Planning a runDisney Race-cation at the Disneyland Resort – Dining Tips


65 days before all the fun at the Disneyland Half Marathon begins! If you’re a regular at the runDisney races at Walt Disney World and have never come out for a runDisney race at Disneyland, you might be wondering why you can’t make your Advanced Dining Reservation (or ADR) yet. Well, everything works a little differently at the Disneyland Resort. So, for you super planners out there, I wanted to take this week and get you prepped in time for you to make your first ADR during this weekend. I’m also going to be making a new tab (once this series of postings is finished) for planning a runDisney race-cation at Disneyland for those who aren’t running the Disneyland Half Marathon this year, but might be running the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, Star Wars Half Marathon, or the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and want to read my advice when planning such a trip.


First off, if you want a truly awesome place to read about planning your trip to Disneyland (or any Disney theme park around the world), visit the Disney Tourist Blog. If you want the Disneyland planning part of that blog, click here, or on the picture above. For purposes of this posting, click here for their Disney Dining Reviews. Even if you don’t need Disney planning advice, visit the Disney Tourist Blog just for the amazing photographs. That alone makes their site a must view for any Disney theme parks fan.

This blog post will in no way go into as much depth as Tom Bricker’s postings. I do hope to offer my two cents in hopes that it might help others who are reading. Even though I work for Disney, nothing I post here is in any way influenced by what I do. I’ve grown up in Southern California and am a Disneyland homer so to speak. Disneyland is my home Disney theme park. So, my views are coming from someone who’d a local to Disneyland. When I visit the Disneyland Resort it’s usually a one and done kind of day. Running in the runDisney races has given me the opportunity to spend more than a day at Disneyland. I’m hoping to improve a little on my blog post from a year ago where I gave out similar advice. Before we go into the places I think are the best to dine at while attending a runDisney race at Disneyland, I want to point out that it is not as necessary to make your ADR’s right at the 60 day mark as it is at Walt Disney World. So, if we pass that 60 days mark and you haven’t made that reservation, don’t worry. You’ll probably be fine making your ADR’s 14-30 days in advance. Why? Disneyland is more of a locals theme park than Walt Disney World. So, you’re competing with fewer people  in making the ADR’s than at Walt Disney World. Just keep that in mind. Also, if you want to make ADR’s you can either visit the Disneyland web site, here, or call 714-781-3463 (and choose option 4)….FYI, if you click the link I posted for Disneyland dining, you can view all of the restaurants that accept ADR’s at the Disneyland Resort.


The Blue Bayou is my favorite restaurant at the Disneyland Resort (outside of Club 33) where you don’t have to know someone with a special membership. For me, the Blue Bayou is also part of what makes the Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean special. This restaurant overlooks the start of our version of Pirates of the Caribbean. The setting is pretty dark and brings you into the bayou. Although, I’ve heard a few complaints over the years, every time I’ve gone to the Blue Bayou, I’ve had amazing service and the food is top-notch! This is a big meal. One time, my wife and I tried to do the Blue Bayou at lunch and Ariel’s Grotto in Disney California Adventure for dinner. Big mistake. Both places serve you a lot of food. So, if you’re going to the Blue Bayou, I’d advise that you make this you big meal of the day and choose a counter service type of restaurant with smaller portions for your other meal. Personally, I’m planning on making dinner at the Blue Bayou my celebratory dinner after the Disneyland Half Marathon this year. They are known for their Monte Cristo sandwich (which is only served at lunch). However, I’ve had the Fillet Mignon, short ribs, and Monte Cristo sandwich. My wife has had the salmon. All of it was amazing! For more information about this amazing restaurant, check out Touring Plans and their page about the Blue Bayou, here. Touring Plans is another great site for planning a Disney trip. On the link I just gave, you will get a description of the restaurant, links for the menu (with pricing), and reviews.


The Big Thunder Ranch BBQ is a place I have yet to visit. However, it looks like a fun place. If you click on the image above, you will read one review of this place. I learned on my last trip to Disneyland, that you will need a reservation to get in. My wife and I tried and failed to get in. Unlike the Blue Bayou, this place is very family friendly. It’s all you can eat kind of place. They even have entertainment while you eat! After running a half marathon or completing one of the 19.3 mile challenges, it might be a fun place for a family to celebrate. Tom Bricker at The Disney Tourist Blog, gave it 9/10 rating here. To learn more about this all you can eat BBQ feast, check out Touring Plans.


