Are you headed to Disneyland but not sure where to find those signature Disney dining experiences that memories are made of? Let's take a look at four unforgettable dining experiences in the Disneyland California parks and Downtown Disney that may suit a range of budgets, interests, and age ranges.
Blue Bayou - Disneyland Park $$ - $$$
You are in Disneyland park; but, you are also inside of a ride; but, at the same time, you are dining alfresco under the night sky of New Orleans. How is that even possible you ask? Well, that my friends is the magic of Disney and the reason why the Blue Bayou is my favorite Disneyland dining experience. I often read reviews of guests who are of two minds on the food; most agree that it is well above average, but wonder if it is worth the cost.
The price tag associated with the Blue Bayou isn't cheap, but, if you commit to appreciating all its elements rather than just what arrives on your plate, you will begin to understand what makes this place unique. The details in the setting, the ambiance of lighting, the subtle boats drifting by drawing you into the Pirates of the Carribean attraction, it's all part of the enjoyment. The food alone is always excellent, and if you take advantage of the set menu for the Fantasmic! Dining Package, it stretches that value even further.
If you're planning on doing the Fantasmic! dining package, be sure to book early for first showtime priority.
Photo Credit: Disneyland Website
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen - Downtown Disney $$
This New Orleans inspired restaurant is situated in the heart of Downtown Disney, making it the perfect end to one of your Disney down days outside of the parks. Once inside, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen transports back to your long-lost Louisianan roots where you will find fantastic food, a lively atmosphere, and incredible entertainment as talented special guests take to the mic and piano, for an evening of enjoyment.
With great music and great cocktails usually comes a less-than kid-friendly atmosphere; however, at the Jazz Kitchen, Disney magic steps in and allows families to enjoy this energetic social scene without restrictions. They even feature a fantastic little children's menu with appetizer, entree, and side for $9.95 + tax.
If you still have room after your gumbo, jambalaya, or, in my case, blackened salmon, there is only one correct dessert you should be ordering. What else but beignets?
I like to make my reservations as soon as possible, however I have also snagged a great table here at the last minute as well. If anyone in your party struggles with loud music, ask to be seated further away from the action.
Photo Credit: Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen - Website
Carthay Circle - California Adventure $$$
Over the way in Disney California Adventure park, old-world Hollywood meets modern-day Disney at Carthay Circle. Whether you are having a few cocktails at the bar or indulging in a three-course dinner upstairs, this Disney dining experience will take you back to the golden age of Southern Californian charm.
The cuisine in this restaurant is a little more refined than what you may find elsewhere featuring innovative dishes full of fresh locally-sourced ingredients. It even has a cute up-scale kids menu to match.
If you are looking for an opportunity to enjoy the parks with a glimpse of glam from Walt Disney's day, then this is the date-night reservation for you.
Again, if you are planning on taking advantage of the World of Color dining package, book this one early on to select which corresponding time slot you would like to attend.
Flo's V8 Cafe - California Adventure $
This one might seem a little plain compared to the others. It's a quick service location, and isn't very fancy or expensive. You might be wondering how it made the cut. Well, it's simple. How often do you get to eat in an authentic environment from the middle of a Disney movie? Never. If you have little ones with you who are familiar with the Cars movies, then this one is a must.
Take a seat inside and enjoy the retro diner decor or sit outside in the heart of Radiator Springs, where you might even catch Lightning McQueen or Mater rolling by. The food here is fun, but the allure is surely the atmosphere.
No booking needed, Flo's V8 Cafe usually has a vacant table sitting there waiting for you. It always serves as a great place to grab a drink while waiting for your Radiator Springs Racers FastPass to come around.
Disneyland doesn't have quite as many restaurant options as Walt Disney World, mostly due to the size of the property, however, if you feel like venturing further out to the Disney Resort hotels or the local Anaheim area for a break from the Disney life, the options might surprise you. But that is an article for another time.
Till next time, Disney Diners! Don't forget to share your best kept Disneyland dining secrets below.