Disneyland: What to Know About Dining

Rachel has another installment today in our  series all about Disneyland. Today she shares what to know about dining.  🙂

Blue Bayou Restaurantphoto via http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenjavier/3367654802/

Dining at the Disneyland Resort works a little differently than at Walt Disney World. They do have the amazing food and snacks we love at Disney, but the reservations system and dining plan works a little differently. Advanced reservations are accepted only sixty days in advance, and can only be made by phone. I don’t care for that part—I prefer to make my reservations online, and modify them, etc, without making a phone call.

Only select restaurants at DisneyLand offer advanced reservations. Reservations are available for the character meals, three of which are the Disney hotels. For park dining, only Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, Blue Bayou, Café Orleans, Carnation Café, Plaza Inn, and Wine Country Trattoria accept reservations. You can also reserve a World of Color picnic meal in advance, which includes front row seating for this spectacular nighttime show.

There are five character meals. The Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & friends is served at the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier hotel. A character dinner is available at PCH grill. Goofy’s Kitchen offers an all you can eat buffet at the Disneyland hotel with Chef Goofy and pals. Character breakfasts are also available at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland park and at Storyteller’s Café at the Grand Californian. If it’s princesses you want to dine with, breakfast and lunch are available at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure Park.

The Dine in the Magic Meal plan also works a little differently than the meal plans at Walt Disney World. You can purchase a Dine in the Magic plan even if not booked at a Disney hotel at Disneyland. There is no quick service versus deluxe decision to make. Dine in the Magic includes one character dining meal, a snack voucher, and a $15 dining certificate per person, per day. I priced a 4 day plan which included three character meals, one premium character meal, four snack voucher and four $15 dining vouchers and the cost was $215 for an adult, or about $53.75 per day. We easily spent more than that without the dining plan and never did a table service or character meal. If I had known we could book the plan while staying off-property we definitely would have.

But, we did not plan our meals in advance as I had done for our WDW trip. This was more of a fly by the seat of our pants adventure. We would just stop wherever we were in the parks and find something that looked good on the map near us when we got hungry, or the kids melted down. Most of the time, this worked out fine for us. Only once were we disappointed. In the Paradise Pier area at DCA, our options were limited to pizza, pasta, and corn dogs. The kids had pizza, mom and dad had corn dogs. We did have more options in the Golden State area later that evening—Mexican, Chinese, and soups.

I learned my lesson with dining. While I liked not having to plan my day around dinner reservations, the dining plan can save you money and having a character meal is so much fun with the kids. We’ll definitely look at Dine in the Magic for our next trip to Disneyland!

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 Rachel is a Virginia native who now lives in Louisiana. She is married with two children, ages 5 and 3. After dreaming and wishing for several years, her family had their very first Disney vacations this year and are now addicted to researching and planning—whether for themselves or for others. They now plan to visit the parks at least once a year.

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