Disney's diverse delectable offerings
The foods at Disney’s parks are such iconic staples. Guests young and old savor their favorite Disney foods — many hold special memories for them. The parks even have “Smellitizers” (yeah, a weird neologism) on Main Street, strategically placed fans blowing delicious aromas to get guests licking their lips. So is the food universal at all Disney parks or is it specific to the geographic locations? The answer is … both.
Arguably one of the most special parts of Disney foods are the fun, character shapes of the items. Junior Harrison Wilmot describes, “Mickey Mouse waffles taste way better than ones that are not shaped. It’s cute and if they put effort into the design, that means they must also put effort into the flavor.” Senior Melody Cai agrees that the signature designs justify the prices: “When you’re paying about 6 dollars for ice cream, but it comes in a Mickey Mouse shape, then it’s fine.” Sophomore Amanda Wang, who has been to the Shanghai, Orlando, and California Disney locations, expresses that “it’s really fun to buy any foods that are shaped like a Disney character. It looks pretty. I feel like character-themed foods had an even bigger influence on me when I was younger though because before I really cared about its appearance.”
Cai notes that while all locations sell popcorn, the Hong Kong park definitely has more rare flavors: “There is classic caramel and salted buttered flavors in America, but in Hong Kong, they have seaweed flavor and it is really delicious.” Additionally, she states, “I think Hong Kong’s Disney has much more unique and exotic foods [than the Disneyland in Anaheim].” Similarly, sophomore Amanda Wang, who has been to the Shanghai, Orlando, and California Disney parks, notes that Shanghai’s Disney desserts are better than both US locations: “I feel that they tried harder on the drinks and desserts at Shanghai Disneyland than the ones in California.” Disney enthusiast junior Amber Shan has been to the Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo park locations. She also agrees that the food is overpriced, but ultimately worth the fun shapes: “The food was so overpriced, but it was really cute because the rice was molded into the shape of Mickey Mouse. The rice definitely tasted better because it looked like Mickey Mouse. In fact, when I was a kid, I did not eat a lot of rice, but at Disney, I ate so much.”
When comparing the priorities of food at Disney to rides, shows, and other attractions, people have split opinions. The consensus seems to be that the food adds to the immersive Disney experience, however it is not the key component. Shan notes that “the lines are often so long for food. I don’t see why we need to wait an hour just for food. The food probably tastes so good because we are so hungry!” Similarly, Wang explains that the food “is not a big component of my day, but I love the desserts.”
On the contrary, Disney fanatic Maya Chavez and her family arrange their entire trip around the food options: “I have probably been a lot more than 20 times to Disneyland in my lifetime. Every trip, my mom and I make sure to get the fried chicken meal at Plaza Inn. As we started going to Disney more often, it became a tradition to always go to Plaza Inn first and later Bengal Barbecue for their bacon wrapped asparagus and chicken skewers. For my family, we would go to Disney so often that we looked forward to the food the most. More than rides, fireworks, attractions, or anything else, we worked our trip around our meals.” Additionally, Chavez feels that the food is diverse and well-themed: “There are very different types of food depending on what area you’re in. If we are in California Adventure, we’d eat very different foods from Disneyland. We group our foods by location, so right after Bengal Barbecue, we get Pineapple Dole Whips because they are located nearby. I associate the rides based on where they are in comparison to the restaurants.”
While having more variety of cuisines at Disney parks would be beneficial, Disney definitely strives to have a diverse range of foods. Epcot, one of the Disney parks in Orlando, is known for its food around the world and unique culinary offerings. The park is divided into countries that guests can visit to get a taste of what it is like. Shan feels that the Shanghai park also offers a wide variety of cuisines: “I feel like the Disney in Shanghai was trying to be more inclusive so they definitely have food from all over the world. They have a Mexican restaurant, they even have a Hawaiian restaurant which is really cool. There are so many different cultures of food represented.” Finally, each spring, Disney’s California Adventure hosts the Food and Wine Festival, offering fun culinary foods and drinks. So, while Disney should continue to diversify their options, they are definitely on the right track and headed in the right direction. As Chavez rightfully exclaims, “You don’t get Disney food unless you’re at Disney!”