Eating Disneyland

Right, we snuck off to Disneyland. I meant to check in and report from there, but it seems I haven’t yet learned that I don’t get any work done when I go away. Especially when there are just under 48 hours to take in Disneyland with 5 and 8 year old boys. We were too busy having a blast. By the time we maxed out our days and nights and collapsed into bed at 11 or so (midnight our time) there was no way I could keep myself awake to check in here. I tried. I did not succeed.

Besides, this time it was all about paying attention to the boys and not being distracted by my laptop. W has in recent weeks gently but firmly removed it from my lap and closed it in an attempt to get my full and undivided attention. He has begun eye rolling. And growing up. And I’m feeling guilty about not spending as much time having fun as I should before he transforms into a sweaty teenager with dwindling interest in hanging with me. I can see it coming.

I wanted to demonstrate I could be fun too. Mike’s fun. He plays Star Wars and knows all the characters. He plays Lego and doesn’t have to feign enthusiasm. I had fun envy. What better place to get away and play? To be honest, I expected to tolerate Disneyland for the sake of the boys.

I loved it. I really did. It was so much fun. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

My last time in Disneyland I was about 12. We figured at some point as parents it was mandatory to go back. Much of it was just as I remembered, not even crumbling and weathered (like me!). Some were revamped – the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (I loved as a kid) is now the Tarzan Treehouse. I remember climbing it with my mom and dad, and he excitedly pointing out details and referencing the book we had read together. Crazy to be the parent telling the boys not to run on the rope bridge.

I’m not sure how they do it. But Disneyland is not hot and crowded and midway-ish. There’s lots of green, and tons of shade, and not a bit of trash. It’s somehow spotless. We discovered fresh rosemary, sage and thyme growing in neat rows between the rides in Tomorrowland. Although there was no shortage of people, we never had trouble finding somewhere to sit down that was comfortable and shady. And somehow never felt boxed in or crowded. No one was rowdy or loud or obnoxious. How can you be at Disneyland? It’s like reverting back to childhood, and knowing Santa’s watching.

We stayed at the Grand Californian Resort, right at Disneyland park. Which I could not recommend more highly. When there’s so much to see and do, there is nothing like being able to take a break and jump in the pool or have a lie down in the afternoon, when it gets hotter and busier. The two mornings we were there we got up and dressed and were down at the park in about ten minutes. It was cool and empty, and we walked right on to Pirates of the Carribean and Indiana Jones, both of which the boys had been anticipating for weeks. By afternoon we could pop back into the hotel to change or take a load off. After watching the evening shows – World of Color and Fantasmic!

And the food! Not a deep fryer in sight. No deep-fried midway shock food, like deep fried Coke, or Oreos, or Mars Bars. There were fresh fruit carts everywhere. I did not see a chicken nugget, but I did see grilled chicken satay, and kabobs, and interesting grainy salads. For lunch the day I started writing this post we had rice bowls – the boys’ with Teriyaki chicken, ours with spicy Korean beef – both came with fresh pea pods, peppers, bok choy and other veg, with a side of steamed edamame, in their pods, with coarse salt. The times they are a-changin’.

The Stampede could learn a thing about midway food from Disneyland.

Our first dinner was at Napa Rose, in the Californian Resort. Stunning. Truly.

The kids’ menu had prime rib, with real mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Nary a nugget.

It was a gorgeous restaurant, yet being at Disneyland, more than kid friendly. They celebrated kids by offering them their own selection of real food – the same food the grown-ups were enjoying – with white linens and china. I like exposing the boys to this kind of dining experience without feeling like everyone is giving me the eyeball for bringing kids into that sort of a restaurant.

They have an open kitchen, and impressive wine cellar. And an even more impressive breadbasket. I may have missed out on photographing it entirely in my rush to try each type of bread before it was devoured. This -right here? Is what we ate AT DISNEYLAND.

The Asian-style greens with tempura lobster? Never had a salad like it. So working on recreating this somehow. Otherwise I may have to make a pilgrimage back for another.

There were also some fantastic restaurants at Downtown Disney, which reminded me of some idyllic movie-set downtown, impeccably clean, well-lit, warm and breezy, and everyone’s happy. I half expected everyone to know my name. Wait, that’s Cheers.

Back out in Disneyland Proper it wasn’t all fruit stands – there was ice cream (a great parlor, with white moustached gentlemen in red and white striped vests behind the counter) and candy apples and cotton candy, so there great chocolate shops, so there was no missing out on treats. There was a great bakery that sold fantastic coffee, sandwiches and cinnamon buns. There just didn’t seem to be any junk – no deep fryer haze settled over the grounds like a greasy cloud. As W put it: “wow, all your dreams really do come true at Disneyland!”


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11 comments on “Eating Disneyland

  1. Fran
    July 3, 2011 at 5:09 am

    What a great review of your fun getaway. I feel like booking reservations to go — right now!

    Last time I went — about 15 years ago — my boys were young and it did have that worn out feeling, but it still had me kind of giddy since I’d last been there when I was only about 6 years old. Sounds like it’s been updated and I love that you found you can make great food choices. Good to hear you had a great break from your laptop.

  2. Carolyn
    July 3, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Great reveiew. We were at Disney World a few years ago and things must have changed menu wise since then. One meal in particular stands out — the (rip off) character lunch in the castle. My daughter had 3 choices – a hot dog, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets. The adult choices weren’t much better and at a cost of well over $50 per person we felt like we had been had. I know it’s about the experience (and recreating our childhood memories), but it was disappointing for everyone.

  3. Kalyn
    July 3, 2011 at 7:41 am

    So glad you had such a great time, and fun seeing a shot of Willem “enjoying” the fancy food!

  4. Erica B.
    July 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

    The last time I was at Disney I was 10ish and aside from the awe at all the characters and rides I remember being surprised at how clean it was compared to the carnival that came to town every summer.

    B has grown up! 🙂 Glad to see good food options right in the park too–T & I have been mulling over taking the kids sometime soon.

  5. Anita
    July 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I too, was delighted by the food in Disneyland when I was there for the first time last year. My favourites: Pomme Frites at Cafe Orleans, the gigantic pickles, Mint Juleps, the beignets, and family-size pizza at some pizza place in Downtown Disney. Brilliant.

    • JulieVR
      July 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Yes, the pickles! I forgot about the pickles!!

  6. Shawna H
    July 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Last year we did Walt Disney World, and the food was unbelievable, I cant wait to go back. I or my husband never had the disney experience as kids but it is a really gourmet experience. I hope to go back when they have the Epcot Food and wine Festival.

  7. lovetocook
    July 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Was Jamie Oliver there just before you? What a concept- get them in with the attractions, then offer them real food. We too stayed (many years ago) on site at the then Disneyland Hotel; not a minute wasted getting to and fro. They even had baby sitting on New Years Eve. How old is too old for Disneyland?

  8. Vivian
    July 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Never too old!

  9. Vincci
    July 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Wow. Sounds like a fun trip! I haven’t been to Disneyland in *years* – glad to hear it’s a little more “grown up” friendly!

  10. Camille
    July 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    What a fun review! We *love* Disneyland. 🙂

    Many blessings,

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