With four theme parks, two water parks, and an entertainment complex, Disney World is full of fun things to do. However, one of my favorite experiences actually can be found at the hotels. Specifically, the Magic Kingdom hotels are connected by monorail. With so many great restaurants and bars, these three hotels make for the perfect Disney monorail bar crawl.
Disney World used to offer a paid version of this but it was discontinued during the pandemic. I find that creating your own monorail bar crawl is more fun and cheaper though! In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the ultimate Disney World Monorail Bar Crawl, complete with insider tips, must-try drinks, and the best spots to toast your magical adventure.
Free Disney World Monorail Bar Crawl Planning
First up, you need to do a little preplanning prior to embarking on your monorail bar crawl. The only roadblock in this free experience is that Disney World is not a fan of people parking at monorail resorts. Sometimes you will get lucky, but they have really cracked down over the years.
If you have an annual pass that covers parking, you can simply park at the Transportation and Ticket Center and take the monorail from there. The only ways to avoid paying for parking are either parking at Disney Springs and taking a bus to your resort or making a dining reservation. The Disney Springs method can be quite tedious, so I recommend making a restaurant reservation at one of the three monorail hotels (Polynesian Village Resort, Contemporary Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa). You will want to eat on this bar crawl, so it makes sense to have a plan!
You book a dining reservation through the Disney World website here. I will go over which are the best options to choose from below. Keep in mind, that you want the reservation time to be close to the start of your bar crawl since they might not let you park there until it is closer to your time. Once you have a reservation, all you have to do is drive to the hotel of that reservation, give your information to the parking booth and you are good to go for a free monorail bar crawl!
Monorail Bar Crawl Restaurant Options
As I mentioned above, you will need a reservation at one of the three Disney World monorail hotels in order to park there for free. Each hotel has both casual and more upscale options depending on your preference. Now just because you have a reservation, does not mean you need to order a full meal. You can simply enjoy a drink or an appetizer if you want to make a quick. Some restaurants are better than others for this, and I will explain the differences below.
Contemporary Resort Restaurants
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the quintessential Disney World hotel with the monorail going right through it. This can be a great place to start and end your bar crawl, as you can get a great view of the fireworks from here. As for restaurants, there are three options you can choose from for starting your bar crawl.
- Steakhouse 71: This casual, retro steakhouse is probably the best option at the Contemporary for starting your bar crawl. Entrees are around $35 per person and there is an excellent bar here. You could also make a tapas meal out of the elevated appetizers like onion rings and shrimp cocktail. Reservations can be hard to get though, so make it sooner rather than later.
- California Grill: If you want to go all out for your bar crawl, California Grill is the place to splurge. This restaurant used to be hard to get a reservation at, but now it is easier considering, the menu is prix-fixe and $89 per person (not including drinks!). However, you can end the night here with an amazing fireworks view by bringing your receipt back, so it could be worth it for an extravagant night.
- Chef Mickey’s: This kid-friendly buffet is not recommended for your bar crawl. The food is subpar (especially for $62 per person) and the drinks are not anything special. This one can also be hard to get reservations at, so consider it a non-starter, even if you do want to meet Mickey.
Polynesian Village Resort Restaurants
Another Disney World hotel beloved by many is Polynesian Village, which offers a Seven Seas style theming that transports you to Hawaii. This is a tough one to start your bar crawl at because there are only two restaurant options and they are both popular. If you really want an island-style meal, here are the restaurants that have reservations at the Polynesian.
- Kona Café: This is my recommendation for starting your Polynesian Bar Crawl, especially if you want to go to Trader Sam’s. You can try and get here around 3:30 and go to Trader Sam’s first or put your name in while you are dining. The food here ranges from sushi and Asian rice bowls to burgers and wings, so there are plenty of options. And with most entrees costing less than $30 per person, it is one of the more affordable restaurants on this list as well.
- ‘Ohana: Ohana is an experience in itself with a lively wait staff and a filling meal, so I do not recommend it for starting out your monorail bar crawl. Though I do love the food, it is family-style and costs $59 per person. I am usually in a food coma afterward, which is not ideal for embarking on a bar crawl!
