The Disney theme parks embrace culinary extremes, from fast-food fried failures and other mediocre meals to sensuous savories and succulent sweets you won't find anywhere else. Make room in your diet, and on your bucket list, for fifty Disney favorites from around the world.
In a book like this, you expect Dole Whip, Turkey Legs, and Tonga Toast. And they're in here. But so are things you wouldn't expect, and may never have heard of, like Gyoza Dogs, Chandu Tails, Eukiwa Buns, Norwegian School Bread, and Peking Duck Pizza. Those are just some of the culinary surprises in store for the curious gourmand at Disney theme parks.
With a generous dash of foodie journalism, a smidge of history, and big dollop of fun, Andrea Keech will milk your salivary glands until the magic gushes out.
Put down that guidebook, walk away from that ride: the line for Gyoza Dogs is this way....
1. Monte Cristo Sandwich
2. Cheeseburger and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
3. Dole Whip
4. Chef's Table
5. Mickey Waffles
6. Family Dinner
7. Gaston’s Cinnamon Rolls
8. Family-Friendly Combo Meals
9. Roasted Corn Chowder
10. Candy Apples
11. Gyoza Dog
12. The Grey Stuff
13. Frozen Bananas
14. Artisan Burger
16. Tonga Toast
17. Cheese Soup
18. Sweet and Spicy Waffles
19. Mickey-shaped Steamed Buns
20. Norwegian School Bread
21. Jumbo Smoked Turkey Legs
22. Character Buffet Breakfast
24. Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars
25. Chandu Tail
26. Tigger Tails
27. Covered Apples
29. Afternoon Tea
30. Pirate’s Bounty Snackin’ Kraken
31. LeFou’s Brew and LeFou’s Br-r-r-ew
32. Foods of Pandora
33. Eukiwa Bun
35. Peanut Butter & Jelly Milkshake
36. Minnie Mouse Rose Gold Cupcakes
37. Croissant Doughnut
38. Peking Duck Pizza
40. The Kitchen Sink
41. Haribo Gummies
42. Pineapple Coconut Breakfast Bread
43. Amorette’s Signature Eleven-Layer Chocolate Cake
44. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
45. Old-Fashioned Drive-in Movie Fare
46. Two Character Meals
47. Twin Lobster Tails
48. Egg Custard Tarts
49. Corn Dogs
50. Mickey Beignets
Appendix: Fun, Fabulous Recipes
Food critics don’t usually go to a Disney theme park looking for haute cuisine. Remember Anton Ego, the skeletal critic, in Ratatouille? It wasn’t the fanciest of foods that tickled his exacting taste buds, it was good old home cooking—the kind of Provençal dish his dear mama used to make. Most of us returning to Disney parks want to enjoy some of the flavors recalled from our childhoods, food that was first and foremost fun! The smell of popcorn on the air, the sight of a classic Mickey ice cream bar just out of the wrapper begging to have its ear snapped off, the sound made by that first bite into your very own crunchy caramel apple—those are the gustatory memories that keep us forever young at heart.
Those are also the sorts of tastes, smells, sounds, and sights you’ll find in the following pages. Don’t worry, you’ll discover some of the most elegant and refined theme park dining experiences detailed here as well. How about pulling out all the stops for an anniversary splurge at Victoria & Albert’s, the decadent luxury of twin lobster tails at Flying Fish, or one of the more exotic seafood delicacies from Disneyland Shanghai—the sliced Snackin’ Kracken, perhaps?
Walt Disney World offers its guests more than 475 dining choices. You’ll encounter more than 6,000 different kinds of individual food items available at the four Florida theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom). Couple that with the company’s other eight theme parks around the country and the world—Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, Disneyland Shanghai, Disneyland Hong Kong, Disneyland Paris, and Walt Disney Studios Paris—and you’ll have an idea of exactly how daunting it is to attempt to choose just fifty fun and fabulous foods from among them all! Oh, and don’t forget those shopping districts attached to the parks that have become so popular in recent years. Florida’s Disney Springs alone currently boasts some one hundred and fifty eateries.
