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Special Post: Drinking in Disney World

Loyal followers of Cinema Sips may have noticed it’s been a while since my last movie/cocktail pairing. I wish I could say I had a good reason for this, but the sad truth is… I’m burned out. Between my full-time job, pre-production on my upcoming novel (did you know my book is being published by Random House Canada in June 2023??? Well, now you do!), construction on my house, and holiday stress, something had to give, and that something was the blog. I haven’t had time to watch movies or make interesting cocktails; lately, it’s all I can do to collapse on the couch with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a Frasier rerun. If you’re thinking to yourself, “This woman needs a vacation!” you are correct. And last week, I got to take the ultimate vacation for a person who loves planning, retro futurism, and themed restaurants…Disney World!!!!

While my days consisted of a rides, a lot of walking, and a fair amount of junk food, I also managed to sample a smorgasbord of cocktails. Kudos to Disney for raising the bar on creative mixology, and if you’re looking for the recipes to some of their wildly inventive cocktails and mocktails, you can find many of them in The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book by Ashley Craft:

Here are the top five from my trip, in no particular order.

(*NOTE* You will not find anything from Hollywood Studios on this list because they are officially dead to me after tearing down The Great Movie Ride. I’ve drawn my line in the sand, and that line was a yellow brick road.)

1. The Northwoods, Territory Lounge, Wilderness Lodge

I decided to stop by the lodge for a peek at the Christmas decorations (which were unfortunately not up yet at the time of my visit), but lucked out in finding a new favorite bar, the Territory Lounge. This bourbon cocktail called “The Northwoods” had flavors of maple syrup and rosemary, and was quite tasty paired with a charcuterie plate and bowls of fancy popcorn. Who needs noisy restaurants with kids bouncing off the walls when you can relax into comfy armchairs and make a meal of small plates and booze? Repeat after me, fellow Childless Millennials- LOUNGES.

2. The Big Tang, Space 220 at EPCOT

I don’t even want to go into the full story of how I managed to snag a reservation at one of Disney’s most sought-after restaurants, on one of the busiest holiday weeks of the year. Let’s just say, as with all things Disney-related, it was expensive and time-consuming. Was it worth it? For a Tang-infused Margarita with a piece of astronaut ice cream on top? Absolutely!!! In all fairness, my opinion may have been skewed because I arrived shaky and disoriented after nearly losing my breakfast on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, to the tune of “Disco Inferno”. Any alcoholic beverage would have been welcome by that point. This one was perfectly themed, if not perfectly balanced, but not to worry- my husband’s mocktail came with a pipette of Butterfly Pea Tea that I used to transfer some of his extremely sour lemonade into my drink, to balance the sweetness. I felt like Jim Lovell, working the problem at 220 miles above Earth.

3. Annapurna Zing, The Nomad Lounge, Animal Kingdom

This was my first trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but it definitely won’t be the last! I had a blast on Avatar Flight of Passage (terrible movie, fantastic ride), and saw a real, live flock of pink flamingos. Worth the price of admission, right there. But then I stepped into the Nomad Lounge and found nirvana in the form of delicious small plates, overstuffed armchairs, quiet ambiance, and a huge cocktail list. It was a tough choice, but I went with the Annapurna Zing, a tasty gin/passionfruit/ginger beer concoction that came with a glowing lotus flower. I’ll admit, I was mainly in this for the flower. But the drink was excellent, the conversation even better, and I now have a fun souvenir for my home bar!

4. Cosmopolitan, Steakhouse 71 at The Contemporary Hotel

The Contemporary is one of my favorite hotels on property, and their new steakhouse is retro perfection! This Cosmopolitan was off-menu, but the bartender did a phenomenal job of getting it just right. A cheeseburger and a cocktail in the middle of the day, while Mary Blair’s ghost smiles down on us? Don’t wake me, I’m dreaming.

5. Blood Orange Margarita, San Angel Inn at the Mexico Pavilion, EPCOT

Although tempted by the Neil Patrick Harris-designed margarita prominently displayed on the menu, I opted instead for a simple Blood Orange marg (sorry, Neil). It was tough to find anything without agave in it (why, Disney, do you insist on ruining your margaritas by making them too sweet???), but this one had a nice spicy rim to distract me from the fact that it wasn’t 100% up to my Austin standards. For romantic dining ambiance at Disney, you really can’t beat the San Angel Inn, and if you haven’t ridden the Three Caballeros boat tour slightly tipsy at least once, have you even lived?

I hope to be back in the coming weeks, rested and armed with some holiday flicks and cocktails, but in the meantime, I’ll quote the mouse and say, “See ya real soon!”

Swiss Family Robinson

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions, 1960, Swiss Family Robinson

Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions, 1960, Swiss Family Robinson

Land ho! This week on Cinema Sips, I’m mixing business with pleasure by featuring a movie and drink that are factoring strongly into my current vacation to Disney World. As any true Disney fan knows, the very best thing in the Magic Kingdom is the Dole Whip at the Aloha Isle. A creamy soft-serve pineapple concoction that I always get floated over pineapple juice (aka- the Dole Whip Float), it’s something I dream about on hot summer days. Just thinking of that sweet, tart pineapple flavor makes my mouth water. This amazing snack is found just beside the Swiss Family Treehouse, a recreation of the island treehouse featured in this week’s film Swiss Family Robinson (DVD/Download). The bench nearby will be my home-away-from-home for a few days, while I scarf down enough Dole Whip to put myself in a diabetic coma.

Swiss Family Robinson is based on the novel by Johann David Wyss, and it came out during what I like to think of as the Golden Age of Disney live-action films. In the 1950’s and 60’s Disney released such gems as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Pollyanna, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, and The Parent Trap. Oh, to be a kid back then! (I was stuck with Angels in the Outfield ). In Swiss Family Robinson, The Robinson Family (father, wife, and 3 sons) gets shipwrecked on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific after a tedious pirate battle. They manage to salvage important things like livestock, tools, two Great Danes, and a pipe organ (how could you possibly survive on an island without one of those??). The pirates make a few more attempts to seize the family, but in the meantime the Robinsons set about crafting a pretty awesome treehouse. It’s got ladders, curtains, the aforementioned organ, a dining table, separate bedrooms, and even a watermill. Later on a young lady arrives, setting off a tepid love triangle between the middle and eldest sons (team Ernst all the way!!!) and the youngest son manages to pull a Kevin McCallister and booby trap the island against future pirate invasions. If they could re-make this with Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as pirates, my life would be complete.

The following drink recipe was given to me by a very wise Disney employee years ago, after I went on and on about how much I love Dole Whip. My husband even surprised me with several pounds of dry Dole pineapple mix so that I could attempt it at home, but alas, it lacked the creaminess that you get from the machine. Over the years, I’ve found that using pineapple sorbet yields an excellent result, so this week, while watching The Swiss Family Robinson, break out the blender to make a Dole Whip Dream.

Dole Whip Dream

2 cups pineapple sorbet

¼ cup Butterscotch Schnapps

¼ cup Southern Comfort

¼ cup dark rum

1 cup pineapple juice

½ cup ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a tiki mug and enjoy with a straw and a tiki umbrella.

Dole Whip Cocktail

It’s worth noting that Disney’s Polynesian Resort now has a Dole Whip cocktail on their Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace menu, called the Spikey Pineapple. Of course I had to taste test it (just in the name of due diligence) and I can assure you all that my version is better. If you can’t make it to the Mouse House this year, do the next best thing by watching this movie full of island adventure and shirtless young men, and mix up a VERY tasty Polynesian beverage. Cheers!