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Restaurants
Last, but not least, I find the elegant Grand Floridian to be the perfect place to start your bar crawl. It has a more relaxing atmosphere that starts the monorail bar crawl on the right foot. And you can enjoy the beaches or the live piano music upon returning at the end of the night. There are four restaurants to choose from, but I have one clear favorite.
- Grand Floridian Café: This is my choice for starting your bar crawl because it is affordable, easy to get a reservation at, and versatile. If you want to keep your pre-bar crawl meal light, simply get some ceviche or tacos, or for filling up, enjoy a burger or fried chicken. Most of the entrees are under $25 and some are even shareable. It may not have a special theme, but it is a crowd-pleaser.
- Citrico’s: For a more upscale dinner, Citrico’s offers fine dining classics in a refined setting. With most entrees costing around $50, I do not think it is worth it, but your mileage may vary. Reservations are a mixed bag, but earlier ones seem hard to get.
- Narcoossee’s: Another fancy option is Narcoossee’s, which does offer a waterfront view. This is equally expensive as Citrico’s, although with more of a seafood twist. I would not recommend this spot for starting your bar crawl either.
- 1900 Park Fare: As a character buffet, this is another immediate no. The food is slightly better than Chef Mickey’s, but the atmosphere is not really conducive to the type of experience one would want before a monorail bar crawl.
Monorail Bar Crawl Recommendations and Activities
Once you have made a reservation, you will now know where you are starting your bar crawl. From this, you can decide which bars you want to visit and when. In addition to checking out bars, there are also some night activities you may want to check out. Here is what your options are at each hotel on the monorail bar crawl.
Contemporary Resort Bars
In my opinion, The Contemporary has the most overwhelming bar options on the list. However, you can watch the fireworks from here so that makes it worth a stop on your bar crawl alone. Before or after the show, pick one of these three places to grab a drink.
- Steakhouse 71 Lounge: The newest Contemporary restaurant which pays homage to the 1970’s when Disney World opened. This is my top pick due to the variety of drink options, ease of entry, and the lively bar area.
- California Grill Lounge: If you are planning to dress up according to the smart casual dress code, you could always try your luck at the California Lounge Grill. This can be hard to get access to, as everyone wants a view of the fireworks from this rooftop view. You can make a reservation and shamelessly order only drinks and maybe an appetizer (although the waitstaff may not be too pleased). Or you can go up to the hostess and ask if there is a wait for a lounge. We’ve found the best way to get to the lounge is just kind of walk into the elevator when another group goes and once you are up there, it is first come, first serve in the bar. Due to the difficulty of this situation, it is not my choice, but if you know your way around Disney World, give it a try!
- Outer Rim: Always a classic, Outer Rim has been a part of the Contemporary for decades. If you get a window spot, you can enjoy a lovely view of Bay Lake and maybe even the Electrical Water Pageant if you time it right! The menu is standard Disney drinks, but if you like the hustle and bustle of The Contemporary Atrium, this will do the trick.
Polynesian Village Resort Bars
As for Polynesian Village, it is hard to go wrong with the bars here. Most have their own selection of signature tiki drinks, fun themes, and an engaging wait staff. This, of course, leads to the popularity of this resort, so do not be surprised if you have to wait for a seat. Here are the options for getting a drink at The Polynesian on a monorail bar crawl.
- Trader Sam’s: One of the top bars at Disney World, Trader Sam’s is absolutely worth trying to get into for your bar crawl. The inside is an intimate classic tiki bar, complete with interactive displays and amazing drinks. Simply go to the host stand and put your name in. If the wait is less than an hour, I definitely recommend walking around the resort, or starting with a drink at another bar while you wait.
- Tiki Terrace: Tiki Terrace is basically Trader Sam’s overflow, where many people have a drink while waiting to be let in. This outdoor lounge (the only one on this list!) has a lovely atmosphere and often ukulele music playing. Most of the Trader Sam’s drinks are offered here, so if you can’t get into Trader Sam’s, Tiki Terrace will not disappoint.
- Tambu Lounge: On the second floor of the Polynesian lobby, Tambu Lounge offers some exciting tiki drinks of its own. This bar is much more hectic than others, due to it doubling as a waiting area for Ohana diners, but is spacious with comfy chairs abound. This spot is famous for serving the Lapu Lapu in a pineapple and also serves the Ohana Wings for a yummy appetizer.
