In Which Jenn Selects Her Favorite WDW Bars

My cousin’s wife, by some great fortune, is a Disney parks nut. Whenever I hang out with my dad’s side of the family, we inevitably end up talking shop. That’s awesome. What’s less awesome: my cousin himself is not that into it.

Oh, he goes on the trips, of course, but while his wife and I are chatting about which resort they’re staying at and FastPass+ strategy, he’s in the background, grumbling. “All I’m saying,” is his refrain, “is if I didn’t have kids, it’s not the vacation I would choose.”

Fine. Not everything is for everyone. I have a mental strategy to handle anti-Disney rhetoric. But there are clues in his grousing that explain why he might not be having the best time.

“It’s expensive,” is a common theme. Which, well, yeah. Disney vacations are indeed expensive. They at least take a shot at making you enjoy the wallet raid, though. The goal is “Man, Disney took all the money I have, and I loved it!” That addendum is a very important part of the experience.

Not to say you can’t have fun at Disney on the cheap, but I think my cousin’s taking things a little to far. “I’m bringing my own beer,” he declared of their next WDW outing. “I’ll have a couple six packs of Miller Lite in the fridge. I’m not paying $11 for a beer!”

Which, okay, fair enough. WDW prices are no doubt inflated. But I think this is entirely the wrong attitude to take. I understand not wanting to pay that much for a drink, but now you’re drinking regular beer… of the same type you always drink at home… in your resort room… out of a mini fridge? Dude. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY INTRICATELY THEMED AND DESIGNED BARS FULL OF DELICIOUSLY UNIQUE LIBATIONS YOU ARE SQUANDERING???

Sorry; got a little excited there. To each their own. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and say that followed immediately by a long string of restaurant, bar, and beer recommendations. But it did get me thinking: if someone were to ask me to recommend the best bar in each park, what would I tell them?

The Magic Kingdom
This one is easy: the answer is no. I don’t care if they’ve added alcohol to some of the restaurants; restaurants are not the same as bars, and from what I hear the selection isn’t very good anyway. The only real option here is to hop the resort monorail. The question is: to where?

Initially I intended to pick one bar per park, but I’m going to immediately break my own rule here because I think it depends on what you’re looking for. Craft brews and wines? Get off at the Contemporary and march yourself right into The Wave. Likewise, if it’s nighttime and you think you can wheedle your way in, I’d try for a coveted spot in the lounge area of California Grill for some fireworks watching. And if cocktails are your jam, Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian is a must. I think the latter is my pick given no other criteria.

… Oh, shoot. The World Showcase has so many options… can I cheat again? No? Okay. I’m going to say La Cava del Tequila is my bar recommendation here, because the inside of the Mexico pavilion is absolutely enchanting and I dig margaritas. But know that Tutto Gusto wine bar in Italy is a solid second choice.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Nomad Lounge, hands down. Delicious drinks, nifty atmosphere. It juuust edges out Dawa Bar because their specialty cocktails are premixed, but they do have Burudika and other entertainment, so I wouldn’t blame you if you went there instead.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
THE BROWN DERBY LOUNGE. THE BROWN DERBY LOUNGE. THE BROWN DERBY LOUNGE. Great drinks, great food, great location. Unless it rains. Then, uh… good luck, kids.

What are you favorite WDW bars? Do you think I’m being too hard on my cousin? Or do you think I should smuggle a Hightower Rocks back from Nomad so he can better understand his mistake?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch At The Brown Derby Lounge

The trip report proper is over, but we’re not done yet – I’ve still got lots of thoughts, including food reviews and photos! You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

My final restaurant review for this trip report was probably my favorite of the trip, edging out even our meal of California Grill for sheer enjoyment.

The timing worked out so that we rope-dropped the restaurant, filing in with a small handful of people at noon and selecting our own seat toward the back by the railing. This turned out to be a lovely location, as we could see the Galaxy Far, Far Away show and Captain Phasma’s March of the First Order. Not that we hadn’t seen the latter enough already, mind you, but it’s always nice to enjoy a show with your meal.

I had been deeply saddened to see that the champagne flight had been recently yanked from the menu just before my arrival again, even though even now it’s listed on the official Disney online menu. But then several things we DID get AREN’T, so I’m not sure anyone’s entirely clear on what the Lounge serves…?

Anyway, in an effort to capture some bubbly magic, I started off with the champagne cocktail, consisting of Fairy Tale Iron Horse sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur, and bitters. Fun fact: bitters are bitter; the aftertaste wasn’t my jam. I liked the bubbles but it’s a pass from me.

