Disney World has a lot of booze — a lot — but the quality varies widely. If you just want to drink, skip this and grab the closest boozy slush. If you want to drink well, read on.
Here's the TL;DR
The majority of vendors, whether they're full service restaurants or quick kiosks, cater to the sweet American palate and the overwhelming desire for something cold and frozen. That means the parks feature all manner of colorful spiked slushie drinks (including a red, white, and blue number in the American pavilion in Epcot) and not a whole lot of balanced, well made cocktails.
Unequivocally, the best bar in all of Disney is Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, a tiki bar tucked in the back of the Polynesian resort that runs hourlong waits. (See tribute below.)
Wine also tends to be more mass market and unexceptional but there are plenty of impressive beers around the property, both at resorts and in the parks themselves. (See our wine and beer list analysis over here).
Outside of sit-down restaurants, booze is categorically banned from the Magic Kingdom. Plan your flask game accordingly.
Best spots on the property for a hard drink
Magic Kingdom: Table-service restaurants are the only places serving, but you could easily sneak in a flask
Epcot: The Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy pavilion
Hollywood Studios: Tune-In Lounge (aka the bar at the 50's Prime Time Cafe)
Animal Kingdom: Dawa Bar
Downtown Disney: Raglan Road
Resorts: Todd English's Bluezoo
Best frozen drink
Frozen coke with a shot of rum at Peevy's (a stand) in Hollywood Studios
Cult favorites to know
The frozen avocado margarita in the Mexico pavilion and the Grand Marnier slush in the France pavilion. We found them both overly sweet, but Disney obsessives on the internet can't shut up about them.
There's also a fruity rum drink called the Magical Star that you can order in practically every bar in Walt Disney World (sometimes off-menu). It comes with a neon glow cube.
What you need to know about Trader Sam's
Trader Sam's, the dark, kitschy bar hidden in the back of the Polynesian Resort, is the best place to drink alcohol in the entire 40 square miles of the Walt Disney World property. Yes, because it's dark and cool. Yes, because the drinks are strong and might possibly come with an overpriced souvenir cup. Yes, because the servers are energetic and just this side of cutsie and obnoxious. Yes because the walls are covered in 1,200 tchotckes that might just light up or move or animate in some fashion.
But really it's because Trader Sam's, the only bar in Disney classified as a "ride," manages to apply the Disney ethos of surprise and delight to the act of drinking alcohol. It restores the sense of innocence to even the most cynical, beaten down, disheartened guest. It pulls estranged Disneyphiles back into the fold.
La Cava de Tequila in the Mexico pavilion offers a cool, dark refuge for tequila lovers. Get a shot, a flight with sangrita, or a margarita (just tell the bartender you don't like them super sweet).
The wine bar and both restaurants in Italy offer fantastic, balanced cocktails.
The cocktails at the lounge at the California Grill are exceptional, as is the view of Magic Kingdom and the lake.
Kimono's, the sake and sushi bar at the Swan resort, turns into a karaoke bar at night.
Dockside Margaritas is a choice margarita and tequila joint in Disney Springs. Go to there.
If you want to go hard on the frozen cocktails, we really liked the Orange Rum Slush at Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom, the Sultan's Colada in the Morocco pavilion in Epcot (especially if you order it "strong"), and the Green Tea Plum Slush at Joy of Tea in the China pavilion in Epcot.
The Garden House and the Kabuki Cafe in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase serves frozen Kirin Ichiban, which is like regular Kirin but with a giant frosty head that keeps the beer cold longer.
Like dive bars? Try the Gurgling Suitcase at the Old Key West resort. It's small, no nonsense, and they probably have what you need. Sports are playing on a TV but in a casual, non-aggressive way.