lost weekenders

January18

Trader Sam's: The Comprehensive Guide

Food & Drink, Drinks, SnacksKatComment
trader sams enchanted tiki bar

We’re risking a lot by telling you this. Trader Sam’s is our go-to spot for every Disneyland trip - a place we always have to visit at least once, and in an ideal world, we visit multiple times a trip. By giving out this info, it’s likely we’re making it EVEN HARDER for ourselves to find seats inside, but you know what? That’s how much we like you.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is an oasis located at the Disneyland Hotel pool. If you’ve been on the Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland, you’ve met Trader Sam: he’s at the end, offering you a special deal - two of his heads for just one of yours.

The tiki bar is like a combo of Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones and the Enchanted Tiki Room: the walls are littered with postcards addressed to ‘Sam’ - some from Dr. Jones himself, others from travelers who seem to have bartered with the trader for random objects and photos. The columns supporting the bar seem to come straight from the Enchanted Tiki Room - you might expect them to start singing at any moment.

There’s also a reason it’s called the ‘Enchanted’ Tiki Bar. Watch the lazy eyes of the tiki columns closely, pay attention whenever anyone orders a draught beer, wait to see if anyone happens to find their barstool coming closer and closer to the floor. Expect a special show any time someone orders a Shipwreck on the Rocks, an Uh-Oa, or a Krakatoa Punch (don’t worry, you’ll know when it happens).

Pro tip: Trader Sam's is all-ages until 8:00 PM - after that, it's ages 21+ only.

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Seating

Trader Sam’s has one major drawback, and that is the fact that it is TINY. Given that there are only a very few tables in the bar, there’s a good chance that you will show up to find either a long awkward hovering wait ahead of you, or no chance of getting a table at all.

Luckily, there is a good amount of seating outside. Unluckily, the seating outside is not nearly as magical as the seating inside.

To maximize the chance of getting a seat inside, show up early (around when it opens). Also advisable: show up on a weekday. The worst times to go are the late afternoon through the rest of the night, and definitely once the park has closed.

While we’re on the subject, don’t be one of those people who brings a huge group to Trader Sam’s - it’s a total bummer to walk into the bar and see every seat in the room taken up by one giant group who plans on staying for a few hours. If you’re in a huge group, maybe consider picking up your drinks inside and then finding a seat outside, which is a much more functional place for group seating.

Recommendations

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Drinks


Lost Safari: this is my go-to drink and it never lets me down. (It's now off the official menu, but they can still make it).
Krakatoa Punch: comes with a glow-cube, and tastes like heaven.
Shrunken Zombie Head: Delicious and gets you boozed up in no time.
Shipwreck on the Rocks: This drink is basically just sweetened bourbon over ice. It’s amazing.
The Tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki rum: Often you’ll be asked to say the entire drink title, so don’t try to get away with just asking for a ‘tiki rum’. Creamy and cinnamon-y, this drink is Kelsey’s go-to.
The Uh-Oa: Boozy and a little too easy to drink, this delicious drink comes with four straws and a show but goes really fast!

Trader Sam's recently revamped their menu with quite a few new drinks, including the Angolada, Zambezi Sour, Pago Pago Cocktail, La Florida, and Safari Swizzle. We've sampled them all (naturally), and found that some of them, surprisingly and unfortunately, just aren't that great (though the Pago Pago is an exception and is delicious). You'll notice that some of our recommendations aren't on the menu anymore (Lost Safari, whyyyyyy) but we've been assured that the bartenders still know how to make the Old Menu drinks. 

Food

Fried green beans: ALWAYS GET THESE. Even if you’re not hungry. They are so so good.
Lettuce Wraps: The portions look small, but it takes a while to get through this delicious appetizer.

To be honest, we don’t recommend having an actual meal at Trader Sam’s (unpopular opinion?). The times we’ve ordered burgers or sandwiches, we’ve found ourselves disappointed with the portion size and price - it seems like you can get a much better bang for your buck in other locations in Disneyland. For this reason, we usually stick to appetizers (sometimes mutliple rounds of green beans because seriously, they are so. good.) and drinks.

