Disneyland (CA)

A Disney World Veteran Goes to Disneyland: Dining

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As a Disney World regular, I’m really excited to be planning my very first Disneyland trip! I’ve already written about the initial stages of preparing for my journey west, but today I wanted to get into some of the details of the trip. After doing a bit of research, talking to friends, and checking out the menus on TouringPlans.com, I couldn’t be more excited for the food portion of our vacation! Every time I talk to friends who have already been to Disneyland the conversation turns to food very quickly. It seems to be that dining is a completely different animal between Disney World and Disneyland so I’m trying to wrap my head around that in the weeks before I shove off. 

One of the huge differences between dining at Disneyland vs. Disney World is the Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) System. Those of us who frequent Disney World know ADR system can be kind of a pain with having to make reservations months in advance for many of the most popular restaurants. We are used to marking 180 days out on our calendars so we are sure to call or go online to make our meal arrangements and hope we get all of the meals we want for our family and friends. At Disneyland the reservation window is only 60 days. What? How can this be? And to make my head spin even more many of my friends who have been to Disneyland say we probably don’t even need ADRs; it is much easier to get a walk up meal there. Well this Disney World veteran isn’t going to chance it with big August crowds and made ADRs for each day of her trip.

Guests cannot make dining reservations online for the Disneyland Resort so I had to call to make my arrangements. I was on hold a little longer than I would have liked, but it wasn’t terrible. Both times I called the cast members were very friendly and helpful so they get good marks there. It was fairly easy to make my reservations and to move one when I needed to the second time I called. Get this, they don’t give you any kind of confirmation number! The uber planning Disney World nerd in me cannot fathom the idea of having no proof of my ADR. I’m sure it will be just fine, but it is hard for me to comprehend not having a confirmation number. One quick note about calling to make your ADRs: remember the call center operates on Pacific Time, so you may have to wait until afternoon if you are calling from the East Coast.

So where will we be eating? Carthay Circle was high on my list since it is brand new and looks lovely. Since we wanted to go there anyhow, we’ll be taking advantage of their World of Color package. We’ll also be hitting up the Disneyland classic the Blue Bayou which I’ve read isn’t always amazing in terms of food, but its a Disney nerd must do. A lunch at the Cafe Orleans is also on the agenda so we can sample the famous Monte Cristo and pomme frites. And last, but certainly not least, I’m going to have the chance to dine at Club 33 during my very first trip to Disneyland. I am definitely being spoiled! There are several other restaurants that I would have loved to try, but I’ll have to save them for my next trip to California. 

As for counter service at Disneyland I have heard amazing things about most of the eateries in the parks. I’ve heard the menus cater much more to the local crowd rather than families who come from all over the country, so they make effort to keep the offerings fresh and varied. I’m really looking forward to sampling some of the counter service goodies from around both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. I’m especially pumped to check out the yummy looking options in Cars Land (if I can get anywhere near them). I want a meal in a cone from the Cozy Cone Motel!

I couldn’t be more excited to fly across the country to get a bit of Disney magic and eat what sounds like really great food. I’ll be sure to report back on my dining experiences during my first trip to Disneyland next month! What are some of your favorite things to eat at the Disneyland Resort? If you have any food-centric advise for me please leave it in the comments!

A special thanks goes to Becca Braunstein for photos this week!


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Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

6 thoughts on “A Disney World Veteran Goes to Disneyland: Dining

  • I also think the Bengal BBQ in DL, especially the bacon wrapped asparagus, is worth eating.

    I don’t know if you were looking at the resorts, but you missed Napa Rose which is my favorite.

  • We are DL veterans and here are my favorite unique eats there:

    — DL Park —
    Plaza Inn – fried chicken – tip: you can order the chicken by the piece without sides as a filling snack!
    Bengal BBQ – bacon-wrapped asparagus skewer
    Hungry Bear – fried green tomato sandwich with sweet potato fries
    Cafe Orleans – Mickey beignets (in addition to the pomme frites and Monte Cristo sandwich you already mentioned – note: the seafood crepe is NOT recommended)
    Jolly Holiday Cafe – quiche and side salad with basil vinaigrette

    — DCA —
    Corn Dog Castle – hot link corn dog
    Flo’s V8 Cafe – roasted pork loin platter, roast beef platter, apple & cheddar pie
    Cozy Cone Motel – pretzel bites, Red’s Apple Freeze
    Lucky Fortune Cookery – beef with spicy Korean sauce, chicken or tofu with Thai coconut curry sauce
    Paradise Garden Grill – any skewer of your choice – tip: ask for all 4 sauces on the side so you can see which you like best!

    Hope you have a great trip!

  • We actually really enjoyed the food at Blue Bayou (and the ambiance)–and good thing, because it wasn’t cheap! The sandwiches at the Jolly Holiday Bakery were excellent as well (plus all the Mary Poppins!).

  • We are just back from our first Disneyland trip. I loved the chocolate pies at Flo’s V8 cafe, and we did a character dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen (in the Disneyland hotel) that was good as well. Other than that we just grabbed a snack at counter-service places.

  • Great post.

    You can make reservations on line however via email. You can mail dine@disneyland.com with your request. They get back to you fairly quickly and this also gives you a record of your reservation.

  • Show up early to your BB reservation, and ask for a table next to the water. Amazing atmosphere and experience (oh, and I liked the food too…).


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