What's the best food at Disneyland? In this interview, I talk with Sarah Stubbs, a geek eats expert who, with her husband, creates recipes and reviews food at Geeks Who Eat. She talks about the best food at Disneyland, special holiday foods at Christmastime (she just got back from Festival of Holidays at Disneyland) and her all-time favorites.
Sarah visits Disneyland pretty frequently, so she definitely knows her stuff. She mentions specific restaurants and where to find her favorite treats. Watch the video about the best food at Disneyland or scroll down for some highlights.
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Here's a summary of our interview about the most delicious food at Disneyland. Watch the Facebook Live video above to hear more about Sarah's experience at the Festival of Holidays and the full interview.
Disneyland Is Better Than Disney World?
Around 2:20 in the video, Sarah says:
“Here's the thing, Disneyland is more expensive vacation-wise than going to Disney World, but there's something about going to the original Walt's baby… We did Walt Disney World for our honeymoon in 2016 and I, I just… Well, I had a blast and I loved Epcot of all of the other stuff.
“But if you just compare Magic Kingdom to Disneyland, Disneyland is better. Hands down…
“Because it's Walt's original. [Editor's note: My family and I have been watching the Imagineers series on Dinsey+ that is a documentary series about the making of the theme parks and it's frickin' amazing.] Like for me, I'm a purist. I love it because you still feel the magic of Walt. You don't feel that at Disney world…
“And maybe for me it was because I grew up going to Disneyland. So, Disney is like home for me. Like, literally, I cry basically almost every time I go. It's ridiculous.”
Christmas at Disneyland
Around 3:47, Sarah says:
“And there's nothing more magical than Christmas at Disney. Like you see the trees, everything has decorations. Each land has its own [decorations]… New Orleans Square is a little bit more vibrant; Toon Town is a little bit more animated looking… It's not like they throw some tinsel up and call it a day. They keep the storytelling very well in check with it, though.
“Fun fact, if you go to Disneyland and you look for — I think it's the Sherman Bros. door on Main Stree — they actually do have a menorah for Hanukkah and they have a mezuzah… They call the Festival of the Holidays.
“They have food carts, like a food and wine festival. But they also have like activity tables where you could color Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards. They had Kwanzaa activities. They even went as far as to separate out Navidad from Christmas.
“I made a dreidel. I joke that I'm the worst Jew ever because I actually celebrate Christmas more than I celebrate Hanukkah. It's just how I was raised. But I made a dreidel at a table. Does it get much better that? I don't think so.”
Around 12:55 in the video, Sarah says:
“My friend [that she visited Disneyland with] is a vegetarian… So I had to be a little good and a little pickier with what I ate. But we did try some of the stuff at the Festival of Holidays. We tried the vegetarian shepherd's pie… I feel like it could have used a lot more seasoning. The meat substitute was not the issue. That was fine. But just overall the dish could use a little more seasoning.
“However, what we did try there, that was life-changing: stuffing mac and cheese. It was fricking mind-blowing and it was vegetarian 'cause they used vegetable stock, not chicken.
“It was so yummy. And then I had a hot apple cider which had bourbon in it and then they had homemade bourbon marshmallows in it…
“So this bourbon apple cider man, I tell you what. Now I will say, drinks at Disneyland are not cheap. We're talking like a little cup was like $13. Was it worth it? Absolutely.”
“They'll have different kiosks around that park that have different things. Like one of them had adobo pork, one of them was a beer one. They have one that has desserts, there's one that has the vegetarian kind of options… They have a list online. The Disney food blog has a very comprehensive list of what each kiosk will offer.”
Best Disneyland Restaurant
“We did have one, though, at Carthay Circle Restaurant, which is the schmancy restaurant in California Adventure… They change their menu with the seasons. It's not park food that they serve you at a sit-down and it's just, you know what it is, but expensive.
“It's really legit, you know, quality food. And so I had a pumpkin toast, because we did appetizers for lunch. I want to say it was wheat bread, but it had a pumpkin goat cheese on it. And then it had pieces of — I wasn't 100% sure if it was butternut squash or pumpkin, but I think it was pumpkin. It had actual pieces of like little chunks of pumpkin. And then it was topped with arugula, walnuts… Carthay is a little bit expensive, you know, did I pay $18 for toast? Yes I did. Would I do it again? Yep.
“But it's also the place I go for martinis. So if you're a martini drinker, Carthay makes the best martinis, hands down, in the park. Like you're not going to get a better one… They just make them right… Our server actually asked me, do you want it dirty? Do you want it filthy? Or do you want it like L.A. water? When your server pays attention to detail, you know, it shows you the quality of the experience at Carthay. And so it's, it's definitely one of my favorite restaurants. And I always suggest that people go there when you know they go to the parks if they want a nice dining experience.
“Blue Bayou Restaurant is amazing. It's cool. You get to sit on the water of Pirates of the Caribbean. The food is okay; it's just okay. They don't change their menu; it's not seasonal. So, it's not really like it's fine dining in that, yes, you're getting a more upscale food. You're not getting a hamburger. But Carthay is where to go. If you want a nice meal that isn't going to completely break the bank, because you can go a step up and go to Napa [Rose] in the Grand Californian Hotel, which is a five-star restaurant.
Disneyland Christmas Desserts
Around 26:14, Sarah says:
“There's a lot of Christmas desserts going on right now. Like they have the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, which always has a ton of seasonal stuff.
“But the gingerbread cookies are where it's at. The Red Rose Taverne has them and The Grand Floridian hotel has them, but they're cheaper at Red Rose Taverne by about $4, which I don't understand. They are still a $5 cookie, but man, this gingerbread. It's the softest, most luxurious cookie ever. It's so yummy. My friend and I split one and then I bought one and took it home and Matthew and I split one…
“Generally speaking, my favorite dessert is like either a churro, cause I really do love churros. At the Carthay Circle restaurant, they have like this like lemon, blueberry thing. I can't remember. There's a fancy name for it and I can't remember it but it's delicious. But I had for my birthday and I was so happy. Tt was the best… It's just super delicious.”
What's With Dole Whip?
Around 32:16, I asked Sarah why Dole Whip was such a big deal. Does it qualify for the best food at Disneyland? Here's what she says:
“I'm a huge Dole Whip fan. My husband had never had one until our first trip together to Disneyland and he was like, Oh my gosh, you've changed me.”
Connect with Geeks Who Eat
Follow Geeks Who Eat for amazing geek recipes and fun giveaways. And you can always DM Sarah about the best food at Disneyland. Tell her Plus Size Nerd sent ya!