Dining at Disneyland can definitely be its own attraction! But what if you don’t make reservations? Find out how to eat at Disneyland without reservations, including tips on what restaurants to choose, mobile ordering and excellent quick service dining ideas.
Eat at Disneyland Without Reservations
There was a time not that long ago when Disneyland guests didn’t need to worry much about booking dining reservations. Since Disneyland’s reopening in 2021, booking Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) is almost imperative for anyone wanting to eat in a full service restaurant.
Even if you didn’t score that coveted Lamplight Lounge reservation, there are still lots of ways to eat at Disneyland without reservations. Keep reading for tips on how to book ADR, quick service meals, mobile ordering and best locations to choose.
Disneyland Changes to Be Aware Of
Since Disneyland reopening, there are some adjustments that travelers need to be aware of. Dining at Disneyland has been affected in these changes. This includes increased Disney mobile ordering locations and a hold on character dining/buffets.
Keep reading for how to navigate these changes (and read more through the provided link). Find out how to eat at Disneyland without reservations, tips for using mobile order through the Disneyland app and where to dine when on a budget.
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Full Service vs. Quick Service
There are several different dining options at the Disneyland Resort. For variety, consider a mix of full service dining, quick service and snacks throughout the day.
Table service – Full service restaurant dining with a host or hostess to serve meals. A more leisurely pace with a higher price. Advance Dining Reservations are suggested though sometimes walk-up service can be available. There are several full-service dining locations that you should always book ADR (keep reading!).
Cafe Orleans, Wine Country Trattoria, Storyteller’s Cafe, River Belle Terrace and Carnation Cafe are examples of some of the places where you can sit and be served by wait staff.
Quick service – This faster dining option is where you will order at a counter. Guests are given their food, then choose their own seating area. Mobile dining via the Disneyland park app is often available for quick service. Quick service meals are your best bet to eat at Disneyland without reservations.
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, French Market Restaurant, Cozy Cone Motel and the PYM Test Kitchen are all examples of quick service dining areas.
Snack Carts – There are plenty of places to grab a fast snack. Each land will offer multiple snack carts or kiosks. They offer walk-up ordering only for popcorn, churros, fresh fruits, ice cream & cold drinks.
Character Dining – You’ll be able to eat while being greeted at your table by your favorite characters! We love this because we enjoy a delicious meal and are still able to get quick photos with characters as they pass by your table. Keep reading about whether you should book ADR for character meals.
Which Disneyland Restaurants Accept Reservations?
In a nutshell, you can book ADR for all full service restaurant locations and all character dining experiences. But do you absolutely need a dining reservation to eat there?
When you’re ready to book your reservations, head to the Disneyland website or the Disneyland app. Here you’ll be able to view restaurant details and individual menus. A simple search of your preferred date and time (along with the size of your group) will reveal available slots for each restaurant around that time.
If no ADR are available at that date or approximate time, the restaurant will show up under the section “No Availability”. Book ADR with the click of a button and entry of a credit card number to hold the Disneyland dining reservation.
When Do You Need Reservations for Disneyland Restaurants?
In the past, guests really only needed to book reservations for table service in advance for weekends or very busy times of the year (like summer or holidays). However with limited restaurant availability it’s now highly recommended to make all the advance dining reservations for Disneyland.
- Blue Bayou Restaurant is one exception, as this restaurant doesn’t often have walk-up availability. So if you have your heart set on dining inside the Pirates of the Caribbean, making an ADR is best.
- Another exception is character dining, namely Goofy’s Kitchen and Disney Princess Adventures Breakfast. If character dining is a MUST, then you should definitely book ADR for all Character Dining.
Advantages of Dining Reservations –
- Plans made ahead of time so there are no concerns about when or where you’ll eat while in the Park.
- Guaranteed seating at popular restaurants without fear of being turned away.
- No worries about long waits for a table; Yes, you may still have a short wait even with an ADR.
