The Gentleman's Guide to Drinking Around the Worldby Roan Poulter, contributing writer
People of all ages delight in finding the secret, hidden items within Disney Parks. From Mickey Mouse's hidden shape to the stealthy buzzer for Club 33, experiences off the radar continue to fascinate many of us. Hidden from the Epcot park maps and attraction guides lies one of the most enjoyable, abused, misunderstood, under appreciated, beloved, reviled, and unofficial activities in all of Disneydom—the ultimate pub crawl. Drinking around the world can be a transcendent experience; it can also lead to decisions that earn lifetime Disney bans. Look only at foolish mortals who have tried to climb the Mexico Pavilion, have fistfights in lines, or other silliness and you will see that this challenge is not without peril. Hence, this guide will show you the proper way to have a magical day without having to be carried out of the park by security.
Drinking around the world is not an activity one just stumbles upon. There are many weeks of preparation that go into a successful crawl. These are the items you will need to amass for your journey:
- A group of friends – No one wants to drink by themselves; bringing your friends along for the ride ensures that many eyes can watch those few souls who will potentially be an issue later. It also drastically reduces your chances of being selected as the designated driver (DD).
- A Designated Driver – The official listing for drinking around the world is thus: Canada, UK, France, Morocco, Japan, America, Italy, Germany, Norway, and Mexico. That's ten countries, so unless you're only planning on sipping a drink from each, someone else will need to drive you home. This selection is best done before arriving at Epcot, though drawing lots onsite can work in a pinch. A group-wide acknowledgement that when the designated driver says stop, everyone stops. When the DD says time to leave, everyone shambles to the exit. His or her rule is law, agreed and sanctified by the group of drinkers who will be relying on that ride home.
- Dress code – Two ways to go here, either dress to impress or team up. I'm a team up guy and have designed my own unique logos for t-shirts I had made for the occasion. This can also be a cherished souvenir if one buys fabric markers to check off the boxes and request cast members in various lands to scribe unique phrases on the shirt. Cast members are happy to help, if you're polite and not obviously inebriated. Alternatively, you can dress to impress, but remember that Disney does not allow adults to wear costumes, especially if they're Disney in nature.
- The date – More critical than one might first portend. Most groups do this on Saturday nights—which doesn't mean you can't do it on a Tuesday—but if you want to bump into other merrymakers then Saturday is the target. However, if your chosen date falls within the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, you should avoid Saturday; the crowds are just too large and the lines too long on a weekend during that time.
- Decorations – Optional but highly recommended by discriminating drinkers are fun hats. Viking helmets, berets, cowboy hats, or "Where's Waldo" beanies are some of the unique choices that help to keep an eye on the group.
Pub Crawl Day
On the day of the crawl, remember that eleven drinks is a lot of alcohol. You may want to find a drinking buddy to split drinks; five and a half full beers or mixed drinks is still plenty to have a good time. You need to start early. The amount of alcohol you will be ingesting is best spread out over the greatest possible time. I like an hour a drink, but that may not be feasible on a given day, as World Showcase doesn't open until 11 a.m. and often closes at 9 p.m.
The rule of the day is the more time you give your body to metabolize, the less likely you will be paying for it tomorrow. Our rule is a bottle of water at every other drink stop.
Here is a list of the countries in the order that I visit and some notes on possible drink choices. Note this works on a general counter-clockwise visitation rotation, which is the way to go, trust me:
UK – Every good drink around the world expedition starts at the Rose and Crown. A beautiful gem of a bar with knowledgeable staff and some of the best beer combinations in the park. A Black and Tan (stout and lager) or a Snake Bite (lager and hard cider) gets things properly started.
Canada – We're already backtracking, but not much. Canada is a little lackluster in its drinking facilities, but a nice Moosehead lager will keep you occupied on your way across the bridge to France.
France – Time to get a bite to eat. There's a wonderful little bakery in the back of the gift shop where the Impressions de France film exits. If it's hot, go for the Grand Marnier Orange Slush, otherwise a nice French red wine.
Morocco – Get a drink and walk through the markets. It's a wonderfully immersive labyrinth that makes you forget you're in a Disney park. Sangria is my choice from the cart, but an infused coffee from the dessert bar in the Tangierine Café is nice if you need perking up.
Japan – I don't like sake or Japanese beers, which makes this pavilion a tough place for me. My best option is to go into the far corner of the gift shop by the candy and buy a sake and a plum wine. I mix them together and split it with someone else to create what I call a Purple Haze. Get some Japanese candy while you're there; it's delicious and highly portable.
If you're ready for lunch, the Katsura Grill is very affordable. I suggest the udon noodles. Find a nice table outside to enjoy your purple haze and udon.
America – What used to be an abysmal showing of American brewing has upped their game. Check the two different beer stands to see what seasonal beers they have, then investigate the American Gardens Theatre for performances. You are allowed to enjoy your frosty beverage while enjoying the music. The best seats in the house are the concrete flower beds on the right side aisle, and you can stand up to dance without being reprimanded by a cast member.
Italy – This is a nice spot to stop for dinner, with several good options to help carb load and power through to the end of the crawl. Italian beer or wine are both great with multiple selections of each depending on your mood.
Germany – Great beers, but if you find the kiosk line to be inordinately long, check the line at Sommerfest at the back of the pavilion. I prefer the Warsteiner Dunke, a dark pilsner that only comes in a bottle. A beautiful stein from the gift shop might even make that pilsner taste better. Beware the delicious aromas wafting from the Karamell-Küche that have waylaid many a hungry world traveler.
Mexico – This stout bit of walking takes you past the other two countries, but it's all part of the plan. There are drink carts outside, but I suggest skipping them. Instead make your way inside the temple and down to La Cava del Tequila, where you can have an authentic tequila experience. Be careful, your wallet and sobriety are in jeopardy as flights of tequila skitter to and fro. I recommend the avocado and cucumber margaritas, or splitting a flight of tequila with friends.
China – China may be my least favorite country to drink in. Most selections are over-sugared blender drinks and the beers are only marginal. Good luck and don't be afraid to share a drink or skip this one.
Norway – The end of the line. Take a moment to congratulate yourself if you've made it this far. Hopefully you've been drinking water as we recommended. The final stop offers two delicious favorites of mine, the Carlsberg beer and Viking Coffee, infused with Kamora coffee liquor and Bailey's Irish Cream. For me, nothing finishes off the night like a Viking Coffee.
Now that your adventure is complete, it's time to hydrate and make your way out of the park in a respectful manner. Cast members may have endured a long day of insufferable drunks, so this is a good time to try for best behaviors. If anyone is struggling to make it to the car, Disney has wheelchairs available from the exit turnstiles to your vehicle.
If you did it right, the next morning should be relatively pain free and reinforce that a gentlemanly and lady-like stroll around the world is a wonderful choice for social drinkers. If not, try the smothered hash browns at the local Waffle House.