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Help! Disneyland For a Day ...

My wife and I have never been to DL, despite living in LA for a few years, so we've decided we are going to drive down to Anaheim after work on Friday, stay for the evening, get up, and head to the main park for a full day of ... well, whatever.

(On a side note, let me be completely honest that I am absolutely TERRIFIED of DL on a Saturday)

Needless to say, I'm all about the food, no matter where I go. So, I figured you all would be the perfect resource to help me in fulfilling my gustatory addictions. I've done some searching, and there doesn't seem to be a dedicated thread to Disney and Disney area food, so perhaps this could be it.

For us, personally, we'll be having dinner Friday evening, and then 3 meals on Saturday (just going to drive back home Saturday evening). Friday night dinner is at Sonic. No "Ifs", "Ands", or "Buts". I don't care how cheesy/chainy it is, we're from the South and haven't had Sonic in AGES, and I'm craving me some Tater-Tots and a Cherry Lime-Aid.

Sonic, my friends (TM John McCain), is NOT negotiable ;-)

That being said, who's to say we can't have TWO dinners? Not me, and I'm getting the waistline to prove it!

So what say you great and mighty CH'ers? I'm obviously willing to drive, so what's in the area?

And, for purposes of posterity, what are YOUR Disney food recommendations?

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  1. I'm hoping you're getting some good replies for the Saturday dinner....I'm still looking for suggestions in Anaheim for a nice dinner...so far I've gotten the message that Napa Rose is good, but it might be a bit above my price level.

    As for Disney itself, make sure you have a corn dog.

    5 Replies
    1. re: janetofreno

      Update: Janet and I were in Disneyland last week for our free birthday trip, which was a lot of fun; highly recommended to go on your birthday, particularly if your birthday is on a a weekday in February during a recession (no lines, just enough people, many also wearing 'Its my birthday' button, to make the place truly feel happy). However, I saw *no* corn dogs. I think it must be a CA Adventure thing only; believe me, Janet was looking for them :-)

      The food summary:

      We had decent pastries and coffee at La Brea bakery in downtown Disney for breakfast (since Disneyland didn't open till ten that day, it was a good way to start the day);

      I had jambalaya at the restaurant at New Orleans square while listening to the almost-too-laid back jazz trio (verdict: other than overcooked chunks of chicken that tasted as though they had been tossed on top after the jambalaya was cooked, it was surprisingly tasty, with a decent level of heat for a cool day. Pricey, but that's Disneyland. Janet had clam chowder, which I thought was ok (and also warming on a cold day). We ate lunch on the early side, and the lack of crowds while we enjoyed the music and the view of Tom Sawyer's Island (which they now call something else not nearly as interesting-sounding), was lovely.

      For an afternoon snack we grabbed some freshly popped popcorn from one of the carts. If you see it being popped in front of you, that is when to get some: very good.

      After exhausting ourselves pretending to be much younger than our birthday age in the (cough cough) mid fifties somewhere, we enjoyed dinner at Napa Rose. I am going to try and post on that seperately at some point, but bottom line, it was good, (particularly the lamb) with excellent service and a very nice wine list. It also wasn't quite as pricey as we had anticipated, (though yes, it certainly is pricey) thanks to a downright bargain choice from among the wines, and the fact that as soon as the server saw our "It's my birthday" buttons, dessert was comped. Nice.

      1. re: susancinsf

        The corn dog cart is off of Main Street on the northeast side next to Plaza Inn. Also, you can usually enter CA if you tell them that you just want to go in for a corn dog, and leave your id or credit card, not sure which they ask for, and go in just for the corn dogs and leave. It's a nice thing, works for the main park as well, for only about an hour or 2 though.

        1. re: justagthing

          hmm....my guess then would be either that it wasn't out that day, or that its hours are limited: we walked by there several times, no cart. However, we didn't walk by there at lunch hour...

          I'd be surprised if they let you go into CA just to get a corn dog when you are already on the birthday (one park only) free ride, I'd consider that above and beyond!

          1. re: susancinsf

            "Little Red Wagon" is usually open every day from 11 to 8 pm minimum. It's a bit bigger than the typical cart, did you actually see the wagon? It's set back a bit from the street (on the right hand side just before Plaza Inn). I think the wagon is always there, not really mobile. There are slow days when Disney decides ad hoc to not open some venues, but I'd be surprised if Red Wagon was closed unless it was broken. Maybe next time.
            Happy Birthday!

