Disneyland Resort Spotlight: Disneyland Park – Part 2

August 21, 2017

In the first part of my spotlight on Disneyland Park, you were able to get a brief taste of Walt Disney’s vision for and creation of a magical, family-friendly theme park inspired by his trips to other amusement parks with his daughters. You were also able to discover some of the must-do attractions and read about the new optional add-on to the FASTPASS service, Disney MaxPass.

Photo credit:  Ashley Hunt

Now, in the second portion of my spotlight on Disneyland Park, you will discover the delicious dining options and where to get everyone’s favorite, Dole Whip; some special event information; which characters you can encounter and where to find them throughout the park; and the incredible nighttime spectaculars keeping guests in the park past even the kid-at-heart’s bedtimes. In a nutshell, this portion will serve as a one-stop shop for all of the Disneyland Park information for your planning needs! Let’s begin!

Dining Options

As a guest of Disneyland Park, you certainly won’t go hungry. Whether you want to experience the park’s history through food, cult classics, or newfound favorites, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your palate.

Quick-Service Restaurants

For many, Jolly Holiday Bakery Café offers the best food in Disneyland Park. Guests flock over their coffee beverages and specialty artisan sandwiches. Insider tip: skip the coffee at The Market House and head here instead.

Other great Quick-Service options include Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante for generous portions of classic Mexican dishes, Bengal Barbecue for unique barbecue kebabs, and Plaza Inn for fried chicken (if you can’t get a reservation at Carnation Café).

Table-Service Restaurants

Something guests are not told with regards to Table-Service Restaurants is the necessity to make dining reservations. Though guests can sit down at a restaurant without one, who wants to wait or worse, be turned away? Instead, make the reservation (up to 60 days before the date of your desired dining time) and feel like royalty!

Try, Carnation Café where Walt Disney used to eat regularly. As a result, today, guests can enjoy Walt’s meatloaf and other classic dishes at this old-fashioned piece of Americana. Even the fried chicken here has been known to rival that of Plaza Inn!

Are you a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction? Would you find enjoyment watching the attraction boats float by during your meal? Then, Blue Bayou Restaurant is the place for you! Plus, if you are interested in dinner here and seeing Fantasmic!, you have the opportunity of booking a dinner package, which will also guarantee you a prime viewing spot for the nighttime show.

Insider tip: if you’re interested in New Orleans cuisine, but not the price tag of Blue Bayou Restaurant? Try, Café Orleans for similar food options and have money left over for a Dole Whip (located near the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland) or a churro!

Café Orleans Sign*
Photo credit: Ashley Hunt

*Mickey Ears from MagicalParksBeyond on Etsy.

Special Events

Mickey’s Halloween Party

A happily haunted celebration, Mickey’s Halloween Party, is a separately-ticketed event held annually during September and October. In 2017, guests can experience the event from September 20 to October 31, with ticket prices starting at $95.00 per person for guests ages three and up. Some of the highlights include:

  • A chance to meet, greet, and pose with Disney Villains, Disney Characters in Halloween costumes, and other rare Disney Characters
  • A special fireworks show: Halloween Screams
  • Trick-or-Treating throughout Disneyland Park
  • A parade sure to get guests in the spirit: Frightfully Fun Parade (featuring the ride of the Headless Horseman)
  • Special-themed attractions, including:
    • Haunted Mansion Holiday
    • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Photo credit:  Disneyland Resort

Additionally, guests are encouraged to dress in costume too! Be sure to read the costume guidelines prior to arrival.

Timeless Holiday Fun

One of the biggest draws to Disneyland Park during the holiday season is the abundance of beautiful decorations, lights and other exquisite displays.

Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
Photo credit:  Disneyland Resort

The next favorite is the Christmas Fantasy Parade. If you have watched the Disney Holiday Special on Christmas Day, then you may already be familiar with the pomp and circumstance the parade offers. If not, expect to see your favorite Disney Characters as well as Santa Claus, prancing reindeer, and marching toy soldiers during this holiday celebration as it travels down Main Street, U.S.A. starting in November each year.

Some of the additional highlights include:

  • “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular
  • Holiday-themed attractions:
    • Haunted Mansion Holiday
    • “it’s a small world” Holiday
    • Jingle Cruise
“it’s a small world” Holiday
Photo credit:  Disneyland Resort

Character Experiences

Jack Sparrow. Gaston. Dr. Facilier. Kylo Ren. Mickey Mouse. Mad Hatter. All of these characters are those guests can encounter by happy accident, based upon a schedule, or as a Disney Visa Cardholder. For instance, picture walking around New Orleans Square and see Dr. Facilier walking around with guests one minute, then spotting Jack Sparrow under a tree in front of Café Orleans while enjoying a delicious lunch, and then waiting in line in Mickey’s Toontown to meet Mickey himself. Every guest experience is different and potentially every character encounter as well. Be ready for any character at any moment!

If spontaneity isn’t for you, plan on making a dining reservation at Plaza Inn for the Minnie & Friends Breakfast. Not only can guests meet Minnie herself (and purchase professional pictures with her), but select characters visit each table for pictures and autographs! Some characters may include:

  • Max Goof
  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Tigger
  • The Fairy Godmother
  • Suzy and Perla (from Cinderella)
  • Eeyore
Me and Tigger during the Minnie & Friends Breakfast at Plaza Inn
Photo credit:  Christopher Hunt

Reservations aren’t required as walk-ins are allowed; but, they are especially convenient if you plan to make the most of your day in the park!

Nighttime Spectaculars

As a guest of Disneyland Park, you are able to experience not one, not two, but three nighttime spectaculars! They are:


Beginning July 17, 2017, everyone’s favorite show, Fantasmic!, returned after a lengthy refurbishment to feature an extraordinary new Pirates of the Caribbean scene that includes a cannon shot sure to make the audience jump! The show takes place three times each night in Frontierland at Rivers of America and does have a FASTPASS option. I’m sure that leaves you wondering, “Doesn’t that leave me limited with my other FASTPASS selections?” Not at all. You can have a FASTPASS for both Fantasmic! as well as one other attraction just as you normally would at a time. Just a little pixie dust to make your trip just a bit more magical!

Main Street Electrical Parade

What does a parade, Christmas lights, and a catchy song all have in common? They all make up one of the most popular nighttime parades in Disney history. Not to mention, this parade did a stint in Walt Disney World as well. If you haven’t seen it before, make sure it’s on your must-do list! Insider tip: the absolute best place to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade is off of Main Street, U.S.A., just in front of the Walt and Mickey statue. By standing here, you will be able to quickly move to a front-and-center spot to catch the “Remember…Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular.

“Remember…Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular

Julie Andrews narrates the fireworks display that began as a commemoration of Disneyland Park’s 50th anniversary. The show is a mix of fan-favorite songs from Disney movies and Disneyland Park attractions, pyrotechnics, projection mapping, lasers, and fireworks. Guests can catch this show throughout the Summer, during the Fall and during December. During the latter two times, the fireworks spectacular is themed for Halloween and Christmas respectively. Overall, it is truly a show to not only end your day in the park perfectly, but one that will also leave you saying “hurry back”.

“Remember…Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular
Photo credit: Ashley Hunt

As featured on Fairytale Adventures Travel on August 18, 2017.

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