Saturday, June 22, 2013

Value Table Service meals in Disneyland

Now that we have gone over the best budget meals, we should address value meals that can be found at table service eateries within Disneyland.  While these are not bottom line budget friendly, they do offer some value to their cost. Keep in mind that sit down dining at the Disneyland Resort will hit your wallet a bit harder than outside the parks. We also recommend using Disney Dining to reserve your dining times at any of the sit down restaurants. They can be reached by phone at 714-781-DINE (3463).  Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance but I have made them much sooner, even same day during less crowded days.

Main Street USA:

Carnation Cafe-This establishment has been long vaunted for its offerings, with large menu items that were tasty and not very healthy.  They shut down, revamped the restaurant and reopened with indoor seating once again and a revamped menu.  The new menu is not nearly as good as the old but the premiere favorite item is still available. That would be Chef Oscars Loaded potato soup.  Its still delicious, but it has been downsized to a cup size. Still it is still good and if your looking for a light bite, this could be enough. It's $5.99+tax for the cup.  On the current menu we feel the following items to be decent in taste and price. The Main Street Cheeseburger comes topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, red onion, Lettuce and their house sauce.  It comes with fries or fruit. The burger is $11.99+tax.  The second is the homemade Meatloaf. this comes topped with a ketchup glaze and a mushroom gravy, and served with  mashed potatoes and edamame succotash. This is a filling and very tasty option here, and comes in at $12.49. If it's near a parade time, you could aim to sit outside and enjoy your meal while watching the parade go by.  If the day is hot, the air conditioning inside is a blessing.

New Orleans Square:

Cafe Orleans-This is a fun, sit down eatery with mostly outdoor patio seating and some indoor seating.  It is nice to sit on the patio to eat your meal surrounded by the atmosphere of New Orleans Square and the people walking to and fro. the menu is not huge and we have definite favorite items on it.  To start with, we recommend starting with the parmesean Pommes frites (french fries).  They come hot, sprinkled with garlic and parmesean, and are provided a delicious spicy Cajun dipping sauce. These will set you back $5.49+tax. I like to pair this with their wonderful French onion soup as a meal. The soup is only available in a cup for $8.99+tax. I have also paired them up with the gumbo which is the same as as what is served in the Blue Bayou and available in a cup size for $5.99+tax and a bowl for $8.99+tax. 

As for main dishes, my favorite is the N'awlins Vegetable Ragou.  This is basically ratatouille, topped with corn cakes, asparagus, and grated Padano cheese. You can add Chicken or Salmon to it, but frankly it isn't necessary if you are having an appetizer of any kind. The standard rendition is $15.49+tax.  I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the infamous Monte Cristo Sandwich, once only available in the Blue Bayou. This is an incredibly rich sandwich, that has little resemblance to the usual Monte Cristo with a good amount of batter and the fillings.  They offer two selections- the turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese standard version and the three cheese version with brie, mozzorella, and Swiss cheeses. The sandwich is deep fried and presented dusted in powdered sugar with a berry puree and usually a side of grapes.This is probably something best shared by two people along with starters, do one person is not overwhelmed by the richness of them.Each version runs $17.99+tax. If you do want this sandwich, it is a better value from here than the Blue Bayou. Of course with the Blue Bayou, you are not paying for the food, it is the atmosphere.

The Blue Bayou:The only reason to visit this restaurant is for the ambiance of eating at a faux plantation house inside the Pirates of Caribbean ride.  Meals run from $25.49+tax for the Monte Cristo sandwich at lunch to $45.99+tax for their surf & turf at dinner. Appetizers are included with meals consisting of either salad or gumbo, with an upcharge option for a  shrimp cocktail. No appetizers are offered for separate ordering. If you want to experience the atmosphere without the high meal cost, they offer a couple of desserts that run around $8.99 each and would allow you time to experience it.  We do not recommend letting anyone know that is your plan until you sit down to order. No matter what you want to eat there, try to take the time for a water side table to really get the best of the restaurant atmosphere. 


