Eating Like a Kid at Disneyland Resort

by Lisa Stiglic, contributing writer

I've always reiterated that I'm a Disneyland foodie. But for some reason, I never passed that gene onto my own two kids. Churros? Meh. Mickey Mouse beignets? Boring. Monte Cristos? Ugh. Give them a Mickey pretzel or slice of cheese pizza and they're good. But, luckily for families with unvaried eaters, Disneyland Resort has myriad options for the smaller family members who might not yet be ready to expand the taste palate.


Most families have learned through trial and error to pack snacks for all outings with kids. The same can be said for a trip to Disneyland Resort. According to Resort rules, outside food is permitted but it is recommended that guests enjoy their meals outside the theme parks. The designated picnic area is near the outdoor lockers to the west side of Disneyland's entrance gates. A reminder with the recent rule changes, no loose or dry ice is permitted in the parks and coolers must be smaller than 24" l x 15" w x 18" h in size.


Fruit cart snack stops are scattered throughout both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks. Guests can purchase fresh and dried fruit, chips, drinks, and even pickles at these locations.

  • Disneyland: Main Street U.S.A. Fruit Cart, Adventureland's Tropical Imports, Critter Country Fruit Cart, Fantasyland Fruit Cart, Frontierland's Ship-to-Shore Fruit Cart, Tomorrowland Fruit Cart and Toon-Up Treats in Toontown.
  • Disney California Adventure: Hollywood Land's Fairfax Market, Fillmore's Taste-In and Mortimer's Market.

Guests can grab an apple at Fairfax Market while on the way to watch Frozen—Live at the Hyperion production. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


Grab-n-go products are almost a necessity when traveling with littles. Disneyland Resort now offers a great treat for stroller guests, available at various locations.

Look for these cheese cracker snacks at Main Street U.S.A.'s Candy Palace and Buena Vista Street's Trolley Treats. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


Somewhere between a snack and a meal, the Power Packs are great way to tide kids over during a long afternoon. The Power Packs include a Dannon smoothie, sliced apples, carrots, small banana, crackers and a choice of low-fat milk or bottle of water. Look for them at select locations in Disneyland Park, including Galactic Grill, The Golden Horseshoe, Harbour Galley, Hungry Bear Cafe, Red Rose Tavern and Stage Door Cafe.


Almost all the quick-service and sit-down dining locations in the resort offer selections for younger guests. Most of the locations will allow any age to order the smaller portions but a few of the sit-down venues, such as Blue Bayou, may need prior notification when making reservations. Menu selections include "Kids' Disney Check Meals", "Kids' Meals", and "Toddler Meals".


These health-based options are available at the majority of the restaurants on property. The concept was introduced at both California and Florida Disney Resorts more than five years ago with the intent to help parents make healthy food choices for kids. The Disney Check Meals overall are lower in saturated fats, sodium and sugar, and are portion controlled.

Examples of the Disney Check Meals include bite-sized pastas dishes served with fruits and vegetables available at Tomorrowland's Alien Pizza Planet and at Disney California Adventure's Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. Look for breakfast options such as American Breakfast or Seasonal Fruit Plate at both Cars Land's Flo's V-8 Cafe and Carnation Cafe in Disneyland. Sit-down locations offer fish or chicken with seasonal vegetables available at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland and Pixar Pier's Lamplight Lounge. And, look for smaller portions of favorite ethnic foods to meet the nutritional guidelines. Stop in at Pacific Wharf while visiting Disney California Adventure for Asian and Mexican cuisines. Lucky Fortune Cookery serves chicken and brown rice for smaller guests, while neighboring Cocina Mexican Grill options include rice bowls and tacos. Frontierland's Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant also dishes up kids' tacos and quesadillas in addition to bean/cheese burritos.

Kids' Disney Check Meal options are designated with the iconic Mickey head as depicted on the menu listing in Red Rose Tavern in Fantasyland. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


General kids' meal options are similar to the Disney Check Meals but the selections may not meet the nutritional guidelines standards. Mini pizzas, macaroni and cheese, and sandwiches are generally the choices for smaller guests.


