Dining at Disneyland?
You have several choices when it comes to dining at Disneyland. There are counter service meals, full service dining, quick snacks, dining with Characters and even some meals that include special viewing for certain shows.
Favorite Counter Service Inside Disneyland and California Adventure
Counter service varies from location to location. For instance, at the French Market and at Rancho del Zocalo, though you self-serve your food (cafeteria style), you are served on a real dish with real flatware and someone will bus your table when you are done. However, at other places like the Bengal Barbeque or the Golden Horseshoe, your food is going to come in either paper or plastic with plastic flatware and you’ll be responsible for clearing your own table when you’re done eating.
The French Market – Disneyland (read the full review)
The French Quarter citrus chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and the cornbread! I regret not taking a picture of this beautiful dish but well, I was hungry and the food was soooo good! I’ve ordered the Cajun Meatloaf and yes, equally delicious. These platters are large enough to share.
My husband and son are sold on the chowders served in a sourdough bread bowl. Added bonus: Entertainment from the jazz band during your meal! You are instructed to leave your plates and silverware on the table, the employees quickly bus the tables and clean them off for the next guests.
Just next to the French Market is the Mint Julep bar where you can pick up Mickey-shaped beignets and mint juleps, naturally. I recall one very hot day when my dad bought us each a julep and they were so refreshing that he said, “Let’s have another one!” Can’t argue with that!
The Golden Horseshoe -Disneyland
Meals are typical (chicken nuggets & fries) but the sundaes are wonderful! A perfect place for a cooling off on a hot day. Enjoy the air conditioning, watch a show and share a sundae!
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Dole Whips are a Disneyland must-try. You can even get it with pineapple juice as a Dole Whip float…my favorite! Use the Disneyland app for mobile ordering. You’ll be able to order via the app, pay for it online then walk right up and grab your order! You can even eat it inside the Enchanted Tiki Room show.
Pacific Wharf Cafe – California Adventure
Nicely sized fresh sandwiches and soups, served with the Boudin Bakery’s sourdough bread (baked right on site!). Nearby you can pick up a margarita or a cold beer, too.
Little Red Corn Dog Wagon – Disneyland
Yes, these are the best ever! Perfectly crispy and greasy. It’s “fair food” that’s a special treat!
Rancho del Zocalo – Disneyland
Nicely sized for sharing, this may not be the place to eat if you are used to authentic Mexican food, but it’s pretty tasty all the same. You can’t beat the beautiful dining area at night though. Gorgeous colored lanterns are lit overhead and it’s a magical area!
Plaza Inn – Disneyland
Around dinner time the Plaza Inn emits a smell of fried chicken that you won’t be able to resist! Perfectly crispy and delicious and served with mashed potatoes, a biscuit and veggies, this is another platter large enough for sharing. We buy two and share between the five of us.
In the morning the Plaza Inn hosts the Minnie & Friends Breakfast, which is a large buffet where various characters visit each table. Donald visited us and helped himself to our strawberries! Read the review of Minnie & Friend’s Breakfast in the Park.
Favorite Full Service Inside Disneyland and California Adventure
Carnation Cafe -Disneyland
I have no idea why I’d never eaten here up until our most recent trip. Perhaps because it’s on Main Street and I don’t always make my way there at dinnertime. We had a perfect meal here and I’m sure this is going to be a new favorite restaurant for future trips too.
My son had Walt’s Chili, which he said was delicious. My husband ordered the Angus beef cheeseburger and I ordered the turkey sandwich on a multi-grain roll and we shared. For my toddler we got a fruit plate with yogurt and a mini muffin and I think he licked the plate!
Wine Country Trattoria – California Adventure
We stopped in for lunch and it was a quiet respite that felt equally upscale and relaxed. I ordered the lasagna, which had a nice layering of bolognese, pasta and cheese. My husband had the fresh fish, which he said was perfect. He’s hard to please, so that’s a major compliment. They also serve wine, beer and specialty drinks…lovely! Here is a review of Wine Country Trattoria.
Blue Bayou – Disneyland
Always a treat for the ambiance of eating inside “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but really quite pricey. The menu has been revamped since I last ate here to include some beef and chicken dishes which is good because it was earlier quite a bit of gumbo and jambalaya!
Storyteller’s Cafe – Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (read the full review)
Just a few steps outside the Parks, this rustic styled restaurant serves buffet for breakfast and dinner. Lunch is served off a menu and that’s what we dined on recently. Bacon avocado burger, unique tuna sandwich and corn chowder left us happy and satisfied.
Snacks & Sweets
Of course there are always lots of fun snacks and treats, especially in the shops on Main Street. We walked out with some heavenly toffee last time! Each Land will also have some of their own specialty treats. There are also special offerings during events and holidays.
Just because you’re at Disneyland doesn’t mean you’ll be relegated to only eating “fair food”. There are plenty of healthy options throughout both parks, resort hotel restaurants and in the Downtown Disney District as well. Be sure to read this post about healthy dining options, How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)
Split a Meal
Portions are generally quite large so for main meals we’ve always gotten one platter to share between us, and then maybe purchase a side of fruit. Here are ideas for great dishes to share, What are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?
Bring it With You
Did you know that you are allowed to bring in your own food as long as you follow the Disney parks guidelines? And of course, use common sense. Since you can’t bring in a hard-sided cooler, mayonnaise-based meals or things that need to be kept cold wouldn’t be the best choice. And I’ve lived and learned in 100 degree heat, neither do granola bars with chocolate!
My husband is very health conscious so he loads up his backpack with bottled water, powdered Gatorade to mix in, individual zip-bags of dried plums, apples, trail mix, clementines, peanuts & granola bars, along with some 100% juice boxes for the kids.