Big Thunder Ranch BBQ-While this eatery is not one of the least expensive options for sit down meals, it could be a great value as it is all you care to eat.  It is an outdoor only seating arrangement on picnic tables with food served in buckets and bowls and drinks in mason glasses. They offer a western entertainment that goes along with the western theme presented here.  Lunch includes tender BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken, vinegar style cole slaw, ranch beans, and corn bread. This comes in for adults $23.99 and kids 3 to 9 for $11.99. Drinks are extra.For dinner they add smoked sausage to the meat bucket and Corn cob pinwheels to the sides. The dinner pricing is $26.99 and the children's price is the same as lunch.You can request one type of meat if you have a preference and they do have a vegetarian option at both lunch and dinner.  We preferred the ribs over the chicken, and ended up eating a couple of rounds of them. We feel this dining option is really only worth it if you intend to dig in to several rounds and really take advantage of the all you care to eat.  Keep in mind that may cut zipping around the park to a much slower pace to digest.

Budget Meals Inside Disney California Adventure for One

Now lets head over to Disney California Adventure (DCA) for budget meals for one. Once again, we are sticking with counter service spots, with meals under the ten dollar mark.I am only including items we have tried and will recommend.  

Buena Vista Street:

Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe-This counter service doubles as a Starbucks, so in addition to the food you can obtain a Starbucks fix here if you go for that sort of thing. All savory items are under our ten dollar cut off point.  There are sandwiches and soup available here, with the soup on it's own not making a hearty meal but might pass for a light one or a hearty snack. They usually offer two choices of soup a day, with our favorite so far is the vegetable minestrone.  The small bowl runs $5.49+tax. For sandwiches, we prefer the Turkey Reuben Sandwich which has turkey pastrami and is topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a special sauce. It comes with a pickle and chips. This meal is $9.69+tax.

 Hollywood Pictures Backlot:

Award Wieners-This is a window service spot, with ordering and pick up from the windows. There is seating around the corner from the spot.  Every Wiener offering hits in under the ten dollar mark. Looking for light meal here? Consider the Kids turkey Dog that comes with a small milk, water, or Juice, apple slices or chips, and carrots. This runs $6.49+tax. My favorite item here is the Vegetarian Portobello-Mushroom Philly with grilled portobello mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers sauteed in hefeweizen and comes topped with pepper jack cheese. Also served with chips or apple slices. The meal is $7.19. My husband prefers the Chili Cheese Dog, topped with chili and monetary jack and cheddar cheeses. It also comes with a choice of apple slices or chips. This runs $6.99+tax. 

Cars Land:

Cozy Cones- Nothing here would be considered a full meal, but there are a couple of cones that would be a very light meal or hearty snack.  Both can be obtained from Cozy Cone 3. They are the Chili Cone Queso and the Chicken Verde cones.  Our favorite is the The Chili Cone Queso filled with beef chili, Cheddar cheese, and corn chips in a bread cone.  Each cone runs $6.99+tax.

Flo's V-8 Cafe-Nothing here meets our criteria for under ten dollars, but one thing is worth mentioning.  That was the Veggie Tater Bake. It 's made with roasted vegetables, cauliflower, Bulgar wheat, soy crumbles and "smashed" red skin potatoes topped with cheddar cheese. You can choose a choice of one side and a roll.  We asked and had the mac & cheese at our side and found this was decently tasting vegetarian food. Meal cost is $10.49+tax.

Pacific Wharf:

Lucky Fortune Cookery- Disney's only attempt at Asian cuisine for counter service. Order and pick up at the counter than locate a seat in the general seating area shared by Cocina Cucamonga, and Pacific Wharf Cafe.   The area is somewhat reminiscent of a wharf and there is lots of seating.  All the meals here are just under the ten dollar mark, running at $9.79+tax. Here you choose your meat and sauce and it comes in a Chinese take out box with rice and vegetables. Not a top pick for us, but the combo of chicken with brown rice and Thai coconut curry sauce was decent.

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill-We have tried this spot a couple of times, but we have yet to find the quality here matches what we have had at Rancho Del Zocolo. As with Rancho, nothing fits in our under ten dollar price point. The portions are large and essentially similar to what is served At Rancho.

Pacific Wharf Cafe-In our opinion this is the best eatery in this area.  Everything offered falls under ten dollars.  The soup in a bread bowl is the best option here.  Our favorite one here is the Vegetarian Chili Bowl, which is at times offered as the Daily Featured soup.  Outside of that is the Clam Chowder, which can be decent although light on clams.  All bowls are $9.29 each. If you prefer, you can ask for the soup in a separate container and have the bread bowl on the side. This is a fun place to eat at after taking the walk through sourdough bread bakery.

Paradise Pier:

Don Toma's- Cart/counter that offers the protein filled Turkey leg for $9.49+tax. 

