My wife and I got got married 15 years ago and honeymooned at Disneyworld for nearly 2 weeks. At that time I was already a homebrewer and beer geek, but there was precious little beer to come by around the Disney properties. We did get to try some of our first wines though (several of the nicer restaurants like Jiko let us sample a bunch at that time). For our 15th anniversary we decided to go back, and I figured I’d do a blog series focusing on the boozy options available now. Organization of this series may be a little scattered since we moved around quite a bit from park to park, and more. By no means consider this a complete list, I could only eat and drink so much in one trip. I’ll do my best!
I’m going to start this series with the low-hanging fruit that is Epcot. I’ve always loved Epcot, even as a kid I liked visiting the different country pavilions more than the Disney character free-for-all that is the Magic Kingdom. Each of the Epcot world showcase pavilions have their own restaurants, snack and drink counters, and more–making it an easy option for finding a drink. We actually ended up at Epcot several days and I cobbled together my visits for one post–I do not recommend trying to drink your way around the world in one day!
There aren’t as many ride type attractions left at Epcot these days, but worth checking out are the newly revamped Soarin Around The World, and Test Track (both of which I could barely handle despite my fear of heights…)
Our first stop at Epcot was the Norway Pavilion–an old favorite due to my Norse heritage. Our favorite ride in Epcot (Maelstrom you will be missed) has been replaced with a Frozen ride, resulting in hours-long wait times and a new huge crowd level in this previously mellow area. We had a Fastpass for the ride and it still took 20 minutes! Once upon a time (see what I did there?) you could have a nice Norwegian buffet at the restaurant featuring pickled fish, smoked salmon, and plenty of traditional Scandinavian fare while sipping Norwegian beer out of a big glass horn–now Disney princesses wander from table to table and the menu is much more pedestrian.
The counter service Kringla Bakeri however still has some great Scandinavian bakery products like fresh-made lefse and sweet almond coated pretzels. They also offered Viking Coffee (coffee with coffee liqueur, and Baily’s) and (shudder) shots of Aquavit. A small stand outside of the pavilion does have two craft beers from Iceland: Einstock Toasted Porter and White Ale, as well as the tasteless Euro-lager that is Carlsberg. The Porter was actually pretty good–more of a lagery Baltic style porter–and very smooth. Not a bad start! Oh, and we got our pictures taken with Anna and Elsa…
Where better to have good beer than Germany? OK, they had a few, but still not a ton of options. They had about 2-3 beer options at each of the restaurants or kiosks around the Germany Pavilion. We did find Optimator in the bottle, Erdinger Dunkel Weisse, Bitburger Pilsner, Erdinger Dunkel, Altenmunster Octoberfest, and the ubiquitous grapefruit radler. I ordered that Dunkel but Sj stole it from me and made me drink her Octoberfest instead. I had planned on making my way back here to to try more, but we got full and busy and never made it! There’s also a wine cellar with tastings inside one of the shopfronts in the pavilion where you can try some German wines.
Again…wines. As in Germany there’s a small wine tasting area in the Italy Pavilion that is worth a check-out. We ended up having a Moretti La Rossa dopplebock while standing in the bar side of Tutto Gusto, where we had our first run-in with the Barbarians. This was a fairly loud (but not terribly poorly behaved) group of about 8 guys wearing horned Viking helmets and trying to drink around the world all in one day. I do not recommend trying this unless you are a professional!
Canada used to be a good bet since they carried several Unibroue Canadian craft beers. This time was a bust with only bottles of Molson available. Our favorite band from Disney–Off Kilter–has recently stopped being the house band there and were replaced by the more country-rock band Alberta Bound. They were pretty good but not quite the same. Le Cellier is the fancy steakhouse in the basement of the pavilion and they have a large selection of wines and a few of those absent aboveground Unibroue beers as well–but good luck getting in there to eat without reservations!
