Thanksgiving at Disneyland: What to Expect, Where to Eat, Crowd Levels
Thanksgiving at Disneyland is a great holiday to visit as the parks will be decked out in their full holiday best as the Christmas season is already in full swing. There will be plenty of holiday entertainment, themed decor, special Disneyland Thanksgiving meals at favorite restaurants plus attraction overlays to experience.
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Does Disneyland Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Yes, Disneyland does celebrate Thanksgiving! There won't be any Disneyland Thanksgiving specific decorations since Disneyland will be midway through their holiday celebration. So there will be decorations but it will all be Christmas focused.
In the past, the Disneyland Hotel has hosted a large Disneyland Thanksgiving day buffet which included characters plus plenty of food in one of the large ballrooms in the Disneyland hotel. This experience did not return in 2021 but it is likely it will return for the 2022 season. You can read more about this special Thanksgiving experience below.
You can also find other Disneyland Thanksgiving meals added to the menus just for Thanksgiving day at many of the other popular table service restaurants around Disneyland!
- Carnation Café: Oven-roasted Turkey Breast, Bourbon Gravy and Cornbread Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie
- Blue Bayou Restaurant: Herb-basted turkey breast, with Butter Whipped Potatoes, Cast Iron Cornbread Stuffing, Citrus-Cranberry Sauce, Market Vegetables and Turkey Au Jus, Kid's turkey dinner, Pumpkin Crème Brûlée with pecan cookie.
- Café Orleans: Battered & Fried Holiday-spiced Monte Cristo with Smothered Pommes Frites, Citrus and Cranberry Salad, Classic Pumpkin Pie topped with Spiced Chantilly
- River Belle Terrace: Traditional Turkey Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup. Oven-roasted Turkey Breast with Country Pork Belly Stuffing, Sweet Potato Mash, Seasonal Vegetables, Gravy and Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin Pie with Pepita-Bacon Brittle and Spiced Chantilly Cream. Kids' Turkey Dinner: assorted Vegetable Crudité with House-made Ranch Dressing. Oven-roasted Turkey Breast with Country Pork Belly Stuffing, Sweet Potato Mash, Seasonal Vegetables, Bourbon Gravy and Cranberry Sauce. S'mores Pudding
- Wine Country Trattoria: Holiday Turkey Meal: Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey Gravy, Stuffing, Green Beans and Orange-Cranberry Sauce. Kids' Holiday Turkey Meal: Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey Gravy, Stuffing, Green Beans and Orange-Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin Pie topped with Spiced Chantilly.
This is a good option especially if you already were planning on eating at one of these restaurants! Keep in mind that these pre-fix menus usually cannot be modified.
Disneyland Thanksgiving at the Disneyland Hotel
This special buffet focus is only offered on Thanksgiving Day in the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom. During the meal you can expect to see a variety of Disney characters that come out to greet you and take photos.
Here is the overview of the experience from 2019 just in case it returns:
Choose from a time in this range:
- 11:30am and 6:00pm
- Adults – $180
- Kids (age 3-9) – $70
- Full payment is required at the time of reservation.
- Kids 2 and under are free.
- Tax and gratuity included.
Buffet Style Meal Choices Include:
Enticing Starters and Salads
- Artisanal cheeses
- Chilled poached jumbo shrimp and crab legs
- Market-fresh green and prepared salads
- Smoked salmon
- Succulent roast turkey
- Prime rib of beef
Favorite Fixings and Sides
- Homemade stuffing
- Sweet potato soufflé
- Fresh cranberry-orange relish
- Fall harvest vegetable medley
- Mashed potatoes and traditional giblet gravy
Decadent Desserts and Pastries
- Classic pumpkin pie
- Make your own Ice Cream Sundae
- Chocolate mousse
- Crisp Chicken Nuggets
- Homemade pizza
- Macaroni and cheese
- Fresh corn
- Dessert selection
Complimentary Beverage Selections
- Ice Tea
- Milk and chocolate milk
- Soft drinks
One specialty cocktail or nonalcoholic specialty drink is provided with buffet. In addition, a full bar selection is available for purchase, including wine by the bottle. Guests will receive one complimentary family photo from Disney PhotoPass Service per reservation.
Book your reservation ASAP- this experience sells out every year. If you have your heart set on this experience, book it on the Disneyland website right when the 60 day mark opens up.
Disneyland Thanksgiving Review
We dined at the Blue Bayou on our Thanksgiving Day 2021 and overall, it was a decent experience. You can either order off the Thanksgiving pre-fix menu or opt for the regular menu.
Unfortunately, most menus on holidays are pre-fix menus meaning there won't be any modifications allowed. Since I'm a vegetarian, this was a problem for me since I didn't want turkey! I wasn't able to just increase my sides in place of the turkey either, most they could is just leave the turkey off the plate so I opted to order something else. Not all restaurants can be this strict though, a friend of mine had Thanksgiving dinner at Carnation Cafe and was able to do more substitutions so this will vary.
The kids meal is just a smaller version of the Thanksgiving menu but this was actually really small portions in compared to the usual kids meals at Blue Bayou.
Thanksgiving dessert was pumpkin pie creme brûlée which is a different take on a Thanksgiving classic. Overall, our experience at the Blue Bayou on Thanksgiving was great due to the ambiance and nostalgia of our favorite restaurant but the options at other Disneyland options offer a bit more flexibility for diners that need modifications and bigger portions.
Is Thanksgiving at Disneyland Crowded?
There's a common misconception that Disneyland isn't crowded on Thanksgiving. During our last visit for Thanksgiving at Disneyland I heard many people tell me, “Oh, I bet it won't be crowded!” Sadly, that's not the case. Thanksgiving was easily the busiest day of our trip and one of the busiest days I've ever experienced at Disneyland.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't go for a Disneyland Thanksgiving! You should just have realistic expectations for your day. Take it slow, plan to make dining reservations to avoid quick-service lines for food and plan on staying late. Once 9PM rolled around, the parks will empty out even on the busiest days of the year. We were able to ride many popular attractions with little to no wait by staying until midnight. If that is realistic for your family, consider staying late as opposed to arriving early. If you can't do late evenings like that then plan on arriving an hour before the park opens. The morning will be more crowded than a usual morning at Disneyland but still much better than the afternoon/evening.
I would also recommend purchasing Genie+ for Thanksgiving at Disneyland. This will be a day that's extremely worth it so you can bypass the longest standby lines.
What is the Weather Like for Thanksgiving at Disneyland?
The average temperature for Anaheim in November is a high of around 70 degrees and a low of around 53 degrees. I would recommend dressing layers as the temperature can fluctuate depending on if the sun is out, if it's cloudy or windy.
The weather can be a bit unpredictable in Anaheim during November compared to the summer months. There might be a slight chance of rain or cold weather on your trip so be sure to check the forecast. During our last visit in November we experienced days with Santa Ana winds which really dropped the temperature despite the bright sun. I was happy that I brought my warm, winter coat for the evenings.
Cooler weather has its perks too! You don't have to worry about extreme heat during your trip and can feel more comfortable in the parks. It's easy to layer on a jacket or sweatshirt to stay warm.
Plan Your Thanksgiving Disneyland Vacation!
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