Paradise Garden Grill-We enjoy the meal options here although it does hit over the ten dollar mark as each platter runs $11.49+tax. We find them filling and pretty tasty so we felt we should include them here. You select your meat skewer, sauce, and it comes with Rice Pilaf, Cucumber Salad, and a Pita Bread. My favorite combo is Lemon-Oregano Chicken with Tzatziki sauce. My Husband's favorite is the  Steak with the Chimichurri sauce. He gets gets rice and substitutes vegetables for for the cucumber salad,  I tend to skip the rice and get the salad and vegetables. Also I have requested more than one sauce and had them both on the side for variety. The seating area for this eatery is shared with Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and there is lots of it.  It varies from tales and chairs to benches.  Is is a cool spot and often time a small band will come play and provide entertainment for the area.

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta-the pizza here is more of a flat bread variety and they offer a small selection of pastas.  This is a spot where all main meals are under ten dollars.This establishment makes things ahead and has them waiting, so we find this spot can be hit or miss, and it is best eaten at when busy, as you obtain a fresher meal. Our favorite dish is the five-cheese ravioli with a pesto sauce and pine nuts. This meal is $9.49+tax.

Corn Dog Castle-Always busy and like the Red Corn Dog, good Corn dogs. Hand-Dipped Corn Dog that comes with apple slices or small bag of chips for $6.19+tax. You get a good sized, hand dipped corn dog. Add the apple slices and you have added a little healthiness back to the meal.There are a couple more options here as well. They also offer a
Hot-Link Corn Dog that has a nice spiciness to it and a Cheddar Cheese Stick covered in the same batter and both come with apple slices or chips. As with the original Corn Dog, they are $6.19+tax.

Condor Flats:

Taste Pilot's Grill- Found inside a hanger next to Soarin over California, this is a sandwich, burger, and fries joint. My favorite thing here has been the ribs, which are sadly no longer offered. This is a counter service and there is a minimum of inside seating, with more tables outside where you can watch folks going into Soarin. The best part of the offerings is the fresh sides bar. It contains lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles, dressings, jalapenos, chopped tomatoes, and condiments. My husband enjoys the classic 1/3 pound cheeseburger with all the fixings he wants (he adds them to his fries too, it makes them almost Animal Style like at in-n-out). It comes in at $9.99+tax.

Next up, meals to share!  

Unfortunately, the meals for the most part are not shareable with 2 adults within the DCA counter service offerings.  

Buena Vista Street:

Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe-While no single meal here is one we think qualifies as shareable by itself, we do think its worth going to order a sandwhich and bowl of soup and that could be shared between two adults for a light meal while still qualifying as a budget meal.

Pacific Wharf:

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill-The portion sizes here could accommodate two people with light appetites.You would be able to split the Carne Asada and Chicken Tamale plate, as well as the 2 Chicken Tamales platter. We find that the Grilled Citrus Chicken plate here is close to the one at Rancho Del Zocolo and the best deal in both cost and taste. The 1/2 chicken is marinated and than fire-grilled making it tasty. It comes with Mexican rice and refried beans. We have also subbed out the rice and beans for sauteed vegetables here. The cost of the plate is $13.49+tax.

Paradise Pier:

Don Toma's- Cart/counter that offers the protein filled Turkey leg that could be shared for $9.49+tax

Budget Meals Inside Disneyland to Share

Now lets look at our picks for meals big enough to share in Disneyland.  Once again I have limited this list to counter service restaurants, as that helps keep meals budget friendly without having to pay additional costs associated with sit down restaurants. I am only including items we have tried and would recommend to other diners. 

Main Street USA:

Plaza Inn-One of the nice things about eating at the Plaza Inn is that despite the counter service, you receive your food on china and eat with real utensils. While eating on their expansive patio can be nice, the inside dining room can make you forget your at an amusement park. It make for a nice break from the park.  Our pick is the Plaza Inn Specialty Chicken (broasted). This is fried chicken done right!  You get half a chicken (advertised as 3 pieces, but its a breast, wing, leg, and thigh) along with a scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and a roll. This platter is huge and can be easily shared between two people.  For a small up charge, you can substitute the leg and thigh with another breast if you have two people who prefer that (as well obtain an extra mashed potato scoop for green beans and vice-versa). The cost of the standard plate is $13.99+tax. TIP:This is one of two "official" spots that allow unlimited refills, even going so far as providing to go cups.

