I Drank My Way Through Disney World and You Should, Too

a people trap set by a mouseI dedicate this post to every exhausted parent or spouse married to an adult child…

I am not typically a theme park person; there are way too many people that aren’t of legal drinking age in one place – and I don’t trust people who don’t drink. However, I am not dead inside; I do have a childhood nostalgia for Disney. So I was more than willing when my husband said that we were going to Disney World for the weekend.

Now I enjoy being a kid from time-to-time and I totally believe that you should never completely lose your childhood enthusiasm – but you sure as shit should lose some. My husband has retained ALL of his. It used to be adorable, now it’s yet another reason for me to drink.

That weekend, he insisted we visit every park, ride every ride, stay for every show and watch every fireworks display. We were at the park until 11pm for two days. Kellan (husband) was cheery the whole time. His eyes were in constant twinkle at every paper mache landscape while I was so exhausted that I literally considered trading him in for an actual child; children at least take naps…

kellan on t cups

Kellan riding on the tea cups. Weeeeee!

The only reason I survived the 48 hours in the “people trap set by a mouse”  was because I made pit-stops at nearly every alcohol-bearing attraction. Thankfully, the folks at Disney understand what makes it the happiest place on Earth after the age of 21. There are many liver-friendly liquids and when you look beyond the prominent eight dollar plastic cups of Bud Light that are at the ready for any desperate soul, there are really quite a few gems. The following are my favorite places within Disney World to unwind, refresh and re-tox…

Favorite Resort Dining:

Capetown Lounge and Wine Bar.

You google “Disney World Wine Bar” and this place pops up. This is inside the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where the theme is African-inspired, so it makes sense that the wine bar carries only South African wines. I appreciated this because, here in the United States, the only South African wines you typically see are the low-end, mass-produced, South-Africans-won’t-drink-this-stuff-so-we’ll-export-it-to-the-Americans type of grocery store wines. Capetown Lounge and Wine Bar offers fine wines that are an educational adventure into South Africa’s wine regions.

The wine list collage jikohere has some fun selections. If you enjoy Coastal California Chards and Pinots, try out South Africa’s Walker Bay wine region; the climates are similar. I loved the wines offered from Hamilton Russell Vineyards, who produce a balanced yet buttery Chardonnay and rich style of Pinot Noir. FYI: both went perfectly with my duck dinner (yum!)

If you are looking for a nice way to start your meal at the attached restaurant, Jiko, try some Cap Classique, South Africa’s traditional method sparkler, as an aperitif.

To cleanse your palate at the end of your meal, order the botrytisized sweet wine Vin de Constance by Klein Constantia. If we didn’t already feel like we were living the life of luxury, that did the trick.

Drinking in Epcot:

La Cava del Tequila. This was possibly my favorite spot in the whole park. I have a deep appreciation for the stuff to begin with, so just the word “tequila” gets me thirsty. But even if the same word gives you flash backs to your early 20’s on a night with Jose Cuervo and a toilet bowl, go here; this is a game changer.collage cava del tequilaExperiencing good tequila will change your world and the knowledgeable staff here will ensure your world is rocked. Simply set a price point, explain your tastes and the bartender will set you up with a wonderful experience. We found a new favorite; even my man-child, who typically won’t take tequila outside of a margarita, loved it. it was the Razul Premium Anejo and it literally smelled like vanilla extract and sipped like an aged Irish whiskey with a honeysuckle infusion.

Side note: this place also looked fun for a crowd. Maybe you are still in your early 20’s, don’t live in yoga pants and still appreciate the party scene? Great news! You can do shots and flights and wash it down with chips and salsa.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room. We sought refuge here from IMG_20130824_155508_674the sudden Floridian downpour and I was so thankful. It was just the way I like my pubs: a lively crowd filled with great beer, whiskey and pub fare. The menu even included all the fun beer combos beyond the trendy “Black and Tan” as well as some fun whiskey flights. We didn’t eat here but I plan to the next time; those ordering fish and chips around me made me regret stuffing myself just an hour earlier. It was a truly fun and great pit-stop!

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. Without a reservation, this place isphoto best for a party of two. Serving a standard of fast-food well above the drive-in norm, this place is just adorable. You are seated in a 1950’s car-style booth with other patrons, all faced toward a giant black and white screen playing old re-runs of commercials, news and cartoons. PLUS: unlike the traditional drive-in from back-in-the-day, there’s a full bar! It was a fun little date night for us that was (relatively) inexpensive for Disney World.