- Kona Island: If you are doing you find everywhere else to be too crowded, head to Kona Island as a last resort. This is a first-come, first-serve bar next to Kona Café. Here you can get sushi, cocktails, wine, and sake. This also has a limited number of seats, but people move through it quickly, so it’s worth a try!
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Bars
Lastly, The Grand Floridian really only has two bars worth experiencing on a monorail bar crawl, with one being a stand-out. You can always buy a beer by the pool if you are really desperate, but you should be able to stop at one of these options.
- Enchanted Rose: The obvious pick is Enchanted Rose, a new Beauty and the Beast-themed bar on the second floor. This spot is meticulously decorated with all sorts of easter eggs from the movie. You can get all sorts of cocktails, martinis, wine, or beer, in addition to a selection of appetizers. Even if you are not a Belle fan, this bar is definitely worth a visit.
- Citrico’s Lounge: If for some reason Enchanted Rose is too crowded, you can instead sit at Citrico’s Lounge for a drink. You do not need a reservation to get in and can order drinks and some small plates from Citrico’s.
Monorail Bar Crawl Activities
In addition to eating and drinking, there are many other things to enjoy at each of the monorail hotels. I recommend adding at least a couple of these activities to your monorail bar crawl.
- Shopping: Each resort has its own uniquely themed shops. The Polynesian has some adorable Hawaiian-themed items, The Grand Floridian has a selection of preppy merch, and the Contemporary has some fun retro Disney items. If any of those sound neat to you, head to the gift shop during your bar crawl!
- Lawn Games or Activities at the Polynesian: For fun activities, The Polynesian is the best stop. They frequently have evening recreation going on for free. Just head outside to see if there are campfires, lawn games, glow-in-the-dark games, or a movie going. Make sure to grab a free lei from the lobby before you do!
- Grand Floridian Lobby Pianist: One of my favorite things to do during a monorail bar crawl is to stop and listen to the music of the Grand Floridian Pianist. You can enjoy this in the lobby daily on the hour between 3 PM to 7 PM for free!
- Campfires: All the resorts set up campfires nightly, usually between 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM. It is free to relax around them, or you can purchase a smores kit!
- Movie Under the Stars: Additionally, each hotel does a movie night outside after dark. These tend to be Disney cartoons or live-action movies that are family-friendly. Check the times guide at the front desk if you feel like watching a movie mid-bar crawl!
- Electrical Water Pageant: Every night, Disney World has been doing a campy little light show along the water. It hasn’t changed in ages but is always a fun watch. The schedule varies, so check with the front desk to be sure, but these are about what times you can see it from each hotel.
- The Polynesian Village Resort: 8:45 PM
- The Grand Floridian: 9: PM
- The Contemporary: ~10:05 PM
- Fireworks Viewing: Every night at 9 PM (Can be after 10 PM on Christmas or Halloween party nights), The Magic Kingdom sets off a firework spectacular unlike any other. You can see the fireworks from each of the hotels and sometimes they even play the music too! Here is where to see the fireworks at each hotel:
- The Contemporary: Head to the elevated walkway between The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower. Make a left and watch the fireworks from the balcony or make a right and find a stairwell to watch them.
- The Polynesian: The beach has a great view of the fireworks, although the music is not usually played. You can try and watch from the windows of the Tambu Lounge as well.
- The Grand Floridian: You can see the fireworks from the beach and the marina, though this is probably the worst view of the three options.
- Take the Boat to the Wilderness Lodge: If you have a lot of time on your monorail bar crawl, you can add a boat ride to it as well! You can take a boat to The Wilderness Lodge from The Magic Kingdom (outside the park, no ticket needed) or The Contemporary. It’s such a relaxing boat ride and then you can have a drink outside at the Geyser Point Bar & Grill or inside at the Territory Lounge. I especially recommend this during the holidays, when The Wilderness Lodge is decorated in its Christmas finest.