New Orleans Square:

The French Market-This can be a nice relaxation point in your day, as more often than not, there is a decent little Jazz band that will play thought the day.  There is a little Mint Julep bar that sells mickey beignets, mint juleps, and assorted drinks on the side of the dining area. Next to that is one of the terrific filtered water fountains where you can refill a water bottle.  While there are several tasty offerings through this location, the French Quarter Chicken is the only offering we feel is a meal you can realistically share. The meal consists of half an Oven Roasted Chicken that comes with "smashed" potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and Citrus Au Jus.   Unlike the Plaza Inn chicken pieces, this is a whole half so there is no way to swap out for other chicken pieces.  We have had this dish with double veggies, if that is a preference for you.The cost of the plate is $13.49+tax.


Rancho Del Zocolo- We love the atmosphere here and find it is a good spot to relax and take a break. In the seating area is a terrific filtered fountain that you can refill water bottles at.  As for the food, depending on your parties appetite, several of the dishes here can be split.  When not too hungry, we have shared the Red Chile Enchilada Platter,  Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Soft Tacos Monterrey. For a more filling dish to split we order the Citrus Fire-Grilled Chicken platter.  This is our favorite splittable meal here.  The chicken is marinated and than fire-grilled making it really tasty.  It comes with Mexican rice and refried beans.  At times we have substituted sauteed vegetables for the rice and beans.  As with the French Market chicken, it is half a chicken, so there is no changing out for more desired pieces.  The cost of the plate is $13.49+tax. TIP: Although not stated, we have had no trouble obtaining refills for sodas here.


Edelweiss snacks: This is a pull over from the single meal page, but truly could be shared! If you are looking for just a pure kick of protein as a meal stop, you can stop here for either the Jumbo Turkey Leg or the Barbecue Pork shank. Either will set you back $9.49 and both are good for that.


Red Rockett's Pizza Port-
This is a second pull over from the single meal page, but it is large enough to split for a light meal for two.The only thing we have enjoyed here is the Count Down Chicken Fusilli. At $9.49+tax it is a large and extremely filling pasta portion.  We always grab extra free Parmesan packs to boost the flavor. We also recommend requesting a side of sauce to give you a bit creamier pasta.  Tip-This is the second "official" spot where we have obtained unlimited soda refills with receipt.

At this time the listing for sharable recommendations in Disneyland is small, as we have found that most meals offered are not viable options to split between two adults and provide a full meal.  Now it is true that a visitor could order an adult portion meal and split it between an adult and a child, or 2 to 3 children depending on appetites. We have always found that at times this was the best option, ordering two adult entree's and splitting between two adults and our daughter.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Budget Meals Inside Disneyland for One

So we have briefly addressed meals outside the park, but what about visits where you want to remain in the park?  There are several options depending on your taste, budget, and party size. Starting with Disneyland, lets visit inexpensive meals for individuals. I have limited this list to counter service restaurants, as that helps keep meals budget friendly without having to pay additional costs of tipping for wait staff. Also, all meals will be under 10 dollars to qualify as budget friendly meals. I am only including items we have tried and would recommend to other diners.

Main Street:

Corn Dog Wagon (AKA Little Red Wagon)-Hand-Dipped Corn Dog that comes with apple slices or small bag of chips for $6.19+tax. You get a good sized, hand dipped corn dog. Add the apple slices and you have added a little healthiness back to the meal.Our Favorite Corn Dog Spot.

Plaza Inn-Kids Fried Chicken meal. This comes with a drumstick but usually for a dollar more you can substitute a breast for the drumstick. It also comes with green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy, apple slices, a biscuit, and choice of milk, juice or a small water bottle for $6.99+tax plus the additional fee for the upgrade. While the chicken is fried, remove the skin and you will lower the fat content on the meal. I will tell you that this is some darned good broasted chicken and for small meals, one of the best deals in the park. Bonus tip-This is one of only two spots within the resort that you can obtain unlimited refills on soda, even to the point where they will provide you a to go cup to take a refill with you. 

