Greetings from the Happiest Place on Earth, or as some people view it, the 160-acre hellscape by the 5 Freeway where adults sprint to children’s rides, public family meltdowns are celebrated, and the term “FastPass” is an oxymoron. It’s a polarizing place to be sure, but no matter how magical (or intolerable) you find it all to be, there’s one thing we can all agree on - the food is horrible.
Room-temperature spaghetti and neon mac & cheese must’ve been old favorites of Walt’s, because they’re on every menu in the park. But all hope is not lost. It’s no easy task, but hidden behind the mass-produced menus and packaged carnival treats lie some pretty fantastic food you never knew existed. But that’s what this guide is for - and even better, it was written by someone who used to work at The Mouse’s House. So get there early, pop a Xanax, and allow us to show you the light.
Here’s everything you need to be eating and drinking at Disneyland.
Location: Enchanted Tiki Room, Adventureland, Disneyland
Surprise, surprise. The single most famous item of food at Disneyland is also the best, and if you come to the park without eating this glorious mountain of soft serve, you probably shouldn’t even tell people you came. Yes, lines during the summer are outrageous, but just do what we do and either pre-order one from the Disneyland app (it’ll be waiting for you right at the register) or just head inside the Tiki Room, act like you’re lost, and order from there. The line is a fraction as long.
Location: Ronto Roasters, Galaxy’s Edge
Galaxy’s Edge has a lot going for it - manic crowds, “Citizens of Batuu” dressed up like Burning Man rejects, and a ride that uses the same VR technology as the other Star Wars ride that’s been open since 2011. But our favorite feature is easily the Ronto-Less Garden Wrap from Ronto Roasters. We like all the pita wraps that are served there, but it’s the Garden Wrap’s mix of plant-based sausage, spicy kimchi slaw, and sweet pickled cucumber gochujang spread that remains closest to our galactically desolate hearts.
Location: Tropical Hideaway, Adventureland, Disneyland
While we’ll forever mourn the loss of the completely useless Aladdin’s Oasis photo area, its replacement, Tropical Hideaway, could very well be the best all-around quick meal spot inside Disneyland. The spiced vegetable bao is fantastic and something we’d actually eat outside of the park, but the beef bulgogi version, pork lumpia, and new flavors of Dole Whip (go for the mango pineapple swirl) are just as good. Perhaps our favorite feature, however, is the sunny outdoor patio, which provides unobstructed views of dead-eyed Jungle Cruise conductors blurting out zebra puns that were written 40 years ago
Location: Cafe Orleans, New Orleans Square, Disneyland
Look up “Not giving a flying f*ck” in the dictionary and you will find the picture of every person who’s ever ordered this beautiful caloric cannon. Yes, it’s a deep-fried, sugar-coated ham-and-cheese sandwich and no, you’re not going on any more rides after this. But we say throw caution to the wind, because you’ll be rewarded with a sandwich that ranks as the very best at Disney in our books. There’s a spot to lie down and figure it out over by Matterhorn.
Location: Various stands
Of all the food groups represented at Disneyland, the churro is definitely the most important. They’re basically warm cinnamon bolts of perfection and completely make up for whatever the Finding Nemo ride is about. Plus, you can find their stands all over the park, guaranteeing you’re only about 50 yards away from one at all times. Disney magic, indeed.
Location: Corn Dog Castle, Paradise Gardens Park, California Adventure
Uh oh. You just talked-back to an 8th grader with headgear on who just schooled you at Midway Mania, and now his mom’s involved. Time for a breather. You’re in luck though, because on the other side of the lake is quite possibly one of the best corn dogs in existence. The Original Corn Dog ranks amongst Disney’s most famous snacks and it is tremendous. If you want to kick it up a notch, go for the Hot Link Corn Dog instead.
Location: Red Rose Taverne, Fantasyland, Disneyland
Located in the back part of Fantasyland where sh*tty kids decide once and for all to ruin the day for the rest of their family, Red Rose Taverne is a pretty standard order-at-counter Disney restaurant. And by pretty standard, we mean terrible - except for the Grey Stuff Gâteau. A raspberry-filled red velvet cake topped with an icy white chocolate mousse, it’s one of our favorite desserts in the park and the perfect treat to snack on while watching two parents from Phoenix realize having children wasn’t the answer to their problems after all.
Location: Cozy Cone Motel, ‘Cars’ Land, California Adventure
Though we’ll never get over the unexplained disappearance of the egg and chorizo breakfast cone from Cozy Cone Motel’s menu, the Chili Cone Queso still ranks among the best midday snacks in the park. It’s essentially a Frito pie, but in a magical bread tornado, and yes, you’ll look absolutely insane while gnawing at it. The other cone varieties at Cozy Cone are pretty amazing too, so feel free to order a couple. You have time. It’s another three days before your Radiator Springs FastPass is good.
Location: Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square, Disneyland
No, this is not Cafe Du Monde, but still it’s an iconic Disney treat and absolutely fantastic. Situated on a side street in the squeaky-clean New Orleans Square, this walk-up window is also enjoyable because you get to plop down on a nearby bench and reflect on the fact that one day, these children will probably see what the actual French Quarter is like. Mon Dieu!
