Five Tips on Saving Money in Disney Parks

Going to Disney on a budget is one of the more popular topics in the Disney blogosphere.  With the daunting ticket and booking prices of a Disney vacation, many people are wondering how to save a few bucks along the way.  There are many ways to do that and frankly some of those ways are very easy while in the planning stage. (Look for hotel discounts, be flexible with your travel dates, etc.)  While I plan to write a post on that in the future, I wanted to write about a few more specific ways to save today.

Plaza Inn night

Once your vacation is booked and you’ve bought your Disney Park tickets, it seems as if the spending should be over.  Unfortunately, that isn’t true.  There is food, souvenirs, drinks, and add-on options to buy once in the parks.  While you could decide to be ridiculously frugal and choose not to buy anything but you’ll get extremely hungry while walking past the Little Red Wagon and their wonderful corn dogs.  Also, eating McDonald’s cheeseburgers every day gets extremely dangerous once the second day hits. (Okay, more like on the first day.)  Not spending any money in the parks is not my idea of a fun vacation, still we try to save where we can when we are on a Disney trip.  Here are five tips we use to save money once inside those Disney gates.

Budget for food and souvenirs

The first step to saving once inside a Disney Park is knowing exactly how much money you and your family has to spend.  This is part of the planning process of going to Disney for Melissa and I.  A few days or weeks before the trip we sit down and figure out how much money we have to spend in the parks for that trip.  Once we have a total, we’ll divide it up into souvenir and food budgets depending on our priorities.  I’m a bigger fan of food so most of my budget tends to go to that while someone might rather buy a few more souvenirs and not spend as much money on food.  Typically, we’ll have a budget for souvenirs spanning the whole trip and then a daily food budget.  We’ll add in the meals that we know will cost a little bit more and adjust the budget accordingly.

If you follow your budget then there are no surprises and you’re able to spend the money you want to.  This also might be interesting for kids to do with you, assuming they are old enough.

Ghirardelli

Be familiar with menus

When park guests are tired, hot, and hungry they often go to the first place dining place they see.  Obviously, this isn’t the best idea as they won’t know what’s on the menu or how much it costs.  That’s why I encourage people to look at menus ahead of time on your trip and have some idea of either the restaurants you want to eat at or the food that you’ll be buying.  Spending $10 for bad pizza is not fun.  Spending $10 for a meal that you enjoy is more in line with the value you’ll get in the real world.  While you didn’t technically save money there (since they’re both $10) you had a better experience.  Being familiar with menus at different dining locations ahead of time will make following your budget easier.  It will also make you the ‘cool Disney expert’ in your group when everyone else is trying to figure out what food that restaurant serves.  Or they’ll just make fun of you for what they perceive as ‘useless information’.  At least that’s what I’ve heard happens…

Cafe Orleans Mickey Beignets

Buy Disney Gift Cards Ahead of Time

We often buy Disney gift cards about once a month in the time leading up to our next trip.  This helps us save in a couple of ways, it spreads out some of that money that we use for our budget that I mentioned above.  Doing this also helps you save outside of the Disney Parks, at least a little bit.  If you have a Target credit card, then you get a 5% in store discount.  That makes buying gift cards cheaper than what you’re actually spending.  Other stores often offer rewards when buying gift cards like saving money on gas or upcoming visits.  While this isn’t a huge money saver, it does help a little bit and will make planning your budget easier.

Grand Flo

Don’t buy water

But, what if I’m thirsty?  Well, then go up to any counter-service restaurant and ask for a glass of ice water.  They’ll give it to you for free and then you move on with your day.  I understand that some people are not fans of tap-water.  While I don’t have much problem with the water at Disney Parks, if you must have bottled water do not buy it in the parks.  It is way more expensive than bringing your own into the park (which you can do if the seal isn’t broken.)

While this doesn’t appear to be a big money-saver.  If you’re buying a couple of bottles of water a day at the parks over 3 or 4 days then that’s $30-$40 down the drain that could have gone elsewhere.

Water DL

Check online (and at other stores) before buying souvenirs

We typically buy our souvenirs on the last day in the parks.  You know, to help ease the pain?  We do shop a little before that last day though and are pretty sure of what souvenirs we plan to buy.  Before buying them, we will check online to see if they are significantly cheaper elsewhere.  While I know that this somewhat ruins the point of souvenirs, it does save some money along the way.  I could have just retitled this post ‘Make Sure You Don’t Get Ripped Off’ because that’s what many of these steps are referring to.  This is the one tip out of these five that I’m least likely to follow but if you travel to Disney Parks fairly often then getting the same souvenir online for $10 less shouldn’t be a big deal.  Also, most of the items in the park stores (or World of Disney) are found on the Disney website so if you want to get home and compare costs before buying something then you should still be able to find that souvenir online.  Make sure you check that it is online before heading home from your vacation though.

Be on the lookout for cheap souvenir options, as well!

Be on the lookout for cheap souvenir options, as well!

There are certainly more tips to be had!  For instance, if Disney food doesn’t excite you (it should) or you are on a strict budget then pack a lunch or dinner to bring into the parks.  There aren’t very many restrictions on food.  If you have any great tips for saving money once inside a Disney theme park, let me know in the comments!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (2/23/16)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answer.  Please leave your answer to the weekly question in the comments below!

dwarfs

Question of the Week: Long ago we debated on whether a Star Wars Land should replace Toontown in Disneyland. Since that’s come and gone, a new rumor I’ve seen is Toontown being on the way out in favor of an expanded Fantasyland. Would you be more in favor of this change?

Leslie – ToonTown holds a special place in my heart. That is where Mickey and Minnie live. That being said as someone who does not like Storybook Circus it really depends on what they would do with the space. Last time they phased out a ToonTown it resulted in a circus coming to town which is all well and cute but leaves much to be desired. They would need to do something spectacular with the space and most importantly need to relocate Mickey and Minnie’s houses.

Miss Daisy Boat ToonTown

Melissa L. – I’d be all for that! Fantasyland had always been my favorite and I’m always more in favor of princess themed attractions or classic stories! My only thing would be that I wouldn’t want them to repeat the fantasyland expansion they did in Disney World. I would want them to do something new and exciting!

Andrew – I too would be all for this. Even with thinking New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park is a moderate success, I believe it’d be a huge upgrade over Toontown. Frankly, Disneyland needs more room. The park is packed everyday and nearly intolerable during busy times. Toontown has no attraction that significantly helps to spread the people out. Sure, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is a good attraction but it hardly adds any capacity unless the park is full. If a Fantasyland expansion received half of what Magic Kingdom did (a D ticket, C ticket, Dumbo expansion, a b-ticket coaster in the Barnstormer, and a hugely successful restaurant that is constantly packed) it would greatly help spread people out while being a huge upgrade over what Toontown currently is. Plus, these attractions would be kid friendly, which is about the only reason I can see for keeping Toontown around.

