The Best Bars at Disney World
If you’re viewing Walt Disney World as an endless parade of princess meet-and-greets, kid’s rides and sing-a-longs, you’re approaching it all wrong. With ice-cold brews and custom cocktails for sale all over the property—Magic Kingdom is the only alcohol-free park—you can have a low-key party with your family all day, every day of the week.
There’s no need to swill whatever’s within arm’s length just because it’s blazingly hot outside, though, as you can live your pitcher-ordering, cocktail-sipping, intriguing wine-from-across-the-world dream life here, too. Here are the drink-hawking Disney destinations you cannot miss:
Best Tiki Bar: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
This Floridian spinoff of Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (pictured above) improved upon all its signature tricks when it arrived at the Polynesian Resort last year. Order one of their signature boozy beverages and prepare for elements of this artifact-packed bar to come alive, causing patrons to weather an unexpected storm or face the unbelievable presence of an angry tiki goddess, depending on your taste. Naturally, it’s not the easiest place to get into—leave your name at the door and expect a wait—but with delicious bites, take-home tiki mugs, and an antique’s store worth of stories, it’ll certainly be worth it.
Best Hollywood Studios Bar: Tune-In Lounge
The seating can be limited due to ‘50s Prime Time Diner patrons, and yes, the surrounding area tends to be cramped, but there is no other Walt Disney World bar that feels more like a themed time capsule to the past. Peep snippets of decades-old shows on black-and-white TV sets as you imbibe in classic cocktails and fluorescent sips, all in the midst of vintage glassware, poodle doo-dads, and as much meatloaf as you can devour. In here, it’s always the good ol’ days.
Best Animal Kingdom Bar: Dawa Bar
When you need a break from trekking across the savannah on Kilimanjaro Safaris, there’s no better place to grab a drink as authentic as its surroundings than at Dawa Bar. This thatched-roof favorite fits perfectly into the stunning Harambe village, offering African touches and ample shaded seating for a reliable respite from the Floridian sun. Double down on cooling off with a selection of African beers and wines, sugar cane mojitos, and signature margaritas made with South African tangerine liqueur.
Best Epcot Bar: La Cava Del Tequila
Sure, Epcot’s World Showcase itself functions as the best bar in the park, but this gem tucked inside Mexico’s indoor pavilion is a can’t-miss highlight, particularly for birthday celebrations and bachelorette parties. Sit and enjoy chips and guacamole with your favorite flavored margarita, or grab a spicy one for the road as you finish your nation exploration. With a collection touting hundreds of tequilas, prepare for a wait, a line, and sometimes even a party—things get so packed that there’s often a security guard stationed at the door.
Best Hotel Bar: Victoria Falls Lounge
Though the adjacent waterfall doesn’t quite rival the African wonder from which the bar takes its name, the low-lit, airy lounge channels the spirit of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s majestic lobby while being tucked away enough from the boisterous Boma restaurant to remain serene. Here, you can sample flights of African wines and snack on a selection of regional tapas and spreads, all while taking in an ambiance that coolly reminds you of the majestic animals residing just outside those hotel doors.
Best Brand New Bar: Nomad Lounge & Cocktail Bar
When Animal Kingdom’s show-stopping Tiffins restaurant opened earlier this year, it introduced something better than Instagram-worthy dishes: namely, that Disney is taking their food and drink program seriously. While the innovative cuisine could hold its own against any major city’s fine restaurants, the beverages at its Nomad Lounge are also an unparalleled mix, focusing on Asian and African flavors and bottles specific to the different regions guests will have explored throughout the park. Palate-awakening options include Argentinian and Patagonian wines, Southeast Asian beers and cocktails like the Night Monkey, and a guava-and-rum drink with essences of coffee and cilantro that can be made non-alcoholic as well. It's also the only place guests can guzzle Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale, a spice-rich beer created exclusively for this location. Take note: if this is the direction drinking at Disney is heading, you’ll want to build your tolerance up now.
Best Beer Bar: Narcoossee’s
The seafaring eatery inside the prim Grand Floridian Resort offers surf-and-turf and fireworks views, but that’s not why you’ll end up here. Narcoossee’s has the best variety of beers across Walt Disney World, even rivaling some of those craft-oriented pubs back home. Each of their 22 different libations are sourced from around the world and sorted by type, ranging from local Floridian blonde ales to heavier Trappist-style swills like Chimay Grand Réserve Blue. And, if you spend so long sampling the brews that hunger strikes, you’re in luck—the restaurant happens to provide beer pairings for the entire menu.
Best Wine Bar: Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
Hundreds of bottles of Italian wines: that’s what this tucked-away lounge inside Epcot’s Italy pavilion offers, as well as paninis, pastas, and plates of insalata di mare to aid you in spending more time browsing their collection. Take a tour of Italy through their extensive Vini menu—organized by region, of course—which has crowd pleasing pours for connoisseurs by the glass or bottle. Already outside the parks and craving a certain Cabernet? Hit the lounge at California Grill and the bar at Jiko: The Cooking Place, two runner-ups providing equally splendid wines and hard-to-find tastes sourced from around the world.
Best Poolside Bar: Oasis Bar & Grill
Disney World's poolside menus tends to come standard—Banana Cabana, anyone?—but only at the Polynesian Resort can you enjoy Dole Whip frozen yogurt inside a full-fledged alcoholic smoothie, or grab the hotel’s famed rum-and-pineapple Lapu Lapu while sunbathing. Their game-changing menu isn't reserved to sweet sips either, as it serves the impeccable Bloody Mele, a pickle brine and sriracha soy-infused twist in the classic that'll serve as a spicy wake-up call. Don't fret for having missed out on this living embodiment of the 100 emoji during earlier trips—it’s only been exciting guests’ palettes for the past six months.
Best Mixology Bar: bluezoo
At Todd English’s seafood restaurant inside the Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel, each carefully crafted drink is both wildly special and precisely as it seems. Order a Burnt Orange, and you’ll enjoy a beverage whose tequila was infused with the torched fruit, mixed with orange-flavored liqueur and orange juice, and currently aflame with a slice of blazing citrus. The Smoking White Sangria? Comes smoldering, of course. With barrel-aged Manhattans and the drinkable Swedish Fish, which serves the candy in every way but the one with which you’re familiar, the bar offerings are delightfully over the top. Whether or not you stay for the highly regarded food, it'll be an experience to remember.
Best Sports Bar: ESPN Club
Thanks to this sports-centric outpost at Disney’s BoardWalk, you can rest assured that you won't miss a second of the action while you're on vacation, no matter which team you're following. The eatery and bar shows games from around the world on a staggering 100 screens, a few of which are even in the bathrooms, guaranteeing you never miss a touchdown, goal or score. With fresh takes on traditional shares like pulled pork nachos and wings with chimichurri sauce as well as a full menu of healthy eats and entrees, it’s a fantasy football fanatic’s dream that the whole family will enjoy. Even better? It’s just steps from Epcot’s World Showcase, meaning you can drop in for lunch without spending another hour refreshing your phone underneath the table.