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Other Must-Dos

BUY A SOUVENIR MUG. Trader Sam’s has the coolest mugs in the resort, and if you have room in your luggage, we highly recommend buying at least one. Plus, the price is usually only a few bucks more if you're adding it onto a drink.

Live Music: After dark on select evenings (usually on weekends), Trader Sam's hosts live Hawaiian-style music in the outdoor seating area. It's super relaxing and very easy to imagine you've found yourself on some island paradise, delicious tiki drink in hand. 

Disneyland Hotel & Trader Sam's 

If you're staying at the Disneyland Hotel you're already living the high life, but be sure to take this into account: not only can you get Trader Sam's to-go (so you can take your dranks to the pool), but most of the time, you can get poolside service while you lounge. That's right, Trader Sam's delivered. To you. At the pool. Talk about living the dream.

Ultimately, it would be pretty tough to find yourself disappointed at Trader Sam's. So if you find yourself in the Disneyland Resort looking for both a break from the crowds and a delicious alcoholic (or non-alcoholic I GUESS) beverage, give it a whirl. 

New at Disneyland! Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience. Is It Worth It?

Food & Drink, Tips, Snacks, FoodKelseyComment

One of the best parts about Disneyland is no matter how many times you’ve been, there’s always something new to do. So when Disneyland announced their new dining experience which takes place overlooking Tomorrowland, we were on board. We tried it, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

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Pricing: There’s a flat fee of $45 a person with no AP discount. Under three, like everything else, is free.

Where: You wait in line at the base of the ramp at Innoventions (now Launch Bay). They give each person a wristband, then walk your party up the ramp to the top outside balcony, where you pick up your dessert box and get your seat. Your seating area is yours for the night, so you can come and go as you please.

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What you get: A private dining space to kick back, with a box of desserts. You get just one box per person, but unlimited drinks. There are games and activities, and some very attentive cast members. You also get a souvenir lanyard.

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And now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Okay, here’s the thing. I think this could be super cool, I’m in love with the idea, but it’s not quite there, yet. What you get isn’t quite $45 dollars worth. However, I wouldn’t necessarily change the price since you can’t fit too many people up there, and since you get to keep your seat the whole night, there’s no turnover. I would however switch up presentation, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

The coolest part of the whole experience is you get to keep your spot and come and go as you please. You get led up the old innoventions ramp to the top balcony that overlooks Tomorrowland. The view is super cool, and I imagine would be incredible during the fireworks (they weren’t happening on this last trip). There’s also a very limited amount of seats, so you get to stretch out and get away from the crowds for a while.

 

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You grab your dessert box, grab a drink of choice (no booze), and a cast member leads you to your seating area, which is a grouping of white couches around light-up tables. There are games spread out, some at your table, and some in common areas so if you’re a sociable person (so the opposite of me), you can play giant jenga and bond with randos (once again, could be super fun if you’re not a socially awkward human like myself).

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The food, which is the main part they advertise, was dismal. They hand you a plastic box with about four reimagined Little Debbie treats, some grapes, and a scoop of pub cheese with crackers. The desserts were pretty good, not great, kind of dampened by presentation. The woman at the seating area next to us mentioned she was lactose intolerant so her box was super sad. She had rice cakes and hummus and gummy bears. That’s it.

I think this is where they could level up the most. Even if they served you your dessert selection on a fancy platter, the whole thing would feel much more tied together and special. Everything else feels so swanky and like a VIP experience, and the plastic box of semi-palatable desserts takes you out of that carefully crafted experience they’ve aced up to that point. Also like...up your game for different allergies, Disneyland. Rice cakes and gummy bears is just plain rude.

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On the flip side, you get as many drinks as you want, so shove those mini water bottles all up in your purse (I did this and I have zero shame). They have a pretty solid selection of dranks, from soft drinks and waters (fizzy and flat, y’all), they also have big ole carafes of coffee, hot chocolate, and hot water with a choice of tea bags. And you can hydrate up, there’s no limit.