Mickey toontown fountain

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dumbo

If you ever have any questions about vacation planning or Disney in general please leave us a comment or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  We’d be happy to help!  Thank you for reading!

‘Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60’ Live Thread

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve had a good weekend!  I’m settling in to watch the Disneyland special that is airing on ABC at 8 PM.  I’ll be posting updates as the show goes, reacting to any entertainment and news.  This is known as ‘live blogging’ but I’m pretty sure that this phenomenon was replaced by ‘live tweeting’.  Anyway, feel free to join in to the conversation by leaving a comment on this post.  Whether it’s Disney-related or not, I’ll probably answer any questions on the post as we go.

To be honest, I’m not expecting a ton of news from the show.  I think there will be some more information on Star Wars Land.  After that, I don’t know what will happen.  I do know that Kermit the Frog will be performing which is a worthy reason for live blogging.  This also brings up the question, is this really live blogging when the show has already aired on the east-coast?  All these answers and more coming up over the next two hours!  Anyway, I’ll post more and more as the show goes, with the later updates moving down the page.  Enjoy the show and enjoy the ‘live blog’!

Woody and Slinky

7:50 PM – This doesn’t have to do with the show, but I have heard quite a few rumors today that Rivers of Light will open at Animal Kingdom on April 19th.  This is the new nighttime spectacular at Animal Kingdom.  Disney hasn’t given an official opening date, only saying ‘Spring 2016’.

7:53 PM – I’m watching the end of 21 Jump Street.  I love this movie.  It’s this kind of analysis that you can expect all night long!

7:57 PM – Speaking of analysis, I’m not sure how much there will be to analyze tonight.  This will likely be a special that is full of pixie dust and magic.  If you want to add a little adult fun, maybe take a shot every time you hear the word ‘magic’?  Anyway, I’m hoping this won’t be too cheesy and there will be some things to talk about but I don’t have very high hopes.  Still, this should be a fun little watch.

Disneyland Forever sparkly castle

7:59 – Constantly shocked whenever I realize that America’s Funniest Videos is still on the air.

8:01 – I like the Paint the Night soundtrack much better than this version.  It’s cheesy but somehow less cheesy than this.  It is cool to see most of the Paint the Night floats though.

8:05 – Anybody a big Jessie J fan?  Yeah, me neither.  Cool hand movements though!

8:06 – There are so many people on this show.  Star Wars live in concert!

8:08 – Helen Mirren is so cool.  That dress combined with her talking about Walt is wonderful.

8:10 – Looks as if dreams might beat magic in the word-off.  Taylor Swift is really upping the count.  That was a cool little clip there though, although I’d always enjoy more Walt and less celebrities.

8:14 – Shout out to the ‘Lily Belle’!  It’s currently parked in the Main Street U.S.A station and guests can go look inside of it (although you can’t enter), I definitely recommend seeing it.

8:17 – This is a nice feature on some of the details in Disneyland.  I wish they’d show more of the details that you can see in the parks instead of stuff that you see on tours.

8:19 – One of my favorite Disney songs covered by Fall Out Boy is one of my biggest fears come to life.  All is forgiven if King Louie comes on stage though.  Update: No King Louie.  Huge oversight.  Who are these girls?  Update #2: I didn’t like that at all.

King Louie drummers Magical Map

8:28 – I’m very excited for Pete’s Dragon.  I can’t remember if I’ve seen the original version.  I might be less excited if I’d seen that recently.  But, I love the casting in this and am really looking forward to them remaking a lesser known film instead of one of the classics.

dragon

8:30 – In my post yesterday where I counted down the 5 movies kids should see before they go to Disneyland.  As frequent visitor and commenter, ProsperityAndCalamities, pointed out I left off anything involving Mickey Mouse.  He should definitely be included, although I consider him more of a TV show.  Anyway kids, go watch Steamboat Willie and any other great Mickey Mouse cartoon.

8:33 – Elton John singing in front of the castle with a choir is as good as Fall Out Boy was bad.  Very cool projections on the castle too.  A little glimpse of Disneyland Forever there, if you haven’t seen it.  That guy holding up his baby in the Simba pose was really something too, not predictable at all!

8:40 – Who’s pumped for the episode of Shark Tank after this?  Yeah, me neither.  (Sorry to all of the people I offend tonight, our actual posts are much better than this.)

8:44 – Kermit!  The only reason I tuned in.  And a Mr. Toad joke.  Amazing! Everybody please watch The Muppets show.  It’s pretty good now!  That was a beautiful duet.

8:48 – I always hate seeing the Modern Family boy all grown-up.  Them offering tips really annoys me, as well.  I’m not sure why.

8:50 – Disney Twitter people seem to be really annoyed that this isn’t more about the Parks but I’m not sure why they thought it would be.  ABC never said it was going to be that.  I’m not a big fan of the special so far, but it is pretty close to what I expected.

8:55 – I’m pretty tired of ‘Let it Go’ but seeing it in front of World of Color is pretty fun.  It is somewhat ironic that this is the worst part of World of Color – Celebrate though.  Not that the rest of the show is great (only one part that I love) but this song is definitely the worst part of World of Color.

8:58 – Crazy eyes from Idina!  That wasn’t a complete replica of the show’s segment, by the way.  It was close but a taste of what you’ll experience.

World of Color Pink high fountains

9:07 – A dance number montage? Followed by humans dancing? Well, this special really isn’t meant for me… It does strike me as strange that we haven’t seen any characters on stage yet, outside of Kermit.  That is such a big part of the parks and it seems like an easy transition to this special.  Dick Van Dyke on stage nearly saved it all though.

9:12 – Star Wars stuff coming up next.  Thank God!  If they tricked me and Little Big Town is next then I’m muting the TV.

9:18 – Here we go!  Harrison Ford on TV.  I wonder what he’s paid to do this spot.  Anyway, the First Order attraction looks a lot like Star Tours.  The Millennium Falcon ride looks like something new.  I’m not sure what it will compare to yet.  The art for the street market looks incredible.  Some of the art in the Cantina looks awesome, as well.

9:20 – All in all, there was nothing new in that announcement but there was a ton of new art.  The area looks like it will be incredibly immersive.  I hope the attractions are unique and not entirely screen reliant but time will tell.  I was hoping for a timeframe update but knew that probably wouldn’t happen.  Most people say Star Wars Land will open in Disneyland in very late 2018 and in WDW in 2019 or 2020.

9:25  – That was a nice little mini-concert.  Here is all of the art that was released tonight.

9:27 – I just scrolled through most of that art work that I linked above.  Some of those look incredible.  Also, that site is reporting the First Order attraction (that I said looks like Star Tours) is rumored to be a trackless dark ride which would be phenomenal.  My hopes got slightly higher after tonight (they were already very high.)

