Dining Tips

I love love love eating in the park. There is nothing like a Disneyland churro, sharing a turkey leg, or relaxing on the patio with a monte cristo.

We like to set a budget for our daily eating so we keep our trip affordable. $50 a day for teens and adults seem to work out best for us. About half that works for younger children. Your needs may be higher or lower.

Here is some of what we do to stay within a budget.

When staying at an area hotel, utilize those free continental breakfasts. A juice and a danish is great for starting out the day and holding back hunger until lunch time. If your hotel does not offer free breakfast, pick up an apple or other fruit in the Disneyland park. You can also visit the local grocery store and pick up granola bars.

Eating light can really help when it comes to lunch. The busiest times to eat lunch are between 12p-3p. Having that light breakfast will allow you to eat an early lunch around 11a and help avoid that rush. We like to share a turkey leg and a large soda. No point in purchasing everyone a large drink since you have to make sure it is gone before you hit the next ride. Besides, it fills us up and can make those longer lines torture as you do the potty dance. We purchase a bottle of water in the beginning of the day and refill as needed so we also keep that soda cost down. You can often find us ordering off the kids menu at the various quick service locations. I love the chicken nugget meal at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Plus it comes with a juice box. If we decide to have soda instead, we buy a large to share and save our juice box for later.

The Bengal BBQ is a great place to have a light lunch. Grab a skewer or 2 and you are set. The jalapeno cheese pretzel is sooo good. Not spicy for those concerned. I can't do spicy and I can eat these. They make a great snack too but we share one when we order skewers too.

When dining at the Orleans Cafe we tend to share dishes. A cup of gumbo and a monte cristo is just the ticket for a reasonable lunch. When we do have our own lunches, we don't usually finish. Having a ziplock baggie in our backpack comes in handy to take along half a sandwich and the fruit to snack on later in the day. Don't forget to order that special juice for the kids (adults can order one too). You can receive a light up Tinkerbell or Buzz Lightyear to show off after the sun goes down.

Dinner time is where we tend to splurge. We do our best to make this a late lunch or early dinner and eat about 4p.Taking in some BBQ at Big Thunder Ranch. It is all you can eat and very tasty. The experience is so much fun. You can eat things like bbq ribs, bbq chicken, cornbread, baked beans. All served family style in buckets and you get jars for glasses. So grab your hats and bring an empty stomach. You will need reservations to make sure to call well in advanced.

You can also hop on the monorail and head on over to Goofy's Kitchen for some character dining. I LOVE Goofy's Kitchen! There is nothing like it. The energy is pumped, the food is fantastic, and getting that personal time with the characters is amazing. One of my fondest memories of Disneyland is at Goofy's Kitchen. When my son was 7 we visited Goofy's Kitchen for the very first time. He walked in wearing his pirate gear and talking with goofy when all the sudden Captain Hook comes strolling by to start trouble. Well my son and goofy was not about to let that happen so my son drew his sword, goofy grabbed the sheath, and a sword fight began. Priceless! (If I have the picture handy I would share with you but not sure where it is hiding). Goofy's Kitchen also requires reservations so please make those in advanced.

This next trip we will be doing something we have never done. Eat at the Blue Bayou. You can even share a plate. Now it does state it will cost an additional $12 to share but everyone who has ever done this has never been charged. When I was little I remember the smell of spaghetti as we floated by on our journey through the pirate world. They no longer serve spaghetti but that doesn't erase the memory.A tip everyone offers us is arrive early for your reservation and request a table near the water. You cannot ask for this at the time of your reservation (called Disney dining to confirm and they are correct) but you can before your meal. This can add additional time to your reservation as you await a table to clear so be prepared for this.,

Cocina Cucamonga Grill in Disney's California Adventure is a favorite of ours. You get a filling meal for a great price. Again we tend to share these but it does make a great dinner. One of my husbands favorite park about dining in DCA is you have the option of an alcoholic beverage.

Want to eat outside of Disneyland? Take a stroll in Downtown Disney for more great dining options. ESPN Zone is fun for everyone! Games upstairs and good food downstairs. Rainforest Cafe is also fun. The atmosphere is fantastic. There is so much to see. Don't forget to stop in their shop afterward for a gift or 2.

One dining option we use at least twice during our Disneyland trips is a visit to In n Out burger. I grew up on these and can never get enough when in California. It is a couple miles away from the resort so if you do not have a vehicle to use this may not work in your favor. If you do have a vehicle, make a visit. This is a treat for us and helps keep that budget down so we can splurge on other days.

There is also great options all around the park. To save a few extra dollars go to the Entertainment Book website and order an area book for discounts You can even look at some of the coupons available to see if this is a good option for you. Me personally I don't use this because we do so much in the park eating or eating outside the area its just not an option for us. I know many who do use this and it works great for them.

When it comes to snacking:

In Disneyland they have a great chocolate chip cookie. They even won an award for this cookie. Grab one to share.

Mint juleps (non-alcoholic) and fritters make a great late night snack. Find these at the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square.

Who doesn't love candy apples? Grabbing a Mickey or Minnie candy apple to share is a great treat. One is enough for 4 people to share.

And my all-time favorite snack/treat is a Dole whip float. That creamy pineapple soft serve and that sweet juice. You can only get this treat in Disneyland so it is truly a special treat. Enjoy one while waiting for the next show at the Tiki Room (tip: whenever ordering from the Tiki Bar always go into the waiting area for the Tiki Room. There is almost never a line when they outside is usually a long one)

Visit TheMouseForLess and you can view the various menus across the Disneyland resort. Not only can you see a menu of a restaurant you have been wanting to try but you can view prices. Print these out and share with your family when planning your next Disneyland trip.

Remember almost all restaurants on the Disneyland resort property require reservations. You can call up to 60 days prior to your trip.

(714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463   

Use those phone features to store this number for last minute reservations (sometimes you can get same day seating at your favorite restaurant). Also use that calendar to store your reservations and receive alerts when your reservation time is near. I set mine for 60 minutes prior so we can get through those lines or begin making our way towards the restaurant.

*Pictures are property of Olivia's Disney Adventures and are not to be reproduced or distributed without permission of Olivia's Disney Adventures


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