By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy
Happy 60th birthday Disneyland!
Yes, 60 years ago on July 17, Walt Disney welcomed the first visitors to his Magic Kingdom, dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Walt knew that to keep people happy he had to do more than provide fun rides and attractions; he had to please people’s palates, too.
Everything from fine dining to grab-and-go carts are available throughout the park. Like everyone, we have our favorites, including some out-of-the-way places that many visitors pass by.
So, in honor of Disneyland’s 60th birthday, we offer an overview of our preferred Disneyland dining spots.
Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square: Reminiscent of dining in New Orleans, the Blue Bayou restaurant is probably the most popular dining spot in Disneyland, and for good reason. The dining area overlooks the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride so you can wave to passengers, it has an authentic ambiance, and really does have some good food (with prices that are then highest of any restaurant in Disneyland—other than the private Club 33). Last time here, we split the jambalaya ($35) which came with a tasty gumbo.
“The jambalaya was great, especially if you like a little Cajun spice,” said Catherine. “It had
a great combination of juicy shrimp, sustainable fish, Tasso ham, Andouille sausage and chicken mixed with Cajun-style rice.”
While waiting for your table, Catherine noted that diners can browse through the surrounding shops.
Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Frontierland: Christopher loves this all you can eat family-style feast that runs around $25 per person. Diners sit at rows of picnic tables and enjoy western music performers while dining on barbecue chicken, ribs, coleslaw, ranch beans and corn bread (smoked sausages and corn on the cob are added at dinner). Vegetarian options include potatoes, squash, bell peppers, mushrooms and tofu. Dessert is available at an additional cost, but after all the food, you probably won’t have room.
Café Orleans and French Market: The first features table service, the other is self-serve, but both offer Disney’s version of New Orleans cuisine. We prefer the self-serve, so we can grab a table near the bandstand (assuming one of the many Disneyland jazz ensembles is performing).
Carnation Café on Main Street: a great spot for a waiter-served breakfast. Watch guests stroll down Main Street as you enjoy apple-granola pancakes ($10.49), a Mickey-shaped waffle ($10.99) and other breakfast favorites.
Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country: They serve the basic burgers and fries menu, but the restaurant is usually not as busy as most in the park and has a lot of outdoor seating, making this a good choice if you’re in a hurry.
Plaza Inn on Main Street: One of the original landmarks of Disneyland Park, this was reportedly one of Walt’s favorite places to dine. Formerly known as the Red Wagon Inn, the Disneyland website notes that the restaurant once had a VIP lounge, wet bar and private bathroom for Walt’s special guests, and “smartly jacketed doormen greeted diners at the entrance.” According to Disneyland, Walt’s wife, Lilllian, handpicked many of the restaurant’s authentic 19th-century interior furnishings herself, including its Victorian stained-glass ceiling, marble foyer and ornate gingerbread woodwork, all salvaged from an old home in Los Angeles’ historic St. James Park neighborhood.
Famous for its platter of chicken served with mashed potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit, Plaza Inn also offers slow-roasted beef pot roast and penne pasta. You can also sign up for “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park,” an all-you-care-to-enjoy feast featuring visits from various Disney characters.
Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland: Catherine loves her pizza, so it’s no surprise she loves Pizza Port. A variety of salads and pastas are available, as is pizza by the slice. The restaurant is usually a great option for those in a hurry, and there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
River Belle Terrace in Frontierland: Open for breakfast and lunch, it’s the best place in the park to get the famous mickey Mouse pancakes, plus other breakfast items. Plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the Rivers of America. This is another Disneyland original, and a favorite breakfast spot of Walt’s.
Tomorrowland Terrace: A longtime favorite spot for burgers and fries, next to the bandstand where live music is featured nightly.
For a complete list off Disneyland restaurants and menus, and to make reservations at select Disney restaurants, visit disneyland.disney.go.com/dining.