Updated June 2016
It’s the age old question: Where do I find some sort of liquid remedy to tolerate these screaming children?
Well, maybe not an age old question, but one that is asked of me enough times to write a post about it.
I’ve done the research, friends. And, I went to LSU, so I’m overqualified for this post. Follow me to find where to escape the Disneyland madness for an adult beverage, with or without children in tow:
So, first know this: Disneyland does not serve alcohol. Not even at the Mint Julep Bar at the French Market in New Orleans Square. The first time I saw Mint Julep here, I was all, “Hell yes! Finally!” Only to find out it was non-alcoholic.
Disneyland. Good old fashioned fun. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I believe this is actually Walt’s original vision – fun without alcohol. Yet, we continue to seek it out. Take a look at a few of my favorites, with a range of location, price and ambiance.
The Cove Bar – The Darling of California Adventure is hard to compete with. Everyone loves this place for the views, the drinks and the food. In fact, it’s expanding due to its popularity.
It’s still open for business – no one panic – but they’re expanding to the left of the bar, where the gazebo used to be. Donald, when I visited, was seen just to the left of the construction. As always, Disney construction is held beautifully behind closed walls, so this won’t impede your photo op. What WILL come from this is more people into the Cove Bar, which is a good thing since a normal wait time previous to the expansion was 30 minutes. When you get in, immediately order the lobster nachos. ***Kids are allowed, as long as they’re not at the bar, according to California State Law and normal course of judgment.
Carthay Circle Lounge – This bar boasts “drink specific ice” per cocktail. Only Disney could deliver that, right? I recommend this stop for those who want old Hollywood glamour in a fabulous setting and who don’t mind paying a premium for their libations. It’s awesome. ***Kids are allowed if you’re at a table setting.
Alfresco Tasting Terrace – This part of California Adventure will feel confusing to you because there are about 12 names for this area, be it tasting wine, tasting beer, eating dinner, having snacks, etc. Regardless, I encourage you to try it out. Adjacent to it, and just below, is a walk-up option for wine where you can grab a glass and sit above the crowds heading into the best of California Adventure. It’s also a great place to watch the parade. ***Kids are allowed if you’re at a table setting.
Within Downtown Disney:
Napolini – While I wouldn’t suggest this place is entirely enchanting or one of the “best”, it is your best option for a quick drink with no tip required. Let everyone grab a piece of pizza (sold by the slice) and/or salad and then add on beverages to accommodate those who won’t take Lemonade for an answer. This restaurant serves beer and wine. No bar here, so kids wander – it’s more like a fast-food option than a restaurant. Find this bar to the right as you enter Downtown Disney, just after Naples Restaurant. (Where I once saw Josh Gad and can’t stop talking about it.) ***Kids are allowed.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – This will be your prettiest option in Downtown Disney, as only Louisiana folks know how to properly dress a balcony. I hear their elevator is lovely, too. Go here for good drinks and a nice seat over the busyness of Downtown Disney and good food, too. The boudin is my favorite, by far. This restaurant can be found to the left, several stops in as you walk through Downtown Disney. ***Kids are allowed.
Hearthstone Lounge – Located in the Grand Californian Hotel, this is my absolute favorite place for solace from the crowds and during my weekly visits, you’ll find me here in the afternoon. The wait staff is fantastic, the drinks are as well, and they serve little dishes of bar-type chex-mix (free of charge) that is good for nibbling while you’re taking a break. While you’re in this setting, take it all in and look up at the paintings on the wall. This was made to mimic a “men’s lounge”, however, all the paintings are of women, which – from my tour on the property – suggest the women are actually still there watching over their men, as smart women do.
Also, every piece of wood in this lounge (except for furniture) was made from one single tree that Disney bid on when it fell in northern California. The shades are different due to stains, but look at the wood grain. It all works together. You can learn more about the architecture and creation of the Grand Californian Hotel during the Art of Craft Tour, which is free of charge and happens at 1pm every day. ***Kids are allowed.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Once known as only a secret, local favorite (sorry about that), this spot was a passholder’s dream. Now, pesky tourists with their knowledge from annoying websites (like mine) gravitate toward it, occupying seats and paying for drinks. HOW DARE THEY.
Here’s the deal: If you want to go to this bar, go during the off hours. 2pm or maybe 8pm could work. Otherwise, you’re going to wait or not find a seat at all. Or, you’ll have to sit outside, which is lovely if you’re not in the summer of 2015-2019.
Located just outside The Disneyland Hotel,this place is known for its fun drinks and fantastic bar staff (who still holds court), but it’s crowded. Be ready to wait if you don’t get there in time to get a table. ***Kids are allowed until 7pm. Then, the party really starts.
There are many other options for drinks and you can find other suggestions in my post about how to have a Date at Disneyland.
You may also review my post on Downtown Disney for more info on the district and what else is available.
And, while I encourage Disneyland to be a communal event – a pre-determined obligation if you will – I do insist on everyone being happy during whatever arrangements you have made. So, if people are unhappy, allow them (or yourself) to check out this post for even more options on what to do when you can’t stand Disneyland another day.
It’s OK. We understand.
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