The UK is always good for beer right? Well, kind of. The Rose & Crown pub is a good place for a meal in Epcot, serving classic English fare. We had pretty respectable fish & chips and Scotch egg there for one lunch paired with Strongbow cider and a Black & Tan. Our server Millie was very sweet and brought us a special anniversary desert. Overall though the place doesn’t have a very big selection of beers: the usual suspects of Guinness, Smithwicks, Bass, Harp are available, but nothing really unique. They do serve in Imperial pints though–in fact I think this was the first place I ever had a beer served that way! When checking out the pub side of the place I again ran into the group of (now even livelier) Barbarians toasting their pints.
During certain times of day they have a small drink station set up outside the pub with a couple more options like the Innis & Gunn Original–a decent Scottish Export ale. I had one of those while listening to a decent band play some classic English rock like Bowie and The Who in a band shell. Sj also got her picture taken with Alice in front of the thatched hut and butterfly garden…
How can you pass up a chance to wander through an incense-laden bazaar while sipping on a mediocre lager beer? With temps over 90 degrees F, palm trees, and strange scents, it really felt like we were walking around in a fanciful desert setting! They actually had several Middle Eastern beers available–but all were lighter lagers like Alfa and Efes. I ended up getting the Casa Beer (short for Casablanca) and it was nothing great but refreshing at least! Sj wouldn’t let me get a fez. Fez’s are cool again right? I also didn’t get to carry around my own spider monkey nor eat bad dates. Oh well.
Sad, sad America. We can do better than Bud people! We did find a small kiosk claiming the name of “Block & Hans purveyors of fine American Ale” that was only open occasionally. They served bottles and cans only including Seadog Sunfish, Honor Warrior IPA, Cigar City Lager, Hazed Hoppy Session Ale from Boulder, Abita, and Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Not terrible but not thrilling and not on draft! Please improve this selection of American craft beer!!!
France has several wines available at their restaurants and a kiosk out front. I did have a very nice red with dinner upstairs at Monsieur Paul, but forgot to write it down. The only beer to be found here is Kronenbourge 1664 lager. Stick with the wine when in France!
We strolled about the Japanese Pavilion a bit to the booming sounds of Taiko drumming and looked at their drink options–for beer pretty much Asahi and Sapporo dry lagers. They did have some sake and plum wine available as well if you want to get crazy. We had actually had some pretty cool Japanese beers the night before at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs so we let the beers here go…more on that later.
OK, we didn’t go into China this visit. I’ve failed you all.
We finished our tour of Epcot’s libations with Mexico. Your typical Corona and Dos Equis are on hand but no specialty beers to speak of. We decided to check out the fairly new Cava del Tequila within the bowels of the giant Aztec pyramid instead. This tiny, cave-like bar hosts just a few crowded seats and often has a long wait to gain admittance. With a few hoots and hollers, the dark recesses spat out a gaggle of be-horned Barbarians (under the benevolent watch of a security officer) and we were actually able to get a seat. This place has a huge selection of tequilas and mezcal to choose from, as well as a plethora of margarita-like cocktails. We had a very good sampler of chips, salsa, guac, and queso to go with our drinks. We tried the Maelstrom (Oh how I miss this ride) and the Jalapeno Margarita–both of which were spicy and quite good. We did’t get either of the really fancy drinks that come with a black-ant salt on the rim. Next time! This place was very fun and worth the stop. Better than Mexican lager beers for sure.
And with that we end our drinking around the world at Epcot! Your results may vary and you may do better focusing on wines or cocktails with some of these stops. This was a fun way to get ourselves really into each pavilion and explore more. I was happy that there were more options (especially for beer) than in the past, but there’s still plenty of room to grow. Many of the pavilion restaurants are hidden away and you would barely know they exist, so it’s worth doing a little research. Many of them also require reservations weeks to months in advance, so unless it is low crowd season you may want to plan ahead!
Coming up: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Disney Studios!