One of my favorite quick service Disneyland restaurants is the grand Jolly Holiday Holiday Bakery on Main Street. In this Disneyland Jolly Holiday review we will discuss every aspect of the food that is for sale and dive into my favorite part–the desserts.
“We can’t have them gallivanting up there like kangaroos, can we?” —Mary Poppins
Jolly Holiday Menu Board
Join us for our Disneyland Jolly Holiday Review, on the opposite side of Main Street U.S.A. from the Plaza Inn. Themed with light touches from the Mary Poppins film in 1964, this eatery was a grand improvement over this locations former use as a Disney Vacation Club / Disney Passholder discussion and purchase location. Opening from its extensive remodel in 2012, the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café has been cooking up your usual sweet treats as well as some fresh salads and sandwiches.
A Spoonful Of Sugar
One of the many bakery cases inside.
Every morning freshly baked treats are re-stocked, including usual favorites like the “Mickey” cookie and the sinfully decadent giant cinnamon roll (see at the bottom of the picture). You can get the same giant cinnamon roll at the Starbucks on Buena Vista Street, and when in a hurry, it makes a quick breakfast to split with a friend as you wait in line.
Mickey Fourth Of July Cupcake
Don’t forget to try their seasonal and holiday cupcakes. They are delicious and large enough to split with a friend.
Editors Note: New treats were added to the menu. During my recent trip to the parks, I tried the fantastic Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaroon. Oh boy! This is a good one.
This red Mickey-shaped macaroon is stuffed with fresh raspberries and sweet raspberry rose cream sandwiched between two macaroon cookies. Heather has photos at the Disney Food Blog.
You should always have some sort of vegetables during your day in the parks, and Jolly Holiday has the best tasting salads in Disneyland. My personal favorite is the self-named Jolly Holiday salad for $7.49.
Jolly Holiday Salad 7.49
The Jolly Holiday Salad has a fresh lettuce blend, mixed with spiced pecans, feta, tomatoes, and cranberries. It is served with a fresh parmesan breadstick and a side of raspberry vinaigrette. The lettuce was crisp, and having that crunchy texture of the pecans mix with the creamy texture of the feta was delightful. The dressing isn’t overly sweet and makes for a perfect complement to a lunch that doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down.
Angus Roast Beef Salad 8.99
The Bakery Café also makes two other salads including the Angus Roast Beef Salad that includes pickled onions and a blue cheese dressing for $8.99 as well as a Grilled Vegetable & Whole Grain Salad that includes seasonal vegetables, mixed greens, barley, spelt, with a basil vinaigrette. Like I said, you need to be healthy, but grilled vegetables and whole grains sounds a little too healthy.
During our first visit for lunch I was looking for something different beyond the turkey, pastrami, roast beef sandwich incarnations you can find throughout the resort and I decided on the Albacore Tuna Salad on brioche for $9.29.
Albacore Tuna Salad on Brioche w/side of house chips 9.29
Two things became obviously clear with the first bite, the brioche was fresh and the tuna salad was made in-house fresh. The brioche was warm and tasted like it had come right out of the oven. The tuna salad was a perfect creamy blend of albacore, celery, red onions, mayonnaise, and just a little dijon mustard. I was also impressed that the house chips were not the inedible potato chips you get as a side with so many items in Disneyland including the famous Corn Dog (I advise choosing Apple slices instead). The house chips were nicely cooked and seasoned.
On another visit I tried the Hot Angus Roast Beef on a Toasted Onion Roll. The roast beef is smothered in caramelized onions, and the inner portion of the roll is coated in a mild horseradish aioli sauce. Did I mention the white cheddar perfectly melted over roast beef? A splendid combination of flavors in a perfectly sized package.
It’s A Jolly Holiday With Mary
Probably the single most popular item on their menu is the Jolly Holiday Combo. For $9.29 you get a toasted cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato basil soup. There is something nostalgic and heart warming about dipping a grilled cheese sandwich into a freshly prepared cup of tomato soup. The sandwich was perfectly toasted, sealing the yellow cheddar inside until you take your first bite. This makes for a perfect lunch or light dinner on a cool or rainy day at the parks and will warm you right up to continue your adventures at the resort.
Four Out of Five Stars
The Jolly Holiday Bakery Café is a great addition to Main Street U.S.A, providing additional lighter fair and healthy eating options, as well as a great place with many shaded tables and great viewing spots for the parade during the day, and fireworks during the evening. Four out of five stars.
This review comes from our chief taste-tester Matt. If you are interested in writing an article for us, contact us here.
