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Coffeeland: 8 "Starbucks in Disguise" Inside Disney and Universal Parks

6. Universal Studios Florida

Image: Universal Orlando

Disguise: Games of Amusement – Starbucks Coffee
Land:
 New York
Opened: 
February 4, 2014

Though technically you probably wouldn't expect a Starbucks in a 1900s Midwest downtown or a 1920s Los Angeles, Universal Studios Florida placed its Starbucks in a picture-perfect place: New York. In fact, this park's "Seattle Staple on the Streets of New York" is on the corner of 5th Ave. and South St., in a repurposed Games of Amusement hall. There's an extra level of brilliance here since Starbucks is a leader in such "adaptive re-use," appropriating older, classic buildings with its modern shops.

In other words, it's entirely appropriate that this Starbucks is "hiding in plain sight" among the streetscape clutter of New York while prominently featuring a vintage sign completely unrelated to what's within! And indeed, like at Islands of Adventure – though much more forgivably here – the Starbucks within is your off-the-shelf corporate store.

Image: Universal Orlando

With that being said, both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are unique in the theme park world in that most guests don't set course for coffee when the park gates open... They've got another drink in mind. Despite "secret menu" Starbucks hacks claiming to duplicate the proprietary taste of the Wizarding World's Butterbeer, most guests head into the parks looking for the real thing, making Starbucks just a little less essential at Universal that it is at Disney Parks.

7. Disney's Hollywood Studios

Image: Disney

Disguise: Trolley Car Café
Land:
 Hollywood Blvd.
Opened: 
June 19, 2015

The recreation of Culver City, California's Ivy Substation at Disney's Hollywood Studios has seen far more uses than the real Substation did, and in a much shorter lifetime. We traced them all in our look at the REAL History of 6 Hollywood Icons Recreated at Disney Parks. But in 2014, after years serving as the park's intentionally-cluttered Cinema Storage gift shop, the space shut down to be reimagined.

Image: Disney

When it re-opened, it was the Trolley Car Café. Trolley Car Café blends beautifully into Hollywood Blvd. with the "vintage" Starbucks logo and neon sign feeling just right along the park's entry land. Now the interior is bright, open, and nods to the Ivy Substation with electrical supply rigs.

8. Disney's Animal Kingdom

Image: Disney

Disguise: Creature Comforts
Land:
 Discovery Island
Opened:
June 19, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom is interesting among Disney Parks, as its "Main Street" equivalent – The Oasis – is a sanctuary of nature. You won't find gift shops or coffee shops along that gorgeous natural garden of animal habitats, jungle paths, and waterfalls. However, once guests pass into the park's central Discovery Island, they find themselves into a crafted artisan village of saturated colors and celebrations of animals. It's here among the roots of the Tree of Life that the park's essential shops and restaurants are located.

Image: Disney

It's here that guests will find Creature Comforts, which was reimagined into the park's Starbucks in summer 2015. With a carved wooden style adapting bold patterns, this Starbucks was designed with African design elements such as geometric designs and carvings, warm colors, African maasai shield designs, and hand-painted coffee beans. It's also the perfect spot to grab a drink before wandering the Discovery Island Trails that snake through the Tree's grottos and roots. 

There's really only one downside to Animal Kingdom's Starbucks: it's not really along the park's main entry. While perfectly placed for guests who make way for Kilimajaro Safaris first thing in the morning, the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar essentially created a new main flow for the park that bypasses Creature Comforts entirely. Of course, in such a sprawling park (and one dedicated to exploration, nonetheless), perhaps it's important that guests be challenged with finding their morning coffee rather than simply stumbling across it.

Image: Disney

To its credit, it's definitely the only Starbucks we know of where guests can also sit back and watch cotton-tailed tamarins leap from tree-to-tree as they sip and relax. Plus, in keeping with Animal Kingdom's conservation message, any purchase of a Flat White benefits Disney's conservation program for tamarins in Colombia. Why a Flat White? The drink was selected because of the creamy white dollop on top, similar to the crest of white hair that extends from the animal’s forehead to the nape of its neck.

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