Coke Corner-Everything here hits under the ten dollar park, and most of it is the standard hot dog offerings.Looking for light meal here? Consider the Kids turkey Dog that comes with a small milk, water, or Juice, apple slices or chips, and carrots. This runs $6.49+tax.  Otherwise if you truly want a standard hot dog meal, we suggest going with the Chili Cheese Hot Dog that comes with chips or apple slices. This runs $6.99+tax. Looking for an unusual twist? You could get our daughter's favorite, the Mac & Cheese Hot Dog, where they take your hot dog and top it will Mac & Cheese and Bacon Bits and serve it with chips or apples slices. This runs $6.99+tax. For a more substantial offering you could get the chili in a sourdough bread bowl, but be prepared to eat the bowl to help offset the amount of chili provided. This does come topped with cheddar cheese. This bowl comes in at $9.29+Tax.


Bengal Barbecue-The best offerings here are the skewers.  It will take more than one skewer to equal a light meal, and for us it takes two.  Our favorite combo is to get the Bengal Beef Skewer ($4.29+tax) and the Outback Vegetable Skewer ($3.79+tax) coming in at $7.99+tax for the pair.  I would not recommend stopping here if you need something substantial, but it is hard to bypass the amazing smell of the cooking skewers when in Adventureland.

New Orleans Square:

Royal Street Veranda-All three of their bowls are good, although as of late we have noticed the clam chowder is light to almost non-existent with the clams.  The best of the bunch we have found is the Vegetarian Gumbo. To make this meal complete, you will need to partake in eating at least some of the sourdough bowl, as the portions of the Gumbo are usually a bit smaller than the bread bowl. All bowls run $9.29+tax.

French Market- We tried both bowls here and found that we preferred the Corn chowder over the Beef Stew, as we would have preferred the stew to have a bit more seasoning. Outside of the that though, the stew was tender and the bread had soaked up the stew, making the sourdough bread a fairly tasty accompaniment. Both bowls run $9.39+tax.

For a smaller meal, you could try one of the kids meals here.  The best is the kids Macaroni and Cheese as the kids chicken breast meal is a little short on chicken, but does come with a good amount of rice. All meals served with seasonal fruit, vegetables, and choice of small Low-Fat milk or small bottled water, or you may request a juice box or small chocolate milk. Each kids meal is $6.99+tax.

Harbor Galley: Everything offered through this small eatery next to Rivers of America is under 10 dollars!  That includes the four sourdough bread bowls with varying fillings. The unanimous favorite bowl was the Vegetarian Chili, which had large chunks of vegetables, and was very filling.  All Bowls are $9.29+tax.

They also offer baked potatoes, moved over from the Fantasyland eatery. They offer Barbecue Chicken, Bacon & Sour Cream (also has shredded cheese and chives) and
Broccoli & Cheese.  We have yet to have the chicken potato, but found we loved the other two as they were filling and tasty.  Each potato is $6.29+tax.

Critter Country:

Hungry Bear Restaurant-While many things hit under our ten dollar mark, our favorite here is the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich served with fries or slaw and runs $8.49+tax. On a side note, a delicious splurge here is the Lemon "Bumblebee" Cupcake, but it does hit in at $4.99+tax.


Rancho Del Zocolo- We mention this stop as the food is plentiful and very filling, even through all meals hit over the ten dollar mark.  However at the $10.99+tax, we love the Tostada Salad. You can order it with half chicken/half beef and is very tasty and filling.Tip: Although not advertised, we have been able to obtain unlimited soda refills here as well.

Stage Door Cafe-You can get the hand dipped corn dog here served with a side of french fries. This raises the price a buck to $7.19+tax.  That would be the only reason to order this here, as the price is not less if you order the apple slice option- that is included at the Mains Street cart.  On the plus side, there is more seating here.


Edelweiss snacks: If you are looking for just a pure kick of protein as a meal stop, you can stop here for either the Jumbo Turkey Leg or the Barbecue Pork shank. Either will set you back $9.49+tax and both are good for that.


Red Rockett's Pizza Port- The only thing we have enjoyed here is the Count Down Chicken Fusilli. At $9.49+tax it is a large and extremely filling pasta portion.  We always grab extra free Parmesan packs to boost the flavor. We also recommend requesting a side of sauce to give you a bit creamier pasta.  Although not on the menu anymore, we have found that at times we could request a kids meal serving of this same pasta. It comes with apple slices and baby carrots, and choice of small Low-fat milk, or small bottled water, or juice box, or chocolate milk for $6.49+tax. Tip-This is the second spot where we have obtained unlimited soda refills with receipt.

