Most Disneyland visitors look forward to the exciting rides, meeting favorite characters, watching magical parades, and shopping for souvenirs to bring home. In addition to these adventures, Disneyland offers incredible dining experiences to fall in love with as well. From upscale, fine dining to on-the-go snacks, Disney doesn’t miss an opportunity to make even the most basic food a special part of the visit.
It’s easy to go through Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park, snacking between rides and parades. Many visitors feel that taking time to eat at a sit-down restaurant wouldn’t be valuable when there is so much to see and do, and that finding one appealing menu for all family members would be almost impossible.
What these visitors miss is that Disneyland restaurants can be a uniquely memorable part of the trip, while also incorporating nutritious meals and family togetherness. The best restaurant experience should include the following:
- Reasonable price—in relation to other Disneyland eateries
- Delicious, family-friendly food—good quality and quantity, with varied options
- Time value—worth time spent in relation to doing other park activities
- Immersive, engaging theme—unique and interactive sensory experience
- Overall Disney experience—distinctive to Disney and memorable family event
Based on these criteria, here are 7 Disneyland restaurants that parents and children of all ages will love and remember.
Plaza Inn – Character Breakfast
The best time to share a family meal before the attraction distraction sets in is breakfast. The Plaza Inn at the top of Main Street offers a reasonably priced breakfast buffet where families are guaranteed to have Disney characters visit their tables. Guests have a wide variety of delicious breakfast options to choose from and can return to the buffet as many times as they wish. Parents may appreciate this opportunity for their children and themselves to enjoy a nutritious start to the day with eggs, fruit, waffles, and more.
The Plaza Inn Disneyland character breakfast rates high in time value in that various characters stop by each table to visit with families. There is no waiting in a character line to get a picture or autograph, and often guests experience unusual character sightings there such as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, Eeyore, or Pinocchio.
The theme at the Plaza Inn is a Victorian setting, and parents will appreciate the ornate details inside. Kids will appreciate the theme of having breakfast with “Minnie and friends,” in what many describe as a “fancy” restaurant. The Plaza Inn is located across from Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the entrance to Tomorrowland, so guests can begin (or continue) their Disneyland journey after a filling meal.
Overall, the Plaza Inn is a distinctively Disney experience, combining a beautiful setting with delicious food and surprising character guests. Families will love and remember this amazing restaurant.
Flo’s V8 Café – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Flo’s V8 Café is a perfect balance for a quick sit-down meal in California Adventure Park at a very reasonable price. There are a variety of menu options, centered around traditional American diner cuisine. This Cars Land restaurant offers comfort-food for all eaters, such as fried chicken, pot pie, and amazing milkshakes. Flo’s is an especially good option for families who must make food choices based on specific food allergies.
Flo’s is a retro-themed diner that brings the movie Cars to life for the whole family. Guests can watch the Radiator Springs Racers go by as they eat and absorb the detailed décor, such as vintage-style gas pumps. The café even has a small “museum” with Hudson Hornet character memorabilia that parents and kids can take a moment to enjoy.
Flo’s V8 Café is an excellent time value investment for families to relax for a bit together while enjoying a fun and delicious meal. Kids who may not want to slow down, even for food, will love seeing the inside of Flo’s and be tempted to stay and eat. The immersive Cars experience of “fueling-up” will be memorable for everyone to share.
Lamplight Lounge – Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
The Lamplight Lounge is a relatively new, sit-down Disney dining experience. The views of Pixar Pier and Paradise Bay are worth the meal price, but the quality and variety of menu options make this a valuable choice for brunch, lunch, or dinner as well. Healthy meal choices such as salads are available, as are heartier options such as burgers and even ratatouille.
The Lamplight Lounge is divided into an upstairs section primarily for appetizers and drinks, and a downstairs section which offers complete meals, so guests have options when it comes to how much they want to order and how much they want to spend. The quality of food is excellent no matter what.
What makes the Lamplight Lounge such a special restaurant is the Pixar theme. Guests are immersed in the Pixar movie world with beautiful Pixar art, toys, and collectibles covering the dining area. Parents and kids will be amazed by the Pixar mobile chandelier with sketch art and quotes from Pixar films. Even the table coasters feature Pixar art.
This unique dining experience is definitely worth the time. Families can enjoy a wonderful meal and reminisce about the catalog of beautiful Pixar films represented and honored at Lamplight Lounge.
French Market Restaurant – Lunch, Dinner
One of the best aspects of Disney dining is the opportunity to try dishes from different parts of the world. And one of the most iconic and beautiful dining options is the French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square. Restaurant diners can see glimpses of the Mark Twain steamboat traveling the Rivers of America from the open-air patio seating and hear the Disneyland Railroad in the distance.
Families can enjoy a reasonably priced lunch or dinner with several “Louisiana” traditional choices such as pulled pork and shrimp po’ boy sandwiches and jambalaya, served cafeteria style. For less adventurous family members, the French Market Restaurant also serves salad and chicken dishes. In addition, this restaurant adjoins a mint-julep bar (non-alcoholic) that offers delicious Mickey beignets as great sweet treat.