Drinking in The Animal Kingdom

Dawa Bar. This is an exotic watering hole that also embraces African culture. Treat it as your favorite speakeasy and cozy up to the bar. Have a cocktail or live in the moment and embrace African wine and beer. Plus, the bar is right across from where “street dancing” takes place. A perfect people watching location!collage dawa bar

Dining in the Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest. MAKE RESERVATIONS WELL IN ADVANCE!!! This is currently the ONLY place that serves alcohol within the Enchanted Kingdom, (AKA: “Buzzkill Kingdom”) We spent the most time here and by 5pm, I was ready to trade my husband in for a bootlegging chiropractor. I was not alone in this sentiment. Like many adults, we were unaware of the situation, failed to make reservations and there was a line to get on the waiting list to be on the waiting list. Parents were risking second degree sunburns, heat stroke and child abandonment to have a drink with their meal.

Sadly, we never made the list. Word on the streets is that they specialize in French wines and have a beautiful setting with different rooms, each with a different theme from the movie Beauty and the Beast. If you have had the pleasure of dining here, please comment and elaborate. For me, this place is still just a fantasy (pardon the pun.)

Downtown Disney

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. I loved this place so much that I could write an entire blog post dedicated to it. So I must put my thoughts in bulletized format to summarize without overwhelming:collage raglan road

  • Furniture and decor made in Ireland and in some cases, actually taken from other bars and churches in Ireland.
  • Irish people! With an Irish band and step-dancing performances at both dinner and Sunday Brunch.
  • SUNDAY BRUNCH!
  • Delicious and authentic Irish breakfast.
  • Authentic Irish ownership. (Don’t try the bread pudding; it is the owner’s mother’s recipe; it’s sinfully delicious, decadent and you will eat it all.)
  • Fun whiskey flights, beer flights and cocktails, to include a Bloody Mary complete with a float of Guinness!

I don’t care what time of day you come, this place has all of the charm, cuisine and heritage you could want. PLUS, you can skip the crowds at the Rainforest Cafe and eat and drink twice as well!

Margarita Stand. You can’t miss this place if you are strolling through Downtown Disney. Most certainly the most reasonably priced cocktails as well as the strongest with quality liquors. AND you can walk around while drinking – making it far less painful and far more convenient to spend $100 on a Mickey Mouse Christmas Tree ornament…

In closing, the trip to Disney World was a non-sober success. Not only did Kellan get to embrace his inner child but I was able to retain my favorite parts about being an adult. Maybe it is the happiest place on Earth, after all…

The End

12 Things You Never Cared to Learn About Wine, But I’m Making You.

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  1. If you take the seeds from a wine grape and re-plant them, those seeds grow into a completely new varietal. All varieties are reproduced by taking “cuttings” from specific “clone” grape vines and grafting them on to the shoots of other vines.Butter
  2. The butteriness experienced in many domestic Chardonnays is created from Malolactic Fermentation: a strain of bacteria is used to convert the Malic acid in the wine into Lactic acid, the same acid found in milk and therefore, butter.
  3. Wine corks make great packing peanuts. Trust me.cork peanuts
  4. Champagne is “Traditional Method” Sparkling wine that is only made within the district of Champagne, France. If it is made outside of Champagne but still in France, it is called Crémant.
  5. In traditional Champagne houses, the person in charge of slightly The_Riddler_3rotating each of the bottles until the yeast reaches the neck of the bottle is known as The Riddler.
  6. Zinfandel is only found in California. …Unless you count Primitivo, which has been discovered to be the Italian varietal equivalent.
  7. Pinotage, the trendy varietal of South America, is a crossing pinotagebetween Pinot Noir and Cinsault.
  8. A large Slovenian oak cask, used to make many Italian wines, holds 22,000 bottles worth of wine and is large enough to host a four-person dinner party; maybe more if they’re French (kidding… sort of.)
  9. When planning to drink an entire bottle of nice wine by yourself, use wine_large2a gigantic candle holder/vase/decoration that has a stem and can hold an entire bottle. It will double as a decanter and your wine glass, plus it will cut back on dishes. You’re welcome.
  10. As red wine ages, it gets lighter. Tannins combine with the pigments and precipitate to the bottom of the bottle as sediment.
  11. As white wine ages, it gets darker. This is from a combination of general age progression, oxidation and oak influence.
  12. No matter how much nerdy, knowledgeable, hoyty-toyty wine junk you know, at the end of the day, it’s just fermented grape juice and all that matters is if it’s delicious when you drink it.