9:30 – Cars Land looks incredible, but that’s nothing new.  I really hope Luigi’s attraction in Cars Land opens soon.  It’s had several delays in the last few months but I’m guessing it will open by April.

Cars Land night as you go rock

9:35 – Have any readers been on Hyperspace Mountain?  I’m hoping it sticks around for my next visit but don’t know if it will.  The reviews of it seem really favorable.

9:39 – Commercials…. I’ve seen tweets from a few people who have seen Zootopia.  They aren’t allowed to review it yet but they say it’s going to be a massive hit.  This clip is hilarious.

9:46 – I’m running out of steam because there’s not much that interests me left.  Not that these performances aren’t good, they are, there’s just not much commentary to add.  I love Fantasia!  And I’m holding on for Elton John with the fireworks.  Also, I think there’s supposed to be a little preview of Shanghai Disneyland.

9:52 – SHARK TANK NEXT ON ABC

9:55 – Here’s some Shanghai news.  The park looks incredible.  I’ll be curious to see how it does in China’s mainland.  The project has been quite an ordeal and has gone well over-budget (causing cuts in the U.S. parks) but I like how Shanghai’s park is supposedly fit for the Chinese.  That Tron coaster and Treasure Cove look great.

9:59 – Sir Elton doing his thing.

sharp Disneyland Forever

10 – That’ll do it for my live-blogging!  Thank you to any and all who followed along.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.  Enjoy Shark Tank, everyone!

Top Five Movies Kids Should Watch Before Going To Disneyland (Plus An Announcement!)

Happy Saturday to you all.  I’ll get to the actual post in a minute but I had a quick announcement/programming note about the blog.  If you haven’t heard, there is a special on ABC tomorrow night (Feb. 20th) celebrating Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary. While that is going on, I will be ‘live-blogging’ the event over here on Wandering in Disney.  Since no one has live-blogged anything in the last decade, I’m not sure how this will go but I’ll be adding commentary and thoughts on anything that’s announced, including any Star Wars Land information.  So, come over here tomorrow night as you watch the show!  On to the post…

castle front right

Disneyland Resort is filled with immersive environments.  Some of these places are inspired by original ideas while others were inspired by the Disney film collection.  As my wife and I were walking today, we got to talking about Disney movies each kid should see before heading to Disneyland.  While the easy answer is ‘most of them’, I think some specific films would really enhance a child’s first visit.  While I think the list would be quite a bit different from an adult perspective, I decided to take it from a kid’s perspective first.  Here are my top five (and a few honorable mention) movies for kids to see before they go to Disneyland!

5.  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

This pick might be for some older kids, as the movie is more ‘adult’ than most of the others on my list.  In a perfect world, I would tell people to watch this movie after you came back from your trip.  But, they have updated the attraction to the point where it might be worth seeing the movie first.  There are some fun things that kids can find in the attraction and knowing Jack Sparrow from the films makes the ride a little more fun.

4.  Tarzan

This isn’t my favorite film but it will really make Tarzan’s Tree House in Adventureland much more enjoyable for kids.  Treehouses are awesome in their own right, but when you get to explore Tarzan’s then it’s even better.  There are quite a few details in this attraction that are much easier to track down if you are familiar with Tarzan.  Plus, if you watch the film then you get to hear those sweet Phil Collins songs!

Tarzan's Treehouse

3.  Peter Pan

One of my favorite attractions in the Disney Parks simply wouldn’t be the same without seeing Peter Pan.  The attraction takes you through some of Peter Pan’s plot but is still abstract enough to be a bit confused if you aren’t familiar with the story.  This is a great watch, especially for young boys.  Much of Fantasyland can feel a little ‘princessy’ for boys but Peter Pan is a safe haven from tiaras and fairies.

Peter Pan Sign

2.  Toy Story

Toy Story makes the list mainly because there are 2 attractions in Disneyland Resort with a Toy Story theme.  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters inhabits Tomorrowland and is way more fun if you have knowledge of who Buzz is.  In the queue, there is an audio-animatronic Buzz Lightyear and many kids get extremely excited when they see him.  Similarly in California Adventure’s Paradise Pier, there is a Mr. Potato Head in the queue for Toy Story Midway Mania.  Unlike Buzz, Potato Head will converse with you while standing in line.  While this attraction is fun no matter if you’ve seen Toy Story or not, it does help to be familiar with the characters.

Tomorroland night tall

1.  Cars

Cars was the inspiration for this post.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the film, at least compared to other Pixar movies.  Still, being familiar with Radiator Springs and it’s characters makes one of the best theme park lands in the world even sweeter.  While I do think the area would be a blast even without seeing Cars, I don’t think that kids will get as excited without seeing the movie.  Cars was a clear top choice, and quite a way ahead of the other films that I’ve listed.

Cars Land at night

Those are my five but there are many others I considered.  Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Indiana Jones and Star Wars top my list of honorable mentions.  Many of the attractions that correlate with those films just tell the plot of the movie, so I didn’t think it would be important to see them before you go.  Other may disagree with that sentiment though.

I’d like to do another post like this for Walt Disney World and then one for adults (and more obscure films) at some point.  If you disagree with any of my choices or have some to add, please leave them in the comments!

– Andrew

FastPass Guide to Disneyland

I find that FastPasses are the biggest source of frustration to first-time or infrequent park goers. Many people don’t know what FastPasses are, how to use them, or what to use them on. With this in mind, I’m going to write a guide to each U.S. park on when and where to use FastPasses.

Partners night 60th castle

We’ve made it!  This post completes our FastPass Guides to each U.S. Disney Theme Park.  If you’ve missed any of them, check out this page.   A few weeks ago, I wrote about California Adventure and described how the FastPass systems are different between Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  If you missed that and aren’t sure how the systems differ, please check out that post so I don’t need to add a needless 500 words to this post.

How is FastPass in Disneyland different from Disney California Adventure?

The simple answer to this is that the system isn’t any different.  The machines are exactly the same between the parks and you get a paper FastPass in both parks.  I have read that you can get FastPass at Disneyland and then head straight to DCA and get a FastPass there.  The ‘must wait until time’ on a DL FastPass doesn’t matter when you’re in California Adventure and vice versa.  I’ve never tested this, and will plan to the next time I’m in the park.  If for some reason you know that I’m wrong, please leave a comment.

Tom Sawyer Island Big Thunder blue night

What is different is that Disneyland might be the hardest park to come up with a strategy for.  There are simply so many quality attractions that it’s hard to figure out where to use your FastPasses.  I have heard rumors about Disneyland adding more offerings to the FastPass system, further complicating where to use your FastPass.  But, you didn’t come to read this post to learn about how hard the strategy is, you came for answers, darn it!  So, answers I will provide.  I don’t know if they’re the right answers for you specifically but it’s like that calculus test you took in college… You guess A, B, C, or D and you’re bound to get some things right.

