Debating Disneyland’s Best Parts
Choosy moms choose Disney. Specifically, the Moms Panel on the Disney Parks Blog chooses their favorite parts of Disneyland each year. Since the composition of the Moms Panel changes each year, the results vary wildly. Today, I thought it would be fun to compare the results of their survey against my own opinions of the categories. Feel free to do the same since you’re no more likely to agree with me than I am with the good people participating in the Moms Panel for 2018. Without further ado, here are their Disneyland Resort Awards along with my thoughts on each vote. (Please keep in mind that all of these categories were chosen by the Moms Panel, not me.)
Choosing the most delicious snack at Disneyland is nigh-impossible. Disney’s had more than 60 years to perfect the craft of tasty treats. Even in the earliest days of the park, they were forward-thinking about satisfying the desires of their guests.
Disney opened Hill Bros Coffee House in 1958 (!). They weren’t just decades ahead of the Starbucks craze; they were early on the beatnik phase of the 1960s! Ice cream and tea cakes there were wildly popular, and the place remained successful until the late 1970s.
Disney even had the first frozen juice treat at any amusement park. In 1955, the first year of Disneyland, guests could order a Welch’s Grape Juice Bar, which is exactly what it sounds like: Welch’s Grape Juice frozen into a bar.
With high standards in place for generations, picking the best snack is extremely difficult. More than a dozen treats currently on sale at Disneyland are worthy of that title. The Moms Panel selected Churros, the ones you’ll find at the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land and at Churro Carts.
I narrowed down my selections to four potential items before picking a favorite. My short list is:
- Dole Whips
- Hot Link Corn Dogs
- Matterhorn Macaroons
- Mickey Beignets
Dole Whips are the obvious choice, but I wanted to pick something unconventional here. The Hot Link Corn Dogs from Corn Dog Castle definitely fit the bill in that regard, but as much as I love food-on-a-stick options, I decided my choice should be sweet, not savory. That left a debate between Mickey Beignets and Matterhorn Macaroons and, well, I looooove Macaroons, and these are more than delicious. They’re also shaped in the form of the Matterhorn! Isn’t that great?
Favorite Disney Character Experience
Character meetings are another integral part of the Disney theme park experience. Whenever you visit the Happiest Place on Earth, you’ll want to engage with at least some characters. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a child, a parent, or an octogenarian on a solo trip, everyone wants/needs to hug Mickey Mouse.
Since the beginning, Disney has emphasized the strength of intellectual property by providing these character greetings. During those first few years, let’s be honest about the fact that the costumes weren’t great. Mental Floss has posted a hilarious set of mascot outfits from that era. It’s a wonder that cast members in these costumes didn’t get maced on a frequent basis.
Over the years, Disney’s gotten much better at building great costumes, ones that encourage cast member hugging. According to the Moms Panel, the best option at Disneyland Resort is Mickey’s House at Mickey’s Toontown. It certainly is a great one, as Mickey Mouse dresses up in his finest outfits to entertain guests. I didn’t have it on my shortlist, though. My favorites (in no particular order) are:
- Ariel and other Disney Princesses at the Ariel’s Grotto character meal
- Fairy Godmother in Fantasyland
- Merida et al at Fantasy Faire
- Minnie Mouse in Flapper Girl costume at Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure
- Stitch and the gang at the Surf’s Up character meal
The accompanying article for the Moms Panel awards didn’t clarify whether character meals were an option. So, I ruled those out when I picked. Similarly, Fairy Godmother roams rather than has a fixed spot at Fantasyland. That seemed a bit like cheating, too. I don’t have Tiana or Moana listed for the same reason, which makes Fairy Godmother a poor choice to win.
My decision finally came down to Minnie Mouse in her delightful Flapper Girl outfit or the sheer volume of princesses at Fantasy Faire. While Minnie has the best individual design of anyone listed here, Fantasy Faire makes it up in volume. Several Disney Princesses appear at this character meeting spot, making it the best place to see all your favorites. It’s definitely the best Character Experience at Disneyland.
Hoo boy, this category is a dogfight. Disneyland is home to approximately 40 restaurants, most of which range from good to what lies beyond exceptional. While other companies serve food at their theme parks, Disney’s in an entirely different stratosphere with their offerings. They hire world-class chefs to design exotic menus filled with delectable foods.
Picking the best one is entirely in the eye of the beholder. A group of 20 Disneyland fanatics might give 20 different responses. The Moms Panel played it safe by choosing Blue Bayou Restaurant, the Disneyland establishment that receives the most headlines. It’s also very well reviewed. At the time of publication, it’s the #7 restaurant in all of Anaheim according to Trip Advisor. Notably, that only makes it fourth out of Disneyland offerings, though. Seriously, the competition is that tough.
When I considered the question, I immediately came up with six favorites…although the reality is that if you asked me again next week, I might come up with six others. As of today (right now at this second), my choices are:
- Ariel’s Grotto
- Carnation Café
- Disney’s PCH Grill
- Flo’s V8 Café
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- River Belle Terrace
How tough is this choice? I’m sitting here as I heat up leftovers from one of my favorite restaurants, yet all I keep thinking is, “I wish I were eating at Disneyland right now.” Hyperloop cannot get here fast enough for me!
To trim the list, I threw out PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen since they’re at hotels. Then, I eliminated the rustic cuisine at River Belle Terrace for being a bit limited in scope…but it does those few things so very well! Similarly, Carnation Café, while wonderful, is also a bit basic. That reduces the choice to Ariel’s Grotto or Flo’s V8 Café, and while I love the classic Americana style of Flo’s, it cannot possibly win that fight. Ariel’s Grotto has a princess parade akin to Cinderella’s Royal Table and Akershus, and the food is better here than at the two Walt Disney World locations. It’s my choice as the Best Restaurant at Disneyland Resort.
Favorite Disneyland Resort Attraction
Well, this one’s easy for me. The Moms Panel selected Space Mountain as the Best Attraction at Disneyland. But I’ve already compiled this list. I previously ranked the 10 best attractions at Disneyland, and Space Mountain only finished ninth! I named the best three Disneyland rides as Pirates of the Caribbean, Radiator Springs Racers, and The Haunted Mansion. While I want you to read the full piece to see my point of view on the subject, I’ll go ahead and give away the ending. Disney’s Haunted Mansion is THE best attraction at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Okay, now that you’ve read my thoughts, I’m curious to hear yours. Who is closer to right, the voters on the Moms Panel or your friends at MickeyBlog?
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