Budget Meals outside of the Parks

Man cannot live on snacks alone (unless that is all he has, of course). While it is easy to carry snacks into Disneyland, it is far less feasible to take a complete meal.  That leaves the budget conscious traveler two options. Option A is to leave the park to partake for the various eateries one can find in Anaheim around the resort.  Option B is to eat a meal within the parks as you enjoy your day.  

When trying to budget your food costs within Disney, bringing in snacks and perhaps a light lunch , leaves the cost of a main meal to tide you over the rest of the day.  As you plan out meal possibilities, take the time to look through the AllEars Disneyland Resort Menu link under the related information links or click here: AllEars Disneyland Resort Menus.  At that site you can find every Disney resort menu, from within the parks, to the dining options in Downtown Disney and those at the Disney Hotels.  This will stand you in good stead as you take in onsite dining options for your visit.

With eating out of the parks, there are many standard fast food options and restaurants in the area.  Some are within walking distance, while others would require transportation.  If we go on the assumption that a visitor would not have transportation, you can locate the following eateries across from the parks, all within reasonable walking distance of 10 to 20 minutes from the park gates.

Mimi's Cafe (located North on Harbor, at the corner of S. Manchester and Harbor)
Tony Roma's
Denny's Restaurant
The Pizza Press
Subway (Located South on Harbor, at the corner Harbor Blvd and W. Katella Ave)

If you leave the parks and go south on Harbor, between Disney Way and W. Katella Ave you will also find the Gardenwalk, an outdoor mall that houses such restaurants as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, and others.  You can find more information on the GardenWalk here: Garden Walk Official Site. (A quick tip for the GardenWalk access: If the Pumbaa Lot is being used that day, you can take the free shuttle bus from the Disney Esplanade to the Pumbaa lot and walk across the street to the GardenWalk.  We have done this to take a meal offsite there and than used the same bus to return to the parks.)

For a basic map of the outside locations click here: Outside Offering Map.  Keep in mind that although this map is from 2008, it will give you a good idea of proximity.

Now options on this list list range from inexpensive to very expensive. In the past we frequented places like California Pizza Kitchen because someone had given us a gift card that we used to purchase a main meal for the three of us. Otherwise, on a cost basis alone, you could do very well at places like Subway, Quiznos, McDonalds, and Denny's. 

Out of the parks but within the resort area are the many restaurant offerings in Downtown Disney and in the Disney Hotel Properties.  The best inexpensive option within the hotels is the White Water Snacks located within the Grand Californian.  The menu is small, but the prices are resort reasonable and the food is good. Most folks I know love the nachos here.

Continuing on to Downtown Disney, you will find several restaurants and a few take out counters.  I find that the food here can be better than park food, and ranges from less than within the parks for comparable offerings to as much or more.  The best budget options are as follows:

Jazz Kitchen Express
Tortilla Joe's Taqueria
The Earl of Sandwich.  

All three are counter service and you get a decent amount of food for the price.  Again, when meal planning I cannot stress enough to take the time to look through the menu offerings that can be seen at the AllEars site.

Keep in mind that choosing a dining option in Downtown Disney will allow for variety away from the standard park fare.  The only downside being you are still leaving the parks. However, it can  be a fun experience, as you have not left Disney Property and Disney does strive to keep it's park atmosphere up in the downtown area. As an added bonus, you can take a ride on the Monorail to get to Downtown Disney and back, although strolling through Downtown Disney does have it's charms.

Extreme Planning Tip: I like to see the value of meals to see if their cost justifies getting them.  The best way to do this is to search images for food from a particular restaurant you are interested in.  This allows you to see what the restaurants offerings may look like.  Yelp is another good way to see the offerings.

Save money on snacks with this tip

I think one of the biggest money eaters in the park for food is snack items. There are lots of tempting treats in the park that are easily within reach of both you and your wallet.when you spend a day in the parks, You will do lots of walking and waiting, so easy treats are very tempting for the park goer.  The way to keep yourself in budget is to bring in treats that will provide energy, keep the hunger at bay, and are easily accessible. 

