15 must-try foods at Disneyland and Disney California parks this summer

Pixar Pier opens June 23 at Disney California Adventure park and many new Pixar-themed food items have been rolled out throughout both Anaheim theme parks.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Disneyland Resort is celebrating the opening of Pixar Pier on June 23, but the new themed land at Disney California Adventure park isn’t all that’s new at the Anaheim theme parks this summer.

There are also dozens of new food items to try at both parks this summer as well as a new mobile ordering feature on the Disneyland mobile app that allows you to avoid the food lines at six popular quick-service restaurants in Disneyland and nine restaurants at Disney California Adventure (DCA).

First download the app to your mobile phone and create an online ID. Click on the “order food” button under “My Plans” and then browse through the restaurants offering mobile orders. Click on the restaurant of choice, choose a half-hour “arrival window” when you’ll be in the vicinity of the restaurant and then choose and pay for your food. As you approach the restaurant, you’ll get an alert to “check in.” That signals the restaurant staff to prepare your food. They’ll send you a text alert when your meal is ready for pickup. No lines, no fuss. I sampled the service in May and after check-in, my meal was ready for pickup in about four minutes.

For summer visitors, I’ve come up with a list of some of this summer’s favorite new food items at Disneyland Resort along with some all-time favorites.

Alien Macaroons

These oversize French-style macaron cookies, resembling the aliens from the Disney Pixar “Toy Story” films, have the perfect crispy/chewy consistency and a not-too-sweet center. They’re $5.99 but enough for two to enjoy. Available at Alien Pizza Planet (formerly Pizza Port) in Tomorrowland, Disneyland.

Green Miso Pesto Pasta

I’m a longtime fan of the chicken fusilli pasta at this spot, but am a new devotee of this summer’s Pixar special, the green miso pesto pasta. The miso broth gives the pasta a nice smoky flavor and the bacon on top adds another layer of richness. $10.49. Alien Pizza Planet in Tomorrowland, Disneyland.

Snow Capped Lemon soft serve

The new Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats shop on Pixar Pier has one of the most refreshing treats of the summer. It’s a nondairy lemon soft-serve cone dipped in a quick-frozen “snowfall” of hardened white chocolate. So good I ate two. $4.59. Pixar Pier, DCA

Potato Skins

The former Ariel’s Grotto restaurant reopens June 23 as Lamplight Lounge with an almost entirely new menu, including this decadent retro appetizer with a difference. Crispy smashed Yukon Gold potatoes are served with brown butter-caper yogurt, smoked paprika aioli and Manchego cheese. $14. Pixar Pier, DCA

Harryhausen’s Chilled Noodle Salad

Inspired by the sushi shop in Disney Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.,” this light, low-calorie salad is perfect for a hot summer day. It’s made with chilled purple iridescent noodles, carrots, cucumbers, Thai basil, daikon, toasted peanuts and mint tossed in a sweet-sour vinaigrette. $10.49. Lucky Fortune Cookery, Pacific Wharf, DCA.

Cheddar Garlic Bagel Twist

One of the most-affordable and filling snacks in the parks is this fresh-baked garlic bread-like twist found in the Maurice’s Treats snack wagon in Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire. It’s a nice snack for two. Be sure to order an 89-cent side of warm marinara sauce for dipping. $5.29. Fantasy Faire, Disneyland.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This hearty bowl of old-fashioned goodness is served at the Carnation Cafe. It’s topped with bacon, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, sour cream and chives. Order a bowl on the patio in the late afternoon and watch the parade pass you by. $7. Carnation Cafe, Disneyland.

Dole Whip Float

There’s almost always a line snaking through Adventureland for Dole Whips, a required stop for many Disney pass-holders at the Tiki Juice Bar. The sweetened pineapple soft-serve is sold alone, or I recommend spending an extra dollar to get it served in a float cup surrounded by fresh pineapple juice. $5.99. Tiki Juice Bar, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Adventureland, Disneyland.

Lobster Roll and fresh-made potato chips at Harbour Galley at Disneyland theme park in Anaheim.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )

Lobster Roll

While Harbour Galley’s lobster salad portion isn’t huge, it is freshly made and tasty with a nice hint of lemon and served on a butter-toasted roll. It’s served with a hearty side of fresh-made potato chips. This restaurant usually has short lines and it has a hidden seating patio in the back that’s quiet and almost always has a free table or two. $14.99. Harbour Galley, Critter Country, Disneyland.

Specialty Chicken

Pass-holders call Plaza Inn’s old-fashioned three-piece fried chicken plate “crack chicken” because it’s so addictive. It’s served with mashed potatoes, a buttermilk biscuit and vegetables. $17.49. Plaza Inn, Main Street, Disneyland.

Original Corn Dog

There’s a reason for the lines at the corn dog carts at Disney parks. These satisfying meal-size dogs are dipped in cornmeal batter, fried up steaming hot and served with a side of chips or sliced apples. $8.79. Corn Dog Castle at Pixar Pier, DCA; Little Red Wagon, Main Street, Disneyland.

Chili Cone Queso

A must-stop for picky young eaters, the “Cars”-inspired Cozy Cone Motel serves quick-service cone-shaped snacks from traffic cone-style kiosks. One of the tastier items is this bread cone filled with beef chili and topped with cheddar cheese and corn chips. A vegetarian chili is available. $8.99. Cone 3, Cars Land, DCA.

Disneyland popcorn is salty and buttery.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )


My trip to Disneyland is never complete without an order of over-salted buttery popcorn, paired with a Diet Coke. There’s a nostalgia factor in enjoying the same salty treat on virtually every visit since the 1970s. $4.25. Found at cars throughout the parks.

Mickey Beignets

Morning visitors line up in New Orleans Square for fresh-fried Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets sprinkled with powdered sugar. They’re very sweet but lovely with coffee on a cool winter morning. $4.99 for three or $7.99 for six. Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square, Disneyland.

Lobster Nachos

Last, but certainly not least, the granddaddy of decadent dishes at Disneyland Resort is this appetizer at Lamplight Lounge, which opens June 23 in the space of the former Ariel’s Grotto restaurant on Pixar Pier. Warm chunks of lobster are layered over a traditional nacho plate of tortilla chips, chipotle crema, melted aged cheddar and Oaxacan cheeses, black beans and salsa. $20. Lamplight Lounge, Pixar Pier, DCA.

For more information on summer activities at the Disneyland Resort read this rundown on Pixar Fest.