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In this Disneyland Plaza Inn review we look at the various menu choices plus highlight the options that you shouldn’t miss. Before we dive into the food, take a look at the history of the Disneyland Plaza Inn.
“Johnny let’s make sure it looks as good as the model does.” — Walt Disney on the Plaza Inn
The Little Red Wagon That Could
When Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, one of the most popular restaurants resided at the end of Main Street U.S.A., on the border of Tommorowland. Originally opening with the name Red Wagon Inn, according to rumor it was Walt’s favorite restaurant. The Red Wagon Inn was the only eatery in the park that served not only breakfast, but also lunch, and full-course dinners.
In 1965 Walt worked with imagineer John Hench to redesign the Red Wagon in, turning it into the Plaza Inn. The re-design was even featured in Walt Disney Presents, and you can click here to see clips from that episode.
Here is a picture of Walt Disney enjoying a cup of coffee at the Plaza Inn circa 1966:
In 1999, the Plaza Inn went through it’s final refurbishment turning it into the Plaza Inn that we know today. Throughout all the changes the one menu item that has stayed the same since 1955 is the Specialty Chicken.
Disneyland’s Plaza Inn Review:
Finger Lickin’ Chicken?
Since the opening of the Plaza Inn, the Specialty Chicken ($13.99) has been the king of the menu. Many have compared it to the famous Knotts Berry Farm fried chicken sold just down the road. Today I got the scoop on this fried chicken.
My plate included three pieces of chicken, seasoned with herbs and spices. Red mashed potatoes, gravy, a buttermilk biscuit and a mixture of vegetables came on the side of the plate. I started off with the chicken. It was cooked to perfection and the skin was golden and crispy.
The mashed potatoes and gravy were perfect. Sadly, the buttermilk biscuit made the meal go down hill in my book. It was inedible and was bordering on stale. My side of vegetables was undercooked and lacked any taste. Had my biscuit and vegetables been up to par with the chicken and mashed potatoes I could easily have given this dish an amazing review. In fact, the biscuit served with the meal made me crave the far superior KFC biscuit.
Plaza Inn Penne Pasta
We also ordered the Penne Pasta with Marinara sauce. The pasta is served with a breadstick. Since our last visit, the breadsticks have been upgraded from a stale brick to a new fresh, soft, and well seasoned breadstick. While the pasta was a little bland, the marinara sauce was warm and filling. This is a perfect dish a picky eater.
Plaza Inn Carrot Cake
The first dessert we tried was the carrot cake. This was a winner. The carrot cake itself had a perfect texture of nuts, berry, and cake. The frosting itself was also light and did not weigh down the cake. Two of us cleaned the plate of one of these pretty fast. This would be a good dish to enjoy while waiting for a parade on Main Street.
Plaza Inn Apple Crostata
The second dessert item we tried was the Apple Crostata. The flaky crust of the crostata was cooked perfectly and the caramel and toasted nuts added a great flavor and texture as well. Sadly, the apples in the crostata were all undercooked and after a few bites we ended up discarding the remainder. Based on the looks of the Crostata, I was expecting greatness, it was quite disappointing to find undercooked apples. This is a dessert that I would try again because I know that there is possibility for greatness.
Overall the atmosphere is enjoyable. The restaurant is great to get out of the heat and crowds. However, during our multiple visits I have only ever experienced mediocre food.
Look to the Carnation Café for an equally good atmosphere and much better food.
With that in mind though, the Plaza Inn is highly recommended for getting a bite to eat before watching the parade or fireworks, because if you get a table outside on the edge of the seating area you will be in a perfect viewing spot.
In conclusion, I rate Plaza Inn at a three out of five stars.
This article was written by our guest reviewer Matt. Interested in writing for us? Contact us here.
In this Carnation Café review we look at the food offerings for breakfast and lunch. Also, the history of the longest working Disneyland Cast Member is explained–plus how you might be able to meet him. “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows.”
From Parlor to Patio a Carnation Café Review
Originally opened as the Carnation Cafe Ice Cream Parlor on July 17, 1955, the Carnation Café has gone through a variety of changes over the last half century. The largest change came in 1997 when the Ice Cream Parlor closed it’s doors after being acquired by Nestlé, and the Carnation brand was phased out. During the Spring of 1997 the Carnation Cafe re-opened in the outdoor area that still exists today. The current indoor dining area, which was the Blue Ribbon Bakery a few years ago, was the site of the original Ice Cream Parlor. If you eat in any of the booths on the right-most wall, that is where the former ice cream parlor counter would have been. Today you can have some of the most sought-after breakfast items at any Disney Resort, as well as luscious lunches. Reservations are highly recommend during peak seasons, however I have never had to wait more then twenty minutes for a table when I did not have a reservation.
