For most children — and children at heart — who arrive in droves at Walt Disney World, the Orlando, Florida, theme park is the epicenter of character breakfasts, awe-inspiring rides, and an assortment of iconic treats. But did you know that Disney's also home to surprising cocktails, seasonal drink specials, and even zero-proof potions? Guests can enjoy an array of complex refreshments, whether you prefer the zero-proof punch at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort or fairytale-esque spirits.
Navigating the park to find the latest and more alluring sites might seem like a challenge, but we found each of the distinct parks delivers impressive beverages, including seasonal sips at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays. But, whether you stick to the admission-free Disney Springs for the day or splurge for Park Hopper passes to stop at each park, it's good to have some guidance on your journey.
For a detailed rundown on Disney's approach to cocktails, we went to "The Most Magical Place on Earth" to speak on camera with Evan Rosenthal, food and beverage team concept development manager, and Rafael Frederick, food and beverage proprietor. During the exclusive video interview held at Disney's Enchanted Rose Lounge, Rosenthal explained why the legendary landmark has become something of a drinking destination for many visitors.
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Expert-Approved Drinks Across Disney
While the magic at Disney may seem to come from thin air, the park's food and beverage team are very real magicians crafting signature drink menus. Evan Rosenthal tells us what sets Disney apart from the pack is its array of options to suit tipplers and teetotalers alike. "We have zero-proof cocktail options that are delicate and elegant but don't happen to contain any alcohol, and several amazing craft cocktail opportunities both at Disney's Parks and Resorts," Rosenthal tells us. "I think that's what makes Walt Disney World special — we have an element for every experience."
With so many drink options to explore across Disney -- from fruity African Margaritas at Animal Kingdom's Dawa Bar to Frozen Hot Cocoa Floats at Swirls on the Water in Disney Springs -- we asked Rosenthal where one should begin. In terms of can't-miss cocktails at Disney, Rosenthal describes Jungle Bird at the Jungle Skipper Canteen in Disney's Magic Kingdom as one of his "favorite cocktails of all time." This is due to the Gosling Black Seal rum and Campari liqueur drenched in fresh pineapple and lime juices. He also recommends visiting the Toledo, a haunt found in Disney's picturesque Coronado Springs Resort's Gran Destino Tower. "They have a beautiful Gran Gin Tonic, which is made with a saffron orange syrup," he says. "It's just a fun take on something very classic."
Disney's Enchanted Rose Lounge Delivers Dreamy And Aesthetic Cocktails
Arguably, one of the most impressive drinking destinations at Disney is the Enchanted Rose Lounge, a tribute to the iconic "Beauty and the Beast" that is located on the second level of the Grand Floridian Resort. Inside this lofty hideaway, glass-ensconced roses shimmer along the bar, while fairytale-esque seating areas beckon guests into the lounge. It's here that Evan Rosenthal and Rafael Frederick introduced us to two of the lounge's cocktails: The Lavender Fog and the Rosemary Cooler.
Even if you aren't keen on classic lavender candies, we believe you'll fall head over heels for the floral Lavender Fog cocktail. The Lavender Fog is a creamy, pale purple concoction made with an aromatic gin, crème de violette, and a bit of tea that would surely delight any Victorian palette. The addition of vanilla syrup provides a pleasantly sweet finish, while an edible purple flower completes its dreamy aesthetic.
Yet, you can't go wrong with the Enchanted Rose's Rosemary Cooler, especially if you prefer a crisper-tasting drink. Its crystal-clear glass contains an invigorating base of tart lemonade swirled with a dash of vanilla syrup, garnished with a healthy sprig of fresh rosemary. As though you needed more reason to visit, other mouthwatering options include the B&B blueberry and basil-infused mocktail or the French Rose, a martini mixed with apricot brandy and grenadine.
Disney's Zero-Proof Specialty Drinks Are Anything But Simple
Guests at Disney also enjoy a range of classic offerings and innovative zero-proof cocktails. "From a non-alcoholic standpoint, we really have a bounty of amazing ingredients to choose from," says Rosenthal. "There will be drinks that all guests can have that are non-alcoholic specialty drinks — using teas, coffee, or really elevated takes on some familiar favorites." To add complexity to these zero-proof recipes, he explained the food and beverage team incorporates sustainably sourced garnishes, tropical fruits, and alternative spirits.
One stand-out involves a non-alcoholic agave spirit that could help quench your thirst in the Orlando heat. Rosenthal says this version is made with passion fruit, papaya green tea, and cucumber notes, providing the irresistible flavors of a traditional margarita without using tequila. Beyond alcohol-free margaritas, Rosenthal suggests other zero-proof picks at Disney: "I can tell you that one of my personal favorites is at Epcot's Connections Eatery. They have a watermelon agua fresca that has cold-pressed watermelon juice, some agave, and lime."
In what feels like a nod to Florida's midcentury-era drink menus, we also recommend seeking out the zero-proof Polynesian Punch at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. "It [has a] non-alcoholic, spiced cane spirit that we've heard guests just love," says Rosenthal. Located in Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, the richly decorated pub serves up both traditional and non-alcoholic-themed beverages. However, the popular stop doesn't take reservations, so you might want to arrive before its 3 p.m. opening to secure a seat.
What You Should Know About Drinking At Disney World
If you're planning to imbibe at Disney, you need to come prepared with the proper etiquette (and identification). With that in mind, U.S. citizens should remember to bring a photo ID Disney if they plan on buying alcoholic drinks. International visitors, on the other hand, require two forms of identification, including a valid government-issued photo ID and a passport.
Open container policies at Walt Disney World depend on which park you visit. Many parks, such as Epcot, allow guests to carry alcoholic beverages as they walk around. The Magic Kingdom is the exception; several sit-down establishments serve adult-friendly beverages on-site. Plenty of Reddit threads also mention the two-drink limit per transaction at kiosks or mobile transactions. Best to stick with your group.
Prices vary across the parks for mixed drinks, though few selections are as dangerous to your wallet as the $138 champagne and cognac special from the California Grill in Disney's Contemporary Resort. Most of our favorite menu items, like the Yokai seasonal cocktail from Morimoto Asia, cost between $15-$19. Mocktails might cost between $7-$13. To make the most of your drinking budget, look for happy hour specials at Disney Springs -- a separate shopping village near the parks with the added benefit of free admission. One Disney Springs joint serving up wallet-friendly options is Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar. From noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays, guests can enjoy wine, beer, and mixed drinks for as little as $7.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.