I love food at the best of times but when planning for a Disney holiday there is nothing better than spending hours looking at menus, pictures and other people's trip reports to see what delectable delights will be available for us.
Disneyland California does have a dining plan of sorts but it is available only for people staying on site and offers only convenience of prepaying rather than any actually saving you money. If you are familiar with the vouchers offered at Disneyland Paris it seems very similar to that rather than having dining credits like at Disneyworld. There are also no free dining promotions which are offered regularly to UK visitors to Florida, we had this last November and took full advantage.
Another difference between dining at the two American is the reservation windows. For Disneyland you have the chance to book restaurants only 60 days out which seems nothing compared the famous 180 days out at it's East coast equivalent.
With this trip being on a bit of a budget we have decided to stick mostly to counter service and splurge on just one table service and one character buffet. Having a free breakfast available in our hotel should also help stretch the pennies a bit further.
As always with food and Disney my first port of call was the amazing www.disneyfoodblog.com. The section for Disneyland isn't quite as comprehensive as the one for Florida but there are plenty of articles to whet your appetite and summaries of all the menus. Another great website for food that I have found is www.allears.net as it has full menus including up to date prices. Alternatively if you have subscribed to Touring Plans and have the Lines App for your phone, this has all the menus for the parks and a great option where you can search for particular food items.
For the two more expensive meals I have decided on Carthay Circle and Goofy's Kitchen. Cathay Circle is a beautiful looking restaurant in California Adventure which offers World of Colour dining packages. This involves a 3 course prix fixe lunch ($39) or dinner ($59) including a soft drink. Then at Goofy's Kitchen we have gone for the breakfast buffet, not least because of Mark Petar's recommendation of the Peanut Butter and Jelly pizza at the Minnie Minx meet up in Nottingham. This restaurant is within the Disneyland Hotel and costs $32.99 each.
Counter service options are pretty varied although of course include favourites such as chips (remember to call them fries!), chicken nuggets, burgers and pizzas. I have been really impressed at the veggi options available and also the wide variety of healthy options. I'm pretty excited about the large number of fruit carts that are spread over the two parks. But it is actually the snacks I am most looking forward to! I greatly regret not getting a Jalapeno Cheese Pretzel in WDW so that is definitely on the list along with melted plastic cheese (which I have tried and failed to find in this country!). My plan for eating, other than the Carthay Circle and Goofy's, is to not really have a plan. I have made a spreadsheet (of course) which summarises the general options available at each restaurant, counter and food court with the average prices so that I know what to expect. But I like the idea of being in a park, feeling a bit hungry and deciding there and then where to go. This may all change a week before when I decide that I can't cope with not having it all planned out but we will see. A 'too eat' list is definitely required though! One of the items on my list was the amazing Dole Whip Float but there is bad news about the only location that serves it in the park. The Tiki Juice bar is closed for refurbishment while we are there so I won't be able to have one, gutted!
I also want to visit at least one of the lounges in the Disneyland Hotels and Trader Sam's sounds amazing. This is a lounge based at the Disneyland Hotel and themed as an enchanted tiki bar. The cocktails sound amazing and I have read that ordering certain drinks causes magic things to happen! Hopefully this will make up for the lack of Dole Whips.
Out of the parks there are also many restaurants along Harbour Boulevard, in Garden Grove a short distance away and within the hotels in the surrounding areas. I do have a couple on my list but I don't know how likely it is we will get to them as I'd rather be in the parks! But with both Dennys and Ihop being open 24 hours and a hop skip and a jump from our hotel, if we get hungry at 2am we have nothing to worry about. Even if we don't eat at Denny's I need to get a photo of the sign as I mum's name is Denny (yep, we're Jenni and Denny!).
Something that I often forget about when dining in America is the tax that is added to the bill so I have tried to work this into my budget calculations as well. In Anaheim it is currently 8% but if your calculating it in your head it's probably easier to round up to 10% and then be pleasantly surprised when you get the bill!
Next time- Hollywood baby!