          2. re: justagthing

            My understanding is that this policy was changed sometime late last year. It used to be so that you could shop for an hour, and if you weren't back in time, your credit card would be charged for the full price of a ticket.

      2. I'd hit Napa Rose for a dinner, and it's conveniently part of DL at the Grand California Hotel.

        I know some people like it, but I've had a couple of really mediocre meals at Catal, so I wouldn't recommend it personally.

        In the park, the Blue Bayou is decent enough. People recommend the Monte Cristo at BB. When I was a kid though, I LOVED the place across the pathway, I *think* it's Country Kitchen or Cafe Orleans (?), from BB that has clam chowder in bread bowl (maybe too heavy this time of year :) If you want pulled pork, try French Market in Orleans Square

        The Plaza Inn has decent fried chicken

        On Main St, there's the corn dog place and the bakery that has great cookies and macaroons

        Grab breakfast at La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney

        If for some reason you wander off park, there's Lee's Sandwiches on Harbor near Ball Rd.

        Overall, I love Disneyland, partly nostalgia partly due to its indefatigable happiness. I don't go there for the food; I go there to feel warm and gooey inside. So don't go with incredibly high expectations culinarily speaking, just be prepared to deal with lines, inconsiderate people, and in your face silliness and Disney. It's fun esp when you go with the right attitude! [I always hate when people go and bitch about the volume of children or the lines or lack of healthy food choices... it's a theme park.]

        17 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          I second the rec's for La Brea Bakery (right in between the two parks, where the tram drops you off); Plaza Inn for fried chicken. Also the French Market & Cafe Orleans are better than average, if a bit pricey for what it is. I haven't tried it, but the Bengal BBQ actually looks and smells OK.

          Disneyland is not really a chow destination, though.

          1. re: Emme

            Thanks Emme, that's a really helpful post.

            I'd read Napa on a few other threads; I'm not sure how much I'm into spending all day at a park only to head to Napa Rose -- if for no other reason than I imagine I'll be pretty gross after a day at the park, and sans shower/hotel, I'm not sure how I'd pull it off.

            La Brea Bakery is a great idea, and I'm sure that's what we'll do for breakfast.

            I also KNOW we'll get a corn dog, since we've both been craving them and were disappointed in the ones we tried at the fair.

            I read somewhere on here that the Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans (which, from what I've gathered, is the place across from Blue Bayou) are tasty, so I'm sure I'll try those ... and maybe the Monte Cristo too.

            Lastly ... I couldn't agree with you more about expectations (in terms of food) and being irritated with those who fail to understand this is a MECCA for kids. I've never understood why people who can't deal with kids - from the well-behaved to the bratty - would EVER go to a theme park.

            1. re: a213b

              Either Café Orleans (if in the mood for outdoor) or Blue Bayou (if in the mood to flee the sunshine for an hour) are my go-to options for in-the-park dining. Make sure to call Disney Dining at 714-781-3463 ahead of time for a priority seating for either of these places. However, sometimes when lunch rolls around I want to leave the crowds behind entirely, and that’s when I head to Uva, the outdoor tapas bar connected with Catal in Downtown Disney. I agree with Emme that Catal was not great, but Uva’s a whole differrent deal, and more than once some tasty small plates, relative quiet, and a cold beer there has really hit the spot for me. You can reenter the park from there via the Downtown Disney monorail station; it’s right around the corner.

              1. re: a213b

                honestly, they tolerate a pretty lax appearance at napa rose, for the very reason that it is the best dining option next to a theme park - they know they'll have clientele that want really good food after a day in the sun and crowds... don't worry about that, but if you feel self-conscious i completely understand.

                1. re: a213b

                  I think the Blue Bayou only serves the Monte Cristo at lunch, just FYI. Check first, if you were thinking of having it for dinner. I would never drop in there without calling first, unless it was pretty slow and I wasn't set on eating there. Sometimes they absolutely do allow drop-in seating, but sometimes not. If they have space, another idea is to get dessert/coffee at the BB. Fun ambiance!

                2. re: Emme

                  I third Napa Rose. Awesome food, and if you're into wine, the one of the best sommeliers in the country makes his home there!
                  For a more casual spot, my husband and I like Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney. For lunch, I suggest the Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger...it's made with filet (which is a waste because I can't taste the difference), but is cooked and seasoned to perfection (medium rare, of course). For dinner, I'm partial to the NY Strip...it's enormous, but, again, seasoned and cooked very well...and with a demi-glace, there's no need for steak sauce...if they have the tomato bisque, please try it...one of the best tomatoe bisques I've ever had.
                  I would stay away from Naples and Tortilla Joe's...not great food and not so great service.
                  If you're in the Park, I would suggest the Trattoria inside California Adventure. Good Italian food without having to leave the premises.
                  Have a great time!