Big Thunder at night

FastPass Strategy and Rankings for Disneyland

Here are the attractions that feature FastPass for Disneyland:

  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Haunted Mansion (seasonal)
  • Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

Before I get to each attraction that is listed above, Fantasmic! also uses a FastPass system just like World of Color in California Adventure.  Fantasmic! isn’t showing until summer of 2017 so it’s not worth spending much time on.  If it is open, get a FastPass for it sometime in the mid-morning.

Tomorroland night tall

Moving on, Haunted Mansion doesn’t often offer FastPasses.  The attraction seems to most often FastPass in the Fall and Winter when the attraction has an overlay.  If you are there when FastPass is offered, it still wouldn’t rank very high on my list.  The line may look long but it does move fast and the queue is pretty interesting.  If the line is extremely long then, sure, grab a FastPass.  There are plenty of attractions that should take priority over this though.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin are the least popular attractions on this list.  Conventional wisdom is that you should skip getting a FastPass here.  But, I’m not much for conventional wisdom or wisdom, in general.  The FastPass times for these attractions are never far from the current time.  Meaning that if it’s 1 P.M. and you’re getting a FastPass for one of these attractions, the return window will begin close to 1 P.M.  Assuming it is (and it will be during most times of the year) then you might as well get a FastPass if the wait time on the line is more than 10 minutes.  You can use your FastPass almost immediately and then will have another one by the time you’re done riding around with Roger Rabbit or Buzz.  The time it saves could be minuscule but it’s a little less time you’ll have to spend in a line and a little more time that you could spend exploring Disneyland.  With all that being said, definitely don’t use a FastPass on these attractions before basically anything else on this list.

Mickey toontown fountain

Indiana Jones can have insane lines.  Unfortunately, the FastPass doesn’t help you surpass the lines as much as I’d hope.  The queue for the attraction is about half outside and half inside.  A FastPass here will help you surpass the outside portion.  If the park is extremely crowded then this is significant, but unless you wait until the middle of the day to ride Indiana Jones then I’m guessing that the line outside won’t be significant.  What I would recommend is heading to Indiana Jones fairly early in the morning.  Make it one of the first 2 or 3 attractions that you go ride.

If I had to guess, I would bet that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has the wait times that vary the most at Disneyland.  I have seen Big Thunder with a 5 minute wait and an hour-long wait.  If you head there at park open or late at night, the wildest ride in the wilderness won’t have much of a line.  If you do want to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the middle of the day, then a FastPass is beneficial.  The same concept that went for Roger Rabbit and Buzz is the same here, but there will be a longer wait until your FastPass window.  I don’t think Big Thunder is a great use of a FastPass but it isn’t the worst either.

That leaves Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Star Tours as the big 3 attractions left vying for your FastPass order of importance.  Star Tours typically has the shortest line out of these 3, unless the weather isn’t very warm and then Splash Mountain has the shortest line.  So, most of the months of the year (maybe not November-February) Star Tours is a good place to go first thing in the morning and not use a FastPass, or use it as your 3rd FastPass of the day and go there in the late morning or early afternoon.  I would definitely use a FastPass for Splash Mountain and Space Mountain.  In the summer months, Splash Mountain might take priority with the high temperatures.  Still, you can find that attraction without big wait times late at night even in the summer.  Space Mountain is extremely popular, especially right now with a Star Wars overlay.  I would almost always use my first FastPass of the day on Space Mountain, especially when it has an overlay on it.  That way you can fit in one of the most popular attractions early in the day and save a FastPass for Splash Mountain once the day gets even warmer.

Hungry Bear Splash River Boat

With any of my advice, all of this depends on personal preference.  For example, if you (for some ridiculous reason) don’t like Splash Mountain then don’t worry about FastPassing that attraction.  Here is a ranking of all the options to FastPass at Disneyland:

  1. Space Mountain – With the overlay on this attraction, it is extremely popular.  If there is no overlay then it still is probably the best attraction to spend your first FastPass on.
  2. Splash Mountain – I like waiting to use this FastPass as your 2nd or 3rd choice so that you ride Splash during a warmer part of the day.  Don’t wait too long in the summer though because they’ll run out of FastPasses fast.
  3. Star Tours – While I’ve seen Star Tours without a huge line, I think putting it 3rd on the priority is a pretty fair spot.  The FastPass line gets you past a large portion of the queue, which is why this attraction goes above Indiana Jones.  If you like Big Thunder better than Star Tours maybe flip-flop them in these rankings, although Star Tours may be a more popular attraction right now due to the film.  Either ride this right after you get a Fast Pass for Space Mountain or have it be your 3rd FastPass of the day.
  4. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – While the wait times vary here (seriously, just ride it late at night if you are able to stay late), BTMR is popular and is a nice queue to skip on a hot day.  If it’s really hot, this should be above Star Tours.  Still, I think this is a little less popular and that makes it fall to the 4th spot.
  5. Indiana Jones – What should be high on the list is brought down because of the FastPass not getting you very far in line.  Ride this attraction early and the wait would be roughly the same as getting a FastPass during the middle of the day.  My plan of attack would be – FastPass Space Mountain (ride when time is up, which should be almost immediately), ride Star Tours, FastPass Splash Mountain, ride Indiana Jones, ride Jungle Cruise, use FastPass for Splash, and then conquer the rest of the park.  Fantasyland is a great place to go at park opening too, as there is no great time to go to Peter Pan.  If you have 2 days at DL, follow the plan I listed above one day and do Fantasyland at park opening on the other day.
  6. Haunted Mansion – This attraction can get fairly popular and this isn’t a bad use of a FastPass if you have already been on each of the attractions above this.  Still, the line moves fast and the queue is one of my favorites in the whole park.
  7. Buzz Lightyear – If the line is longer than 10 minutes than you might as well FastPass this since the return window shouldn’t be too far out.  Still, don’t make this a priority.
  8. Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin – Repeat what I said for Buzz here.

Fantasyland & Matterhorn

So, there you have it.  I’ll try to keep this post up to date as the park changes.  Surely, the guide will be different once Star Wars Land opens.  If you have any questions or disagreements, leave them in the comments!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (2/15/16)

I hope you are all having a wonderful Presidents Day!  Congratulations to all the presidents, including Andrew Jackson, the first George Bush, and, of course, William H. Taft.  Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers, please leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week: What is your favorite breakfast item or entrée that you’ve had at a Disney Park?

