Much like my previous posts where I gave some general tips on Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, I don’t pretend to cover these topics in great depth. There are fantastic Disneyland planning web sites where you can find much more thorough information than I have. All I have to offer is my opinions based on my experiences. With that said, here we go…
The best place to eat while at Disneyland is the famous Club 33. However, if you don’t know someone (or someone who knows someone) with a Club 33 membership, you’re out of luck. If you do happen to know someone who can get you in, do not pass up this opportunity to eat at the exclusive club that Walt had built as an exclusive lounge to be used by the Disney family in conjunction with the apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean. However, Walt died before the restaurant and apartment could be completed. I got to dine here on my 33rd birthday (no joke). This place was, hands down, the best place to eat. For more pictures and a review of the lunch (click here) and dinner (click here).
Now, if you can’t get into Club 33, I highly recommend the Blue Bayou. This is one of the few locations at the Disneyland Resort where you’ll need Advanced Dining Reservations (otherwise known as ADR’s). The Blue Bayou is the restaurant you see when you’re preparing to board your boat in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The times I’ve been there, the service has been amazing and the food just as impressive as the service.This is the priciest meal you will have in Disneyland and well worth the money. They are famous for their Monte Cristo sandwich (which is amazing), but there is more to this restaurant than just this. I’ve had the Buccaneer Boneless Beef Short Ribs, Broiled Filet Mignon, and (they used to have) Prime Rib. All were amazing! Also, the meals are 3 course meals. So, the price is high, but you get more food than you can handle. Since I haven’t been there in a few years, I don’t know if you can still do this. However, on my first visit, my wife (then girlfriend) and I were able to take the menu home.
The Little Red Wagon on Main Street U.S.A. is a place everyone who visits Disneyland for the first time should eat. I know it as the Corn Dog cart. They have the best corn dogs you will ever eat. You will notice a line for this cart as the locals know this is a great place to grab a cheap meal. They only serve corn dogs with chips and drinks. So, you have to want a corn dog to go there. However, if you make your way to this place, you will not be sorry.
Right next to the Little Red Wagon is the Plaza Inn. I really like this place as well. There are 3 dishes they serve…a pasta plate, pot roast (at night), and chicken. It’s the chicken that they are known for. Deserts will vary according to the season. The prices are fairly reasonable and the portion sizes are kind of large (so, you might consider sharing with someone). This restaurant also offers a character breakfast that I’ve heard is really fun. To read more about the Plaza Inn, click here.
Disney California Adventure
The Best Place to eat while at DCA is a toss-up for me. The Carthay Circle Restaurant is the featured restaurant to eat at and it is highly suggested to make an ADR for this place (or you could book the World of Color Dining Package like I recommended before). For a more in-depth review, you can check out Tom and Sarah Bricker’s Disney Tourist Blog or the review at DISUnplugged. Each of these articles will not only give you pictures, but a fairly balanced understanding of what to expect. I like the DIS Unplugged article because it also talks about the World of Color Dining Package and gives a picture of where you’ll be able to view the show through this package. Tom and Sarah Bricker’s review has better pics and is written from someone who did not use this restaurant to get in to the World of Color show.
The other option when it comes to the World of Color Dining Package is dining at the Wine Country Trattoria. The last time I saw World of Color, I ate here. The food was really good and the service was amazing! Again, like with the Carthay Circle Restaurant, you’ll want to make an ADR for this as walk ups are not accepted.
The only other restaurant at DCA that you’ll need an advanced reservation for is Ariel’s Grotto. If you have little ones with you (or just want to feel like the royalty that you are), Ariel’s Grotto is a really fun place to eat. The food I’ve had here is excellent. Much like the Blue Bayou, it’s a meal with several courses to it. So, there is a lot of food coming your way at this restaurant. The ambiance is cool with a view of the lake and the interior really makes you feel like you’re under the sea. When you go down to the level where the seating is located, you’ll first get your picture with Ariel (available for purchase if you so choose). Then, during your meal, there will be 4 princesses that will each be announced who will make their rounds to each table.
If you want food at a more reasonable price, I highly recommend the counter service restaurants on the pier. Cucina Cucamonga Mexican Grill is quite tasty for a theme park Mexican place. It’s quickly become a go-to place whenever my wife and I are at DCA. We usually get the Carne Esada and Chicken Tamale combo plate.
The Pacific Warf Cafe is the place to go to if you’re craving clam chowder. They serve the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, just like you might get in San Francisco.
Flo’s V-8 Cafe is another place with reasonable prices that I highly recommend. Of course, if you couldn’t tell by the name, it’s located in Cars Land. It’s a counter service restaurant. The food is really good for a counter service place. However, you’ll want to dine here just because it’s one of the coolest places to eat. The ambiance is what makes this place stand out for me. When you’re finished eating, you’re going to want to just walk around to the different rooms to eat in. For a more in-depth review of this restaurant, I recommend visiting The Disney Tourist Blog (here).
If you’re looking for a fun snack type of item, visit the Cozy Cones in Cars Land. Each cone offers different food. I really liked the souvenir snacks…
For a more thorough review of the Cozy Cones, again I recommend visiting here.
Lastly, the Paradise Garden Grill has a more Mediterranean vibe in their menu. My wife and I have yet to experience this place. However, it’s been a temptation for us as the menu looks good.
I hope that, in some small way, this post will help you as you make your decisions about dining at the Disneyland Resort theme parks. One word of caution…if you want a burger, I would recommend dining at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney over any of the burgers served in the theme parks. Additionally, I would recommend avoiding the Tomorrowland Terrace altogether. There are a lot of places to eat that I haven’t covered here as I sought to highlight the dining places that I thought were the best. Some of the places I’ve omitted are due to the fact that I’ve never eaten at them and others for the fact that there is simply nothing special about them. Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland, for example, is a fine place to eat. However, there is nothing too special about it. The pizza is decent as is the pasta they serve. However, if I were visiting Disneyland for the first time, I would simply choose the places I’ve highlighted first. If time or finances dictate passing on the dining suggestions I have, then this would be perfectly fine.