So would I recommend doing this? If you’re new to Disneyland, maybe hold off until they up the game a bit. It would also probably be worth it for newbies if it’s a fireworks night. If it’s not, it might be a bummer couple hours you could be experiencing the parks.

If you’re a Disneyland pro- and you don’t have any food allergies, I’d say it could be worth it? Maybe? If you like doing new things in the parks, maybe? Just have the right expectations going in and a giant tote bag to stash $45 worth of drinks.

I think it’s a super cool idea, and definitely has potential to be something really special in the park. I think it could use a little leveling up. And less pub cheese.

 

Secrets to Keeping Your Phone Charged at Disneyland

Basics, BeginnersStephenComment

We all tend to be on our phones constantly in normal life, but compound that with 16 hour Disney days full of picture taking and MaxPass scanning and you're sure to kill your battery faster than ever. 

iPhone Low Power Mode

Tip 1 - Low Power Mode

Both iPhone and Android have an option to save power called "Low Power Mode" or "Battery Saver". Usually this option reduces animations, background mail fetching, display brightness and other barely noticeable adjustments. Of course, staying connected is still important, but as you walk in and out of cell coverage (especially in underground portions of rides) your battery drains quickly. And lets be honest, does anyone want to see you swiping through pointless emails while they are trying to enjoy Haunted Mansion?  In the park, I have noticed up to 8 hours more battery life just by enabling this option. 

Tip 2 - Bring A Battery Pack

Pump up your battery game. Phone cases like the iPhone Smart Battery Case can double your overall battery life, but if you're like me and can barely handle the thickness of any phone case, this option isn't the best. 

My solution is to bring a portable battery pack. Now I know some of you can effectively kill a fully charged battery by noon. Since I'm not one to endlessly scroll Facebook, listen to music, pay any heed to the news or watch cat videos while I'm at Disneyland, I don't have that problem. So my battery pack of choice doesn't need to be an all day pocket carry, because I'm only  maybe going to top off once a day.

My favorite battery pack is the Jackery Bolt 6000. The #1 killer feature about this battery pack is the cable is built-in, so I can carry this battery pack to Trader Sam's and get Kelsey, Kat and my phone back to about 90% in an hour or so with no additional messy cables. The battery can charge a normal size iPhone two times, or, for us, 3 iPhones to about 75%.

California Adventure Fuel Rod

Tip 3 - California Adventure Chargers

Inside California Adventure and The Grand Californian are Fuel Rod purchase and exchange stations. A brand new Fuel Rod comes with a 5000 mAh battery and cables for your iPhone or Android. From these kiosks you can purchase a new kit or exchange one you already have for a freshly charged one. As long as you keep your cable with you, these have the added benefit of never needing to remember to charge it on your own, at the hotel, or at home. An additional benefit is these Fuel Rod kiosks exist outside the park, most commonly at airports. (Although at the airport, you may have to pay a couple dollars there for a freshly-charged one, whereas at California Adventure, the swap is free.)

Disneyland Charging Lockers

Tip 4 - Charging Lockers

At both locker locations inside the park (but not the one outside the park) charging lockers are offered in addition to standard stuff storage lockers. The pricing is different and the storage space is smaller but serves a more specialized purpose. Cables are included inside for iPhone and Android but if you'd like to charge something else, be sure to bring a cable or wall adapter to plug inside. 

I think these are most useful in a pinch, but probably the least economical and practical, considering you have to get back to the locker within a specified amount of time or continue to get charged. 

Downtown Disney District Basics

Downtown Disney, BeginnersStephenComment

You leave your hotel and make a bee-line for the Disneyland entrance gate, ride all the rides, stuff your face with corn dogs and churros, and drag yourself out at 1am covered in tasty goodness from Gibson Girl Ice Cream. Besides all the other tips and energy recharging tips you've picked up from this blog, Downtown Disney is a huge asset to your trip.

Downtown Disney Sign

Casual Free Stroll

During my time as a college student, I didn't always have the money to buy an annual pass, but I still wanted to experience any Disney magic I could. An early morning Downtown stroll gets you some classic Disney music, excited families heading toward the entrance gates and the distant sounds of gunfire from the Jungle Cruise. Sometimes that's just enough to keep your spirit up until your wallet can squeeze out a park ticket. 

