Inspired by the novel brilliance of many Disneyland Halloween Time specialty menu items, Carthay Circle’s Poison Apple-tini, specifically, we present a grand tour of the top Disneyland Resort lounges and libations.
A quick disclaimer: Trader Sam’s does not appear on this list. Do not misunderstand, Trader Sam’s is wonderful. It is a spectacular place to go for cocktails and signature Disney creativity. It can also be a frustrating place to find a table, or anywhere to sit. Instead, then, included are reviews of locations we adore, which are most often more accessible. Also, we focus mostly on Disney California Adventure venues.
The new jewel of Pixar Pier is one of the park’s most attractive attractions. Exquisitely designed and delivered, the multi-level bar(s) and restaurant is arguably as much of a draw as the pier’s newly refurbished roller coaster. Equal parts charm and creativity–pretty typically Disney, really–the time you spend getting in, and then relaxing within this artist’s palette of an establishment, is well spent and rewarded.
Former Cove Bar faithful will endure the extra wait for a spot on the upper-level patio. While the view may not be as dramatic, the downstairs lounge often offers more open seating and extra layers of animated character. For true immersion, order one of the chromatic bubbly cocktails. Each is interesting indeed, and you won’t find them anywhere else. For taste as well as creativity, we recommend the Open Ocean with a Splash. It’s as colorfully disarming as the frothing beverages, though is easier to drink than the bubbling cauldron they’re struggling with at several of the other tables. You can read our full lounge and restaurant reviews for a more comprehensive guide.
Carthay Circle Lounge
The golden-age dining establishment inside Disney California Adventure is worth a visit, if only to stand about and soak in the character. In deference to Trader Sam’s disqualifying crowd issues, Carthay Circle often presents a prohibitive line. Please, do not spend significant portions of your Disney day waiting to get into a bar. Not even a Disney bar. Blasphemy, absolutely, but park tickets aren’t cheap. Every minute you spend not enjoying the mountains with roller coasters in them is difficult to justify.
Carthay Circle, though, is a genuine attraction. If you like to take a leisurely meal in splendor, this receives our recommendation. If you are more of a mind to better spend your time on actual attractions, hit up the lounge. Carthay is the perfect spot to try that intimidating martini you’ve always been meaning to try. The aforementioned Poison Apple-tini is currently on the exclusive menu. Even if you don’t prefer cocktails, the Carthay Circle confines kind of insist upon it. Tell the bartender what you like. They will make you something you will love.
Alfresco Tasting Terrace
The hours, days, even, of operation are difficult to predict. When this particular terrace is open, it’s the crowd that can be unpredictable. Finding a seat tends to be a hazard of the more wonderful Disney venues. We applaud the number of guests with whom we share this pleasurable pursuit. It’s just unfortunate when you have a specific compulsion for a quality glass of wine on a quiet patio and a horde of like-minded consumers have beaten you there.
Alfresco, and indeed the entire north end of the Wharf, is a place for wine. You’ve heard a lot about California Chardonnay. Well, this presents the perfect opportunity to try some. If you even slightly like any variety of wine, you can’t to go wrong with the vintage offerings here. Still uncertain? The sommelier Cast Members are as knowledgeable as they are approachable. Sure, they may be serving your favorite beer. Instead, since you are here, get the charcuterie board you see others enjoying, and become the wine drinker you are meant to be.
If wait times are a reliable gauge of popularity–they are, mostly–Bayside Brews beer vendor is the park’s 4th best attraction. Rivaling the Incredicoaster’s line, park patrons are not shy about walking to the Disney California Adventure’s deepest point for a full-bodied beer. Bayside offers a selection of craft brews, mostly native to the Golden State. If you enjoy IPA, they often draught one of the world’s best: Karl Strauss Tower 10. The selection is subject to change. If they don’t have this particular brand during your visit, chances are they have another IPA you will love. Get one. Go watch the live entertainment in Paradise Gardens, or wander over to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and wonder how this attraction, with no line, still exists.
No, it’s not open yet, though warrants an honorable mention, if only for the Star Wars excitement in the air already. There is understandable contention regarding alcohol inside Disneyland itself, especially at a proposed walk-up counter. The discomfort we feel over having booze appear within our favorite childhood fantasy playground is diminished by the thrill we shall experience as we are finally able to savor said park with a cocktail. Hypocrisy? Sure. Walk Main Street one time with a Disney-sanctioned drink in your hand, then get back to us.