These bite-sized meals are geared specifically for the three and under crowd. Smaller in portion size and easy to eat, look for these offerings at several sit-down and quick service locations. Most of the meals are served with applesauce and low-fat milk or water.


In addition to menus aimed toward the smaller crowd, some of Disneyland Resort's best eating venues are themed specifically with kids in mind. Step into Toontown to get a taste of food fit for a kid. From Daisy's Diner, which serves pizzas and desserts, to hot dogs at Pluto's Dog House, Toontown is a kids' typical food fantasy.

Across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure, grab the kiddos' hands and head to Cars Land and Pixar Pier. Both areas are themed with favorite Pixar characters, which will keep the younger guests entertained. Cozy Cone Motel offers fun finger foods, including ice cream and pretzels. Plus, Mater and Lightning McQueen make appearances nearby. Pixar Pier is filled with character-themed venues. including Poultry Palace which serves fried chicken drumsticks with dipping sauce. But for the best, head to Jack-Jack's Num-Nums where kids of all ages can choose from a variety of freshly baked cookies. Yum-yum!

Poultry Palace, based on the Pixar short Small Fry, also serves up the iconic turkey leg for larger guests. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


Of course the best option for eating at Disneyland Resort when you have kids in tow is to schedule a meal out with everyone's favorite characters! There is something on the buffet menus for everyone in the party from picky eaters to full-fledged gastronomes, but everyone knows character dining is about the characters anyway. Luckily, families can create magical memories dining with Minnie, Donald and even princesses while enjoy some fabulous fare, too.


Guests can join Minnie and friends for a delicious breakfast buffet at the only character dining experience in Disneyland Park: The Plaza Inn. While savoring Mickey waffles, fresh fruit and omelets, diners can visit with Minnie and her gang as they stop for photos and autographs at each table.


Situated in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Mickey's Tales of Adventure breakfast buffet features Mickey Mouse, who shares his traveling stories with guests. All ages will enjoy typical breakfast foods, including Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit. Make sure to bring those autograph books!


Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure is the newest buffet offered at the Resort. Kids will enjoy an enchanting morning visiting with favorite princess while noshing on a spectacular feast. Enjoy chicken and waffles, fresh fruits and pastries, and a three-tiered tower filled with extravagant eats, including lobster salad crostinis, chia and granola parfait with tropical fruits, and even a banana wrap with berry compote. Save room for dessert, too—tarts, macaroons, and tangy sorbets conclude the meal. Visiting guests will get a souvenir photo with a favorite princess, as well.


Savor both breakfast and dinner at Goofy's Kitchen located at Disneyland Hotel. Strike a pose with the Goof then enjoy a meal interacting with classic Disney characters such as Chip 'N Dale and of course, Goofy! For morning food findings, enjoy the breakfast buffet including peanut butter and jelly pizza. For a limited time, the dinner option celebrates Mickey and Minnie's 90th birthdays with a "Get Your Ears On—A Mickey and Minnie Celebration." Select from various carving stations, salads, and pizzas and a plethora of desserts including celebratory cupcakes (plus you can meet the Big Cheese himself). Happy Birthday Mickey and Minnie!


Hang Ten with Donald Duck at Paradise Pier Hotel. No surfboards necessary, but bring an appetite to Donald Duck's Seaside Breakfast Buffet. Scrumptious fare includes Eggs Benedict, parfait stations, waffles and French toast, and smoked salmon. And, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Donald will make appearances at his Seaside Brunch. In addition to the breakfast items, guests can enjoy pastas, salads, pizzas and desserts. Just be ready when Donald and his quacky friends stop by for a beach visit. Cowabunga Dude!

No need to be a guest at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel to enjoy the character buffet. Call or go online for reservations. Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


No matter the eating preference of smaller guests, Disneyland Resort has plenty of options for every appetite and age. For a smoother trip however, I'd highly recommend making reservations—especially for character dining experiences. Guests can either call directly at (714) 781-DINE, go online to book a date and time, or use the mobile app for updates. Remember, guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance. Happy eating!