Melissa L. – I’m going to give two answers to this. One more expensive, the other an affordable quick breakfast. One of my favorites I’ve had at a Disney park is the Eggs Benedict for Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel. It was a fancier breakfast and was amazing. Now if you are wanting to eat something more on the go, I’d recommend the croissant breakfast sandwich. I’ve had it for the Jolly Holiday Bakery. It’s a more savory breakfast choice from most of the sweet options. It has eggs cheese and bacon inside it and served with a side of fruit. A perfect way to start your day in a park!

Jolly Holiday at night

Melissa H. – I love Disney’s cinnamon rolls! They are giant, fluffy portions of dough with thick, homemade cream cheese icing. So. Good.

Andrew – My favorite breakfast item I’ve had at Disney is the Chilaquiles at the PCH breakfast buffet in Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. While I wasn’t wowed by the buffet, in general, I did think this item was unique and delicious. Chilaquiles is a Mexican dish with chips, cheese, eggs and generally chorizo. These had a nice spice to them and good flavors overall. I thought the dish was interesting and a nice change of pace from the usual Disney breakfast fare.

gargoyle

Leslie – My favorite breakfast entrée was definitely the open-faced bacon and egg sandwich from Be Our Guest. The sandwich is pretty big with poached eggs, applewood smoked bacon, brie cheese and arugula on a baguette you also get fresh fruit and an assortment of pastries. Honestly though can you beat eating in the Beast’s Castle? Honorable mention goes to the room service for Animal Kingdom Lodge because french toast with pecan caramel sauce is delicious and well worth a late start.

Melissa H cinnamon roll

Cassie – I love any Mickey shaped breakfast item! Waffles, pancakes, beignets, bring it on! Although, I almost always hit up my favorite bagel place on my way to Disney!

Tonga Toast

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!  If you enjoy what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our Facebook Page.  You can find both of those things (along with other social media sites we use) on the right side of this page.  If you ever have any questions or want help with trip planning please leave us a comment or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to leave your answer to the question of the week in the comments!  Have a great week!

Is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Worth Going To In 2016?

An update to this post for 2017 is available here.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a park in transition and will be throughout the course of 2016.  Two years ago, the backlot express tour forever left the park and Hollywood Studios lost a lot of its identity.  Honestly, the park had lost most of its identity before that point, as the tour didn’t show guests anything exciting, the shows were overdone, and the theme park rides were few in numbers.  There was a big hat sitting in front of the park’s icon and the theme of the park was, more or less, gone.  Once a park that tried to make guests feel as if they were on set of a working studio, the reality of that theme just wasn’t realistic to continue for decades upon decades.  The park grew stale recently and it was clear that Hollywood Studios was in need of a major facelift.

We can blame Disney for letting the park sit and rot for too long before deciding to do something.  With that in mind, they do deserve credit for finally deciding to do something instead of letting the park become even worse.  Unfortunately for guests and Disney, Hollywood Studios has to get worse before it gets a whole lot better.  The year that this park probably hits rock bottom is 2016.

A FastPass to go burn the old hat might be better than some of these options!

As major construction projects begin for Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land, areas of the park have to completely close down.  More attractions are being yanked out of the rotation to pave the way for what’s to come.  This is all a good thing in the long run (unless the Animation Academy never comes back, then it’s just mostly a good thing) as Hollywood Studios will almost be a brand new park in 5 years.  But, what good does that do guests visiting in 2016?  Not much, is the short and hard answer.  For guests who frequent Walt Disney World regularly, these construction zones will be a promising sign.  For those who don’t get to go as often, the construction walls and cranes will be fairly frustrating.  While that is too bad for those infrequent visitors, I do have to caution that there is no perfect time to go to a Disney theme park.  There will always be construction going on as these parks change with the times.  I know that’s frustrating, but it’s also a good thing.

With all that being said, should guests completely skip going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2016?  Let’s take a look at what is offered before we make a final judgment.

Rides

Now, I know that Disney doesn’t call them rides but instead refers to them as attractions.  I typically do that, as well, but for this post I’m using the term ride literally.  These are the attractions that are open that you physically get on to ride.

  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Rock N’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours the Adventure Continues
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Yikes.  Five.  The worst land in Walt Disney World (DinoLand U.S.A.) has 3 attractions that you physically ride.  This whole park only has 2 more open than the lowly DinoLand.  While all of these attractions are much better than 2 of DinoLand’s offerings (probably all 3, honestly) what we’re really dealing with is capacity issues.  Walt Disney World attracts a lot of people and if a park is open then people will go to it.  The more attractions that are open, the more the park spreads people out and keeps wait times down.  That simply doesn’t happen when there are 5 attractions to ride, especially when they’re all fairly popular.  If 100 people are going to go get food at a baseball game then having more concession stands open will limit the lines, even if one of the concession stands is selling pizza that tastes like cardboard (insert Pizza Planet joke here).

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Here’s where this comes down to if you’ve been to the Studios before.  If you haven’t, most of these open rides are must-do’s.  Tower of Terror is quite possibly the best attraction at Walt Disney World.  There’s not much like Rock n’ Roller Coaster in WDW so if roller coasters are your thing, it’s probably a must-do as well.  Toy Story Midway Mania has it’s critics but is generally adored and is the park’s most popular attraction.  Star Tours is a classic Disney attraction.  The Great Movie Ride is the least popular of the five but is the attraction that best fits the park’s theme.  I’d argue that all 5 are probably must-do’s for a first time guest (or an infrequent visitor).  Get there when the park opens and you’ll be able to complete all of them before noon (at the latest), if you take advantage of FastPass+.  For a frequent visitor, I’m not sure it’s worth a trip to the to Hollywood Studios to do these five attractions although it does depend on how long your stay is.

Entertainment

There are a few more options of things to do at Disney’s Hollywood Studios than just rides.  There are a decent amount of shows.  Here they are:

  • Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  •  One Man’s Dream
  • Muppet-Vision 3D
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Star Wars Launch Bay

A decent list, right?  Well… Let’s break it down a little more.  Lights, Motor, Action! is ending in April and probably wasn’t worth your time to begin with.

Fozzie

Muppet-Vision and One Man’s Dream are both quality attractions.  One Man’s Dream has some great exhibits and then a nice little film about Walt Disney.  Muppet-Vision is a classic Disney attraction (it’s also the last Muppet entertainment Jim Henson worked on before he passed away) but it is getting a little tired and could use an update.

Beauty and the Beast is a nice production but nothing more.  Like Muppet-Vision, I think the show is a little tired and I’m guessing it’s most interesting to first-time guests and not frequent visitors.

I am beginning to despise the Frozen sing-along.  I don’t like the format of the show and while it was fine as a temporary addition, it hasn’t been temporary (it will have been at the Studios for 2 years in June).  The show has the feeling of a throw together act, which it probably is.  Unless you have someone Frozen-crazed in your family, I’m not sure that it’s worth your time.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Voyage of the Little Mermaid follow under the same category as Beauty and the Beast and Muppet-Vision, good but tired.

