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Travel Tips
Disneyland: Eating Out On the Cheap
January 14, 2014
Author: Jennifer Dunyon
15 Comments


Dining is a highlight for my family at the Disneyland Resort. There are so many tasty treats throughout the Disneyland Resort. We also love staying at a Disney hotel for a completely magical vacation, and that means eating at the Disneyland Resort during our entire vacation. As a family of six, we've learned how to eat our favorite treats without breaking the bank. I'd love to share a few of my tips and some of our favorite meals.



First of all, we always share meals. The Disneyland Resort does everything all out - and that includes portion sizes. In fact, the portions are so large, that most single meals allow two adults to eat comfortably. Normally, two or three entrees will feed our family of two adults and four kids ages 2-11. And speaking of kids, we also skip the kids meals, which are smaller portion sizes.

Another option, however, is to eat smaller portions more often and snack throughout the day. Not only does this help our wallet, but no one wants to ride a roller coaster or the Tea Cups after a huge meal! By eating smaller meals and snacks more often, it keeps our spirits and energy up. Also, this allows us to not miss out on any of our favorite Disney treats  - and we have many!

As far as restaurants and snacks go, here are some of our favorites:

Breakfast:

Jamba Juice - We love starting our day with oatmeal and a smoothie from Jamba Juice in Downtown Disney. It's affordable, healthy and delicious!

Churros - These crispy, sugar/cinnamon treats are found in carts throughout the parks, are under $5 a piece, and actually make a great, quick breakfast!

Jazz Kitchen Express - Most of the sit down restaurants in Downtown Disney have a cheaper, quick-service option located next door. You can get a family sized bag of 10 fresh beignets for $10. They come in a paper bag that you can shake to coat in powdered sugar - they're a hit with my kids!


Image Credit: ©Disney

Whitewater Café - This convenient quick service location is located inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and allows you to purchase some groceries (at affordable prices) and is a great quick breakfast option while you’re standing in line for early entry into Disney California Adventure Park.

Snacks: (We are seriously disappointed if we don’t get to eat all of our favorite treats while visiting the Disneyland Resort.)

Ghiradelli’s Fountain - We were thrilled when this opened in Disney California Adventure Park. This now allows us to experience our favorite San Francisco treat right after riding our favorite attraction, Radiator Springs Racers. Each person gets a free square of chocolate and then we share a sundae or two!

 

 

Boudin Bakery - We also love to get a free sample of the famous sourdough bread at The Bakery Tour. Sometimes we'll share a breadbowl or sandwich at the nearby Pacific Wharf Cafe.


Dole Factory - There’s nothing as refreshing as a Dole Whip. This tasty treat is found right outside of the Tiki Room at Disneyland Park. You can even bring your Dole Whip into the Tiki Room.

Cozy Cone Motel - We love all the food in Cars Land, especially the Chili "Cone" Queso and the Flavored Popcorn. Each cone offers a different treat, so be sure you're in line at the right cone!

Corn on the Cob - This can be found at numerous food carts. It is delicious and a healthier alternative to the above mentioned treats and is simply delicious.

Turkey Legs - It's hard to imagine a trip to Disneyland without a turkey leg from a food cart. The giant turkey legs are a little messy, but fun to eat and a great source of protein.


Image Credit: Disney Foods Blog

Lunch/Dinner:

Redd Rocket's Pizza Port - This Tomorrowland location serves large portions of yummy Italian food. Our family will share a pasta dish and each get our own breadstick. It's a great way to share and each feel full.

Earl of Sandwich - This is our new favorite place to eat lunch and dinner. We typically eat there 2-3 times a trip. It’s conveniently located outside the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney and is a great lunch to bring back while you’re swimming at the pool. Also, it's about the cost of eating at Subway back home and the sandwiches are unique and memorable. You can even order a Turkey Dinner (Holiday Turkey Sandwich) on a sandwich and surprisingly, it’s delicious.

Tortilla Jo's Taqueria - This is another Downtown Disney express location that is super tasty and about half of the price of the sit down restaurant, Tortilla Jo's. We love their nachos, tacos and burritos.

Bengal Barbecue - Speaking of a good source of protein, Bengal Barbacue, located nearby the Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland, serves tasty meat skewers for about $4. They also have large breadsticks and fresh fruit - a perfect lunch.


Image Credit: The Mac and Cheese Chronicles

Flo’s V8 Cafe - This 1950 style diner is located in the heart of Cars Land. They serve home cooked meals in large portions. Plus, it’s just fun to hang out in Cars Land!

Napa Rose - This is one of the best restaurants in Southern California located inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. To save money here, my husband and I typically eat in the lounge off the appetizer and dessert menu. It gives you a great taste of the cuisine, but allows you to not overspend. We typically will do that at Carthay Circle Restaurant also. Their lounge downstairs is beautiful, relaxing and has a delicious menu.

On another note, of my favorite splurges is doing a Disney Character Dining Brunch! It's not cheap per se, but it's such a great value and we always make such great memories. Plus, we always reserve a between breakfast and lunch time and call it brunch, which covers two meals times. We love getting one-on-one time with the Characters and using our time inside the parks riding rides instead of waiting in line to meet the characters. We rotate between the Character Dining experiences so we hit a different one each time we go and my kids have loved all five of them - Goofy's Kitchen (at the Disneyland Hotel), Surf's Up with Mickey Breakfast (at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel), Chip -n- Dale's Critter Breakfast (Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa), Breakfast with Minnie & Friends (Disneyland) and Ariel's Princess Celebration (Disney California Adventure Park). We always get our tickets ahead of time through Get Away Today, so it's a discount off the regular price and already includes tax and gratuity. It's so worth it!