Pat got a whiskey sour and indeed that’s what it was. I made him take my maraschino cherry too because BLEH.

We started off the food portion of our meal with conchita pibil steamed buns, which came topped with hot sauce and pickled onion. These were AWESOME, both in texture and taste; but then I’ll eat just about anything in a steamed bun, and I dig on pickled vegetables. Pat liked them too if that counts for anything.

This was quickly followed by an item our server told us was new to the menu but already his favorite: tamarind glazed pork belly, accompanied by chorizo, plaintain, sweet potato hash, and mango pico de gallo. I challenge you to find one thing in that list that doesn’t promise beauty and wonder. Can’t do it, can you? So of course this was excellent, led by a rich, delicious pork belly.

For my second round, I went for the Derby Cocktail, consisting of Whiskey, honey syrup, and grapefruit juice. I liked this one quite a bit – the whiskey was nicely tempered by the honey which was in turn cut by the acidity of the grapefruit juice. Bonus: it came with a derby glow cube!

Pat got red wine. Boring. But at least it was a malbec, so, good choice.

For our final food item we selected the cheese and charcuterie board. The menu is kind of vague as to what you’ll be receiving exactly, probably to give the kitchen some wiggle room. We wound up with baguette slices, pickles and olives along side prosciutto, salami, pate, and an assortment of tasty but unremarkable cheese. Really this was charcuterie at its most basic. It was good, because of course it was good, but it had nothing on what was presented at the California Grill a few days prior.

We wiled away a lovely, leisurely lunch at the Brown Derby Lounge, with good food, good drinks, excellent service, and no ADR required. Get there right at noon for lunch, and thank me later.

This ends my food coverage for our April trip, but I may have one or two more posts up my sleeve…

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Brown Derby Lounge Review

Last post of the trip report. 🙁 Commentary from Elizabeth provided in red. Click here to read all the posts in this report. Onward!

Brown Derby Lounge, I hope you don’t mind me telling you this, but: you were an accident.

Elizabeth and I were hot and tired that afternoon in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were just looking for a bar that wasn’t crowded. You – the little outdoor bar space attached to the Hollywood Brown Derby – had a line, but by that point we had given up. Turns out the line was just for the bar itself to grab a to-go drink, and when we saw a couple put their name down on a list for a table, we did the same.

ELIZABETH: I think that was the day after we had been in the park until 3am, and I’m pretty sure I was running on about 4.5 hours of sleep, so anything involving sitting was awesome. 🙂

Ten minutes later there we were at a hightop, perusing the menu. What happened to your champagne flight, Brown Derby Lounge? I really wanted to try it, but our server informed us that you didn’t have it anymore. They did have a champagne cocktail, but it was awfully expensive for what I suspected would constitute a meager number of sips. So instead I went with the margarita flight.

It was a pretty good substitute, I’ll give you that. The margaritas in question were classic (salt rim), pomegranate , and mango (sugar rims), and they were all good and had a decent kick – although I think you could’ve had a slightly heavier hand with the tequila, you know? A more than decent kick would be very welcome. I would order this again if I were in a sugary mood… but I might just get a full size classic margarita. I do love me some salt.
Elizabeth got a Manhattan, which I’m sure she will tell you all about here.

ELIZABETH: I didn’t feel like getting something sweet, and I associate Manhattans with classy old film noirs, which seemed appropriate for Hollywood Studios. That being said, it was a little on the strong side for the my personal taste, but this was more the result of me wanting to get a drink I’d only sipped once before and not a fault of the bartender’s. If you like whiskey, it’s a good choice!

We supplemented our drinks with the charcuterie plate, which the menu did not describe in any detail but we knew we were at the very least getting meat and cheese, and what more do you really need? We wound up with the assortment below, including hard, soft, and strong cheeses, an interesting assortment of cured meats, mustard, pickles, an unknown pate, and accompanying hard bread (I want to say it was garlic?). It was by no means exotic fare, being comprised primarily of exactly what you would expect on a charcuterie plate that you might assemble yourself at home – but I enjoyed it. The cheese in particular was great; the strong blue variety grew on me.

ELIZABETH: Yes, I thought they had a good variety, though I do wish they’d provided a list of everything on the plate. That being said, we could have asked the waiter, and trying to figure out what kind of pate we were eating was fun! Also, I’m pretty sure I remember there being olives, which I love and are necessary for any decent charcuterie plate, in my opinion.

Overall, well done, Brown Derby Lounge. I’m glad we stumbled into you. I would be gladder if you brought back the champagne flight, though. Whaddya say?

ELIZABETH: I would totally get a champagne flight!

Have you been to the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!