Breakfast of Champions
Carnation Café has a wonderful array of ways to start of your morning. First and foremost has to be Oscar’s Choice: All-American Breakfast.
Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, Oscar’s potatoes, a croissant and your choice of bacon or sausage with fresh fruit in 2012. $9.99
As of 2013, two eggs any style accompanied by Cafe Breakfast Potatoes and Biscuit served with your choice of Hickory-smoked Bacon or Chicken-Apple Sausage.
I have ordered this many times and it’s best when Oscar is the one cooking. The eggs are always cooked to perfection, and I have never had a broken yolk on my sunny-side up eggs. The fruit and chicken-apple sausage are always fresh and full of flavor. The potatoes with sautéd white onions are “world famous”. If your interested in the recipe, Disney Parks Blog posted the recipe three years ago here.
Start the day with a Mickey Waffle
Another popular breakfast option, especially for kids is the Mickey-Shaped Waffle.
A Mickey-Shaped waffle served with hickory-smoked bacon or chicken-apple sausage links. $10.49 You can add apple or strawberry topping for $0.99. In 2012 you got one large Mickey-shaped waffle.
In 2013 ,you get two smaller Mickey-shaped waffles.
Members of my party have ordered this multiple times and the waffles have always been cooked just crispy enough on the outside for texture with a warm and fluffy inside. You can also replace the sausage or bacon with additional fruit.
Huevos Rancheros–Off the Charts
During my last visit I wanted to try one of the Café Specialties, and decided on the Huevos Rancheros.
Corn tortillas, poached eggs, jack cheese, and fire-roasted salsa served with avocado-black bean pico de gallo. $9.99
Now, I love Oscar’s Choice for the combination of a well-made traditional breakfast and the nostalgia it brings, but the Huevos Rancheros may be the best single breakfast item I have ever eaten within a Disney Resort. The textures all play well together, and the fresh ingredients really make a difference with this entree. Unexpected delights like this that make me want to order more outside my normal trends. Seriously, if you are at Disneyland for multiple days try the Oscar’s Choice one day, and come back a second time for the Huevos Rancheros.
Don’t Get the Ham and Cheese Omelet
Lastly, there is the Ham and Cheese Omelet which is my least favorite item of those I have tried on breakfast menu.
A Ham and cheese omelet served with cafe breakfast potatoes and fruit. $9.99
Nothing to write home about here, it’s just a basic omelet with melted shredded cheddar cheese in and on top of the omelet with the great breakfast potatoes and fresh fruit. It’s just ok, not great.
Also don’t forget to wash everything down with a glass of orange juice.
Carnation Cafe Orange Juice (2013)
In my many years of visiting the park I never had visited the Carnation Café for lunch but decided it was time to change that. Being it was our first time for lunch at the Carnation Café I wanted to try a few different items. I checked my Yelp app on my phone and saw the fried pickles with dipping sauce were very popular.
Dill pickle spears dipped in parmesan and panko, fried golden brown and served with a house sauce. $5.99
Wow, just wow. I have had all sorts of deep fried artichoke hearts and zucchini but these really take the cake. We enjoyed them so much that even when our entrées arrived we ordered a second batch to be brought to the table. The inside was tangy and matched perfectly with the crispy parmesan and panko outside. I prefer the house-sauce but they are also good dipped in a side of ranch. If these were sold outside of Carnation Cafe at an outdoor stall like the Cones in California Adventure I think there would always be a long line. Up first is the Turkey Sandwich.
Smoked turkey, tomatoes, monterey jack, lettuce, and mustard aioli on a pretzel roll. $11.99
It seems the pretzel roll is a current food trend with even fast food joints hopping on-board. That said I tried it and was pleasantly surprised by the roll, which was closer to sourdough in texture. It was still a little chewy for me, but the thick cut tomato and smoked turkey worked well. The french fries are also the best I’ve had in the park.
Green Chili Cheeseburger–Yum
An angus chuck patty, manchego cheese, roasted poblano chile, tomato, lettuce, fried egg, and house sauce on a toasted brioche. $14.99
The burger was pretty good, and I mean the totality of the burger. The toppings were it’s saving grace because the angus patty was a bit dry and lacked flavor. The fried egg’s covered perfectly all of the poblano chile when I bit down. I was surprised that the chile was most more flavorful and less spicy then I originally anticipated. The manchego cheese provided a lingering sweet aftertaste with every bite.
