Our family recently returned from Disneyland this past February. As you know there’s a ton of planning that goes into a trip like this! I wanted to share what we learned that might help you and invite you to leave your best Disneyland tips in the comments!
Where to Stay Near Disneyland
We didn’t have it in the budget to stay on resort but we were literally across the street at the Fairfield Marriot. They have a pool and free wifi, but overall the rooms are spacious and pretty basic. The main attraction is how close it is from the Main Street exit of Disneyland.
We have been to Disneyworld and stayed further away and it took FOREVER to take the bus and find our car and drive back. You’re already tired from walking all day. So having your hotel so close is worth the extra expense. Plus, when our teen wanted to take a break he could walk back to the hotel without us.
What to Eat at Disneyland: Food
We ate breakfast at the McDonald’s that is right by the hotel. There’s a Pizza Press restaurant right there too that we loved. Those were the most fast, easy and affordable options right outside Disneyland where we were staying. I also stopped at a small store on our way to the park entrance and bought some California oranges and they were so delicious!
As far as in the park, bring snacks and water. You usually have to wait so long to get food or find a drinking fountain that it’s a lot more comfortable if you pack your own in a stroller or bag.
Food at the park is expensive. Like a turkey leg and a piece of corn is $20. We had a character breakfast, which cost us $257 for 5 of us. Note: If you are doing a character dining experience, you can purchase your tickets ahead of time through Get Away Today and your taxes and tips will be included saving you up to 10% (which is a lot when it comes to Disney Dining)!
Tips for Buying Food (Inside the Parks)
Oh the food….. it’s all AMAZING!
Something to know is that pretty much any food that you can find in Disneyland, can also be found in California Adventure. Yes, the food can be expensive, but keep my first statement above in mind and many of the meals are large enough to feed a couple of people (kids usually). Also, make sure to drink while in the parks and drink a lot. I try to always have a water bottle in my hand.
You don’t realize how much of a work out spending the day in the parks can be until you check your fitness tracker at the end of the day. So drink, drink, drink (I recommend water). Janet notes: we walked 12 miles.
Ok, back to park food. Some of the “must” do are Dole Whips (Sorry, these are only at Disneyland), Turkey Legs and Corndogs.
First up, Dole Whip. It’s at the Tiki Room, but there’s always a really long line for them outside of the attraction, BUT if you go into the Tiki Room attraction waiting area, there’s a much shorter line and a Cast Member dedicated to serving those people waiting for the attraction. Great thing is, you are allowed to take your Dole Whip in to the Tiki Room. When I was there in July 2015 the outside line was LONG. So we walked into the queue for the attraction with 7 minutes before the next show. We were able to get Dole Whip Floats in time to see the next show.
Turkey Legs. They sell roasted Turkey Legs in both parks. They are HUGE and are really good. They also sell a Chile Lime Corn on the cob that’s good. You can find where they sell them in the Mobile App that I mentioned above, or the map you picked up.
Corndogs. They sell a really good handmade/dipper corndog (and I don’t like corndogs). They are sold at the Little Red Wagon on the “hub” (end of Main Street USA near the Castle). You can’t miss it at lunch time, because there is a huge line. I prefer to get them in California Adventure at Corndog Castle, because their lines are much shorter. Corndog Castle is in the North West corner of the park, near Goofy’s Sky School. The reason that I like to get them at Corn Dog Castle in California Adventure is they make a great late night snack, while waiting to see World of Color and Corn Dog Castle is not far from the World of Color viewing area.
Other good places eat are Carnation Café (Main Street USA), Rancho Del Zocalo (Frontierland) and a personal favorite, Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (sadly it is now closed, but the food lives on at other table service restaurants in Frontierland and New Orleans Square).
Carnation Café is a sit down restaurant on Main Street USA. It’s where my family and I had Christmas Dinner in 2013 and it was great. It’s mostly comfort foods. It’s not horribly expensive, but I recommend making reservations. If they have it, try the Baked Potato soup and/or the Coconut cake. The Pomegrante Lemonade is a must for our family.<
Rancho Del Zocalo is cafeteria style Mexican food and is really good. There’s plenty of seating and reservations are not needed (or offered).
Big Thunder Ranch BBQ is AWESOME! It’s all you care to eat (Disney’s version of “All you can eat”) BBQ and is oh so good. Their lunch menu has fewer items on it than the Dinner menu, but both are fantastic. This place is closing permanently after the first of the year, so I recommend eating there while you still can. Reservations are highly recommended. NOTE: Big Thunder Ranch BBQ is now permanently closed but some of the menu items are now available at other table service restaurants in and around Frontierland and New Orleans Square.
There are tons of places to eat in the parks. Another option is Blue Bayou. Ask most anyone who goes to Disneyland on a somewhat regular basis and they will tell you to go to Blue Bayou (reservations necessary) and get the Monte Cristo Sandwich. I’ve had it before and it wasn’t one of my favorites. They have Mint Julep’s that are really good and refreshing on a hot day. The Monte Cristo is an example of a dish that will feed more than one person. You get two huge sandwiches.
They have what is called the World of Color Dining Package at three different restaurants in California Adventure also. This is one of my favorite things to do for a couple of reasons. The first is that by purchasing the dining package you get really good Fast Passes to one of the World of Color shows later that evening. The second is that the food is really good. Also if you time dinner about right, when you’re done, you’re in the perfect spot to watch the Pixar Play Parade. IF you get the Dining Package at Wine Country Trattoria that is.
It’s a Prix Fix menu, so you only get to choose from a few things, but all are really good. Though I recommend the Filet Mignon. The Pomegranate Lemonade is available here too. Last time I was there, I drank about 8 glasses of it (what can I say it was a hot day). When it’s time for dessert, ask them to substitute the Tiramisu for an extra Macaroon, specifically the Pistachio flavored one. Then think of me while you eat it 😉
The trick is, it’s not cheap to do this, but in my mind the good “seats” to view World of Color is well worth it.
Food Outside the Park In Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney has some great food options. One thing to remember is that these are not Disney food options. Meaning that I don’t personally think it’s as good as the food in the park. My kids really like Rainforest Café (reservations strongly recommended). I’m not a huge fan of the food there, but it’s ok.
House of Blues is also there along with Ralph Brenan’s Jazz Kitchen (New Orleans food). They have a quick service window where you can get fresh hot beignets 😉
There’s a Earl of Sandwich on the far side (near the Disneyland Hotel) that is really good too.
Make Reservations Ahead for Full Service Restaurants
The quick service restaurants won’t require it, but I highly recommend that you make reservations for the table service ones. You can try walking into the table service restaurants, but most are booked solid and you may not get a table, especially with large groups.
I will typically keep the Disney Dining phone number with me and call to check on reservations. Often, they do their best to accommodate, but if the park is busy, there’s a good chance you won’t get any. The Disneyland Dining phone number is 714.781.DINE That is for the Table Service restaurants. There are many that are Quick Service (much like fast food) throughout the parks.
|For the best prices on Disneyland, check out GetAway Today! They throw in a lot of extras and all the employees have gone to Disneyland to try everything so they know what’s good and they specialize it affordable family trips. Affiliate link:
Thank you to David Muncey for his Disneyland tips included here:
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