Monday, June 17, 2013

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.

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