Downtown Disney Parking

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Downtown Disney has its own parking lot (for now) that gives you free, validated parking if you make a purchase at a store, eat at a restaurant or watch a movie. This trick is especially useful if your trip to Southern California extends for more days than you have allotted for The Disneyland Resort, but need to pickup a gift or two at World of Disney. 

Uva Bar

Downtown Anytime Break

As Kelsey mentioned in her post about unexpected snacks around the resort, restaurants are always a great place to take a load off for an hour or so and recharge, so definitely don't limit the usefulness of Downtown Disney to only lunchtime. In the morning the Jazz Kitchen Express has beignets and La Brea Bakery has breakfast egg sandwiches. Mid morning peach tree mojitos at Tortilla Joe's and late night cocktails at Uva Bar always provide the calming elixer of life. As for unique memorabilia that speaks to the somewhat sophisticated, be sure to visit WonderGround Art Gallery and the new Disney Dress shop for some creative, hard to find and unique merch. 

Napoli Pizza

Nighttime Entertainment

Disneyland and California Adventure have their share of every-time entertainment, but after dinner when the families are venturing back to the park from their afternoon naptime, the parks can become intensely crowded. Well the Disney Parks planners have taken care of you, yet again. 

The Downtown Disney Stage (adjacent to Rainforest Cafe and the AMC Movie Theater) has nightly entertainment ranging from a live band playing 80s rock tunes, a DJ dance party or even a massive tuba band. As you walk closer to the Disneyland entrance you will find a couple of smaller and solo acts in front of WonderGround and Napoli.

The best part about these entertainers is they range from good to ridiculously comical. I'm sure there's some standard set by Disney because all of the solo musicians play to recorded backing tracks and have an understood cheese factor occasionally accentuated by a fog machine or impromptu audience participation! 

Ralph Brennan Jazz Kitchen

Some slightly off-topic tips

Even though Downtown Disney has two full blown Starbucks stores and each park has its own as well, take a chance on The Coffee Shop located next to Goofy's Kitchen at The Disneyland Hotel. Shorter lines and definetly less hustle and bustle. 

Also at the Disneyland Hotel is Tangaroa Terrace, a casual dining restaurant that has snacks, sweets and meals and is rarely busy enough to fill it's ample seating area. In the same style of eatery but located at The Grand Californian is White Water Snacks. I love the chicken nachos made with the classic spicy, canned, ballpark cheese sauce.

 

Even though you want to go hardcore from open to close, sometimes just the change of scenery is a good enough mental break

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Disneyland Morning

Basics, BeginnersKatComment

Your best trip to Disneyland is all about strategy, and one of the most important parts of your park strategy is how you manage your mornings – the first few hours in the parks can determine how the rest of your day goes. Besides the usual ways to effectively plan your day, here are our surefire tips to supercharge your mornings in Disneyland:

disneyland main gate entrance

GET THERE SUPER EARLY

You probably think you’ll have enough time to leave your hotel, park, and get to Disneyland by the time ropes drop, but take it from us: you probably won’t. We always budget a decent amount of time for the morning trip to the park but somehow frequently find ourselves walking down Main Street 10-20 minutes after the park has officially opened.

Add at least half an hour to whatever time you think you’re going to need to get ready. There are usually unexpected lines at the parking lot, trams that take way too long to arrive, weird situations with security, or you'll happen to choose the one entrance line with fifteen people getting their photos taken for their new tickets – don’t let these situations slow you down! You want to be at the parks for as much of the morning as you possibly can.

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MOBILE ORDER AT STARBUCKS

If you’re one of the bajillions of people in the world that start your day with some caffeine, you’re going to want to stop at Starbucks before you get on your first ride or two. Unfortunately, because bajillions of people in the of the world start their day with caffeine, the lines at the Starbucks in Disneyland get LONG. Don’t let a long coffee line totally disrupt your morning and throw off your whole day.