A few of these shows are probably of interest to first-time guests and rightfully so, they’re pretty good.  These shows just aren’t good enough that someone who’s seen them all would base a trip to the Studios for (of course, some might argue).  Star Wars Launch Bay is new and opened to average reviews.  There are some interesting models but most reviews I’ve read are that it’s not worth making a special trip for.

Camp Wocka-Wocka

I did leave meet & greets off this list but the Studios does offer a few unique ones, like some Star Wars characters.  I guess that could be a pretty big draw to some people, but I have never thought characters meets are worth a trip to a park.  Now, when you include it with a few of the other offerings here, then maybe it is worth it to you or your family.  Oh, there’s also a dance party.  Yippee!

My hope is that Hollywood Studios will begin to offer plenty of temporary entertainment.  Whether this is a few new stage shows or many different ‘streetmosphere’ entertainment options, I’d just like to see more options for guests to do at this park.

Nighttime Entertainment

Hollywood Studios has two nighttime spectaculars for guests to enjoy.  Fantasmic! is shown in a large amphitheater.  Most agree that the show just isn’t as good Disneyland’s version of Fantasmic!  Still, if you’ve never seen any of them, it’s probably worth going to.  If you have seen Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios then I doubt it tops your list of WDW priorities.

The ‘Symphony in the Stars’ Fireworks are also offered at Hollywood Studios right now.  These are fireworks set to some of the classic scores from Star Wars.  While I haven’t personally seen this show, it has drawn rave reviews.  I have seen fireworks at the Studios before (just not this particular show) and I really enjoyed them.  I think this show is the reason for frequent visitors to go back to DHS in 2016.  While Symphony in the Stars is listed as temporary entertainment, I would be very surprised to see it go away anytime soon.

Toy Story Land will likely come to the park in 2018. (Photo via the Disney Parks Blog)

Toy Story Land will likely come to the park in 2018. (Photo via the Disney Parks Blog)

The Verdict

If you’ve made it this far, then you probably already can guess my verdict.  I think that first time guests should go see Disney’s Hollywood Studios due to some of the classic attractions.  Now, if you have a limited time at Disney World I don’t think this park should take priority over the other 3.  In fact, I think 2 days at Magic Kingdom is more beneficial than going to this park, even if you are a first-time guest.

I also don’t think the park is worth spending a full day in.  I would go to DHS when it first opens to get in the all of the attractions then see whatever shows that intrigued me.  Then, I’d take a break to enjoy my resort, Disney Springs, a water park or another park.  I would come back at night to enjoy the fireworks and maybe Fantasmic!  Hollywood Studios does have a few fun restaurants, so maybe doing dinner and the nighttime shows would be a good nightcap to this day at DHS.

For frequent visitors, you’ve likely made up your mind already on whether to visit Disney Hollywood Studios in 2016.  Speaking for myself, I’m excited to check out Symphony in the Stars assuming that it sticks around for my visit this year.  I probably won’t spend more than half a day at the park though.  There are many new items in 2016 that I’m anxious to check out at Walt Disney World (Rivers of Light, Nighttime Safari, Soarin’ Around the World, and improvements to Disney Springs, just to name a few)  and I think spending ample time at Hollywood Studios would detract from seeing quality entertainment at other parks.  I will be spending plenty of time in Hollywood Studios in the years to come.

Star Wars will come to Hollywood Studios in a few years. (Photo from the Disney Parks Blog.)

Star Wars will come to Hollywood Studios in a few years. (Photo from the Disney Parks Blog.)

What do you think of the current state of the Studios?  Will you be visiting the park in 2016?  Let us know in the comments!

– Andrew

Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel Review: Camelot Inn and Suites

Camelot Inn and Suites is Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel that is about a 5-minute walk to Disneyland.  We recently stayed at this hotel and thought it was perfectly suitable for our needs.  In this review, we’ll cover the rooms, amenities and location of Camelot Inn and Suites.

If you’ve ever driven near Disneyland you may recognize this hotel as ‘the one that looks like a castle’.  Well, technically there are a few hotels that technically look like castles near Disneyland. (The Castle Inn & Suites being the most castle-like.)  Of those hotels, Camelot Inn & Suites is the closest to the Disneyland Esplanade.  I might as well start off this review with the biggest positive of staying at the Camelot, it’s without a doubt the location.  As you can see in the map below (thanks Google!), the hotel is directly across the street from the parks.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.19.50 PM

As you can see from that extremely professional screenshot, there are quite a few hotels on Harbor Boulevard.  Actually there are way more hotels than that screenshot shows.  I’ve got to get better at screenshots…  A decade ago, those hotels (actually most of them are motels) were all pretty unpleasant places to stay.  Once California Adventure became a viable park and started attracting many tourists to the Disneyland Resort, all of these Harbor Blvd. motels stepped up their game.  Still, many of these motels are nothing but a room to sleep in.

Camelot Inn & Suites fits that mold, for the most part.  There are no restaurants inside the motel (McDonald’s, Cold Stone and a few others are really close by), and no workout room.  The pool and hot tub are both very small, although they do offer a fine view of the parks and fireworks.  The deck area where the pool lies is pretty large (making me question why the pool and hot tub aren’t a bit bigger) and nice to soak in some sun on.

DSC_3188

There are coin-operated laundry machines and complimentary computer access in the lobby if you need either service.  There is also a small gift shop near the lobby, although it’s not much to write home about.  I mean, you’re at Disneyland why would you write home about a small gift-shop at your motel?

Speaking of the lobby, there isn’t anything too exciting about it.  It’s a quaint little area that matches the theme on the outside (a castle) moderately well, but the area wasn’t extremely inviting or warm.  There’s limited furniture but what was in there did look comfortable.  The lobby is like the rest of the amenities, not enough reason to convince guests to stay or not stay there.

camelot outside

Via the Camelot Inn and Suites website

Of course, as I’ve said, the hotel does have a certain castle look to it.  To some, this might be important.  If you want to keep the magic going for a young child while on a Disney trip, returning from the parks to sleep in a castle might make the trip extra special.  I’ve heard that if you ask politely, the lobby staff will give a lovely rendition of ‘Knights of the Round Table’ from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Naturally, you have to tell them your name, your quest and the air-speed velocity of unladen swallow first.  Back on track… While the outside looks like an older castle, past the lobby Camelot Inn & Suites looks like a standard motel.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

DSC_2775

Let’s get to the room!  Now, so far the motel hasn’t been anything remarkable and the room is going to continue that trend.  I did enjoy the size of the room.  We stayed in a Deluxe King Room.  The king bed was comfortable and we both liked the mattress pretty well.  I also liked the couch in the room pretty well and found it comfortable enough.  The couch gave the room a little extra space.  There was a chair by the window, although I don’t recall ever sitting in it.  With the bed being closer to the bathroom, there was quite a bit of open floor space when first walking in to the room.  Judging by photos on the website, the room with 2 queens has chairs by the window of the room and no couch.

