My family spent under $40 at Disney World's Dawa Bar, and it's the best-kept secret at Animal Kingdom

  • Dawa Bar may not be a familiar Animal Kingdom lounge to casual Disney parks fans, but it should be.

  • It's a great spot to sit in the shade and take a break with an ice-cold adult beverage.

  • My husband and I ordered fun mixed drinks at the outdoor bar for around $35 with the tip.

Making vacation plans at Disney World can be overwhelming — especially if you're looking to take advantage of "adult" experiences, like the many bars and lounges across the property.

My family recently stopped by Dawa Bar at Animal Kingdom on a sweltering Sunday afternoon to get a break from the sun. My kids got Dole Whips from the nearby Tamu Tamu Refreshments and my husband and I enjoyed cocktails.

Next time you're at the parks, I recommend checking out what has become one of my favorite hidden gems.

You don't need a reservation at Dawa Bar, and there's no time limit on holding a table

You currently need reservations for just about every aspect of a Disney World vacation, which can be a nuisance if you prefer spontaneous vacation planning.

At certain bars and lounges, like Oga's Cantina at Hollywood Studios, advanced reservations can be hard to come by.

Thankfully, Dawa Bar doesn't require a reservation, and you can stay as long as you want. Many families also use it as a waiting area when they have reservations at the nearby Tusker House restaurant.

First come, first served seating is available at the bar or at high-top tables around the area. Young kids may feel more comfortable in a stroller because of the height of the tables and chairs.

It's fully outdoors, which has pros and cons, especially in central Florida

seating area at dawa bar in disney's animal kingdom
The bar and seating area are outside.Sarah Gilliland

Dawa Bar is situated outside Tusker House restaurant under a sturdy covering that allows for overhead protection from the sun and midday showers that tend to pop up in Orlando.

Unfortunately, the covering is no match for heavier storms, and it offers no protection from any random cold snaps that may occur in the winter.

But, since the sides are open, you can still take in all of the action in the surrounding area, including performers and people-watching.

Take advantage of the specialty cocktails

At Dawa, there were five specialty cocktails ranging from $14 to $16, depending on the kind of liquor.

I chose the African margarita ($14), which contains Corazon Blanco tequila, Van der Hum tangerine liqueur, sweet and sour, and lime juice.

Margaritas are my go-to drink, and I prefer them to be the right balance of sweet and tangy — this one perfectly hit the spot.

two cocktails on the bar at dawa bar in front of drink menus
Ngumu Jungle Juice and an African margarita from Dawa Bar.Sarah Gilliland

My husband chose the Ngumu Jungle Juice cocktail ($15), which contains Snow Leopard vodka, Bols Peach schnapps, and Tusker House's famous Jungle Juice.

He said it was a refreshing break on a hot day. I'm not a big fan of peach flavoring, so I was happy to stick with my margarita.

If you're not into cocktails, there are also specialty beers, domestic beers, and wines by the glass.

Dawa Bar is Animal Kingdom's best-kept 'secret'

sign for dawa bar on the side of the tusker house restaurant at animal kingdom
I've never had a hard time grabbing a table at the bar.Sarah Gilliland

Obviously, it's not truly a secret. But every time I've passed by Dawa Bar in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, it's never been overcrowded.

Now that I've spent more time there, I plan to use it as a rest spot for my tired feet. It's just a bonus that I'll be able to enjoy a good drink and watch the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe perform while I'm doing it.

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