Chocolate-Cherry Coke…You Like Tootsie Rolls? Then get this drink.
To wash everything down I decided to try one of the specialty drinks, starting with the chocolate-cherry coke ($3.79).
Chocolate Cherry Coke with Sully Duffy (2013)
All I can say is if you like tootsie-roll’s then you will love this drink. That’s even what the waiter had told me and I didn’t understand until I tried some. It literally tastes like your drinking liquified tootsie-rolls.
Lunch Round TWO
Several months later I returned to the Carnation Cafe for a second lunch to try a few more menu items. First up was the Walt’s Chili Starter.
Hearty chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and fresh tomato. $6.99
The chili was rich, hearty and filling. I recommend a lighter entrée after consuming this as your starter. Now just in case you are a disney food historian, this is not Walt’s recipe. You can find that recipe at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
Regular Cheese Burger–A Little Dry
I wanted to give the Carnation Café burgers another shot and didn’t want to be distracted by extra toppings, so this time I ordered the classic Main Street Cheeseburger.
Angus chuck patty, tilamook cheese, tomato, red onion, lettuce, house sauces on toasted brioche. $11.99
The burger definitely had more flavor and was cooked closer to medium then the green chili cheeseburger I had prior. That being said it was good, not great.
USE CAUTION WITH PB&J Soda
Lastly I decided to wash everything down with the other specialty drink the Carnation Café offers, the PB&J Soda.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Soda (2013) $3.79
I had high hopes, having had the oddly amazing PB&J shake at the 50’s Primetime Café in Walt Disney World. This concoction was not palatable by any sense of the word. Also what is Disney’s new obsession with topping their drinks with flavored foams? Most of the foam’s are overly sweet, like liquified candy meant for a child. My advice, stay away, far away from this beverage. Instead try one of the excellent shakes. On a final note, one one of my trips I tried one of “Walt’s Favorites,” the Homemade Meatloaf.
Made with a special blend of Beef and Pork served with Ketchup Glaze, Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables. $12.49
The meatloaf itself was very rich and flavorful and the ketchup glaze really put it over the top. The red mashed potatoes were buttery and fluffy, but I wasn’t a big fan of the succotash.
Who is Oscar?
Earlier in the article I mentioned an entrée named Oscar’s choice that was served with Oscar’s potatoes. So you might be wondering who is Oscar. Oscar Martinez is the longest tenured cast member at Disneyland. He started working at the resort in 1956 and has been at the Carnation Café since 1967. Many times when you order the Oscar’s choice he will cook it, come and deliver it personally and visit with you. Definitely a highlight for any Disney fan.
I have never been let down at the Carnation Café and have always received warm and friendly service. The combination of classic atmosphere and delicious food keeps me coming back for two to three visits every Disneyland trip. Next time when you are in, say hi to Oscar. I confidently give the Carnation Cafe 5 out of 5.
“Ye come seekin’ adventure and salty ol’ pirates, eh?”
Blue Bayou Restaurant Review
Nestled within the corridors of New Orleans Square and built into the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, the Blue Bayou restaurant has been serving cajun creations to customers for the last forty-seven years. The restaurant opened on March 18, 1967 to meet the growing demand for a high quality restaurant in the park. The earliest menus featured the story of the Blue Bayou Terrace and such specialties as the Salade Rothschild and the classic Monte Cristo Sandwich. Over the years the menu has changed but one of the biggest draws for the restaurant is still the Monte Cristo.
Reservations are highly recommended for dinner year round, and for lunch during peak seasons. The restaurant also designs unique holiday menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You enter the Blue Bayou next to the exit of the Pirate’s of the Caribbean attraction and the original Club 33 Entrance. After you have checked in, you wait inside a small indoor waiting area. The waiting area only seats about 20 people so people normally end up waiting on the floor or the stairs due to lack of space. A waiter will arrive from inside the restaurant, call you by name, and lead you inside.
Dine On the Edge of the Bayou
Once you walk up the wooden steps and through the white framed doors you are transported to the 19th century Old South. You are led to a black wrought iron table in front of an antebellum mansion. The best seats are the ones along the water, where you can see the beginning of the Pirates attraction and boats of other guests gliding by. As you begin to ponder your lunch or dinner selection, you will hear swampy sound effects like crickets, owls, and a lone banjo playing. All of these aspects combine to create the restaurant with the best atmosphere at the Disneyland Resort. The number one requested menu item is the Monte Cristo Sandwich.