We now order our coffees through mobile ordering on the Starbucks app once we’ve boarded the parking lot tram at the Mickey and Friends parking lot. You bypass the lines, and usually the drinks are ready just about when you get there. Be sure you order from the correct Starbucks though – the one by the Disneyland Hotel will set you back (you’ll have to backtrack through nearly all of Downtown Disney to get there).

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MAXPASS/FASTPASS THE BEST WAY

It’s pretty common knowledge that everyone heads to Space Mountain and Indiana Jones first thing upon entering Disneyland. Unless you’re only there for these rides, don’t bother trying to get on them first, since the line will be just as long as it is the rest of the day (unless you’re the very first person there, which would be a shock).

Also don’t waste your time trying to get a Fastpass first thing, since usually when that happens you end up with a Fastpass entry time of only about 20-40 minutes later, which means you have to wait around instead of using your time for other rides. It’s much more useful to spend your morning on rides with shorter lines (due to the smaller crowds) that don't have Fastpasses, since you can nearly always get a Fastpass for the others with Maxpass.

We find that the best rides to start with are either Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, or Alice in Wonderland – if you start with Alice, you can usually walk on to every ride in Fantasyland (aside from Peter Pan, which is just as busy first thing in the morning as it is the rest of the day) before the parks start to get crowded.

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WAIT ON BREAKFAST

Eat a snack on the way to the park, and then don’t worry about breakfast until you’ve gotten some rides in – the mornings are the best time to get on rides, and spending your prime ride time on a sit-down meal is a waste of the morning.

We don’t usually eat breakfast until at least 10:30, sometimes closer to 11. This is great because almost no one else eats breakfast at that time, and we’ve usually done a large amount of attraction riding by then. We are sure to eat something before we start our morning though – usually a snack at Starbucks – because nothing spoils your Disney day like morning hanger.

Disneyland is all about pushing yourself in the morning so that you feel super accomplished by noon, and can allow yourself to relax the rest of the day. If you do all you can to supercharge your mornings, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a better experience with the rest of your day.

Best Parts of Being an Adult in Disneyland

Basics, BeginnersKelseyComment

I hear it all the time, you probably do, too. “Las Vegas is like Disneyland for adults,” or “Napa is Disneyland for adults.”

Stop. Stop it. Disneyland is Disneyland for adults. Let Vegas be Vegas and Napa be Napa and that other place be that other place. They’re great on their own. Let me tell you why being an adult in Disneyland is actually the best.

You can do whatever you want

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You don’t have to wait in line to meet the characters if you don’t want to. You don’t have to wait in that horrendously long line if you don’t want you. You don’t have to worry about stroller parking, or finding a place for picky eaters.

There’s definitely magic to bringing kids to Disneyland and seeing things unfold from their perspective, but most people don’t realize the magic is adaptable and different for everyone, not just kids.

One of the best parts about Disney is once you’re in, you’re in. You can ride, go to shows, browse the shops. You can do whatever you want.
 

You can drink

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I know we talk about this a lot, but if you’re a drinker, you can definitely imbibe at the Disneyland resort guilt free. In Disneyland park specifically, you can only drink at Club 33, which is pretty tough to get into, but there are tons of options in California Adventure and Downtown Disney.

We forever recommend Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel (tiki tiki tiki tiki rum or a lost safari are our favorites), Carthay Circle (pear martini, pimm’s punch, and the classic gin and tonic are must tries), Hearthstone in the Grand Californian for their Cove Bar drinks (which is going away), and Tortilla Joes (peach tree mojito for life).

You can go on all the rides

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Fun fact, Disneyland offers a ride switch perk for parents with young kids for more high thrill rides. Ask the cast member working the front of your desired ride’s queue for a parent rider switch pass. Your party will be split up, one group will ride while the second watches the kid. Once the first group returns, they hand off the pass, and the second party gets to hop in the fast pass queue.

It’s a great perk, and definitely something to keep in mind. But if you’re going with a group of full grown adults, y’all can genuinely ride whatever you want without worrying or organizing.