If you want a place to eat at in Disneyland and don’t want to make an ADR, I highly recommend the Plaza Inn on Main Street U.S.A.! If you want to read the review at the Disney Tourist Blog, click on the image above. The line to get in to the Plaza Inn will be long at times, but it moves fast enough that you shouldn’t worry about the wait. This is a counter service restaurant and the prices are much lower than my previous restaurants. I’ve eaten here after my last 3 Candlelight Processionals and love this place. They are known for their fried chicken platter. However, if the word fried and runDisney don’t go together for you, that’s okay. They also serve pot roast and penne pasta. Yes, there are only three choices. However, all three taste good. So, you can’t go wrong. The meal size is pretty large. So, it’s a pretty good deal as far as Disneyland meals are concerned. Again, for more information, check out Touring Plans here.


If you want a cheap, quick meal and like corn dogs, the Little Red Wagon (located right next to the Plaza Inn) is for you. The menu is simple…a hand dipped corn dog with sliced apples or a bag of chips for $6.69, Disani water for $2.79 or Coca-Cola, Diet Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta Orange (small – $3.19, large $3.49). There are no frills with this cart. However, the corn dogs are out of this world amazing! If you’re in Disney California Adventure they have the Corn Dog Castle near The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure that serves the same menu. If you want to try out a locals favorite at Disneyland, check out the Little Red Wagon.


The last place at Disneyland that I want to highlight is Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. My wife and I love this place as a quick service kind of dining! Tom Bricker at the Disney Tourist Blog does not share my love as you can see here. However, I was totally missing this place when I was at the Magic Kingdom after the Walt Disney World Marathon. The prices are pretty low for a Disney theme park. I’ve had both the pizza and the pasta offerings. Also, it’s a quick place to get food. For me, this place has the best pizza at Disneyland and the pasta is passable. I think Tom’s 4.5/10 is a little harsh. I would say more like 6.5/10.

If you’re looking to make an ADR at Disneyland, there is only one restaurant that I haven’t covered here to make a reservation. That would be the Café Orleans. You can read about this restaurant at Touring Plans or at the Disney Tourist Blog. Since I haven’t eaten here, I don’t have an opinion to share. However, if after reading the two links I provided, you might want to consider making a reservation here. Also, this can be a great place if you can’t get into the Blue Bayou (or really want that Monte Cristo sandwich for dinner instead of lunch).


Over at Disney California Adventure, one major consideration is whether you will watch the World of Color show (which I highly suggest you do). The reason it’s a consideration is because there are three ways of viewing this show. First, you can show up to DCA early and get a fast pass for the show. Second, you can decide to watch the show from the back on the Paradise Pier area. Third, my recommendation, you make a dining reservation at one of the three restaurants that have World of Color Dining Packages. Why do I recommend this? Because, the dining package will give you a reserved viewing area that is in the center of the show and the best viewing location. Those who opt for fast passes will not be in the center section. Those viewing the show from the Paradise Pier will be viewing the show from the back (I’ve done this and don’t recommend it).


The most popular option for World of Color Dining is the Carthay Circle Restaurant. This is the one option I haven’t tried out yet. However, I’ve read many rave reviews of this restaurant. Click on the photo above to Tom’s review on the Disney Tourist Blog (this is his picture). Also, check out Touring Plans here, for more information about this restaurant. From what I’ve seen, this is the World of Color Dining Package that I’d try booking first.


The Wine Country Trattoria is the second place you could choose for your World of Color Dining Package. My wife and I love this venue to dine at for the World of Color. I think we’ve chosen this option 3 times now and loved it every time. If you really want to feel like you’ve left the theme park behind you, try to sit upstairs. Most likely, this is where you will be seated. Both my wife and I love the ambiance and the food of this restaurant. For a pretty good review of this restaurant, click on the photo above, for the Disney Food Blog review. Or, you could always visit the Touring Plans for more information. Honestly, this has become my favorite choice for the World of Color Dining Packages.


Ariel’s Grotto is the third choice for a World of Color Dining Package. I’ve eaten here many times both with a World of Color Dining Package and without. One thing you should know about booking to eat here with a World of Color Dining Package. If you do so, the timing of your reservation will come after they have the princesses in the Gotto for meet and greets. If you eat here before they do the World of Color Dining, this is a character meal where they parade out about 4 princesses. When you go downstairs to eat, you will be greeted by Ariel and get a photo with her that will later be offered for sale. During your time at Ariel’s Grotto when it’s a character meal, each princess will be announced and they will walk by all of the tables for pictures and to interact with your little princesses. Whether you choose the World of Color Dining or the Character meal, you can’t go wrong with Ariel’s Grotto. The food is awesome and the ambiance is also really fun. Plus, you get a nice view of Paradise Bay. For more information about this restaurant, visit Touring Plans.