Classic Sandwich–Worth the Trip
The classic Monte Cristo includes layers of turkey, ham, and swiss, which melt in your mouth as you bite into the golden flaky batter that coats the sandwich. Not to mention the amazing berry purée the staff provides you to dip your sandwich in. To top the meal off, if you ate at the Blue Bayou prior to Spring 2013 the sandwich would be served with a side of Blue Bayou Potatoes. The potatoes were made with cream, garlic and melted parmesan cheese. Today the sandwich is served with a fruit skewer as a “healthier” alternative.
Le Special de Monte Cristo Sandwich – Turkey Ham and Swiss Cheese battered and fried to golden brown, served with a Fruit Skewer. $25.49
Let’s face it though, if you are eating a large meat and cheese sandwich that is deep-fried, dusted with powdered sugar, and then dipped in jam, are you really looking for a healthy meal?
When I was growing up my family would always visit the Blue Bayou for lunch because my dad and I both loved the Monte Cristo which currently costs $25.49. For comparison, the classic Monte Cristo sandwich is also served at Café Orleans, except its only $17.99. Thats over a seven dollar difference for atmosphere and a fruit skewer.
One of these is incredibly filling and and you could easily split with someone. For a small fee the Blue Bayou allows split plates. The entree is split and each person gets their own side, which is a pretty good deal.
Editors Note: If you have a gluten allergy and book your reservations for the Blue Bayou at least a month in advance you can request a gluten free version of the Monte Cristo to be made for your reservation. It requires a special batter that the kitchen does not always have in supply, so the sooner you can let them know the better. Also if your in the mood to try something a little different you can get a three-cheese, no meat version of the Monte Cristo at Café Orleans across the way.
Dinner is Good–But Come For the Atmosphere
One of the primary draws for dinner is the broiled filet mignon. Every-time I have ordered this dish it has always been cooked to perfection. The succulent flavor of the meat is in every bite and is paired perfectly with a béarnaise sauce. The sides include Blue Bayou Au Gratin potatoes which are cheesy with just the right sauce texture to sticks the slices of potato together. The asparagus are fresh and on only one occasion slightly undercooked. At $42.99 its pretty pricey these days.
Now I do have a problem with a popular menu item for dinner; the Isla-Cruces Crab Cakes. At different times the portions were changed between an appetizer and entrée. Supposedly succulent pan-seared crab cakes topped with a lobster beurre blanc and mango slaw. I remember these nearly a decade ago being a representation of a properly constructed crab cake. Like nearly everything I review I give it two to three separate attempts before I pass judgement. My party tried the crab cakes three times over the past couple years (last time with Spring 2013 before the menu change), each time they were dry, burnt, and flavorless.
Blue Bayou Isla-Cruces Crab Cakes
For those with simpler tastes, or kids, the Mickey’s Cheesy Macaroni is surprisingly good. The noodles were covered in a cheddar cheese sauce that was similar to the rich sauce used in the macaroni and cheese at Flo’s in Cars Land across the way at California Adventure. The macaroni is served with steamed broccolini and fresh fruit. For an additional fee an adult can order off the kids menu and receive a larger sized portion of the specified dish.
See this video review of every Blue Bayou Restaurant dessert menu option. The hosts ordered one of everything and present a review.
Washing it All Down With Glowing Ice Cubes
No matter how young or old you are, there is always something that makes you smile. One of those things for me is the multicolored glowing ice cubes that Disney puts in their drinks. The drinks seem to taste so much better when they light up and glow. I was first introduced to this at ElecTONica in California Adventure and it works equally well with the Tinker Bell & Friends or Buzz Lightyear Punch. From my experience they give the kids straws with a glowing tinker bell or buzz lightyear. For the adults if the Louisiana Lemonade or Mint Julep is ordered you get the glowing ice cube.
Refreshing Traditional Mint Julep. $3.49
Final Thoughts On Disneyland Blue Bayou
If you want an atmospheric dinner and want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Disneyland crowds the Blue Bayou is a great option. However with both the prices of food increasing in parallel with food quality decreasing, I will be eating my annual Monte Cristo at Café Orleans instead. I will only be coming back to the restaurant for special menus (holidays and promotions) and with friends who have never been.
So the final on tally on this Blue Bayou Restaurant Review:
5 out of 5 for atmosphere, 3 out of 5 for the quality of the food.
Overall we give it a 4/5.
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