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Disney Parks are known for fun, food and selfies with Mickey Mouse, but with in-park festivals celebrating wine and themed cocktails on every restaurant menu, the magical theme parks can also feel like a minefield for those who choose not to drink alcohol.
As an annual pass holder and journalist who spends quite a bit of time at Walt Disney World, not drinking at Disney was one of my biggest concerns when my husband and I recently participated in a fitness challenge that involved not drinking alcohol for 75 days. Would Epcot be as fun if I couldn't drink around the World Showcase? Would meals at my favorite Disney restaurants feel the same if the Cabernet wasn't flowing?
To my surprise, I didn't miss drinking at Disney like I thought I would. Perhaps I was deeply rooted in my commitment to sober-curiosity, but the reality is I was pleased to find a variety of non-alcoholic drinks all over Disney property — from theme parks to resorts — that made me forget that alcohol was not an option.
From sugary Shirley Temples at the Hollywood Brown Derby to juniper-based zero-proof cocktails at Citricos, I learned that, although alcohol had always been a part of my Disney experience, it didn't have to be.
So I turned to my friend, Michael, who posts to Instagram as @michaeldoesdisney and prefers to keep his last name anonymous to keep his park and private lives separate. Michael has been sober for three years and often shares his love of Disney mocktails with his more than 100,000 followers.
"In the last year or so, I've felt more comfortable sharing about my sobriety on my page," Michael explains. "I love ordering mocktails at Disney because you can still have a really fun experience and it can still be a really fun drink without it being an alcoholic beverage. People [who don't drink] always just feel like they have to order a Diet Coke when they go somewhere."
At Disney Parks, that perception couldn't be further from the truth.
Stephanie Dold is beverage director at Walt Disney World and tells Yahoo Life that the move to offer more non-alcoholic drinks started a few years ago as Disney Parks began to shift its focus to providing healthier options for park guests.
"We're seeing more of a demand just because in general, everybody has a healthier lifestyle," Dold explains, "and they're more careful about what they're taking into their bodies."
Dold says within Disney Parks, guests will find two non-alcoholic drink categories: mocktails and zero-proof cocktails.
"A mocktail is fun and invigorating and I think it captures the whimsical essence that we want to give to a child ... or a child at heart," says Dold. "When I think about that zero-proof cocktail, that's really for that guest who wants to have that same flavor profile without the alcohol in it."
Click and scroll in the window below to explore the body after 30 days without alcohol.
"Just because I'm deciding not to drink tonight – sometimes I still want that experience," Dold explains. "I have friends that have gone through the motherhood journey and they will tell you, 'Sometimes I just crave that and I can't have the alcohol so I want to feel like I'm having an actual adult beverage.'"
Michael says whether his followers aren't drinking because they're pregnant, don't care for alcohol or are consciously choosing to live a sober lifestyle, he shares his favorite Disney mocktails because he wants them to feel less alone in their choice.
"I think it helps other people see something that is OK and can be normal," he says. "It helps normalize sobriety and normalize people's comfort with it ... there's such a stigma in being sober."
"I have this platform and a lot of people out there who are going through a lot of the things I went through," he adds, "and they should feel extremely proud of the fact that they don't drink. When I go out into a public setting, I want to be able to drink fun drinks, too, even if they're non-alcoholic."
Yahoo Life asked @michaeldoesdisney for his must-drink non-alcoholic mocktail picks for a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
8. Florida Crush, Chef Art Smith's Homecomin', Disney Springs
"This was a virgin version of the Florida Crush with muddled strawberries and it was very yummy," Michael says, explaining that for this Disney Springs mocktail, he simply ordered off the restaurant's bar menu and asked for the drink without vodka.
This fruity drink contains muddled oranges and strawberries, fresh-squeezed oranges and agave syrup.
Chef Art Smith's Homecomin', Disney Springs
7. Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, Disney's Hollywood Studios
Sprite and tangerine make up this simple and sweet cocktail, available at the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge.
"This was sweet," says Michael. "And, it came with a souvenir glow cube which was super fun."
Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, Disney's Hollywood Studios
6. Mint to Be, Lamplight Lounge, Disney California Adventure Park
"This had watermelon and berry puree in it with fresh mint," says Michael. "It was really refreshing and not too sweet, which I liked."
Get this mix of limeade, watermelon and berry puree, fresh mint and soda water at Disneyland's Lamplight Lounge.
Disney California Adventure Park
5. Skipper Sipper, Trader Sam's at Disney World and Disneyland
Found both at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland and Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney World, the Skipper Sipper is on both bars' "no-booze brews" menus and contains tropical juices, agave nectar, falernum, mint, fresh lime juice and soda water.
"It's very pineapple-y and minty," says Michael. "It's a lot of fun, and my second favorite, if you're trying more than one thing on this menu, is the Schweitzer Falls, which tastes like grape juice with Sprite."
4. Honey Hibiscus Iced Tea, Joy of Tea, Epcot
Find this lightly sweetened tea with blueberry boba pearls in the China Pavilion at Epcot.
"This was a really fun drink," says Michael, adding that mocktail options are surprisingly limited around Epcot's World Showcase. "People have asked me 'Can you put a guide together with how I can drink around the world with mocktails' and the answer is no, I can't and that's frustrating."
Joy of Tea, Epcot
3. Magic Mirror, AbracadaBar, Disney's BoardWalk
While there aren't mocktails on the menu at AbracadaBar, Michael offers this tip: "You're able to order any of their cocktails as a non-alcoholic drink."
Michael's favorite? The Magic Mirror: soda water, mango syrup, Sprite and lime juice, sans rum.
"The cool thing about it was that the mango syrup had this funky chemical reaction when it hit the drink — because they're a magic bar," he says. "It changes colors so the drink was hot pink even though it was mango-flavored."
AbracadaBar, Disney's BoardWalk
2. Zingiber Fizzie, Nomad Lounge, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Not only is this passion fruit puree, mint, lime juice, simple syrup and ginger beer cocktail delicious, but the lounge where it's served also gets major points as one of Michael's favorite places to rest his feet and have a drink while in a Disney park.
"It's one of the best places to get a mocktail," adds Michael. "They have a really really nice non-alcoholic beverage menu — like five or six drinks on the menu. If we're talking places to order a mocktail, Nomad Lounge is number one in a park."
Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
1. Sparkling No-Jito, Tambu Lounge, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
This well-garnished mocktail is a mixture of lime juice, pure cane sugar and mint, topped with soda water.
"My favorite, hands down, was the Sparkling No-Jito," says Michael. "It was delicious — essentially a mojito without the alcohol in it, but it wasn't overly sweet."
"It has really great garnishes on it," he adds. "I happened to get it at the Polynesian and they included a cute little orchid flower on top and were super-willing to make it with the different flavors they had like mango puree or raspberry."
Tambu Lounge at Disney's Polynesian Resort
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