When we went on our first trip to Disneyland we were not sure what to expect when it came to food in Disneyland and what we were going to do for meals. We were a bit more prepared for our family trip the past Fall and we went on a Disney Food Mission. This time, going to Disneyland with just a toddler made food and snacks different again but we had a game plan. Food in Disneyland is something everyone asks about, today we’re sharing what we do for meals and snacks in Disneyland.
PACK SNACKS IN YOUR CHECKED IN LUGGAGE
You read that right. We pack snacks in our checked in luggage. Our very first trip we had to bring formula with us anyways so we also brought some of our daughter’s favourite snacks. Since then we’ve made sure any family vacation we go on we pack snacks everyone likes in our luggage.
Obviously, you need to check what your airline says to be prohibited items and follow those rules. We stick to dry goods and everything has labels clearly stating what the ingredients are. All of the food also goes into ziplock bags just in case something doesn’t stay sealed or gets crushed.
In our luggage we bring things like baby food pouches, granola bars, crackers, toddler meals, fruit & veggie melts. Baby food pouches are something our girls would eat every meal if we let them. It’s a snack item we know they will enjoy . Having munchies like granola bars and cracks are a huge help when you just need something quick to munch on or something to eat that’s easy to carry when standing in line for a ride.
IF YOU CAN…
Go grocery shopping, if you can. You are allowed to bring outside food and drinks into Disneyland, this was a big help to us when sticking to a budget on a family trip. There are lots of recommendations to shop online and have your groceries delivered to your hotel. The one place many recommend is Vons. We haven’t done that yet, but we might the next time we go. Jason has done a grocery run on both of our previous trips and grabbed things we needed like milk and items for sandwiches. On our mother-toddler trip, Tamara popped into a little mart on Harbor Boulevard. One thing you will want on your list is bottled water. We do not like the tap water in California and end up going through several large litres of water. We use it to mix formula for bottles and to fill our water bottles each day.
If you can, book your stay at a hotel that offers either a buffet breakfast or a continental breakfast. This is a huge help in saving when it comes to meals. Even better, book a hotel with a kitchen if you are planning to go back to the hotel for a break mid day. You could save by eating lunch or dinner back at the hotel instead of in the park. We try to limit how many meals we have in Disneyland itself. Do you research when finding a place to stay, especially if you are going the hotel route there are lots of options for ones that offer breakfast for their guests.
MEALS AND SNACKS IN DISNEYLAND
There are lots of lists out there that state what the “must eat” items are in Disneyland. Do your research before going. Check out what people recommend and start making a list of things you might want to eat and where you can find them in Disneyland. We looked at posts on Pinterest and Instagram too. Disneyland often has seasonal food items too like the gingerbread beignets Mickey beignets at Christmas time or the golden churro from the Pirates of the Caribbean 50th Anniversary.
We put together our list and brought it with us so we knew what items we might really want for a special treat in Disneyland. A must have for us are the Mickey shaped beignets. They are so good and are made fresh. If we could only have one special treat in the park, this would be it. This is our must have item. For others its the Dole Whip, not us. Give us Mickey shaped beignets!
One thing the was often on repeat for the must eat lists was the corn dog. There are several different locations that have this for sale in Disneyland and each one offer something different with it. You can either get fries, a bag of chips, apple slices or carrots with it. Each place also has a different price. This is why you want to do your research before your trip so you know what is offered where and what the price is. After having a corn dog for the first time on the most recent trip, we get it. We now understand why this is on the so many lists as a must eat item.
During our first trip to Disneyland we learnt quickly that the portion sizes are pretty generous for meals. We were able to order one meal and share it between two adults, or between one adult and a child. This made a huge difference in how much we spent on a meal when there. We would make sure to order things we could all share. We also would check out the different children’s meal options because sometimes sometimes there was more variety offered than in getting something else. The children’s meals were a huge hit when we could get milk to drink, a yogurt, carrot sticks or apple slices, and then a main item of some sort. The macaroni was also a favourite for both our girls, they would gobble it up quickly.
We would pick a treat to enjoy and share during the parades or fireworks. Things like the Mickey shapes soft pretzel, a box of popcorn, or a bag of cotton candy are great items to get before you find a seat for the parade. They are easily sharable between multiple people and are classic items for a special treat. There really is something to the Disney popcorn, we don’t know how they do it but it’s even better than movie popcorn!
CHARACTER DINING IN DISNEYLAND
Our first character dining experience was at Goofy’s Kitchen. This is located over at the Disneyland Hotel. For us, it was a bit of a walk all the way over there because we stayed off site at a good neighbour hotel and it did take a chunk of time our of day before heading into the park after. We did have a great experience meeting Goofy and several other classic Disney characters. The characters all rotate around the dining area which provides a great opportunity to get photos and have characters sign autograph books. We also celebrated a birthday and made sure to let the cast members know before we were seated. A cupcake was brought out for the one celebrating a birthday to enjoy at the end of the meal. What can you expect for food? There are made-to-order omelettes and fresh baked pastries. Our favourite were the Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles.
Most recently we went attended Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn on Main Street in Disneyland. If we had this to do over we’d love to see if we could book a dining time before the park officially opens. Sometimes you can get a breakfast time slot that is an hour before Disneyland is open which provides a great opportunity to get a photo on Main Street with very few people in the background. This wasn’t available when we booked, instead we booked the a later time slot so that this meal could act as an early lunch. If Minnie Mouse is a favourite character for those in your family, this is a great dining experience option.
Character dining is a splurge in Disneyland so make sure you look into the different options available, do your research and if you do decide to book one pick the one that will be the best for your family. For us our girls love the classic Disney characters so we knew we wanted them to be able to see as many of those characters as possible. Which is exactly what we experienced with both of the above Character dining experiences. Would we recommend character dining, yes! It’s a unique way to meet characters and have a lot of food options in one place.
THE TIP WE USED THE MOST
The tip we used the most and were so thankful someone told us about was to ask for cups of ice water at and restaurant in Disneyland. It’s free and you will be very thankful for ice cold water on hot days. When we got hit by a heat wave on our family trip we worked our way through our bottle water very quickly. Being able to get large cups of ice water was a huge help in keeping us all hydrated and cool in the park.
Hopefully, that gives you a good idea at how we do food and meals in Disneyland. You do not need to get every single meal and snack from restaurants in the park. Being able to bring in your own food and drinks is much more budget friendly. We aim to have only one meal bought in Disneyland and one treat each day, that is what we budget for. Just remember… get the beignets!
HAVE YOU BEEN TO DISNEYLAND? IF SO, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL OR TREAT IN DISNEYLAND?