                  1. re: attran99

                    attran, what is the dress code at Napa Rose? Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my concerns there lie in the fact that I plan on, most likely, wearing shorts and a polo to the park ... and I can't imagine that would be appropriate for NR, right?

                    1. re: a213b

                      You could get away with khakis and polo shirts. My friend went two weeks ago for a company dinner and he didn't have to dress out of his comfort zone.

                      1. re: a213b

                        It's in a resort hotel...so I believe that while not encouraged, it's acceptable. Another poster said that he went in w/shorts & had no problem. We've been w/jeans (fairly casual, but nice), and did not feel out of place.

                        1. re: OCAnn

                          Maybe what I will do, then, is pack any easily accessible pair of nice jeans or pants in the car and do a quick change before heading to NR ... possibly to sit at the bar as per the below poster's advice.

                          1. re: a213b

                            Don't worry about it. You can wear decent jeans and a polo shirt and not be out of place at all. None of the Disneyland-owned restaurants, save Club 33, have a dress code.

                      2. re: attran99

                        I fourth Napa Rose!

                        You can also - if you like - grab a seat in the lounge by the fireplace and have the full menu.... it's very relaxed and yet elegant and any dress is acceptable.... if you ask and there is room... you can ALSO choose to eat at the garde manger....I loved it.. I got to chat with the chef and the sous as they worked...get a few tastes of things unique ....and watching that dance is always fun to me.

                        as far as INSIDE the park..... everyone's mentioned the corn dogs.....but man.... Bengal BBQ...... bacon wrapped asparagus..... is the yum.

                        don't bother with with gumbo (it tastes of powdered mix- gak) or Orleans Cafe'

                        Brennan's Jazz Kitchen is hit or miss but the bartenders ROCK and if you order right your meal will be great.....the jazz band is always good as well.

                        HOB makes a killer burger and has great music...what's to hate about that?

                        All the restaurants at DCA have gone far down hill.....I've heard the spot above the winery is still good.....the street level menu is very less than.

                        The "wine ride" on the pier is always nice to do.....sit on the pier at sunset with a nice tall glass of whet yer whistle and watch the rollercoaster launches......( I'm on vod-cation!")

                        I'll also give a nod to the smoked carpaccio at Catal if it's there....and to the garlic fries at UVA Bar for a happy hour nosh. (if you ask nicely they may even give you a bit o truffle oil to put on them..... it's been a while ... but I bet it can happen)

                        above all.... enjoy your trip!!!!! xoxoo

                        1. re: missliisa

                          Just a note that the bar behind Ariel's Grotto (I assume that's what you mean by the watch the rollercoaster launch?) has restricted hours during the remodel of DCA. Otherwise your recommendations are spot on (love those asparagus skewers, but the others at that place are just... meh. Salty.)

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            missliisa, the spot above the winery is closed (aka the Vineyard Room).

                            I was even a bit disappointed in the underseasoned chicken sandwich at White Water Snacks yesterday, but the fries have stepped up a notch. They're now shoestring with some skin on, and crispy.

                            Napa Rose still good, I can report.

                      3. re: Emme

                        A comment on Napa Rose -- the restaurant and hotel and very pretty, but it is way overpriced. The service is weird (formal, almost robot-like), and the food was so-so. It all seemed so scripted and not well-scripted, either. We spent a lot and didn't get any bang for our mega-buck.

                        1. re: Golem

                          LOL. One doesn't usually use the words "bang for the buck" and "Disney" on the same page. If you're thinking about how much it's costing you, you aren't going to enjoy it. Best to stop at McD's on the way over (or Sonic).

                      4. I haven't been to Disneyland for a long time, but I used to love getting the smoked turkey leg.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: spkspk

                          We were there in June and that's what I had for lunch one day!

                        2. It's ok to admit you're really heading to Blizzcon...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: creamfinger

                            LOL!!!111one oneone....... :::geek out:::

                          2. SONIC....stay away from the extra long coney....huge disappointment. One of the worst dogs I've ever had.

                            http://www.sonicdrivein.com/menu/cone...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monku

                              monk, I appreciate the head's up.

                              We both grew up with Sonic, and at this point are pretty well dialed-in to the menu and what we want.

                              I couldn't agree with you more though; I'm not going anywhere near that coney.