Although food is certainly something I enjoy year-round in the parks, there’s something so satisfying about trying a new treat in the summer. So lately I’ve been ticking off my “want to try it” list with some off-the-menu choices. And while park regulars are often aware of these tips and tricks, not everyone is, so I thought I’d share a few!
Did you know at Disney Parks that you don’t have to order everything exactly as it is on the menu? Well, of course, at most places you go to eat, if you say “hold this” or “put this on the side”, they’ll try to accommodate you. Disney Parks are the same and will frequently go a step further to make sure to help you especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities.
If you’re not sure about the ingredients of a meal or if it’s appropriate for your dietary needs – ask! If the server doesn’t know, they can often bring a chef out from the kitchen to talk with you to see if there is a way to specially prepare something safe for you to eat. Many park restaurants also have specific “allergy menus” you can request to see to alert you to what is best for your specific needs.
But there’s another way to order something differently – especially at counter service/quick service locations. Did you know that you could order some food without a side (like chips or fruit) and that can save you money on your total? Want that corn dog but don’t need the bag of chips? Ask to get it without the side! Alternately, there are some places where you can order JUST a side!
For example, I LOVE the pomme frites at Disneyland and discovered that the pomme frites at the Red Rose Taverne can be ordered separately on the side – not just with a main dish! So if I’m not up for the full Beast’s Burger meal on any given day, I can still go in and enjoy the side dish!
These options are not noted on the menu, but they can be done – and it doesn’t hurt to ask!
But then there are…
Secret Menu Items
These are items that you just have to hear about through the grapevine. Some are seasonal or event-driven. For example, during the Season of the Force when the Tomorrowland Terrace at Disneyland Park was themed as the Galactic Grill, you could order the “Galactic” style burger. This was a cheeseburger with fries, onions and thousand island dressing on it!
I will say this was the one location/meal that actually did let me down about being able to adjust my order. I asked for this to be made without onions and I was told I had to take it as it was made with no changes or order something else. Now, I’m not allergic, I just don’t like onions, but the normally incredibly helpful and adaptable Disney dining team was a letdown that day. I did accept it as is and took the onions off, but they still left a strong aftertaste that really made me dislike the taste of a burger I would have otherwise enjoyed. But in general, expressing preferences or requesting simple changes or even substitutions are most often doable at the parks.
I also recently tried two of the regular secret menu items that can usually be found year-round at the Disneyland Resort (as always, subject to change!).
First at Disney California Adventure, I went over to the wharf and tried a secret menu substitution at the Pacific Wharf Café on a warm summer night where I didn’t want soup in my bread bowl, nor did I want a salad. Instead, I was able to get mac ‘n cheese in a bread bowl!
This was terrific! Served in the same small-size cup that the soup is, I instead got to enjoy some yummy comfort food along with my delicious sourdough bread bowl. As per my usual preference, I had asked for the food to be served separately from the bread bowl so it wouldn’t be inside it and soak through. This was a great treat that I would gladly order again! I will note that this is just your typical park mac n’ cheese. For the really good stuff, I’d still recommend going out to Napolini in Downtown Disney for their fantastic baked mac n’ cheese. It’s not inexpensive, but it is delicious and a more “grown-up” version of the dish than the parks’ kid-friendly version.
Then over at Frontierland in Disneyland Park on a separate day, I was in an equally cheesy mood and decided to try another item I’d heard about at the Stage Door Café – fried mozzarella sticks! I was offered the option to get it with or without a side like chips and I opted to get it without to save money. When I couldn’t decide which choice of sauce to get with it, the Cast Member kindly offered me both that I was trying to pick between, so I wound up with my six cheese sticks and both marinara and ranch sauce to try them with.
The result? Heaven! And totally filling! I alternated between the sauces and honestly can’t pick a favorite as the sticks were delicious with both the cooler ranch dressing and the slightly kickier marinara sauce. I will absolutely go back for this again regularly. It’s also a great shareable snack midday if you want something savory instead of sweet!
The next item on my “must try” secret menu list is to return to the River Belle Terrace in Frontierland where I hear my Halloween Time favorite bbq brisket-topped tater tots are back as an unadvertised option there! Hope to try this dish again soon!
Have you tried ordering entrees at the parks without sides or getting just the sides alone? Have you found any secret menu items that you recommend?