Y’all, I am a huge coffee drinker. We’re talking 4+ cups a day coffee drinker. So when I’m in the Disneyland Resort running around through super long days on way-too-little sleep, I’m frequently thinking about when and where I can get my next iced americano, or at least a boring non-espresso cup of coffee to keep me going until I get some more carbs and sugar. Thankfully, there are tons of places throughout the Resort to caffeine up - maybe even some you wouldn’t expect.
1. Trader Sam’s
Okay. By now, everyone and their mother has heard of Trader Sam’s in the Disneyland Hotel - it’s not exactly a secret. Unfortunately, that means that it’s now nearly impossible to get into the bar because there are always so many people trying to do so at the same time.
If you are fortunate enough to get a seat at Trader Sam’s, you’re in luck - because you are about to enjoy some of the best boozy drinks in Disneyland. Hopefully, you’re like us and like your tiki drinks to taste like candy. Because they do. Plus, collectible tiki cup souvenirs? Uh, ok!
Service is usually pretty slow and you sometimes have to fight for a table, but we highly recommend the crispy green beans and lettuce wraps, and pretty much every drink on the menu is a total winner. Our favorites include the Lost Safari (now a secret menu drink), the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum, and the Shipwreck on the Rocks.
2. Carthay Circle
You can either make a dining reservation for Carthay Circle (located at the end of Buena Vista street in Disney California Adventure) or you can try to grab a seat at the lounge on the bottom floor.
The ambience is really sophisticated - the building is modeled after the theater where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs first premiered, and the inside has been designed as a throwback to the golden age of 30s and 40s Hollywood. It’s dark and moody and elegant, and the drinks follow suit. We recommend the gin and tonic, the Pimm’s punch, and the pear martini.
Located in the Grand Californian Hotel, Hearthstone has a laid-back elegance, and offers indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is nearly identical to the soon-to-be-defunct Cove Bar (though Hearthstone has this bar snack mix that is TO DIE FOR), so if you’re looking for a Cove Bar drink without a Cove Bar wait, check Hearthstone out.
We like to come here when we’re feeling overwhelmed by the park crowds. Sometimes you can take your drinks to the Grand Californian lobby and listen to the piano player who is frequently playing familiar Disney tunes.
4. Tortilla Jo's
If you’re in Downtown Disney and find yourself in need of a drink, you can’t go wrong with Tortilla Jo’s. There’s rarely a line and who doesn’t love air conditioning and Mexican food, right?
We highly highly highly recommend the Peach Tree Mojitos (we dream about those Mojitos), and the tableside guac!
5. Cove Bar / Lamplight Lounge
We assume once the renovation is done for Pixar Pier, the Lamplight Lounge (which is sadly replacing our beloved Cove Bar on June 23) will have generally the same menu, meaning generally the same delicious assortment of boozy drinks and those famous lobster nachos.
We’re risking a lot by telling you this. Trader Sam’s is our go-to spot for every Disneyland trip - a place we always have to visit at least once, and in an ideal world, we visit multiple times a trip. By giving out this info, it’s likely we’re making it EVEN HARDER for ourselves to find seats inside, but you know what? That’s how much we like you.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is an oasis located at the Disneyland Hotel pool. If you’ve been on the Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland, you’ve met Trader Sam: he’s at the end, offering you a special deal - two of his heads for just one of yours.
The tiki bar is like a combo of Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones and the Enchanted Tiki Room: the walls are littered with postcards addressed to ‘Sam’ - some from Dr. Jones himself, others from travelers who seem to have bartered with the trader for random objects and photos. The columns supporting the bar seem to come straight from the Enchanted Tiki Room - you might expect them to start singing at any moment.
There’s also a reason it’s called the ‘Enchanted’ Tiki Bar. Watch the lazy eyes of the tiki columns closely, pay attention whenever anyone orders a draught beer, wait to see if anyone happens to find their barstool coming closer and closer to the floor. Expect a special show any time someone orders a Shipwreck on the Rocks, an Uh-Oa, or a Krakatoa Punch (don’t worry, you’ll know when it happens).
