Tips for Finding Good Beer At Disney World
Walt Disney World offers a number of craft beers and microbrews in its parks and resort hotels. This post offers tips for finding delicious beer at Walt Disney World, which can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to the normal BMC options you can find just about anywhere (besides the Magic Kingdom), there are some exceptional beers throughout Walt Disney World…you just need to know where to look.
Unlike wine, which (I’m told) Walt Disney World does pretty well–even touting things like their selection of South African wines at Animal Kingdom Lodge–the same effort isn’t put into having high quality beers. Most outdoor vending carts that serve beer at Walt Disney World have Bud Light, plus maybe a token alternative. Nothing against Bud Light–they are great at convincing people their beer is worthwhile with their astronomical marketing budget–but Bud Light is awful. Okay, so everything against Bud Light. BMC are sort of like the fast food of beers: okay options in a pinch, but probably few beer drinkers’ favorites if they had to choose. If Bud Light is your favorite beer, I’d encourage you to try a variety of other beers and give them a chance.
If you haven’t gathered from the remarks towards BMC, I’m sort of a beer snob. Coming from Michigan, I came of drinking age right around the time of the big explosion in craft brewing, with Bell’s opening its brewery ~10 miles from my house about a decade ago. Add to that other great options like Founders (every craft beer aficionado should attend a Kentucky Breakfast Stout release party at some time in their life), Arcadia, New Holland, Dark Horse, and many more, and my opinions of beer have really been shaped by living in one of the greatest beer state. Not really sure how this is relevant to the topic of the post, but I like giving props to my home state when I have the chance. Moving on…
When we first started visiting Walt Disney World as adults, there was a serious dearth of craft beer options, and the selection was laughable. If you wanted a good beer, you pretty much were stuck going to Le Cellier for some Unibroue. While that’s still a great option, Walt Disney World has recognized the growing discontent with BMC, and has incorporated better options into their menus. Things have improved substantially almost every year for the last ~5 years, and continue to get better. So props to Disney for that.
If you’re looking for great beer at Walt Disney World, here are some tips…
If you’re really serious about finding good beer, or a particular beer, the only piece of advice you really need is that “there’s an app for that.” The fine folks over at Beers and Ears have some great apps for finding beers at Walt Disney World that will further assist with finding good beers while getting your drink on at Walt Disney World.
If you know a lot about beer and know what you’re looking for, just download their apps and skip the rest of this post. Seriously, I can’t even come close to offering the breadth of info they have.
Since this post would be sort of pointless if it were just that tip, I’ll provide some other general advice. First and foremost, don’t go to ODVs (outdoor vending carts, or little snack stands) looking for beer. Most of these are just going to serve Bud Light. Generally, counter service restaurants are more likely to have at least one or two other good beer choices besides Bud, but the better bet is table service restaurants, and the best bet is dedicated lounges and sports bars.
Reviewing the menu of every restaurant that serves beer at Walt Disney World is well beyond the scope of this post. There are hundreds of restaurants and they regularly change their menus. Instead, let’s take a look at my top picks for beer options in each park at Walt Disney World, plus the hotels and Downtown Disney.
Magic Kingdom: The Magic Kingdom had a strict no-alcohol policy from 1971 until a couple of years ago when Be Our Guest Restaurant opened in New Fantasyland. Suffice to say, serving alcohol there (only for dinner and with a supposedly-strict service policy) was a controversial decision. This is the default winner for the Magic Kingdom, because it’s the only place that serves. Setting that aside, it’s no slouch. There are a few solid Belgian beers on the menu. Belgium is arguably the best beer country in the world, so seeing its beers represented at Walt Disney World is a great thing!
Epcot: Thanks to World Showcase, Epcot is unquestionably the best beer park at Walt Disney World. Not even a close call. It’s tough to say any single location dominates the landscape, as each country typically has a couple of stand-out options, so this is more of a totality of the circumstances type deal. That’s probably why Drinking Around the World at Epcot is so popular. On any given normal operating day at Epcot, you have at least 10 beers that are worthwhile available throughout the park. That number spikes considerably during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival (more on that further down).
Since I have to choose, I’m taking Canada as my top pick here. The aforementioned Unibroue is one of my favorite brewers, and it’s now available at the cart outside Le Cellier. Block & Hans, a somewhat new stand in the American Adventure, gets an honorable mention here, and not just because it serves Bell’s Oberon. It has a solid lineup of beers. Sorry, Germany and Rose & Crown, I think other locations have you both beat (even though these are both good spots, too).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A lot of beer drinkers seem to consider Animal Kingdom a hidden gem for beer. I don’t. I’ll admit that it has several fairly rare and somewhat unique options, but I just don’t like most of what I’ve tried here. People go crazy for Safari Amber, which is brewed exclusively for Animal Kingdom (by AB-InBev), but I don’t think it’s anything special. I think its draw is exclusivity, but who cares about that if the exclusive product is substandard? Dawa Bar is the best option for beer here, and even it only serves like 2-3 African beers. The thing about that is…have you heard of that one renowned African brewery? Me neither.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: This park is a huge disappointment on the beer front, and not because being mildly intoxicated would make it better. Rather, it has two excellent lounges, Tune In Lounge and the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, neither of which serve good beer. In fairness, these lounges are more geared towards cocktails (Tune In having some great novelty cocktails and Brown Derby serving high end ones), so you can’t really fault them for that too much. Still, would it kill them to add a few good beers to the menus? Given this, I actually think Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater has the best beer menu. Its menu is most expansive, and offers several good choices. Both Brown Derby and Tune In have a couple of better, unique options, but their menus are too limited to give them the nod here.
Resort Hotels: This one is tough, because I admittedly have not drank my way around the Walt Disney World resort hotels (new life goal?). However, as a general rule, the bars and lounges in the resort hotels–especially the Deluxes and Moderates–are far superior to the theme parks. You can find a good beer or three at virtually any of these lounges. Based on the ones I have experienced, the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels are king. I know, I know, these are technically not Disney hotels (despite the name) and this site shies away from comparing them to Disney-owned hotels, but in this case, it seems appropriate due to its proximity to the BoardWalk. We’ve stumbled from Jellyrolls to the Swan & Dolphin for Kimonos a few times in search of karaoke, sushi, and some sweet, sweet brews. Beer and karaoke…what could possibly go wrong?!
Downtown Disney: This is an easy one–Raglan Road. We have already expressed our love for Raglan Road’s food and atmosphere, but there’s another reason to love it: its beers on draught, overall selection, and reasonable prices (relative to other options at Walt Disney World).
So Epcot is our top pick by a long-shot, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise thanks to World Showcase. Now, you’d think that during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, there would just be a crazy amount of excellent craft beers. I mean, there are dedicated stands (plural!) for beer. Plus, there’s Belgium. Well, you’d be wrong. Granted, there are some better options here than normal, but there are a ton of duds. Beers & Ears has a good analysis of Food & Wine Festival’s beers, too.
Based on that listing, the best kiosk is Craft Beers. They laud this one for Dogfish Head Punkin, which is a highly regarded beer, but I’m not a big fan (I’m more of a Pumking guy, myself). Still, Craft Beers does have Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, which is basically the bomb. If you are heading to Food & Wine Festival, make sure to check out our Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Tips & Guide.
That covers it for our tips for finding great beers at Walt Disney World. Although we think a good brew or two can be a fun component of a visit to Walt Disney World, remember to drink in moderation and be courteous to fellow guests during your trip. First, because binge drinking at Walt Disney World would be crazy expensive, and spending that kind of money is just insane. Second, and much more importantly, Walt Disney World is a family vacation destination, not a frat house. Behave appropriately.
If you going to a Walt Disney World table service restaurant for their better beer options, make sure that they also serve good food (that’s sorta important!). Consult our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews to pick the one that’s right for you!
Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
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Are you a craft beer connoisseur? Do you have any favorite spots at Walt Disney World for good beers? Any hidden gems? What are your favorite beers that are served at Walt Disney World! If you have any other tips or questions, please share them in the comments!
If your staying at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, this new group might be of interest to Craft Beer lovers.
I would love an update to this article at some point and one focused on Disneyland possibly as well.
I had to go to Disney World with my kids but I would not deal with the stress due to the week I had at work. This is the reason I found a nice bar and tried their Cantillon beer which was really good.
While the link to Beers and Ears site is valid, the app is no longer in the app store. And the first FAQ indicates that the site hasn’t been updated for a while:
Which iOS devices are supported?
The app should run on any device running iOS 4.0 or later. However, we recommend using an iPhone 4 or 4S. iPad and iPod touch users may have issues with location services. Also, the app will run on iPad, but it will run in iPhone app compatibility mode.
Had to say hi. My family and I are getting ready to travel to Disney World, and if I am spending a week there I am going to need a beer or two.
I was greeted to your post with a picture of Oberon, a yearly favorite of mine. Then as I continued reading I saw it. You’re a fellow Kalamazoo MI native. Like you I was also brought Into craft beer by Bells which was only a few miles away.
So hello from another fan of the greatest beer state in America and fellow Kalamazoo native.
My wife and I are doing to WDW for the first time in a week and are huge craft beer people – thanks for the tips! Though I gotta say, as A Coloradan living in Minnesota, Michigan is good (Dragon’s Milk. hello), but the best? Maybe… We’re trying to do a brewery in all 50 states and looking forward to Big River
“This park is a huge disappointment on the beer front, and not because being mildly intoxicated would make it better.”
Curious, but no mention of the Big River Grille & Brewery Works., which actually brews its beer on property in the Boardwalk Resort! The beers I sampled there were great! And, while in the Japan pavilion, I found a wonderful unfiltered beer in the sake tasting area – Ginga Kogen Beer! A nice little find in an area not known for finding beer! My favorites are still the Rose and Crown in England while the Biergarten in Germany has a better selection than the stand outside! The atmosphere in the Biergarten is wonderful, too!
I have to agree about the Orange Blossom beer – tried it when we were staying at Art of Animation and made a point of finding the cast member who recommended it the next night to thank him for the recommendation! I was a little suspicious about a Florida beer, but I figured, when in Orlando…
I live just a few miles down the road from Kalamazoo, and I you are right about the awesome state of craft brews in MI!