Monorail Bar Crawl Itinerary
For this example, monorail bar crawl, I am starting with an early dinner at Grand Floridian café, as that is my favorite way to begin. Of course, you can start from any hotel and follow the same path. Here is an approximate schedule for doing a monorail bar crawl
- 5:00 PM: Park at Grand Floridian Café, have dinner and a drink
- 6:00 PM: Take the monorail to The Polynesian
- 6:15 PM: Check in to Trader Sam’s, and have a drink at Tambu Lounge while waiting
- 6:45 PM: Peruse the Polynesian shops or walk along the beach
- 7:00 PM: Have a drink at Trader Sam’s
- 7:45 PM: Take the monorail to the Contemporary
- 8:00 PM: Have a drink at Steakhouse 71 Lounge
- 8:40 PM: Find a spot to watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks
- 9:00 PM: Watch the Fireworks
- 9:20 PM: Take the monorail to the Grand Floridian
- 9:35 PM: Have a drink at Enchanted Rose Lounge
- 10:30 PM: End the night with a walk along the dock
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Before embarking on your own monorail bar crawl, here are a few questions I commonly get. As of August 2023, these answers are all up to date.
- Is the Disney World Monorail free to ride?
- Yes, it is totally free to ride the Disney World monorail. However, you need to park at a resort or the TTC parking lot to access it. The TTC parking lot costs $30 per car, but you can park at any of the hotels for free with a dining reservation.
- Can you ride in the front of the monorail?
- No, Disney World used to offer the chance to ride in the front of the monorail but this practice ended over a decade ago.
- How long does the monorail ride take?
- Times vary depending on crowds, but it usually takes about thirty minutes for the monorail to complete a loop. I budgeted fifteen minutes of transportation time between each hotel, as the time depends on when you board the monorail or if there is a wait to get on.
- What should I wear to a monorail bar crawl?
- Whatever you like! Everywhere is casual (besides California Grill and Citrico’s) and most people will be in clothes that are suitable for theme park wear. However, feel free to dress up or wear a theme to liven up your monorail bar crawl!
- What hotels are on the Disney World monorail?
- The three Disney World hotels connected by the monorail are The Contemporary, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and The Polynesian Village Resort. The monorail also stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and the Magic Kingdom.
- Do you have to get off at every stop?
- Nope! You can stay on the Disney World monorail as long as you want and ride it around until it closes.
- What time does the monorail operate until?
- The monorail stays open until one hour after Magic Kingdom closes. If you miss the monorail, you can always take an Uber to where you need to go.
- What do I do if the monorail is closed?
- The Disney World monorail occasionally closes due to maintenance or technical difficulties! If this happens, do not despair! You can still get between the hotels, by boat, bus or walking.
Know Before You Go: Free Disney World Monorail Bar Crawl
Embarking on a Disney World Monorail Bar Crawl is an adventure that brings together the best of Disney magic and mixology. From tropical tiki vibes to Victorian elegance, each lounge offers a unique experience that adds an extra touch of enchantment to your Disney vacation. If you are looking for a unique way to experience Disney World, I highly recommend planning your own monorail bar crawl. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you go:
- Monorail crowds vary and there are occasionally lines for the monorail. It is usually pretty empty in the evening, until around 8 PM when people start leaving the park.
- Expect to spend at least $15 per drink. Disney World is not cheap and the specialty cocktails can easily exceed $20.
- Tipping is expected at Disney World bars and I would recommend tipping 20%. If you are getting a beer or wine on tap, $1 per drink can be fine. However, the cocktails are quite elaborate and definitely deserve a 20% tip.
- Check the time of the fireworks ahead of time if you plan to watch them during your monorail bar crawl. Either ask the front desk of any of the hotels or google to see if there is one scheduled. If you do not see any on the schedule, there is probably a Halloween or Christmas party going on, which will have fireworks, just at a later time.
- Make sure to get plenty of photo-ops on your monorail bar crawl! Either bring a tripod and take some of your own or find Disney Photopass areas. They will often take pictures of you on your phone if you ask nicely!
- You can easily find nonalcoholic drinks at all the locations mentioned. Some have signature spirit-free cocktails, but if not, bartenders will be happy to whip you up something without liquor. Many bars offer alcohol-free beer now too!
- You can also make this monorail crawl food or dessert-themed as well! Either visit the quick service of each and get a special dessert or do a progressive dinner and have an appetizer, entrée, and dessert at a different hotel.
There are so many ways to have a magical monorail bar crawl! Have you done this before?