- Food allergies or special diet requests. The ability to let Cast members know up-front when booking ADR over the phone if anyone in your family has a food allergy or special dietary request.
Tips for Walk-up Dining
Even if you didn’t get an advance dining reservation, there’s a chance you can still eat at Disneyland without reservations. Here are tips for full service dining walk-up.
- Get on the wait list. Some locations, including Lamplight Lounge have a QR code to scan which will put you on the wait list for dining when you don’t have a reservation.
- Visit the Disneyland app to join the wait list for a full service restaurant. Guests must be nearby the location to add themselves to the list. A push notification will alert when your table to ready.
- Lunch between 11 and noon and dinner between 5 – 6 pm is your usual? Well, those are probably the most popular times for everyone else in the Park too. Choose an “off time” when possible.
- Try dining 60 to 90 minutes before or after these times for better luck with walk-up dining. Choose snacks wisely so you can stave off the hungry beast until restaurant seating is better available.
Eat at Disneyland Without Reservations
You do not need reservations for any quick-service dining location. Fly by the seat of your pants, reservation-free if you wish, knowing you can eat at any of these great locations. And in many cases you may even be able to dine full-service by walking up.
Advantages of Walk-Up Dining –
- No need to plan in advance where you’ll be eating, you can decide on a whim.
- More flexibility.
- Counter service restaurants (that don’t accept ADR) are often less expensive than table service & Character Dining (that do accept ADR)
- Faster service at counter service & snack carts when compared to lengthy table service & Character Dining meals
Use the mobile ordering via the Disneyland parks app to save yourself a TON of time standing in line for quick service food! You’ll be able to schedule dining while waiting in line to truly maximize your day. Simply choose a restaurant, scroll the menu and add to your cart. Check out with a credit card or a Disney gift card.
How to Mobile Order at Disneyland
Not all quick service locations offer mobile ordering. If a restaurant offers mobile order, it will show up in the Disneyland app. The app will show location, times and a full menu for each restaurant. You’ll also have space for special dietary requests.
When you arrive at the destination, click the button in the app to “Prepare my order”. This notes you’re there and ready for have your order prepared. Each of the mobile ordering locations will have a designated pick-up window just for mobile orders. When the app alerts you that your food is ready, you’ll simply show the order number to the Cast Member and they’ll hand over your food.
Proper use of mobile ordering is a great way to eat at Disneyland without reservations. Here are screenshots and some details on how to use mobile ordering.
Tips for Mobile Ordering
Managing mobile ordering (along with tickets and other Disneyland app features) can drain your cell phone battery quickly. Carry an external phone charger to ensure you’ll have power to access the app when you need it.
Another option is to pre-purchase a Fuel Rod then swap them out as needed within the Disney parks. The Fuel Rod chargers are cheaper to buy ahead than to purchase in the parks.
- Ordering slots for popular quick service locations that offer mobile ordering may fill up early in the day. Plan out dining locations and meals ahead of your trip.
- Just as the parks open, the ordering slots will become available for most mobile ordering restaurants. Place ALL of your orders at the start of the day.
- Click the “More Times” button to see more available ordering windows (see above screenshot).
- Do not press the “Prepare my order” button until you’re actually ready to pick up.
- If you need to adjust your meal, edit the pick up time within the app. When available, you should be able to amend by pushing back the time for pick up (see above screenshot).
Quick Service Dining Tips
- Maximize your time at counter or quick service dining by having one adult take all the orders and another adult grab condiments and find a table.
- Need help? Enlist the help of one of your older children or a willing Cast Member. They can help you carry trays of drinks & food back to the table. So much better than everyone standing in line together and then wandering around searching for an open table.
Eat and Walk
- If you’d rather optimize your Park time and simply eat while in queue or while walking between attractions, consider purchasing food that can easily be eaten while walking.
- Note that some queues will not allow food once you enter the building (but eating in outside lines is okay). There are always trash cans placed through the lines to discard trash.
