Friday, April 24, 2009

The Happiest Place (to Eat) on Earth, part 1

As promised, here is the first part of the Disneyland recap. Although food plays an important role in any vacation Katie and I take, I know whenever we take a trip to the Magic Kingdom there will be many a delicious snack, meal and dessert to be enjoyed. Planning what we'll eat and when is as important as, if not more important than, planning what ride to ride and what parade to watch. Don't act surprised; you are reading my food blog and already know what sort of eater I am.

We usually spend two or three days at Disneyland (or more when time allows). This leisurely pace allows us to enjoy a sit-down meal or two without feeling that we are wasting time we could be spending on rides or other attractions. On each trip we take, we try to allot a half-hour or so on one morning to have breakfast. On this trip, as with most others, we ate breakfast at the River Belle Terrace, located in Adventureland across from Indiana Jones Adventure. They serve typical American breakfast fare, including pancakes, cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit.

Katie ordered scrambled eggs, served with a biscuit and potatoes. She also ordered a side of bacon. Unable to stomach eggs, I ordered a side of potatoes, and took some of Katie's bacon. We should have separated the bacon after paying, as the cashier thought my portion was another side and tried to charge us for it.

Yes, we are sharing a soda for breakfast.

To us, Disneyland is synonymous with "junk food", and we frequently find ourselves paying handsomely for, and enjoying, snack items that we probably wouldn't consider paying for were we anywhere else. If you have read my previous entry you are already aware of the Mickey Mouse pretzel, an essential Disneyland snack if there ever was one. Although I'm pretty sure these are available in a cinnamon sugar variety, Katie and I prefer the salted ones. They are served with cheese, though they're quite nice with mustard as well.

A close look will reveal that this is not the same Mickey Mouse pretzel dissected in the previous entry. That's right, we had two on this trip.

We also enjoy Disneyland popcorn. Available in two sizes, the larger comes with a souvenir bucket, which we've never bothered paying for. The buckets are nice, but who wants to carry one around all day? We get the smaller size, which is more than enough popcorn for the two of us.

At first glance it looks just like regular popcorn, but it actually tastes better because you're eating it at Disneyland.

While at neighboring Disney's California Adventure, Katie and I like to visit the Mission Tortilla Factory and the Boudin Bakery. Both are located in the Pacific Wharf area of the park, and are fully-functioning facilities that produce tortillas and sourdough bread, respectively, for sale or other use in the park. The Mission Tortilla Factory features a short video and a brief walk-through.

Here's a video. It's pretty hypnotic.

At the end of the tour visitors are given a free tortilla to eat (sorry, no butter), and can watch dishes being prepared in the factory's demonstration kitchen.

Interestingly, until this trip we had only been given flour tortillas at the end of the walk-through; however, the video shown at the beginning of the tour concerns the production of corn tortillas. After mentioning this inconsistency to Katie, we were both amused to receive a corn tortilla.

The following day, flour tortillas were once again distributed.

The Boudin Bakery Tour features narration by Rosie O'Donnnell and Colin Mochrie. Visitors receive a free slice of sourdough, then walk through a glass-walled corridor looking into the bakery itself. Inside, bakers mix the dough, form it into loaves, and bake it.

Like many Disney attractions, the tour leads directly to a store, in this case the Pacific Wharf Cafe. Offering sandwiches, soups and salads in bread bowls, cookies, muffins and other freshly-baked goodies, the Pacific Wharf Cafe is a pretty regular stop for us.

However, we usually pass by all of these selections in favor of a much simpler item: A sourdough round, pre-sliced. We find this easy to eat and very satisfying, especially while waiting in the long line for Soarin' Over California or Toy Story Midway Mania.

Downtown Disney is the shopping, dining and entertainment area adjacent to Disneyland. There is no shortage of food-related options here.

I am partial to Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express. A faster, more casual alternative to neighboring Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, Express features reasonably-priced (for a resort) sandwiches and other entrees, as well as free refills on their sodas, a rarity among similar restaurants at Downtown Disney. I usually get the fried shrimp po' boy sandwich

while Katie gets the fried chicken po' boy.

Both are served with fries.

Another restaurant we enjoy is ESPN Zone.

Heaven on Earth for sports fans, ESPN Zone is the ultimate theme restaurant, with TV screens broadcasting a multitude of sporting events. The restaurant features a large bar area as well as a family dining section for those who prefer to eat without deafening play-by-play or an enormous TV stifling all conversation. Katie and I, of course, always eat in the bar area; otherwise we'd just go to TGI Friday's.

I was hooked on ESPN Zone's Hot Hero Sandwich in 2005, and very disappointed when they dropped it from the menu. The last few times we ate there I had one of their many burgers. On this trip I was unsure which burger I should order - the Black and Blue Burger, for example, never disappoints - so it was fortunate that one of their specials was a selection of four different sliders, including the Black and Blue Burger, as well as the Buffalo Chicken, which I'd ordered as a full-size burger during our previous trip in November. They were served with onion straws, and quite delicious.

On our way to ESPN Zone, we passed a vendor selling nuts, and I had to take a picture. Does anyone not find it funny and sad at the same time?

I'll get part 2 posted this week.


  1. That was an epic post. And now I'm hungry for friend shrimp. :)

  2. "At first glance it looks just like regular popcorn, but it actually tastes better because you're eating it at Disneyland." Truer words have never been spoken.

    We always get soup in a bread bowl from the Boudin store in California Adventure. Yum-my!

  3. ESPNzone rules. I love their food. And free tortillas always gets me excited when I am there.

  4. Just reading that made me wish I was in Disneyland. You are right...things do taste better in there. Love ESPN zone!