The beer situation in the Animal Kingdom is rough. They seem to be cognizant of this, since they recently added several “beer carts” along the paths in Asia (near Everest and on the way to DinoLand U.S.A.). Indeed, the rising demand for good beer seems to be causing a bit of a branding crisis for the park. Ubiquitous is the Safari Amber ($6.95), which Cast Members will tell you is specially brewed for the Animal Kingdom. That’s a little bit of a stretch: it’s actually specially *branded* for the park. You know the “Red” or “Amber” beer that seems to appear in restaurants that only sell Bud and Bud Lite, but has some cute name that directly references the tacky ambiance of wherever you are? This is the selfsame brew, and will taste exactly like Kingdom Red Ale in the Kansas City Chief’s stadium, or Ray’s Red at Tropicana Field in Tampa, or Thirsty Frog Red Ale “brewed exclusively for Carnival Cruise Lines.” If you’ve had one of these mystery “Red Ales” before, you’ve had the mediocre Safari Amber.
I’d like to go though each land of Animal Kingdom like I did for Epcot, reviewing spots and providing rankings for each experience, but it’s just not possible here. You will be looking for an Oasis, not wandering through a verdant field of hops. With that in mind …
Located in Africa, right outside Tusker House. The bar represents a microcosm of the Animal Kingdom experience. The selection is sparse and lacks air conditioning but is none-the-less pleasant and entertaining. The live band is right behind you, and ample shade, cool beer, and ceiling fans can make you forget the heat. Don’t be fooled by the vast collection of craft beer bottles along the back of the bar; they are only decoration. My bartender said they were there because they “have animals on them.” The taps, however, are functional. In addition to Bud and Safari Amber, there is Tusker Lager from Kenya and St. George Lager from Ethiopia (both $7.50). It’s great to see “local” beer on tap, and in another setting both might be just average, but there is something about this bar that makes the very fizzy, honey touched Tusker Lager work. The St. George beer is inferior to Tusker but better than Safari Amber. Oh, and the bartender says the Tusker House restaurant is named after the beer. Who needs a guidebook when you have a bartender? The Dawa Bar also has a good selection of mixed drinks for your spirit-drinking companions.
Rainforest Cafe Bar
The restaurant is loud but also indoors and the bar has plenty of space, making an open spot or two likely. It’s also open for as much as one hour after park closing. Safari Amber makes another appearance here, but so do the seasonal Samuel Adams (Oktoberfest right now) and Yuengling (both $7.95). Both are better than average choices, if not particularly exotic. Being able to order off the restaurant’s menu is a plus.
A couple of carts have been added along the path running through Asia. They sell Kingfisher Premium Lager from India and Singha from Thailand, both in bottles. I have seen Singha in Asian restaurants, but Kingfisher was new to me. (Ed. – Kingfisher is also available at Sanaa – it’s particularly good with the Indian-inspired menu there.) It’s too bad these aren’t on tap, but if you are stuck in Asia waiting on your party to get off Everest, these are not bad options.
It turns out Animal Kingdom is not a completely barren beer desert. If you know where to look, you’ll be in no danger of thirst.
Need more advice for what to drink in the World? Make sure you check out the Walt Disney World Bars and Lounges eGuide, which will be receiving a substantial update this October.