When we go, we like to carry a variety of non-perishable foods that our family enjoys.  You can take small snacks into the park, even already made sandwiches! However, you will be stopped if you take say a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter..well you get the idea.  What can you take?  I think it's limited by what can get by without refrigeration and what your eating habits are.  Before our revamp on our eating habits, we routinly took the following items:

Snack mixes
Fruit Gummies
Slim Jims
Frozen Uncrustable Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Tostino's cheese cups (no refrigeration needed)

Once we revamped the list changed up a bit:

All natural Crackers
Whole, unsalted Nuts
All fruit Gummies
Trader Joe's fruit bars
All Natural Jerky
Homemade frozen all natural Peanut Butter and no preservative Jelly Sandwiches
Whole Fuit
Frozen string cheese
Trader Joe's Fruit Squeezers
Carrot sticks
Celery Sticks with natural peanut butter

Whatever snacks you choose to take, wrap them into individual servings so that they are easy to grab out of a pack and snack on.  With our daughter, at 6 she is old enough to carry her own small pack with her water and some assorted snacks she likes.  Our rule with her "Snack Pack" is anything we put in there, she can eat anytime she gets hungry.  This really helps curbing her asking for treats as we enjoy our day. 

Taking your own snacks not only cuts down on what you spend, but also ensures you know exactly what you are eating as you go though the parks.  It does require you to carry them through the park unless you are springing for a locker to change clothes or hold jackets, etc.  Packing snacks will save you, as snacks can quickly add up, especially the healthy snack options within the park.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Blog Begins...

So I decided to start blogging about past, present, and future Disneyland resort visits and the time and money savings tips I have found, used, or plan to use and how they can be useful to others. While visiting the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California can be an expensive undertaking there are numerous little tips and tricks a visitor can use to enjoy a parks visit and save some money in the process.

As regular visitors, we have found that for our limited entertainment budget, it was a place that we have obtained great value for the money.  This is even with the yearly price increases! This is in spite of living in a state that has a the largest amount of amusement venues outside of what is offered in Florida! Being local to all these choices has allowed us to visit and observe which parks we find works best for our family and what we enjoy doing.  This is in no way to say that our choice is the only choice.  Each person or family should truly think about what they enjoy and spend their entertainments budget accordingly.At this time, we find that the product put out by Disney is still superior entertainment and best for our current family dynamic with two adults and our 6 year old.

The first thing any visitor should do is plan their budget, whether it's for a single day or multiple day visit.  The type of visit you want will ultimately determine your budget.  Not local? Then you will need to budget in travel expenses. Depending on your available resources, that will include travel to and from the Disneyland Resort, Hotel stay, Resort admission, Souvenirs, and of course Food/Drinks. Local visitors have at minimum Resort Admission and Food/Drinks. As locals, we often obtain a hotel for an overnight stay to allow a full weekend visit or the ability to stay late at the parks without the long drive home. Since there are travel sites and blogs available, I am focusing on visiting the parks themselves. 

While visiting Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, your biggest park expenses will be food and drinks. The first thing you want to ensure is that you have access to plenty of fluids for your park visiting days. Water should be on the top of any visitors list.  Now this can be a pretty pricey item, as the price of bottled water runs about $2.79 plus tax for a 15 oz Desani.  To drink enough, that can add up during the day.  

My first tip is to bring in an unopened bottle of water for each person in your group. Those bottles can be refilled at fountains all day long throughout the resort. Aside from the fountains located throughout the park, there are places that provide filtered water.  Within Disneyland you can find these spots next to the Mint Julep Bar attached to the French Market eatery, within the seating area of Rancho Del Zocolo, and from bottled water within the First Aid offices in both parks.  

Worried about the taste? Take along a single serving of your favorite water flavor mix in. Since overhauling our eating habits, we have switched to mix ins from, as they are all natural and contain no sugar.  Whatever you choose, this will help for anyone who dislikes the fountain taste.  Want cold water?  No problem, most counter eateries within the parks will provide you as many water glasses with ice that you want for free.  Yep, FREE! Ice cold water without spending a dime.  True, you will have to take a minute to get them, but especially on hot days, it is worth it.

If you do not wish to fill up the bottles, you can bring in several.  Freeze a few and they will thaw and be cold when you wish to drink them.  This is especially good if you plan to take an small afternoon break and go back to a local hotel to rest and return later.  If you plan to obtain a locker to hold personal things and snacks, you can throw the frozen bottles in there and circle back throughout the day to get them.  With our 6 year old, we have a small fanny pack that holds a few snacks and a bottle of water.  This ensures she has water at hand at all times, and she doesn't have to carry it. She alternates that pack with a small backpack that can hold her water and snacks.  

My next post will carry information on eating within the parks on a budget. Please feel free to post comments and information below, as they are always welcome!