Which leads me to my next point.
 

You can split up

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Kat, Stephen, and I are huge proponents of splitting up. This falls under the “you can do whatever you want” category. We believe you’re on vacation in Disneyland and you shouldn’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Which is a huge perk of going to Disneyland as an adult.

We’ll frequently split up if someone wants to ride a ride others don’t, see a show others don’t, eat somewhere other people don’t want to eat- the list goes on. We all fully support each person getting the most out of their trip, so if you want a churro and everyone else wants popcorn? Go grab that churro. Your group wants to watch World of Color but you’d rather not? Go ride Ariel 5 times, why not?

One time, Kat and Stephen wanted to watch some night time show and I wasn’t super into it, so I bounced and hopped on single rider for Matterhorn. They sat me in the front, and I was wearing a white tank top, not suspecting anything. And then I totally got soaked and walked around Disneyland by myself with a completely see-through shirt. I thought it was hilarious.

You can get there as early as you want and stay until close

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If you want to get there at rope drop and stay until midnight you do your thing. Especially if your group has agreed on the aforementioned Split Up rule, some of your party can go back to the hotel and nap or pool lounge, and you can ride and snack to your heart’s content.

 

Best Breakfasts You Won’t Need a Reservation For

Basics, Beginners, Food & Drink, FoodKatComment

Happy New Year! 2017 had its fair share of challenges, but it was also the year we launched our blog, and we couldn't be happier. And what's the best way to bring in the new year? With breakfast of course.

There’s a lot of information thrown around about dining in Disneyland, and most of it revolves around restaurants you’re going to need a reservation for. And sure, making reservations for dinner or even lunch doesn’t seem like much of a surprise, but what do you do when you find yourself in Disneyland at 9am, starving, realizing that Plaza Inn and Carnation Cafe aren’t places you can just mosey into for a mickey waffle or two?

Don’t worry, we got you.

Fortunately, there are plenty of breakfast options that don’t involve weeks of planning ahead.

 

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Rancho del Zocalo

EDIT: as of spring 2018, rancho del zocalo no longer serves breakfast in Disneyland. Check out the red rose taverne in Fantasyland instead!

Located between the Princess Fantasy Faire and the Shooting Gallery in Frontierland, Rancho del Zocalo recently started serving breakfast, and it’s great.

Your standard Disneyland breakfast is available (hello waffles, pancakes, sausage and bacon), and also Mexican-inspired breakfast, including breakfast burritos, chilaquiles, and fajitas.

The Traditional breakfast line goes much slower than Mexican-inspired - in fact, there’s usually hardly any line for my fajita platter breakfast at all. Though there are several checkout stands, there’s usually only one person checking people out, so the lines can get long (or just slow), but there’s plenty of seating and sometimes you can even get a spot right next to Big Thunder Railroad and watch the trains go by.

 

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Jolly Holiday

 

At the entrance to Adventureland, the Jolly Holiday Bakery and Cafe offers breakfast treats and sandwiches. The lines can move slowly, but the seating outside is ample and provides a great view of the crowds going by.

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Mint Julep Bar

Listen, sometimes you just want some kind of delicious pastry shaped like Mickey Mouse's head, and you want to eat it in a super picturesque area while people-watching in the Happiest Place on Earth, is that so much to ask? Located in the garden patio area of the French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square, the Mint Julep Bar sells Mickey Beignets, usually with seasonal flavor varieties, and they are DELICIOUS. 

 

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Flo’s V8 Cafe

 

In Cars Land, Flo’s is pretty famous for having great food, and breakfast is no exception. The line moves quickly and the service is efficient - plus the food offerings are on-point.

We HIGHLY recommend the brioche french toast and the tamale breakfast. We’ve been known to order sides of breakfast potatoes and bacon, plus the kids’ breakfasts are great if you just want a light snack.


Other Options 

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being stuck in a Land that has no great breakfast restaurant offerings (I'm looking at you, almost-all-of-DCA), there's always the Starbucks in each park, or the espresso kiosks that sometimes offer fancy doughnuts and other snacks.