you can too. Sip on Reggie's Revenge (orange vodka and melon liqueur with cranberry and lime juice) or the Cool-headed Monkey (rum and tangerine liqueur with lime, watermelon, and pineapple juice) while you ogle 40s-era aviation gear and artifacts inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark. The lakeside bar is one of the many recent additions at the former Downtown Disney, which is now known as Disney Springs.
Tune-In Lounge – Disney's Hollywood Studios
Located next to the 50’s Prime Time Café, the Tune-In Lounge shares the same playful mid-century look and vibe. Black and white sitcoms from the era play on old-style TVs. Drinks include Dad's Electric Lemonade, which adds an alcoholic kick to the summertime favorite and has a neon blue glow. The full café menu is available and includes retro favorites such as meatloaf and pot roast.
Nomad Lounge – Disney's Animal Kingdom
Part of the upscale Tiffins restaurant, the Nomad Lounge invites visitors to share their travel stories by filling out cards that are hung from the ceiling. Reflecting the many places that inspired Disney's Animal Kingdom, the lounge's cocktails feature an array of ingredients from around the globe. Dalang's Delight, for example, includes rum and tangerine liqueur from Africa. There is also an extensive and eclectic beer and wine list. Food choices include samplings from Tiffins' menu. There is a lovely outdoor patio that overlooks a river and the pathway to the park's Pandora – The World of Avatar.
La Cava del Tequila – Epcot
Located at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, La Cava del Tequila offers dozens of varieties of tequila. They can be ordered by the glass, as part of a sampler flight, or – the most popular choice – mixed in a margarita. If those options aren't already overwhelming, the lounge also offers cocktails as well as beer and wine from south of the border. The low-lit La Cava is a great place to escape the park's throngs and Florida's heat and humidity. It's also a great stop for anyone indulging in an Epcot drink-around-the-world binge.
Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar – Epcot
Another stop on an Epcot drink-a-thon could be at Tutto Gusto in the Italy pavilion. There you'll find more than 200 bottles of Italian wines plus small plates of cheeses, paninis, pasta, and other Italian specialties. As with La Cava del Tequila, the lighting is dim (which can be a stark contrast to Florida's midday sun), and the relaxed hideaway can serve as a respite from the park's crowds.
Dawa Bar – Disney's Animal Kingdom
Compared to the Animal Kingdom's Nomad Lounge, Dawa is much more informal. The outdoor bar is crafted partly from corrugated tin, and the stools are mismatched. Located in the park's bustling Harambe area, it's a great place to try an African beer or a cold specialty drink and watch people as they make their way to and from the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris tour.
Raglan Road Irish Pub – Disney Springs
There are four bars at Raglan Road, all of them imported from the Emerald Isle. Of course, Guinness is available on draft along with other Irish (and, for some reason, American) beers. Bailey's and whiskey figure prominently in many of the specialty drinks. Live music and Irish dancing are also on the menu.
The Edison – Disney Springs
The Edison will be opening soon, but the concept is so intriguing, it merits a spot on the list of Disney World's bars even if it is provisional. Based on a sister lounge in Los Angeles, it will feature an Art Deco look and be located in what is supposed to be a circa-1920s electric company (punctuated by a large Edison tower outside). Period entertainment will include palm readers and contortionists. The Edison in California serves a wide variety of scotch, bourbon, and whiskey as well as artisanal cocktails that include ingredients such as sarsaparilla bitters. The Florida menu should be similar.