Over the years, so many high-quality bars and lounges have sprouted up throughout Walt Disney World that they almost make the hefty admission price into the parks worth it. I’m unashamed to say I have lots of experience in Disney’s bars and lounges, both in the theme parks and the resort hotels, and I’m going to share that wealth of knowledge with you to help make your vacation as fun and relaxing as possible.
In this edition of THE BIG 5, then, we’re going to count down the five best bars at Disney World, focusing specifically on those inside the parks. Each venue was judged based on its atmosphere, comfort level, menu, drink quality, service, and accessibility.
(It should be noted that the competition was very tight – the separation in ranking is a very, very thin line. Suffice it to say, the bars inside the Disney theme parks are all top-notch, and you can’t go wrong with a visit to any of them.)
#5 – Yak & Yeti (Animal Kingdom)
As the exotic mists of Anandapur give way, intriguing buildings welcome guests to Animal Kingdom’s land of Asia. Yak & Yeti Restaurant stands at the entrance to this enchanting land, greeting weary travelers with a hunger or a thirst needing to be quenched.
Deep, rich, and red woods frame a welcoming bar set aglow by rotund lights and beautiful Asian artifacts. Seating is limited, giving a feeling that you’ve discovered a hidden lounge off the beaten path. You can order from the restaurant’s full menu, which is always a plus. However, you can also choose from a variety of specialty drinks, beer, wine, and sake (whose selection is small-but-mighty; I highly recommend the Sho Chiku Bai Sake, served warm [$7.25]).
While this great little bar is easy to find, it feels worlds apart from the bustling pathways of the rest of the park.
#4 – Dawa Bar (Animal Kingdom)
The rhythm of Harambe Village is impossible to succumb to when you’ve got a cold beverage in hand and a seat at Dawa Bar, located in Africa, my favorite land in Animal Kingdom (the level of detail here is gorgeous!).
Dawa greets visitors near the entrance of the Tusker House Restaurant. My preference is to take a seat at this outdoor bar to soak in the atmosphere, people watch (you’ll see many guests grabbing a beverage to go), and enjoy the live performers as they entertain the crowds in the heart of Harambe.
Be sure to stop by sometime in the morning so you can indulge in one of the four amazing specialty Bloody Marys that are offered until the early afternoon (I wish they were available all day long!).
#3 – La Cava de Tequila (Epcot)
What was once an underperforming merchandise shop is now a destination bar with a cult-like following. The cast members and managers that work at La Cava de Tequila are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. Not a tequila fan? Talk to them, and they’ll find a tequila you are sure to enjoy. Have more experience with the fire water and want something new? Talk to them, and they’ll find your new favorite. The list of specialty margaritas is impressive, to say the least (prices are about $11.00 – $13.00 each).
Just keep in mind the bar itself is for to-go drinks only, and while I do prefer to take a seat inside, it is often packed full of fellow La Cava fans. It isn’t ranked higher on the list because if you don’t want tequila, then your only other choices are beer or wine.
The space itself is beautiful, however, so even if you’re not in the mood for a ‘rita, it’s still worth a peek inside.
#2 – Rose and Crown Pub (Epcot)
When you think of Epcot bar hopping, Rose and Crown is certainly going to come to mind. This quintessential United Kingdom pub has long been a favorite of many Epcot park-goers, and for good reason. There’s a whole lot to love here: genuine food and brews from the UK, welcoming bartenders, and fun atmosphere. If you want a taste of a British pub experience, then you are sure to enjoy yourself here.
If it’s that good, then why not place it at number one? A few small reasons, the most important of which being its constant crowd level – this place has quite the reputation, and after about the first hour it’s open, it can be very difficult to squeeze in and have a good time. Also worth noting is that the beer selection is restricted (rightfully so) to just brews hailing from England; if you’re in the mood for anything else, you’ll be out of luck.
Still, there is a full bar, so cocktails are a-plenty, and the food menu is decent, as well.
#1 – Tune- In Lounge (Hollywood Studios)
After thinking long and hard, reminiscing on many years of bar-hopping memories throughout Walt Disney World’s parks, I simply had to list Tune-In Lounge at the top. This venue is incredibly unique – you’d be hard-pressed to find anything like it outside the world of theme parks.
The Tune-In Lounge is a friendly gathering place, on the “set” of a 1950s classic family sitcom located inside the ‘50s Prime Time Café. (In the restaurant itself, patrons are part of the family and have to behave themselves at the dinner table.) The lounge is part restaurant-waiting-area, themed as though you were in mom’s living room, and part cool-neighborhood-bar run by a pair of campy, tacky collectors.
The cocktail menu is quite amusing (personally, I am a fan of Dad’s Electric Lemonade [$10.75], which is served with a glow cube). An excellent selection of craft beers and an impressive California wine list take this bar up a few notches. Plus, you can order off the full restaurant menu if you’re hungry.
The ultimate touch, however, is the little details that significantly add to the venue’s overall experience: the bar is home to a remarkable collection of cocktail ware from the ‘50s; patrons are entertained by two vintage television sets showing clips of classic sitcoms and, even, Disneyland history; and many of the bartenders have been at the Tune-In for years, adding to the friendly vibe. The atmosphere is electric!
Because the Tune-In Lounge has such a unique character and atmosphere and a menu that can please pretty much anyone, I must name it as the best bar in the Disney World theme parks, hands down.
As you can see, Walt Disney World has some incredibly unique bars on hand in its theme parks. No matter which one you choose as your favorite, though, be sure to raise a glass to having a great time in Orlando!
Though they aren’t impressive enough to make the Big 5 proper, both of these bars are worth mentioning – and, of course, visiting (just not before any of the others already listed).
Up first, the Brown Derby Lounge at Hollywood Studios was once my favorite bar in all the Disney parks. When it first opened, the atmosphere was nearly exquisite – an outdoor dining area nestled in front of the Brown Derby Restaurant, with its unique tapas menu and cocktails and with classic big band music wafting through the air.
However, on the past couple of visits, the unique menu has been replaced by the Brown Derby Restaurant’s regular one, and the service has seemed to be on the decline.
Back over in Epcot, Spice Road Table is the Morocco Pavilion’s newest edition, and it’s receiving mixed reviews. There is, however, a full bar ready and willing to quench your thirst.
The variety of liquor is quite impressive, and there is hardly ever a wait. The downside is there are no chairs, so it is much more of a grab-and-go situation. Then again, strolling along World Showcase with a tasty drink in hand is one of the best ways to enjoy Epcot.
Agree or disagree with the rankings? Did I miss a top-of-the-line bar? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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