Cucina Cucamonga Mexican Grill is the counter service restaurant that my wife and I love! It is fast food. However, we love their Carne Asada and Chicken Tamale platter! Everyone has different tastes in regards to Mexican food. So, I’m sure that there are some who won’t agree. I think this is the best Mexican food at the Disneyland Resort. Neither the wife nor myself are fans of the Mexican restaurant in Downtown Disney. For more information, visit Touring Plans.


A very close second for counter service restaurants is Flo’s V-8 Café in Cars Land. They have a good menu for a counter service restaurant. The prices are reasonable for being in a Disney theme park. However, the ambiance is off the hook! Be sure to wander around this restaurant (even if you’re not eating there). There are several different places where you can sit and enjoy your meal. So, take some time walk around and notice the many details that make Flo’s awesome! Check out the Disney Tourist Blog’s review of Flo’s. Also, for up to date menu’s, go over to Touring Plans for all the information.


Looking for some snacks? Hop by the Cozy Cones Motel. Each cone has different snack options all with a “cone” theme. The first cone is the Pop-Cone. There’s nothing earth shattering about the different options. However, I really liked the Lightning McQueen popcorn holder and the cone-shaped souvenir drinks.


Of course, on a hot day, there’s nothing more wonderful than the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop.


Not the healthiest. However, you’re at Disney. Sometimes it’s too hard to resist the splurge. Check out the menu on Touring Plans here. When Brooke and I went there a few weeks ago, I think we spent at least 5 minutes or more deciding what to get. Again, not the healthiest. However, oh so much fun!

Without a doubt, Disney California Adventure has the best food offerings between the two theme parks. Even though I think that the Blue Bayou is the best place to eat at either theme park, I still prefer eating at Disney California Adventure. If I were to choose one place in either theme park to carbo-load before any of the races, I’d choose the Wine Country Trattoria at Disney California Adventure (non-World of Color Dining Package) and Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port at Disneyland.

I hope that this blog post gives you some insight as to where to eat at the Disneyland Resort theme parks. Opinions on where to eat will vary. However, I hope that in this post you have been given a couple different sources of information to help you as you plan your runDisney Disneyland race-cation.  For those of you who are Disneyland pro’s, what are your favorite places to eat at the Disneyland Resort?

11 thoughts on “Planning a runDisney Race-cation at the Disneyland Resort – Dining Tips

  1. Yum! Disney food is the best!! We loved Blue Bayou and of course, Ghirardelli! I haven’t tried several of the restaurants you listed here…I’ll have to make a note of them for future visits. Cafe Orleans is good, too – we shared Mickey Beignets! 😀

    1. With so many new options out here on the west coast, hopefully you’ll make it out here again. With Star Wars Half in January, Tink Half in May, Disneyland Half in August/Sept., and Avengers Half in November, there’s lots of options.

  2. I highly recommend Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta in DCA. It’s much better than Pizza port and is tucked away in the back and never has a line. They have great flatbreads, ravioli (my favorite before a race) and a good salad. last time my group carbloaded there we were in and out and full in less than 20 minutes! (and also got to watch some great swing dancers in action).

    Next door is Paradise Grill also a great place to carb load and comes with kabobs, sauce, pita bread, cucumber salad and rice pilaf. My other favorite place to carbload is Lucky Fortune Cookery. Great stir fry (their coconut curry is awesome!) and the rice is plentiful as well.

    and also with Carthay-for the WoC packages, they know have a limited menu for that so make sure to check it out first before booking because their menu is so good, it would be sad to miss out on meals you want!

    1. Thanks for mentioning the Boardwalk Pizza and Paradise Grill. That little area of DCA is a nice place to relax for a little bit. I haven’t had the opportunity to eat there yet. However, I do love that area of DCA! Also, good point about the WoC dining packages. They are a different menu from what the restaurant normally serves. So, when someone wants to book at one of these three places, they should make sure they are looking at the World of Color Dining Menu. Both the Carthay Circle Restaurant and the Wine Country Trattoria have a different menu for those not with the World of Color package. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Excellent post as always. Your are thoroughly helping us get ready for coming out to Disneyland in August for the first time. Going to send you a message offline about doing dinner at Blue Bayou together after the DL Half.

  4. Thanks for the great information. After doing two runDisney races, I have found that I like Disneyland better. One aspect that I would love to hear about is the restaurants in Downtown Disney. I have signed up for both Avengers and Star Wars and won’t be doing the parks every day and a good list of them would be nice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s