Pro tip: Trader Sam's is all-ages until 8:00 PM - after that, it's ages 21+ only.
Trader Sam’s has one major drawback, and that is the fact that it is TINY. Given that there are only a very few tables in the bar, there’s a good chance that you will show up to find either a long awkward hovering wait ahead of you, or no chance of getting a table at all.
Luckily, there is a good amount of seating outside. Unluckily, the seating outside is not nearly as magical as the seating inside.
To maximize the chance of getting a seat inside, show up early (around when it opens). Also advisable: show up on a weekday. The worst times to go are the late afternoon through the rest of the night, and definitely once the park has closed.
While we’re on the subject, don’t be one of those people who brings a huge group to Trader Sam’s - it’s a total bummer to walk into the bar and see every seat in the room taken up by one giant group who plans on staying for a few hours. If you’re in a huge group, maybe consider picking up your drinks inside and then finding a seat outside, which is a much more functional place for group seating.
Lost Safari: this is my go-to drink and it never lets me down. (It's now off the official menu, but they can still make it).
Krakatoa Punch: comes with a glow-cube, and tastes like heaven.
Shrunken Zombie Head: Delicious and gets you boozed up in no time.
Shipwreck on the Rocks: This drink is basically just sweetened bourbon over ice. It’s amazing.
The Tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki rum: Often you’ll be asked to say the entire drink title, so don’t try to get away with just asking for a ‘tiki rum’. Creamy and cinnamon-y, this drink is Kelsey’s go-to.
The Uh-Oa: Boozy and a little too easy to drink, this delicious drink comes with four straws and a show but goes really fast!
Trader Sam's recently revamped their menu with quite a few new drinks, including the Angolada, Zambezi Sour, Pago Pago Cocktail, La Florida, and Safari Swizzle. We've sampled them all (naturally), and found that some of them, surprisingly and unfortunately, just aren't that great (though the Pago Pago is an exception and is delicious). You'll notice that some of our recommendations aren't on the menu anymore (Lost Safari, whyyyyyy) but we've been assured that the bartenders still know how to make the Old Menu drinks.
Fried green beans: ALWAYS GET THESE. Even if you’re not hungry. They are so so good.
Lettuce Wraps: The portions look small, but it takes a while to get through this delicious appetizer.
To be honest, we don’t recommend having an actual meal at Trader Sam’s (unpopular opinion?). The times we’ve ordered burgers or sandwiches, we’ve found ourselves disappointed with the portion size and price - it seems like you can get a much better bang for your buck in other locations in Disneyland. For this reason, we usually stick to appetizers (sometimes mutliple rounds of green beans because seriously, they are so. good.) and drinks.
BUY A SOUVENIR MUG. Trader Sam’s has the coolest mugs in the resort, and if you have room in your luggage, we highly recommend buying at least one. Plus, the price is usually only a few bucks more if you're adding it onto a drink.
Live Music: After dark on select evenings (usually on weekends), Trader Sam's hosts live Hawaiian-style music in the outdoor seating area. It's super relaxing and very easy to imagine you've found yourself on some island paradise, delicious tiki drink in hand.
Disneyland Hotel & Trader Sam's
If you're staying at the Disneyland Hotel you're already living the high life, but be sure to take this into account: not only can you get Trader Sam's to-go (so you can take your dranks to the pool), but most of the time, you can get poolside service while you lounge. That's right, Trader Sam's delivered. To you. At the pool. Talk about living the dream.
Ultimately, it would be pretty tough to find yourself disappointed at Trader Sam's. So if you find yourself in the Disneyland Resort looking for both a break from the crowds and a delicious alcoholic (or non-alcoholic I GUESS) beverage, give it a whirl.