This book is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of every single kind of yummy food at every single one of the twelve Disney theme parks worldwide. My goal is to provide a description of some of the special foods and beverages that most Disney guests over the decades have found to be exceptionally memorable. These are goodies people fondly dream about long after their vacation has come to an end. They make plans to include these treats on the itinerary for their next visit. They talk about them enthusiastically, even incessantly. They post photos of them on their social media accounts. Some of these items, in fact, have developed their very own cult status. The list is necessarily a subjective one. If I’ve neglected to include your very favorite Disney snacks, drinks, or meals, I beg your pardon with the promise that perhaps it will show up in a future edition.
I’m a bona-fide Disney devotee, and I’ll bet you are, too, if you’re reading this book. I began going to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, during the summer of 1955 when it opened shortly after I turned four. My kindergarten lunch box had the Mark Twain embossed on one side, the Jungle Cruise on the other. My fondest dream was to work at the park one day, and it honestly was a dream come true. I spent my college vacations as a tour guide/VIP hostess there, and it’s hard for me to imagine a job which could have possibly been any better. My husband, Ron, and I spent many happy Friday Date Nites at Disneyland, a much-appreciated perk of employment. We seasonal employees were tapped to train the future cast members from Florida in the summer of 1970 for their theme park, Walt Disney World, set to open in 1971. Our daughter, Elizabeth, worked at both Disneyland, where she met husband Amos in the College Program, and at Walt Disney World, a place we’ve visited so frequently that it feels like home. Over the past years, we’ve tried many foods and drinks. The ones selected for inclusion here will give you a representative look at the best of the best, the ones guests most often tout as being singularly wonderful.
In addition, I’ve done some fairly extensive digging to uncover some of the stand-out selections from the other Disney theme parks in France, China, and Japan. They’re definitely different from what we’re used to in the United States, but they always manage to retain comfortingly familiar elements as well. The Parisian fascination with candy apples and marshmallows, China’s obsession for putting Mickey images on practically everything edible, and the notoriously nautical food themes at Tokyo’s DisneySea are fascinating reminders that there are manifold ways to experience that Disney magic we love. If these descriptions inspire to you to taste them for yourself one day, so much the better. If not, it’s perfectly okay to be an armchair traveler.
Along with details about the foods and beverages, I’ve provided some historical background wherever I thought it would interest the reader. It can help to put the items into historical and geographical context. It fills in some of the nuts-and-bolts facts of how, when, why, and where some of the special dishes came into being. The chapters are succinct and may be slowly savored just one at a time or devoured all at once in a big gulp—like a lot of the snacks described!
Finally, I’ve included eight recipes for you in an appendix, in case you get the yen to try out some of these tempting treats for yourself and simply can’t wait until your next Disney vacation. Some of them call for expertise in the kitchen, while others are fairly basic. I’ve made them myself and think most good home cooks should be able to handle them with a couple of caveats, which I’ve noted.
Now it’s time to begin your culinary tour through Disney theme parks around the world. I hope you’ll find a few of your old favorites showcased here, just as I hope there may be a few surprises you might have overlooked and will want to try on a future visit. Keep an open mind, an empty stomach, and join me on a ful-filling trip as we feast on fifty fun, fabulous Disney favorites. Bon appetit!
Andrea McGann Keech was born in southern California and visited Disneyland often, ever since it opened in 1955. She fulfilled a life-long dream of working at the park and became a bilingual tour guide and VIP hostess during college holidays from 1969 through 1972, experiences described in her first book, The Cream of the Crop, Tour Guide Tales from Disneyland’s Golden Years (Theme Park Press, 2016).
After graduating, Andrea taught students in English and Spanish in grades K-12 during her teaching career. She was a member of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Committee that established Writing Standards, 2011–2018, for students in grades 3–12. She has written for a variety of national educational journals and presented often at teaching conferences, but the most fulfilling aspect of her work was seeing her students succeed.
Andrea lives in Iowa City with Shadow and Sunny, two fun and frolicsome standard poodles. Her happiest role is that of playing Mary Poppins every day after school to beloved grandchildren Katherine and Drew, and spending as much time as possible with sweet, delightful little Will.
Her other Disney titles for Theme Park Press, in addition to this one, are The Indulgent Grandparent’s Guide to Walt Disney World, Treasure of the Ten Tags: A Disneyland Adventure, Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2018, Walt Disney World Characters 101: Your Complete Guide to Perfect Meet-and-Greets, and A Mouse for All Seasons 2018: Your Month-by-Month Guide to Walt Disney World.