DSC_2776

Sorry about the slight mess in the room, I forgot to take photos the first day we were there and we were in a hurry once I finally remembered.  As you can see, the colors are fairly bland.  I like the rich tone of the headboard but everything else was pretty dull and just kind of thrown-in.  Still, I didn’t think it was anything bad or obscene.

DSC_2779

Again, sorry for the mess.  The sink area was very standard and out in the room instead of in the bathroom, which I prefer.  There was plenty of space to move around and the counter was quite large, as you can see from all of the stuff we piled on it.  The TV was an average size (I believe the motel website said they were 36″) but again, you probably won’t watch much TV if you’re on a Disneyland vacation.  There was a desk, in case you have to put in some work.

DSC_2777

The bathroom was bland but pretty standard for a motel.  I wish all hotels would invest more in bathrooms.  This one had a tub/shower combo and a toilet.  There’s a fine amount of room and was clean.  To be honest, I’ve probably undersold the motel just based on how clean it was.  We really liked our room compared to where we stayed before this (Howard Johnson) and it was mainly because of the cleanliness and size.

The room was also fairly quiet, aside from when the Disneyland fireworks were going off.  We went to bed early one night, as we were running the 10K the next day and the fireworks were very loud as they were right across the street.  But any other time of the night was quiet.  I would ask for a room in the middle of the motel, as it’s further from the freeway, road, and Disneyland.

Another aspect of the hotel that might appeal to some is the family suites.  This room sleeps 6 according to the website, although I think you could fit 7 or 8.  There is a king bed, 2 queens and a sofa bed.  Unfortunately, there is only 1 bathroom.  Still, for a family looking for extra space that is still a value this is a pretty good option.

Let’s talk prices!  The hotel usually runs between $120-$150 for the standard room.  The family suite usually comes in at $230.  There is $12 fee for parking and a pretty high motel tax.  Camelot Inn & Suites is regularly on Hotel Tonight, which is an app that offers hotels if you are booking at the last minute.  It shows up on there for between $100-$130.  If you find a stay at the Camelot for under $130, I think that is a pretty good deal.

Overall, Camelot Inn & Suites is a decent motel at Disneyland.  While the amenities probably won’t wow you, the location beats out most high-end amenities other hotels would offer.  If you are looking for a place that is simply just for sleeping and not much more, the Camelot is a great choice if you can find it under $120, and a decent choice if you can find it under $140.  If you are looking for a place that your family might spend a little more time at, I would recommend looking elsewhere (although the options are much more limited.  The family suites are unique around that area and may suit guests with bigger groups well.  We had a good stay at Camelot Inn & Suites and I would happily recommend it to anyone.

Rating – 8/10

If you have any questions for me or experiences at any hotels around Disneyland, please leave them in the comments!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (2/7/16)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers, leave your answers in the comments!

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Question of the Week: What is your favorite ‘streetmosphere’ entertainment or small show (Dapper Dans, Flag retreat, Epcot pavilion performers, etc.) at a Disney Park?

Leslie – The flag retreat delights me and my patriotic soul. It warms my heart to watch it and I’m glad they choose a veteran to help with the process. To see the care they take in the process I can’t help but cry each time. Plus I get to hear the Dapper Dan’s sing God Bless America.

Lowering the flag

Cassie – I love all the performers in New Orleans Square, especially the Royal Street Bachelors. This is my favorite area of the park, and I really feel like I’m in New Orleans when I’m listening to the jazz musicians in the square. It’s also fun for the kids when they throw out the Mardi Gras beads!

Andrew – The flag retreat is touching and has a bit of something for everyone. It is very well done on both coasts. But, since Leslie already went with that one I think I’ll go with the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in Epcot’s China Pavilion. Seeing how young those acrobats are and the feats they accomplish is phenomenal. I highly recommend seeing the show, as it’s the perfect length and extremely entertaining.

drummers dca

Melissa L. – I don’t know what their official name is (Ed. note – I believe they are called the Trash Can Trio), but the last time we were in California Adventure we stumbled upon custodians playing the drums on the trash cans. It’s a fun rhythmical performance filled with really talented people and it’s really fun to watch!

iasw blog

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!  If you enjoy our blog you can subscribe via email or WordPress on the right side of this page.  You can also like our Facebook page there.  If we can help you with any Disney Parks questions or trip-planning please leave a comment or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  Last but not least, don’t forget to answer the question of the week in the comments!  Have a great week!

Top-10 Food Items Under $10 at Disneyland Resort

While at times I try to fake it and write posts about FastPasses, favorite attractions, or hotel reviews, really all I ever want to do is talk about food.  I like food.  Disney has food.  While I don’t claim to be a food expert, I’ve eaten, thought about or talked about my share of food for the past 25 years so.  Going by what Steve Jobs said about spending 10,000 hours on a certain subject, I am a food genius.  So, I guess I am a food expert!  Not to toot my own horn.  So, while all these posts, that are certainly more helpful than this, are fun and nice, let’s get down to business (that Mulan song) and write about the serious stuff.

Disney theme parks (and all theme parks for that matter) have a reputation of overcharging guests for food.  While that is certainly true to some extent, I would never encourage guests to eat out of the parks.  For one, time is valuable and the price differences aren’t wide enough to make up for the lost time.  More importantly though, there are some pretty good options at a decent value at the theme parks.

Jolly Holiday at night

To showcase those values and some tasty treats, I’m heading over to the Disneyland Resort and sharing my top-10 foods that are under $10 there.  Now, I obviously haven’t tried everything there and will try to update this post as I try more and more options.  I will say that my tastes side more with the savory than with the sweet but I will try to get a balance of each in here.  Oh, and I’ll probably cheat at some point in this list.

10.  Anything from the Cozy Cone Motel (DCA – Cars Land)

I already cheated.  There are quite a few options at the Cozy Cone Motel and I’ve only tried a few.  I’ve enjoyed each one of them to varying degrees.  If you don’t know, Cozy Cone has five stations (cones) and each one has a different theme.  From ice corn to scrambled eggs, there are quite a few options that are offered here.  I have tried the chili con queso in a bread cone ($7.49), the cheddar garlic bagel twist ($4.99), and Ramone’s “Pear of Dice” Soda ($3.59).  I loved the chili in a bread cone and thought it was a pretty filling dinner, especially given the price.  The Pear Soda is also great and is probably my favorite item out of the three.  It’s not a great value though and it’s also not food so I wasn’t sure if it could make the list.  The cheddar garlic bagel twist is good but not great, in my opinion.  But if you are asking my wife’s opinion on it then she’ll tell you it is the best snack in Disneyland.  It’s really large and pretty filling for just 5 bucks. Honestly, she brings that bagel twist up at least twice a week.  Cozy Cone doesn’t have a classic item but is a good place for a cheap, quick meal or snack.

