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Disney Food for Parents: Your “Little Helper” is Only a Gift Shop Away

Normally I write about Disney Food for Families. This means I share tips about dining with children at Walt Disney World.

Sometimes a glass of wine hits the spot after a long day in the park!

But I’m here now to acknowledge that Mom and Dad are also an important part of a Disney family vacation, too. Oh gosh, am I even allowed to say that? :-)

Don’t tell my kiddos, but sometimes, after a long day of hunting for FastPasses, adjudicating squabbles, masterminding wait-time entertainment, and taking the brave one (why is there always a brave one?) on Tower of Terror for the third time in a row, yes sometimes Mommy needs a evening unwind, facilitated by a little drinkie-poo. Yep, sometimes old Mom needs a glass of wine.

Where to Kick Back?

Wine and other friendly alcoholic beverages are, of course, readily available at restaurants and lounges throughout Walt Disney World. Heck, you can now even get yourself a nice Pinot Gris in the Magic Kingdom.

But often the place you most want your relaxing drink is where you can, you know, actually relax. You want your adult beverage in your hotel room, when the pups are asleep. You want to be able to shower off the day, put your feet up, snuggle in front of a non-G-rated movie, and enjoy your vino in your jammies.

Can’t do that in the bar downstairs unless you’re in the mood for some unwanted attention from security.

Chilled wine by the bottle, for sale in the Saratoga Springs gift shop

The obvious solution is to bring a bottle of wine to your room. And, having always thought of everything, Disney is ready to accommodate.

ALL the Walt Disney World hotels sell a selection of bottled beers, wines, and spirits in their gift shops or food courts. Even better, all the Disney hotels now have in-room refrigerators provided free of charge. You can keep your hooch cool without having to make a PJ-clad run to the ice machine down the hall. (Is it super obvious that I’ve done this on more than one occasion?)

What’s Available?

The selection of bottled alcohol varies quite a bit from resort to resort and from week to week. But generally you can find several brands of domestic and imported beer, basic hard liquors, and a handful of red, white, and rose wines. The deluxe resorts also often have chilled champagne in their refrigerator cases.

To give you an idea of what you might expect, here are some photos of the alcohol selection taken at various Disney World resorts over the past 18 months:

Spirits case at the Beach Club gift shop

Red wine at the Beach Club

Wine at the Contemporary gift shop

Beer at the Art of Animation resort food court

Beer and chilled wine at the Caribbean Beach Resort food court

Some of the wines at the Boardwalk gift shop

More Boardwalk options

What’s The Cost?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so pricing may not be top of mind when you’re purchasing wine from your Disney hotel gift shop. But during a recent stay at Disney’s Saratoga Springs resort, I decided to jot down some of the wine pricing just to get a feel for the economics of the situation.

Here are some of the wine prices at Saratoga Springs in fall 2012, all for standard 750ml bottles:

  • Markham Vinyards Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2010: $21.95
  • Kenwood White Zinfandel, 2011: $13.95
  • Rosemount Chardonnay, 2008: $14.95
  • Sterling Vinyards Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, 2008: $12.95
  • Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot, 2009: $13.95
  • Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Reserve: $42.95

Red wines available by the bottle in the Saratoga Springs gift shop

As a point of comparison, I looked up the pricing of these bottles on vinopedia.com, a wine shopping aggregator, which gives prices for online and retail wine vendors throughout the world.

Here’s the same list with the Vinopedia price range in bold next to the Disney gift shop price. Prices are given in a range because they represent the sales prices for several independent vendors:

  • Markham Vinyards Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2010: $21.95; $12.92-$23.36
  • Kenwood White Zinfandel, 2011: $13.95; $8.94-$14.91
  • Rosemount Chardonnay, 2008: $14.95; $8.90-$9.94
  • Sterling Vinyards Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, 2008: $12.95; $12.92-17.89
  • Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot, 2009: $13.95; $5.96-$17.89
  • Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Reserve: $42.95; $33.81-$60.77

The good news is that in gift shop wine, Disney’s pricing is quite reasonable.

If you’re driving to Disney World and can comparison shop at home for your favorite brand, you might as well throw a bottle or two in the car to prepare for your night time tipple. But if you’re traveling by air or find that you need some spur-of-the-moment fortification, you can feel good that you’re not getting swindled on your purchase.

Also remember that if you’re a plan-ahead person and are looking for something a little more fancy-schmancy, there are bottled wines and spirits available for purchase at the Italy, Germany, France, and Japan pavilions at Epcot. Salute!

Germany Wine

I have not done a similar scout for food court beer pricing. Given that supermarket or warehouse club beer is often deeply discounted, my sense is that beer drinkers will find the Disney prices to be more jarring. If you’re a big beer drinker, you may want to shop off campus or look into a delivery from a service like gardengrocer.com.

So fellow over-21s, have you ever purchased bottled alcohol from a Disney resort gift shop? How did you feel about the selection and pricing? Do you have any advice for fellow travelers? Let us know in the comments below.

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

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14 Comments

  1. Pigletyyz says:

    Sometimes a nice glass of wine while relaxing in a fabulous room is just the ticket after a long day with or without kiddos. While staying at the Boardwalk Inn my husband and I purchased a wonderful bottle of Riesling in the Germany pavilion and enjoyed it while watching Illuminations from our balcony. Can you get a more magical setting…I think not:-) Oh, and the nifty Mickey bottle opener and adorable wine glasses we purchased made great souvenirs that we continue to use and adore!