In addition to the French Quarter cuisine, the French Market Restaurant allows guests to sit and enjoy one of the prettiest areas in the park. The décor of the restaurant conjures up the festive yet relaxed atmosphere and culture of New Orleans. Parents and kids will enjoy being temporarily transported away from the busy rides and attractions in order to enjoy a unique, memorable, and iconic Disney dining experience.
Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Guests can have a meal in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo and feel as if they are dining on the planet Batuu. Docking Bay 7 is a casual, well-priced, sit-down restaurant that offers Star Wars themed dishes that will appeal to all eaters. Docking Bay 7 also provides vegetarian and vegan meal options.
The restaurant sports a Star Wars “transport shuttle” on its roof, so it is easily spotted. Younger guests can pull up a cargo barrel to the metal table and take in the immersive atmosphere inside with family seating or find a spot on the outdoor patio with views of Galaxy’s Edge.
Intense Star Wars fans will notice every attention to detail in Docking Bay 7 and see décor that hints at all movies in the catalog. Those guests who are less familiar with the Star Wars world will feel they have been transported right into it. Finding this balance of entertainment, interaction, and togetherness is one of the best ways to enjoy Disneyland.
Spending time having a meal at Docking Bay 7 is worthwhile for families of any size and age. This themed restaurant represents the magic of Disney dining experiences because there is something for all guests to recognize, share, and remember.
The Golden Horseshoe – Lunch, Dinner
Located in Frontierland, The Golden Horseshoe is an eatery that combines food and live entertainment. It is one of the original Disneyland buildings and draws guests in with its wild-west saloon look. This is an excellent way for families to sit and enjoy a meal without compromising any entertainment time, as guests can come and go as the show keeps rolling.
The menu is well-priced, if somewhat limited for entrée choices. Diners can enjoy chili, fish and chips, and chicken tenders among other options. However, the desserts at The Golden Horseshoe are delicious and worth the price, particularly the sundaes. One of the best parts of being on vacation is occasionally putting aside the rules and indulging in sweets.
Parents and kids will love the old-time atmosphere of The Golden Horseshoe, especially the live stage show with songs and family-friendly jokes. Occasionally, audience members are asked to participate in the show, which adds a special element for guests. Families can stop in to cool down after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is just across the way from The Golden Horseshoe.
This restaurant captures the feeling of the frontier spirit, a theme that was important to Walt Disney in creating Disneyland. In fact, Walt Disney and his wife attended the first performance of The Golden Horseshoe Revue. Families can make this dining experience part of their own Disney history.
Pacific Wharf Café – Lunch, Dinner
Pacific Wharf Café is an allergy-friendly restaurant on the Pacific Wharf in California Adventure. Families can enjoy beautiful views of Paradise Bay as they select from a delicious combination of soups, sandwiches, salads, and other specialties at affordable prices.
The best part of Pacific Wharf Café cuisine is the featured bread from Boudin Bakery of San Francisco. Families can take a walking “Bakery Tour” before or after their meal to see and smell the famous sourdough process of Boudin.
The pier and wharf setting of Pacific Wharf Café is inspired by the Bay Area of San Francisco, and calls to mind similar areas in northern California, which is a wonderful feature to find in this southern California theme park. This restaurant celebrates the beauty and traditions of the Pacific coast.
The Pacific Wharf is also one of the best photo sites in California Adventure Park, with Paradise Bay as a lovely background setting. Little ones may have the chance of seeing ducks swimming in the water. Families will value their time spent relaxing and enjoying a meal by the bay, making for a memorable Disney dining experience and a taste of California’s Bay Area best.
Family Disney Dining
Taking a Disneyland vacation is way to create wonderful family memories. There are so many attractions to see and do that it’s hard to imagine taking time away from the excitement to sit for a meal. However, one of the best things about Disneyland is how dining can be as much a part of the experience as everything else.
Besides adding to the Disneyland experience, sitting down for a family meal in a restaurant gives everyone a chance to hydrate, eat something filling and (hopefully) nutritious, and appreciate unique décor along with cuisine. Snacking throughout the park and on the go, while convenient and delicious, can create an overload of salt or sugar—especially for little ones. The cost can add up quickly as well.
Having a meal together also gives families a chance to reflect on what they’ve done and what they plan to do. Not all family members can or want to go on the same rides or see the same attractions. However, a dining experience at these Disney restaurants don’t limit anyone from taking part.
There are many food and dining choices in both Disneyland parks, the resorts, and Downtown Disney District as well. However, eating is often an afterthought for families who are trying to cover as much ground and as many attractions as their vacation time allows.
For reasonable prices, these 7 restaurants offer family-friendly meals for all types of eaters. In addition, their themes and locations create an interactive experience that families can enjoy together, at the same time. This is a valuable investment when it comes to making Disneyland memories.
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