The best theme parks serve the whole family, from wee tots over in Toontown to their parents who'd prefer to be in Westworld. Kids can have fun pretty much anywhere, but some parks are better than others at serving the upper 80 percent of the age spectrum, especially catering to their thirst for crisp, cool booze on a tiring day of vacation. For exhausted parents who need to escape the madness for one quick cold one and those young-at-heart visitors who need a break from their own inner children, here is a definitive ranking of theme parks based on their alcoholic offerings (from worst to best). Unfortunately, there’s no booze at the best theme park in the world, Dollywood, so if you need us we will be crying into our sweet tea.
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Walt Disney was an avowed teetotaler. While Disneyworld in Orlando has slowly caved to Floridians’ demands for alcohol in all places at all times, Disneyland stands strong as a bastion for dry, wholesome, family fun—except if you can get into the uber exclusive Club 33, where there are no rules for rich people. Disney is the best, but drinking at Disney (in California) is the worst.
You can dig up beer and wine at some restaurants in Hershey Park, but it doesn’t really advertise drinking much, and you can’t take any beverages with you as you stroll the grounds.
Drinking at KBF is best enjoyed with a show. Your best bet is to grab a brew from Spurs Chop House and head to the patio that overlooks the Ghost Town Miners bluegrass stage. Alternatively, you can find the house-made Knott’s Boysenberry Beer in the Calico Saloon as you take in a show there.
The 19 Six Flags parks scattered around the world are solid bets for beer drinkers, who can reliably find basic brews at stands and restaurants throughout the parks. Unlike the three parks above, (some) Six Flags parks actually let you wander with a frosty one in hand, making that epic journey from Tatsu to Batman a whole lot easier.
Ohio’s best amusement park may not get much love on the big national stage compared to its coastal brethren, but it ranks high for beverage options. To celebrate the launch of a new roller coaster, the Rougarou, the park released a signature beer Rougabrew, which you can find at the Last Chance Saloon, Red Garter Saloon and the Surf Lounge at the nearby Hotel Breakers. The Surf Lounge also whips up a mean Mai Tai and Long Island Iced Tea, as well as custom creations like the Breakers Breeze, a Moscow Mule variation with Grand Marnier and Sprite added, which comes in a souvenir glass.
Back when Anheuser-Busch owned Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, parents would get free beers as consolation for letting their kids drag them around the parks. That bonus disappeared back in 2009 when ownership changed hands—but praise the beer lords, the deal is back. Until August 5, of-age visitors to Busch Gardens can get two free beers at the Garden Gate Cafe. Plus, unlike the Virginia location of the park which caters only to beer drinkers, the Tampa location has options for wine drinkers (wine bars in gift shops scattered around the park) and cocktail drinkers (mixed drinks at the Dragon Fire Grill, Serengeti Overlook Pub, and Garden Gate).
What Disneyland lacks in booze, its neighbor California Adventure makes up for in spades. The Carthay Circle Lounge—which serves a quality Manhattan, even if it is served over an ice sphere—is surprisingly swanky for a place located across the street from something called the Grizzly River Run. Sonoma Terrace offers a decent selection of beers and wines, while the Cove Bar lays claim to the only secret cocktail menu we know of at a theme park.
Like Busch Gardens, you can pick up two free drinks from Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen until September 2, but the real pride of the park is Shark’s Underwater Grill. The bartop is an actual saltwater aquarium, while one wall of the room is the side of a 660,000 gallon aquarium filled with sharks and large fish. You can take it all in with tropical slushy drinks like frozen Daiquiris and blue Piña Coladas in what is definitely one of the best theme park drinking experiences.
Disney has been upping its game in Orlando recently (not so much in Anaheim). This summer, restaurants at Disney Springs are offering an 18-stop bourbon trail where you can get whiskey pairings like an Old Fashioned served with homemade bread pudding. Meanwhile, the new Pandora: The World of Avatar park is set to feature some crazy themed cocktails. The bar that seals the deal, though—and one of our favorite bars in the park—is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which is Disney’s take on a tiki bar and is just as magical as that sounds.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Simpsons-themed Universal Studios Florida’s Springfield team up with several fantastic options for beer-loving park visitors. In between casting spells and mixing potions at the Wizarding World, you can sip an ale called Hogg’s Head Brew at the Three Broomsticks or grab the lager called Dragon Scale at the Hopping Pot in the Diagon Alley section of the park. Meanwhile, over in Springfield, you’ll find Duff beers brewed locally by Florida Beer Company at Moe’s Tavern and the beer garden at Duff Brewery. If that somehow doesn’t satisfy you, there’s a location of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on the CityWalk nearby. You can even drink while you ride the Hogwarts Express.
The drinking at Epcot is so good that it has become an attraction of its own. Eager, wide-eyed park guests well past beyond childhood flock to the park to “drink around the world,” to undertake a bar crawl around the World Showcase, which features 11 different cultures, all with unique boozy beverages to drink. At La Cava Del Tequila in the Mexico section, you can take your pick of over 100 tequilas and many flavored Margaritas. In the German section you’ll find a beer cart loaded with Warsteiner Dunkel and Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen. Over in France you’ll find an Ice Cream Martini (two scoops of ice cream plus Grand Marnier, whipped cream-flavor vodka or rum) at L’Artisan des Glaces. If you can successfully sample the whole globe in one day, you’ll never really have to take another vacation again.