At the Disney parks, the Imagineers regard food like the rides: It’s another way to delight guests, another medium for creativity and storytelling, and another chance to show off their legendary hospitality skills.
Between Disneyland and California Adventure, there are more than 150 menus, offering more than 8,500 food options. Here’s a quick breakdown of the food scene, plus some insider tips and tricks to keep you well fed while you maximize your time at the parks.
Only at Disneyland
One of the best things about Disney parks is the way they’re organized by theme—fantasy, frontier, future, and so on—and how thoroughly those themes carry throughout everything, including the food. From the jambalaya at New Orleans Square’s French Market Restaurant to the Star Wars-inspired fare at Galaxy’s Edge, the menus are as on-theme as the rides. Flo’s V8 Cafe is faithfully reconstructed from Pixar’s Cars movies; Fantasyland’s Red Rose Taverne is straight out of Beauty and the Beast; and at Pixar Pier, you can get an Angry Dog inspired by Inside Out.
The food also stays on-theme when it comes to special events. During California Adventure’s springtime Food & Wine Festival and wintertime Festival of Holidays, visitors get a keepsake “tasting passport,” which gets stamped when you try something such as, say, jalapeño latkes with chipotle crema. The holiday passport is color-coded to encourage you to sample foods served in different cultures at the end of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Navidad. At the Lunar New Year celebration, which spans January and February, Asian-inspired treats—think Mickey-shaped tea tarts and char siu pork bao—shine. Around Halloween, you can load up on limited-time goodies like eerie graveyard cupcakes and Jack Skellington cake pops.
Beyond the themed food offerings, there are treats as distinctively Disney as those mouse-eared hats: Dole whip, churros, massive pickles, meaty turkey legs, hot popcorn, and Mickey-shaped pretzels (of which park goers gobble more than 800,000 a year).