When Mrs. Sip and I bought annual passes to Disneyland last September, I never could have imagined that we would visit the resort in August. The summer months mean packed parks and extreme temperatures. This year was a special case though, as the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ celebrated its 60th anniversary and we wanted to join in the festivities!
Upon arriving, Mrs. Sip and I went straight for beers at Flo’s Café in Cars Land. It’s the only place in the park where you can get the Bear Republic Grand Am Pale Ale (special to me because I used to drive a Grand Am), which Mrs. Sip ordered, while I got the 5 Racer IPA, also brewed by Bear Republic. We noticed that the Radiator Springs Racers ride was temporarily down at the time, but speculated it would be back up and running shortly. As we enjoyed our first few sips of beer, sure enough, the ride opened and we joined the line. We found out the wait would be 75 minutes, as the back-up of riders was cleared, so we decided to give the single rider line a shot and ended up going on the ride three times in a row, before it broke down again.
This helped us decide whether or not to get another beer, which we did at the Karl Strauss truck in the Pacific Wharf area. With no line-up, we were feeling very fortunate and grabbed a couple servings of the Windansea Wheat Hefeweizen, which was a delightful summer beer and one I wish I could easily get my hands on back at home. Karl Strauss is the feature craft beer at the resort. The company was launched in 1989, starting San Diego’s craft beer industry. Karl Strauss was a long-time brewer for Pabst (before opening his own operation), after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939.
For lunch, we hit the Carthay Circle Restaurant for their 3-course menu, which also gives diners priority seating for World of Color show later in the day. Here, we were joined by Cousin Sip and her husband, splitting a bottle of Beyond Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, with our meals. The wine was very nice and easy to drink, but perhaps wasn’t the best to pair with my Angus Burger entrée. At least it worked with Mrs. Sip’s Seasonal Fish (salmon) dish.
The rest of the day was spent picking up beers from around California Adventure and jumping on a few of the rides, before we moseyed on over to Disneyland Park. With a good buzz going, we also visited the Animation Building and tried our hand at a few of the character animation seminars. My Cheshire Cat and Tigger did not look very good, but I really can’t blame any level of inebriation on that.
We began the next day on the side where you can’t drink (boooooooo), before crossing over to California Adventure. Looking for a respite from the overwhelming heat, we ducked into the beautifully air-conditioned Carthay Circle Lounge, this time grabbing seats in the bar area. I ordered the Carthay Diamond Manhattan, largely based on the fact that the ice cube was going to be diamond shaped. I know, I’m very easy to please! The drink was strong, as you’d expect, but was a classy, flavourful cocktail to enjoy in the elegant lounge.
Mrs. Sip and I have become experts of sorts when it comes to drinking at Disneyland, but old dogs can learn new tricks. We recently learned about The Cove, located in the Paradise Pier area of the resort, which has apparently existed all along, right under our noses. I think we always thought it was part of the Ariel’s Grotto restaurant and never investigated further. Here, I had the Smoked Turkey cocktail, which combined Wild Turkey Bourbon, Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, Grenadine, Odwalla Lemonade, and was garnished with Gourmet Maraschino Cherries. Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip ordered some off menu items (you have to know to ask the server about them, unless you get lucky and they mention them to you), including variations of the Long Island Iced Tea. To go with our drinks, we enjoyed some Lobster Nachos, followed by Quesadilla Rolls. The setting was beautiful (albeit in the sun at some points), while the food and drinks were very good. This is a new find that we will certainly return to in the future.
Saturday is always a busy day in the park, so we did our best to stay cool and relaxed. This plan was highlighted by a trip to the Alfresco Tasting Terrace, where Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip indulged in wine tasting flights from the select Disney “family” of wines (chardonnay and reds, respectively), while the fellas experimented with the beer menu. My first brew was the Anaheim Hef, which was another nice summer beer. I followed that with a glass of Napa Smith Hopageddon IPA, which was quite different, but equally enjoyable.
Later on and disappointed that we missed out on the drinks available during the Mad Tea Party, our crew decided to head for the Downtown Disney district for one last beverage, before ending the evening in Disneyland Park. We landed at UVA Bar, located outdoors, in the center of the mayhem. This was a perfect spot for a night cap and there were too many options to choose from. I ordered the Stone Cold beer cocktail, which blended Stone IPA, Hendricks gin, lime juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Other items that we tried or that looked interesting, included Mrs. Sip’s Hibiscus Mojito (which although made too sweet, was adjusted to her taste, with even an extra dash of rum, although all Mrs. Sip requested was a soda top up), a beer sampler that featured Bootlegger’s Spicy Blonde Ale and Mermaid’s Red Ale, and one which we didn’t order, but looked neat: a Bloody Mary popsicle (Tomato Lime Diablo Pop) to put in a beer and make a Michelada.
On our last day, we managed to cram some more beers into our California Adventure afternoon. I started with the Windansea, which may have been my favourite brew of the weekend, followed by a pour of Green Flash Hop Head Red, which was a double IPA and as hoppy as one would expect. For old time’s sake, I finished my visit with a very refreshing Blue Moon, soaking in the sights and sounds of the resort.
Overall, the crowds at the park were not nearly as bad as we originally feared, except for Saturday. The heat, however, was intense and anytime you walked from one area of the park to another, you tried to duck into a shop just to cool down. With our annual passes set to expire next month, it may be a while before Mrs. Sip and I are back, but we sure took advantage of our year!