I hope these tips and our best price guarantee Disneyland tickets make your trip and savings a little sweeter! Leave a comment with your favorite place to eat at the Disneyland Resort. If you have a savings tip, leave that too! Remember, book any of our Disneyland packages online or by calling our agents at 855-GET-AWAY!

 


Check out these other great articles:

Cooking on Vacation: 3 Cheap and Easy Meals
Vacation Snacks: Buy Before You Go and Save
7 Ways to Save Money for Vacation

 

 

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15 Comments

KMO- You're welcome! Thanks so much for visiting out blog for ideas.


Thanks for the article! Will try out a lot of the places you mentioned, we have gone many times with our 5 kids!


I love Disneyland. The food is fabulous, but can be expensive. [$10 for a turkey leg] The secret is sharing. and planning ahead. I have taken children and adults to DL/CA The fun is being able to try the different types of food, but not breaking the bank. Some helpful hints... [1] We always buy a loaf of sour dough bread in CA, and have it to snack on, with PBJ, or meat spreads, that we bring with us. We also buy a turkey leg and share it. {I think its the novelty of eating a turkey leg, more than the desire for eating a turkey leg}. You can also make mini turkey sandwiches with the bread. [2] We splurge on a funnel cake one evening, as a special treat. they are big enough for two.
[3] we always get a soup bowl to share, while waiting for fantasmic, you can always bring a small thermos with soup in it , to add to your bread bowl. you always run out of soup before the bread is gone. So we top off and finish the bread. The object is to plan ahead. I let the little ones {and even the big ones} know that when we purchase food we will be sharing. I have found even when we plan and bring food we don't always eat it, Everyone seams to graze on snacks all day. So we eat a healthy Breakfast at the hotel and the we pack health snacks, to graze on all day. I pack flavored milk, frozen bottled water. and juices, fruit, veggies and dip. this can all be eaten in line and the kids are happy. We do plan one special family meal each trip, which we budget for, in advance. Character dinning or Restaurant. Find what you like, and plan on it. I hope this helps. see you on the Mouse side.


thank you for these tips, which may or may not fit everyones' budgets...i appreciate Disneys' efforts to help families working with less money to still have a wonderful trip! In 2004 we "layawayed", sorry if thats not a word, our Disney trip and were working with a tiny budget...we managed to take our 3 children 11, 10 and 8 to Disneyland for 5 days on $900, including the hotel stay...we drove our own car and spent about $175 on gas, we used an electric skillet in our hotel room and ate alot of top ramen and rice a roni, we also packed granola bars and crackers in our fanny packs for snacking on, we did treat ourselves to a frozen banana in adventure land and ate at the new orleans cafe one lunch, but food was not what we traveled for and was not important to us, we had a fantastic trip and spent less than $1500 including tix, hotel, gas/travel and food...we came back over the Oregon border with $40 and a half eaten little ceasars $5 pizza and we could not have been happier!


i like the look of the ice cream


We hit the park before breakfast time and I'm a HUGE fan of the in-park Starbucks for breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Quick, under $4 each and a healthier option than a churro (sorry). I also really like Bengal BBQ for eats! We just ate there today and was pleasantly surprised by the value and taste!


I agree that these are expensive options. Goodness, we buy a slice of bread and slather them with the free peanut butter and jam at some locations. Now that's inexpensive!


Hope everything was as magical as it should have been.


Haven't been yet. We will eat on the cheap and have one Disney character breakfast. Then one nice dinner. Will post exactly how much it cost over our 3 days.


We ate dinner at House of Blues in Downtown Disney on our last trip. My husband, myself, 2 teenage boys and a one year old. Even with 2 adult beverages our bill was less than $60 and some of the best pasta I've had. Good deals are to be had if you do your research before you go.


Anonymous, we totally understand what you are saying and eating out exclusively in the parks is definitely not the most economical way to eat during your vacation. But, if you are going to do that, we've found these to be some of the less pricey options. We also have put together some articles on good snacks to bring with you and even some fun ways to cook in your hotel room. We hope you'll check them out in the links underneath the article and before the comments. :)


This is not a way to eat cheap at all. If you buy snacks, lunch, and dinner all there at the park, it's going to get expensive no matter where you go or what you get. Tasty food mentioned but way too pricey nonetheless.


Can't beat mint juleps from Mint Julep Bar Snacks and chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square while watching Fantasmic!


Whitewater Snacks, not Whitewater Cafe. The soft drinks are refillable. I go there when playing in the parks. The pork shank from Outdoor Vending is good.
Little Red Wagon in Disneyland for corndogs. Don't forget to show your AAA card at Earl of Sandwich for a 15% discount. This is a higher discount than they give Cast Members!


Love eating at Disneyland but we usually eat breakfast in our hotel or condo. Places are not open early and there is a limited amount of protein in the options. My grandkids run on protein not carbs and sugar. Helps to prevent the mid-morning melt downs so many children have especially at Disneyland


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