  2. Cynthia says:

    I’m a fan of certain wines that you can only get in Texas, so on my trips to the world, I bring my own. Whether flying or driving, I usually arrive with at least two bottles depending on the length of my stay. I bubble wrap, and also put the wine in its own bag whether its in the luggage for a flight or in the trunk of the vehicle. So far it has worked out just great!

  3. Joy O says:

    Wonderful topic! My husband and I purchased a bottled of wine a few years ago while staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. While the selection there is so very different as it features all African wines – I found the staff to be less the knowledgeable on the wine selection (we purchased ours from the quick service restaurant by the way – not the gift shop). We ended up choosing a red – an unfamiliar grape that I truly ended up despising. But – nothing ventured nothing gained I suppose. Fun to try something new – just wish the right person was standing there to tell me a little bit more about them. Maybe a wine guide in the rooms? :)

  4. Grandpa Dick says:

    My DW and I used to bring our own wine from California to WDW for a little vino while sitting on the veranda watching our animals at Kidani Village. But we have stopped doing that, because the selection is fairly OK and the markups aren’t abusive. We enjoy the South African wines (we learned about them on a Rotary safari in 2010). Kidani Village has a limited selection, but Jambo House has a much wider selection. If you eat at Jiko, ask your server for help picking out a wine from their South African list. Jiko has the largest collection of South African wines outside South Africa. Some are pretty phenomenal and I would place them in the same quality category as the best California wines.

    However, we also like to shop in France and Italy at Epcot to see what’s available there. We try to hit the Food & Wine Festival every year and the shop at the festival center is hard to beat. Prices at the center are pretty close to winery prices, which means you’ll pay more than you might pay for the same wine on the street, but there’s no typical hotel markup. For the convenience factor, I’ll pay a bit more.

    I’ve made myself thirsty thinking of this.

  5. Jaia says:

    Thanks for the comparisons. My husband has complained MANY times that Disney hotel gift shop wine is overly marked up. Now I can show him this and maybe he’ll relax and enjoy it. The markup is much less than cruise ship wine!

  6. Heather says:

    I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the alcohol is at the resort gift shops. My husband and I had a tipple and watched a big game in the room on our last trip! Very relaxing .

  7. Brooke says:

    I haven’t…but I have dreamed of it, haha! And I’ve always been fairly impressed with the selection. Thanks for doing the math, Erin! I’ll be sure to indulge on my very next overnight stay!

  8. Kim LaPaglia says:

    Erin, I like the way you drink/think! ;-) I love the selection of wines at AKL’s The Mara, although I mostly partake in fruity but potent drinks from the pool bars at WDW.

  9. Julie says:

    I think the prices are really quite extortionate. I have to admit feeling quite shocked at first, but it wasn’t too unexpected because after all you are a captive audience. Then I got to thinking maybe this is the price of wine in America (I’m from the UK), but during our holiday I picked up a bottle or two in a grocery store outside the ‘World’, for half the price of that being sold in Disney World so that blew that theory out the water. I guess in the end you are paying for convienience and after all, there’s nothing better than a glass of red to help you unwind at the end of the day – well thats in my opinion anyway :)

  10. Erin F says:

    Pigletyyz – I think the choices in Epcot are often quite good. And as a bonus, there are often tasting flights available so you can try before you buy.

    Cynthia – BYO is a great option if you’re particular.

    Joy – I’m not surprised that the gift shop cast is unfamiliar with the wine selection. They’re really meant to be retail merchandise clerks. Next time it might be worth it to head over to the restaurant’s bar and ask their suggestion before you pick up a bottle.

    Grandpa – You’re making me thirsty too!

    Jaia – I too assumed that the markups would be huge, but given the environment, they turned out to be quite reasonable, and certainly less than you’d pay if you purchased something similar in a restaurant.

    Heather – I’ve got something just like that planned for this weekend. Go Giants!

    Brooke – Let us know how it goes.

    Kim – Mmmmm, fruity drinks. You’ve found my weakness.

    Julie – You can find inexpensive wine in many US supermarkets, so I’m not surprised you found something lower priced. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that in a direct vintage to vintage comparison, the WDW rates were in a reasonable ballpark.

  11. notchris says:

    I think the markups are quite high, up to 100% on the wines with lower retail prices. Like in a restaurant, the markups get smaller as the retail price goes up. The “outside price” ranges provided are a little misleading without an average. I tried a few searches and with slightly different numbers, the Markham and the merlot averaged under $17 and $8, and can be found locally at $17 and $7.

    The prices are reasonable in the sense that it would cost more to hop in a taxi for a spur of the moment bottle and even if you have your own transportation, the “moment” might be gone by the time you get back. But if you seriously get your drink on over a longer trip…

  12. notchris says:

    p.s. When I first read the title I thought it was an ENTIRELY different subject

  13. MNVacation says:

    I was on vacation with my boyfriends family and his mother can be real difficult. After a few days I REALLY wanted a drink one night. I was pleasantly surprised the contemporary gift shop had a good selection. I bought a 275 of Tanguray and I think it was 18$ or something like that. Totally didn’t care at that point, just glad they were selling something that wasn’t Bud Light. You have to ask, they keep the good stuff hidden from view of all the happy family vacationers!

  14. Susan says:

    Will be coming in December but was told the only resort selling liquor
    is where you had to be a club member

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