One reason I love social media is it gives us a chance to celebrate and support our friends’ achievements. As a journalist and editor, it also tips me off to story ideas.
Last week, it was the witty and fabulous writer Heather McLane, a former Beehive contributor and founder of the Churro Kingdom blog, who caught my attention when she shared some exciting news. After months of teasing us with tidbits about working on a project that married two of her favorite things – Disneyland and cocktails – she announced she published a book.
Heather describes “Drinking at Disneyland: A Totally Unofficial Guide to Boozing it Up at the Happiest Resort on Earth” this way: “The 104-page guide is written in a conversational, humorous way, and is intended for parents, non-parents, and everyone in between who knows a happy vacation is a relaxed and slightly buzzed vacation.”
So I reached out to Heather to find out more and gather a few tips to use during a Disney visit I have planned in December (Why not get a few pointers from an expert?!).
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Q: Drinking at Disneyland (and California Adventure)? Isn’t it happy enough without getting a buzz?
A: Yeah, of course it is. There are only two things better than Disneyland, though: sex and drinking, and one of those things will get you kicked out if you try to do it while in line for the Tower of Terror.
You don’t have to drink to have fun at the resort. But you can if you want.
Q: Give us the background: What led to this book? Overview?
A: I have an annual pass, which means I spend quite a lot of time at the parks, usually 2-3 days at a time. At this point, I know how to use less-crowded days and times plus fastpass and single ride lines to their full potential – meaning I’ve usually covered most of the attractions I want to visit by mid-afternoon. So instead of wandering around in the Anaheim heat, I spend time in indoor places waiting for the sun to go down.
Disney California Adventure (DCA), Downtown Disney and the Disney hotels all have multiple bars and lounges where you can get a drink, get some food and generally just chill when you need a break from the heat and crowds. I started visiting these places about five years ago, and it eventually became my mission to try them all out.
Of course I’d post about my adventures on Facebook, and when I did, I’d get people telling me, “I didn’t know you could drink there.” That led to me thinking a guide to the best drink experiences at the resort might be worth writing.
It should be noted: You can’t actually drink at Disneyland Park unless you are a member of Club 33, an exclusive and pricey members-only club. So this book is about bars in the Disneyland Resort, which includes all those places I mentioned above.
Q: Tell us about your “research” for the book? How many drinks did you consume?
A: I mean, researching drinks at the Disneyland Resort: it doesn’t get much better than that, right? There was a bit more to it than just drinking cocktails, but I’m not going to pretend it was a hardship. It’s tough to say how many drinks I consumed while researching – a lot, probably. But as much as I like a good drink, I don’t drink to get fall-down drunk. And I certainly don’t get drunk at Disneyland.
I did get close though during a trip in March. I was alone, so I didn’t have anyone to share drinks with. I had to test out four different cocktails from four different locations in a limited amount of time, so things got a bit fuzzy. Luckily, I’d brought Captain Fishsticks (my dog) to the resort with me, and he walked me back to the hotel safely.
Q: Did that lead to any drunken rides? Share.
A: I will admit there are a few rides I’ll only go on if I’ve had a drink or two. The Silly Symphony Swings at DCA, for example. It’s one of those simple carnival rides where you’re strapped into a swing, lifted into the air, and spun around. Absolutely terrifying to me, and I’ll only do it if I’ve had a drink at nearby Cove Bar first.
No amount of alcohol will get me on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, however. Roller coasters, swings – no problem. But I refuse to do Ferris wheels.
Q: Favorite spot to drink?
A: Carthay Circle at DCA is a favorite spot. It’s located in the Carthay Circle Theater at the end of Buena Vista Street, which is basically DCA’s 1920s-themed “Main Street.”
I love the lounge because it’s elegant without being stuffy. The specialty drinks are classic-type cocktails that are well made, the service is good, and the place is comfortable enough that you’ll want to sink into a chair and spend a couple of hours chatting with friends or family. Also, Carthay Circle is home to my favorite drink at the Resort, the Botanical Gin and Tonic.
Q: Best discovery? Why?
A: Cove Bar in DCA is my favorite discovery. It used to be a tiny little bar in Paradise Pier but its popularity has grown so much the last few years, it recently had to be expanded to double its size.
Cove Bar has amazing food and even better drinks, including those on a secret drinks menu. You have to do a bit of research ahead of time before ordering from that menu – which of course I cover in my guide.
Q: Finish this sentence: Everyone needs this book because ____________?
A: Alcohol is the only thing that’s been missing from your Disneyland vacations. Also, I need more money for more Disneyland trips. Please and thank you.
Q: When did your love of Disneyland start?
A: It began 36 years ago when my parents took me for the first time. We’d go every other year and spend a week there. My whole family is into Disneyland. It’s pretty much the only thing we talk about when we’re all together.
Q: Would you rather drink with Mickey, or Snow White?
A: Neither. Can you imagine listening to those squeaky voices after a couple of drinks? I’d hang with Baloo from ‘The Jungle Book,’ though. Or Woody from ‘Toy Story,’ who is the best Disney/Pixar character of all time. Boom.
Q: Any follow-up book plans?
A: I started working on a follow-up about snacks at the resort, but we’ll see if it gets finished. I’m hella lazy and it’s basically a miracle I finished ‘Drinking.’ Stay tuned, though.