9.  Chimichanga – Food Carts in Disneyland and DCA (Around $6)

Quite honestly, I’m not sure how good these are.  It seems like each person who goes to Disneyland fairly often has that one snack that they have to get even though others think they aren’t very good.  For some it’s a Mickey Pretzel or Mickey Ice Cream Bar, for others it’s those darn Turkey Legs or soft-serve ice cream.  For me, that snack/meal is a Disneyland chimichanga.  These things have been around for a long time and I really like the taste of them.  But, it’s not like the taste is complex and their are layers of flavors.  This is a fried tortilla filled with meat.  Some people will hate it and think it’s disgustingly unhealthy.  I think it’s delicious and is an excellent meat delivery system.  This thing will fill you up and, at around $6, is a really good value.  If you are trying to decide whether you should try it or not, use my simple system below:

Like crispy beef and bean burritos or think they’re okay –> You will love Disneyland chimichangas
Despise crispy beef and bean burritos –> You won’t like Disneyland chimichangas
Never had a crispy beef and bean burrito –> Drive to the nearest gas station and try one.  They’re only about a dollar usually.

8.  Pies – Flo’s V8 Cafe – DCA/Cars Land ($5.49)

We head back to Cars Land to find our first sweet item on the list.  Flo’s offers a few good pie options that are fairly unique to theme parks.  They offer three different options, apple & cheddar, chocolate mud pie, and a seasonal fruit pie.  When I was here for a dessert, I tried a Strawberry Rhubarb pie.  The strawberries were fresh and delicious and the pie crust was well made.  I wouldn’t recommend sharing these, as they are fairly small.  These aren’t a bad price for a dessert though, and a unique one at that.

Flo's V8 night trees

7.  Holiday Turkey Hot Sandwich – Earl of Sandwich – Downtown Disney ($6.99)

Earl of Sandwich is a good choice of restaurant if you are looking for value.  And the most interesting choice on the menu is the Holiday Turkey sandwich.  First of all, this sandwich is large.  It is filling and more than enough for a meal.  At $6.99, that’s a pretty good deal at Disneyland.  Better than that, the sandwich is really good.  There is turkey, cornbread stuffing, a little gravy and cranberry sauce, and mayonnaise all on this sandwich.  Or better put, this is everything you throw on to a sandwich the day after Thanksgiving but it tastes really good.  I don’t really like cranberry sauce but I had the perfect amount on my sandwich and it really brought all the flavors together.  I was fairly hesitant when it came to trying this as I’m not a huge fan of the Thanksgiving meal components, but I thought the sandwich was delicious.  Like I said, it’s incredibly filling as well.  You could probably share it with someone and then save more room for what comes next on this list!

 

6.  Mickey Beignets – Cafe Orleans or Mint Julep Bar – New Orleans Square in Disneyland

These bad boys make my mouth water just thinking about them.  Beignets are basically a piece of fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar.  These beignets are shaped like Mickey Mouse.  I don’t know what else there is to say.  Oh yeah, the vanilla cream and berries they are served with at Cafe Orleans is fantastic.  They are $8.99 there and a perfect cap to what’s likely to be an excellent meal.  At the Mint Julep Bar you can order them in packs of 3 ($4.49) or 6 ($7.49) although I’m not sure if these come with the creme or not.  These should maybe be higher on the list…

Cafe Orleans beignets side

5.  Panko Crusted Chinese Long Beans – Trader Sam’s – Disneyland Hotel ($8.49)

I know, I know, I went from beignets to green beans.  That’s illegal in some states and I’m slightly ashamed of myself.  But, these long beans are fantastic.  The batter that’s on the outside of the long beans is packed with flavor and the long beans are very fresh.  They are served with a spicy aioli that really adds a nice layer of flavor.  All together it’s a great dish that really surprised me.  While the value isn’t great, they do give you a large amount with this and it’s a very good snack to share as you have a drink at one of the best places in the whole resort.

Trader Sams_edited-1

4.  Signature Cinnamon Roll – Jolly Holiday Bakery – Main Street Disneyland ($5.49)

These last four items are classics that I couldn’t dethrone.  I will probably move this cinnamon roll down the list, eventually, as it’s sometimes a little too sweet for my taste.  Still, this classic Disneyland Cinnamon Roll is very tasty and large.  At $5.49, this is a good breakfast (not healthy, but good!) at a decent price.  While you’re at Jolly Holiday, get a Matterhorn Macaroon.  It probably should have made the list, as it’s delicious, charming and only 2 dollars.

3.  Corn Dog – Little Red Wagon – Main Street Disneyland 

A trip to Disneyland isn’t complete with a corn dog from the Little Red Wagon.  These are hand-dipped corn dogs with a delicious batter.  People who don’t like corn dogs like these.  It is easily the best corn dog I’ve ever had in my life and a fairly cheap meal.  The corn dog does come with chips or apple slices and is around 8 dollars.  You can ask for the corn dog without the side and save a few dollars if you’d prefer (it isn’t on the menu, but just ask).  This is cheesy but it really doesn’t feel like a trip to Disneyland without getting a corn dog here.

Corn Dog wagon at night

2.  Pommes Frites – Cafe Orleans – New Orleans Square Disneyland ($6.99)

Another item from Cafe Orleans makes my list and I nearly put this one at the top.  This appetizer (although I’m sure you could just order these plus the beignets and have the best, most unhealthy lunch ever) is freshly cut fries with parmesan, garlic and parsley.  They are served with a Cajun Spicy Remoulade dipping sauce that enhances the whole dish.  If you aren’t a fan of spice, then the fries on their own are still good enough.  They have a great a taste, are perfectly cut and are perfectly cooked.  At $6.99, this might be the best value at Disney considering the size, taste and price.  You can’t go wrong with these things.

Pommes Frites Cafe Orleans

1.  Dole Whip Float – Tiki Juice Bar – Adventureland Disneyland ($5.29)

No surprises here, as I love Dole Whip just as much as every other stereotypical Disney blogger.  The pineapple soft-serve is great but add in the pineapple juice to make it a float and then we got a stew going.  The dessert is fresh and instantly cools you off on a hot day.  It’s also fairly unique and, like the corn dog, completes a trip to Disneyland.  The float isn’t a great value but it isn’t egregious by any means.  The soft-serve is a good choice, as well, at a slightly lower price.  I guess blog posts are often meant to surprise and give a fresh take, but Dole Whip Floats are just too good to not be number 1 on my list.  At least, for now.

dole whip 1

What are some of your favorite Disneyland foods that are under $10?  Let us know in the comments!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew