In EPCOT, you can eat gourmet, drink top-shelf, and not blow your budget.
Last weekend, I took my wife to Disney World for her birthday. No, we don’t have kids. And no, I didn’t marry a child bride. (I was asked both questions when I told people where we were going.)
If you’re not aware, “Disney for adults” isn’t child’s play. As The New York Times has reported…
Nearly one-third of the people who attend the Disney resorts in Anaheim, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., are adults who come without children, a Disney demographic so established that there is an official name for them: “nonfamily guests.”
You could write a book on all the ways Disney caters to adults — and someone has. It’s called Walt Disney World for Adults: The Original Guide for Grownups. But today, I want to talk about alcohol at Disney World’s EPCOT. (As you might know, alcohol isn’t sold or allowed in the Magic Kingdom.)
If you want to get drunk in Disney, it’s not difficult. It’s also not cheap.
It’s called Drinking Around the World, and it’s a thing. Search those words and you’ll get hundreds of results. The gist of them all is the same: You buy one drink in each of EPCOT’s 11 pavilions. For instance…
• Sam Adams in American Adventure
• Moosehead in Canada
• Plum wine in China
• Guinness in England
• Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush in France
• Schnapps in Germany
• Limoncello shot in Italy
• Sake in Japan
• Margherita in Mexico
• Casablanca beer in Morocco
• “Viking Coffee” in Norway
…but the problem is, drinks start at $9. So to “drink around the world” sets you back more than $100. My wife and I found a better way.
Flights of fancy
If your goal is to get hammered, stop reading now. That’s something you can do cheaper almost anywhere else but EPCOT. The wife and I simply wanted to sample more drinks than we could get in one place back home, and we didn’t want to spend $100 doing it.
EPCOT’s pavilions offer samplers and “flights” of its drinks, and some cheap-but-filling appetizers to go along with them. For instance, in Germany, we visited Weinkeller, a plain and mostly empty shop, where we got a wine flight of three two-ounce pours for $10 and a cheese board for $5.
That’s downright affordable in EPCOT, especially when you consider a strawberry funnel cake in the American pavilion costs $7.
Best of all, there was no line – because in the Germany pavilion, everyone is buying beer. But the wines were damn good. As moderately educated wine drinkers, we’re going to explore more German wines now that we’re back home – especially since the flight was served on a platter with a map of the country that offered details about the region our wines came from.
We also knew precious little about sake before visiting the Japan pavilion. At the small outdoor sake bar, we paid $14 for three pours that were slightly more than you’d get in an average Japanese restaurant.
The best part was the person pouring them. The young woman was like all the servers in EPCOT: on 12- or 15-month work assignments from their home countries. She told us about the sakes in general, but also which ones she preferred. And of course, all were chilled. (We learned that hot sake is a winter drink in Japan, and the best sakes are served cold.)
If you don’t talk to the person pouring your adult beverages, you’re not getting your money’s worth. In the middle of the France pavilion is a small wine shop called La Maison du Vin. When we got our three pours – you can choose red or white for $10 or sparkling for $20 – our server was a young woman from Paris who shared her favorites. Since it wasn’t busy, we chatted with her while we sipped.
Walking with wine
In these journeys around EPCOT, one of our servers told us about something called the World Showcase Wine Walk. For $20, you get a “passport” — really just a piece of sturdy paper with six check-boxes on it. It allows you to sample two wines (two ounces each) in Germany, Italy, and France.
You just present the passport at the wine bars in each country, they pour the wines (you don’t get to choose, but they’re all good), and they stamp your passport. There’s no rush, you can go in any order, and there’s rarely a line. Usually, walking around a Disney park is stressful rush to the next ride. This was the most pleasant Disney stroll I’d ever taken.
To get a passport, just go to one of the participating countries and tell the wine server you want to take a walk.
• Inside the Mexico pavilion, to the right of the covered market, is a tiny tequila bar called La Cava del Tequila. It opens at noon and is often packed until closing at 9 p.m. You can get a tequila flight of three brands for $11.
• England: The Rose & Crown offers a single-malt scotch flight for under $16 and beer samplers starting at $10.
• Canada: Le Cellier Steakhouse has whiskey flights, three samples at three-quarters ounce each, for $8.75.
My final recommendation isn’t cheap but it sure is fun: Stay at one of the Disney Resorts so you don’t have to drive back to your hotel. You just take the Monorail back feeling a little buzzed.