What About Starbucks for a Coffee Fix?
The Disneyland resort has several Starbucks locations, though you might not know where to find them! If you can’t get through the day without a Frappuccino or Starbucks Refreshers, you’re in luck, both inside and out of the theme parks.
Inside Disneyland, the Starbucks is located at the Market House on Main Street USA. At Disney California Adventure park, the Starbucks is in Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe. The app and Starbucks gift cards can be used at all Disneyland park locations.
Neither of these inside-the-park Starbucks locations offer mobile ordering. However they do have exclusive Disney parks Starbucks merchandise including the “Been There” mugs. You’ll also find the usual meal offerings including breakfast sandwiches, pastries and cake pops.
Within Downtown Disney, there are two Starbucks. Both of these locations DO accept mobile orders through the Starbucks app! These locations will be busy – Definitely best to place that mobile order via the Starbucks app for these locations.
Dining at Downtown Disney District
Hop aboard the Monorail and get your bites in Downtown Disney instead of inside the Park. There are a variety of tastes available to satisfy everyone in your group. Restaurants include full service and quick service as well as snack carts and specialty dining.
Full-service restaurants include Tortilla Jo’s, Catal Restaurant, La Brea Bakery Cafe, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.
Several of the full-service restaurants also have windows for quick serve meals. Grab a slice of pizza or a salad at Napolini. Jazz Kitchen Express offers popcorn shrimp, jambalaya dessert benights and other New Orleans-style favorites. Yummy Mexican food from Taqueria at Tortilla Jo’s is served quickly alongside aquas frescas & beer. La Brea Bakery Express is a great place to fill up for brunch.
Just want something fast? Earl of Sandwich offers excellent sandwiches (naturally). One tip is to purchase food in Downtown Disney then bring it back into the parks.
Disneyland Resort Hotel Dining Locations
You don’t have to be a Resort guest to enjoy the hotel restaurants! It’s great to explore the dining outside of the theme parks and the hotels of the Disneyland Resort are a fun way to get a flavor of Disney. Make Advance Dining Reservations for character dining or full service dining.
Full service restaurants include Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. Quick service includes Tangaroa Terrace. Or splurge on an elegant meal at Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian.
The hotels also offer quick service dining spots, open to all guests and non-hotel visitors. Pick up breakfast-like items at The Coffee House in Disneyland.
The GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill at Disney’s Grand Californian offers hearty dishes like breakfast burritos, chicken nachos and veggie burgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Disneyland Resort pool areas offer food for hotel guests, though some locations may be seasonal. The Sand Bar at Paradise Pier isn’t always open, so check with the front desk first.
We’ve enjoyed Tangaroa Terrace many times on our visits to the Disneyland Hotel pool (also open for three meals), including shrimp tacos and flatbread. Next door is the popular Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.
Leave The Resort to Eat
There are also local restaurants within walking distance of the Disneyland front gates. These dining spots along Harbor Blvd include Denny’s, Mimi’s, McDonald’s, IHOP and Pizza Press. If you don’t mind the 10-15 minute walk outside the gates, this is a great way to save a few dollars by eating off-site.
Some of the Good Neighbor Hotel locations in the Anaheim area have restaurants onsite. These locations can get busy since they are frequented by hotel guests as well. But great for families on a Disneyland budget.
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Dining at Disneyland Special Events
At specific times of the year, the Disneyland parks offer special events that offer dining specials. These include Lunar New Year, Halloween time, Holidays and the popular Disneyland Food & Wine Festival.
Many of these special events offer a “Food Guide”. Be sure to grab one of these at the front entrance or at guest services. Inside, you’ll find locations and descriptions of the specialty offerings. Some of these dishes, treats and cocktails are only offered as a part of the special event during a limited time.
Each festival will have offerings at walk-up kiosks, at quick service restaurants, full service dining and at snack carts. The guide is the best way to see what’s available and where to find it.