Location: Main pool, Disneyland Hotel
On the far side of the sprawling Downtown Disney sits the perpetually dated Disneyland Hotel and its faint attempt to hold on to whatever allure Anaheim might’ve had in the 1950s (Hint: It was oranges). That said, one incredible gem remains on the premises: Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. The kitschy, overpriced, and absolutely legendary pool bar is a must-visit and the thunderstorm-inducing Uh Oa! cocktail is the rum-filled tiki fishbowl you’ve been searching for your entire life. Besides, you just waited two hours in line for a 30-second glow-in-the-dark Peter Pan ride and you need alcohol, stat. Ooooooooooo-ga!
Location: Refreshment Corner, Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland
Of all the places that catch your eye at Disney, Refreshment Corner is absolutely not one of them. It’s basically the 7-Eleven of Main Street and probably most famous for being the spot parents give up and let their children drink Diet Coke. But there’s a little secret inside - the Cream Cheese Pretzel. This giant sweet-and-savory soft pretzel, stuffed with all the cream cheese they could muster inside, might be the most overlooked snack in the whole park.
Location: Lamplight Lounge, Pixar Pier, California Adventure
You lost your little nephew somewhere on Pixar Pier and need to put your feet up. Good news - Lamplight Lounge (formally Cove Bar) is right around the corner for all your de-stressing needs. Though the menu went through a pretty massive overhaul, one hold-over from the original Cove Bar is the tremendous lobster nachos that we order every time we’re in California Adventure. Seriously. What seems like an obvious theme park no-no is actually one gigantic YES. And look, there’s your nephew in the lake.
Location: Royal Street Veranda, New Orleans Square, Disneyland
Some kid just ralphed his Cheerios into the Pirates of The Caribbean river and now you’re starving. Thankfully a Disney staple awaits you at the exit. The sourdough bowl is a park classic and the long lines will warn you of that. It’s an especially great treat on a cool Anaheim day when temperatures dip down into the mid-90s.
Location: Bengal Barbecue, Adventureland, Disneyland
You rolled your ankle chasing your reckless child through Tarzan’s Treehouse and you need a break. Go nurse your body at Bengal Barbecue. One of the few vegetables on this list comes wrapped in pig fat, because that’s simply how this place works. Residing next door to the best ride in the park (Indiana Jones Adventure), this is a pretty solid all-around food outpost, and this faint attempt at health should be your go-to order.
Location: Carthay Circle Lounge, Buena Vista Street, California Adventure
If there’s one full sit-down restaurant we’d recommend inside the Disney parks, it’s Carthay Circle (Club 33 doesn’t count - we’re not Jack Nicholson, and neither are you). The food at Carthay is solid across-the-board, and if you only have a few minutes, the downstairs bar has some great bar snacks and even better cocktails. But Carthay’s true gift to the world is undeniably the house biscuits. Hot and crispy on the outside with a lava flow of white cheddar cheese, bacon, and japaneos on the inside, it’s like you’re not even at Disney anymore.
Location: Various stands
Let’s address the elephant in the room - there isn’t a more polarizing piece of food at Disney than the turkey leg. Whether the meat is actually turkey, or emu, or ripped from the piled-up corpses in Disney jail, we can all agree it has the curb appeal of a Robert Durst massage circle. But fear not. This greasy mess is delicious and an easy way to let everyone else in the park know you aren’t to be f*cked with. Bonus: If crowds get too rowdy, it can also be used as a weapon.
Location: Jolly Holiday, Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland
Not much food at the park is actually made in-house, but we believe them when they tell us these chips are. Perfectly warmed and crunchy, you have to ask for these guys as a side or they won’t give them to you. Then find a seat on Jolly Holiday’s scenic, castle-facing patio and enjoy as one of the carriage horses absolutely unloads in front of you.
Location: Jolly Holiday, Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland
A sniffling child walking behind you in Fantasyland just coughed something onto the back of your knee and it feels solid. Head over to Jolly Holiday for a macaroon. This Instagram-friendly treat is all coconut, and not really a macaroon, but it’s still completely worth your time.
Location: Ship To Shore Marketplace, Frontierland, Disneyland
There’s a reason your hotel forces continental breakfast on you every morning - they know you’ll need it. Most breakfast options at Disneyland are downright foul, but sometimes, your body’s screaming for some early sustenance and you forgot the Clif Bars in the car. Grab a breakfast chimichanga. You can find them at a few stands around the park, but we like the one in Frontierland because it’s conveniently located on everyone’s early morning sprint route to Galaxy’s Edge.
Location: Carnation Cafe, Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland
It’s 4pm, right around the time you begin to wonder if forking over a car payment’s worth of money to ride five rides and get “It’s A Small World” stuck in your head was worth it. Either way, the pull towards the exit is natural. Just stop at Carnation Cafe on the way out and pick up an order of those fried pickles. The deep-fried spears are big, crunchy, and everything you want while you stare at your bank balance.
Location: Maurice’s Treats, Fantasyland, Disneyland
No day would be complete without one last pit stop at the Fantasy Faire. You just watched two bummed-out Chapman grads lip-sync their way through a weird Disney renaissance show and your tummy’s rumbling for one last snack. Luckily, there’s a tiny little stand beside the theater called Maurice’s Treats and it’s serving savory, garlic-y, twisty bread sticks that you’ll be eating all the way to the parking lot.