Are you longing to take a bite out of the “happiest place on earth”? Disney food buff Jamie Nelson serves a comprehensive compendium to the cuisines of Disneyland, from snacks to sit-down splendor, with a side of history and a garnish of pixie dust.
Whether it’s your first time visiting Disneyland Resort or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, this gourmand's guide will steer you and your stomach through the nine themed lands for quick bites, sweets, and unique eats.
Take a step back in time, cultivate your own adventure, even travel to a galaxy that is no longer so “far far away,” with insider coverage of what you'll find in Disneyland's newest land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Or journey deep in the heart of New Orleans Square to Club 33 where Jamie shares a course-by-course account of what it’s like to eat in this exclusive dining establishment.
All you need is an appetite—and sometimes a hunger for adventure—to tempt your taste buds on the manifold cuisines of Disneyland.
How to Use This Guide
Main Street, U.S.A.
New Orleans Square
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Cartin' Around Town
Specialty and Seasonal Events
Appendix A: List-A-Palooza
Appendix B: A-Z Foodie Dining Challenge
The very first time I visited Disneyland was in the fall of 1996 with my parents. My dad was required to visit San Diego for business and my Mom insisted that we had to tag along. We were able to take a day trip in between his conference meetings and traveled from San Diego to Anaheim on a Greyhound bus. I had read about the park and dreamed of the day that I would be able to step foot inside. I was fortunate that my parents indulged my childhood dream. Although the photos from this trip now live inside of a faded family album, the memories are just as crisp as that November day.
The feeling that comes over you when you’re about to set foot in Disneyland is not one that goes away with the passing of time. It stays with you like it has stayed with me over the past 20 years. The first time I walked through that turnstile, my heart beating with anticipation, I had to stop myself from running full force into the park. I needed to take a step back and take it all in, piece by piece.
Just think of it, you may be “walking right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.” but you are inside Walt’s park. You are in his original, his dream turned reality with history oozing out of every single corner. Even though I’ve visited many times since then, there is always a sigh that escapes me each and every single time I return. Walt said it himself, “Here youths may savor the challenge and promise of the future” and I intend on savoring everything.
You could say my obsession with Disney food started at an early age. As a child, I was always fascinated by the food in Disney cartoons and animated movies. Snow White! Your gooseberry pie looks amazing! I remember watching Mickey’s Trailer and wanting to eat corn on the cob just like Mickey and Donald. Jack & Gus Gus with the cheese. The delicious looking spaghetti and meatballs that led to Lady and Tramp’s first kiss. Breakfast from Mushu that’s happy to see me. Stitch is stressed. He needs dessert! That cake! That three-layered chocolate monstrosity that was garnished with a cherry. Tiana’s beignets. These scenes always stuck out in my head.
Why does animated food look so delicious? I think it’s a combination of things much liked a layered dish. The base of the dish begins with the artistry of the animators bringing the beloved characters to life. The second layer is the story where the characters begin interacting with each other, perhaps over a shared meal or the creation of one. The last and final layer is the completion of the scene where the viewer can see the budding friendship, romance or tomfoolery of the characters evolve because of their shared experience.
What does it mean to be a foodie? For me, it’s that sense of adventure when you sink your teeth into something new. Embarking on a quest to find new and unusual flavor combinations always gives your taste buds a surprise, especially when you try a twist on a classic favorite. My best analogy for what it feels like to be a foodie is this- Whenever I eat an exceptional dish I feel like Remy. You know that scene in Ratatouille? Where he’s pairing fruit and cheese together for the very first time? That little guy sees sparks fly! The colors change, time slows down and there’s umami. That is what happens when I taste an outstanding dish. And it’s happened countless times in Disneyland.
Just like Chef Gusteau says in Ratatouille, “Anyone can cook!” The same rings true for future foodies. Anyone can eat! Whether you’re a foodie, a Disney fan or a Disney food fan, find what you like, savor what you enjoy and shout it from the rooftops. I love telling friends and family about new foods that I have devoured. It fills me with a sense of joy to be able to share my excitement and if I have the chance to share a meal with them and see their eyes light up, even better.
My friends laugh at me when we are out to dinner and I’m constantly taking pictures of the food before they have a chance to stick their fork in it. The truth is, I don’t mind the laughter or the jokes. I have both a tangible and visual reminder of what I ate and I use it as a catalog to look back upon and most importantly share. “What did you do last weekend. Oh, I had the best dessert! Really, what was it?” I’ll then whip out my phone and voila! I’ll show you the food and then launch into full foodie mode and regale you with where I ate said item, what it tasted like and how I’ll be dreaming about it for years to come.
Thank a chef. This is their dream, their passion, and most importantly their creation that you’re eating. If you love it, tell them! Thank them. Within Disneyland Resort, you will have countless opportunities to try something special from these renowned culinary artists. You will be sure to find something no matter where you dine.
Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump once said “I’ve always felt that Disneyland was a gorgeous salad because of the ingredients. There is a little bit of something in there for everyone.”
I completely agree with Rolly. There is something for everyone in Disneyland. If you want a salad you can find a salad. If you want a burger covered with delicious toppings, you can devour that burger.
Being in a Disney park can be overwhelming at times. Especially when you hear that gurgle of your stomach and are trying to keep the hanger at bay. This guide will help jolt your memory while you’re in the parks. I hope you remember, oh there was that savory dish I wanted to try.
Take those foodie photos. Share the experience and spread the word. Keep that visual reminder of what it looked like and even snap one of your empty plate. If you enjoy something, it’s important to remember it. At least that’s how I like to think of it. I encourage you to make memories while you eat. Ones that you can look back on well past the end of your vacation.
My hope is that this book leaves you craving new treats and wanting to share them with your family, your loved ones and your best friends. Get your fork, spoon, chopsticks, or hands ready and join me on a journey through Disneyland taking in the sights and most importantly, the bites.
Jamie Nelson is a New Englander, Disney food lover and, author of Disneyland Dining: A Foodies Guide. Jamie’s love of all things Disney intensified after her first vacation to Walt Disney World at the age of five. Since that initial visit, she has made over 20 combined trips to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. With a passion for trying new flavors and busting at the seams with Disney food knowledge, Jamie is currently creating her second book featuring the food of Disney California Adventure.
Jamie resides in Connecticut where she enjoys whipping up treasured recipes for family and friends while she not-so-patiently awaits her next foodie adventure.