Dining in Disneyland: Vintage Disneyland Menus from the D23 Expo Archives

As a Disney fan (OK… borderline maniac Disney freak) and a D23 member, I consider the D23 Expo a must-attend event.  In addition to the informative exhibits, amazing shopping, creative costumes, and fabulous people watching, I always look forward to the D23 Archives exhibit.

Seeing original pieces of Disneyland history up close and personal is such a treat.  This year’s archives exhibit was so wonderfully done.  I spent most of my visit drooling over the display of photos, menus and other original paraphernalia from the restaurants and snack spots of Disneyland’s first years.

Let’s go back in time and take look! (I apologize in advance for some of the photos and shadows. The display area was very dark and the photos overlapped each at other causing some shadowing.)

Let’s start with the Tahitian Terrace which was located behind the Tiki Room in Adventureland.  It opened in 1962 and closed in 1993.  The dinner theater offered guests food and entertainment inspired by the French Polynesian Islands.

Tahitian Terrace Entrance

Tahitian Terrace Entrance

How great is the artwork on the menu??? I love it!

Tahitian Terrace Luncheon Menu

Tahitian Terrace Luncheon Menu

Let’s just say, I’d love to go back and have a Monte Cristo Sandwich for $1.50…

Tahitian Terrace Entrees and Pricing

Tahitian Terrace Entrees and Pricing

Looking to caffeinate during your Disney day?  Back when Starbucks was not even a glimmer in Seattle’s eye, Hills Bros Coffee House was the place to get your cup o’ joe.  Located in Town Square, Hills Bros Coffee House operated from 1958 to 1976.  After 1976 it moved locations and expanded to become Hills Bros Coffee Garden.  Disneyland’s previous coffee sponsor was Maxwell House.

Hills Bros Coffee House Menu

Hills Bros Coffee House Menu

The image below shares some Hills Bros history as well as their mission statement.  I love that they say to keep the menu as a souvenir to remind you of quite possibly the happiest time you’ve had anywhere.  They were also very proud to be chosen as “the only coffee” served in Disneyland, by Walt Disney himself.  I’m wondering though, were they chosen or did they offer top dollar on their sponsor check?

Hills Bros Coffee Story

Hills Bros Coffee Story

In addition to coffee, which was just ten cents a cup, you could get some tasty sounding sandwiches to go along with it.  I’ll take the “Satisfying Variety” of assorted finger sandwiches with a fruit salad center please! I’m not sure any restaurant menu should have an option called “Surprisingly Good,” though.

Hills Bros Coffee House Offerings

Hills Bros Coffee House Offerings

How snazzy does the Welch’s Grape Juice Bar look?  From July 24, 1955 through 1980, guests in Fantasyland could stop in for a refreshing glass of semi-frozen Welch’s grape juice.  Rumor has it they also sold grape popsicles and frozen grapes as well.  The venue was later renamed the Fantasyland Juice Bar.

Welch's Frozen Grape Juice Bar

Welch’s Grape Juice Bar

Let’s head over to Frontierland and get some Fritos!  Casa de Fritos opened on August 11, 1955.  The Mexican restaurant was most famous for its coin operated vending machine that  delivered a bag of Fritos to you directly from the Frito kid himself.

Frito Kid

Frito Kid

Insert a nickel and a bag of Fritos would slide down a ramp into your hands.  For some great photos of “Fritos Mountain” check out this fun post on Imagineering Disney.

Casa de Fritos

Casa de Fritos

Casa de Fritos operated until September of 1982. It then became Casa Mexicana until February of 2001 when it opened as Rancho del Zocalo, which is still in operation today.  Again, I’m in love with the vintage graphics on this menu.

The menu items are intriguing too!  Wondering what a Ta-Cup is? How does ground beef, lettuce, and taco sauce served in a fried corn dough cup sound? Yes please!  Spaghetti and Chili though? I may pass on that one.

Casa de Fritos Menu

Casa de Fritos Menu

Before the Plaza Inn was serving up its famous fried chicken, The Red Wagon Inn occupied that prime location at the end of Main St. USA.  The restaurant was there on opening day and remained the Red Wagon Inn until 1965 when it became the Plaza Inn, which I hope stays there forever and ever and ever!

The Red Wagon Inn, aka Plaza Inn

The Red Wagon Inn, aka Plaza Inn

Swift and Co. was the sponsor of the Red Wagon Inn; they served up comfort foods like Chicken Pot Pie, Swiss Steak, Baked Ham, using Swift’s quality meats exclusively.

Red Wagon Inn Dinner Menu

Red Wagon Inn Dinner Menu

The restaurant was open for “Luncheon” as well.

"Luncheon" Menu

“Luncheon” Menu

The “Menu for Young Americans” was themed by character. Again, adorable graphics! I’ll take a “Lady and the Tramp” please.  Also, note the age for children. At this time, children were considered 12 and under, not the current 9 and under age range that Disneyland uses today.

"Menu for Young Americans"

“Menu for Young Americans”

Another building that remains today — and the only one featured with the same name — is the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner. Directly across from the Plaza Inn, “Coke Corner” still thrives happily on Main Street USA.

Coca Cola Refreshment Corner

Coca Cola Refreshment Corner

Back in the day though an ice cold Coke would set you back just ten cents!  The Refreshment Corner also sold sandwiches. A Coke and an American Cheese Sandwich sounds delicious right about now!  Today they serve specialty hot dogs and snacks, and a Coke is $3.29.

Coca Cola Refreshment Corner Menu

Coca Cola Refreshment Corner Menu

Walt stopped off at the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher on opening day.

Walt Drinking a Coke on Opening Day

Walt at the Refreshment Corner on Opening Day

Another prime refreshment spot on Main Street USA was the Sunkist Citrus House, which operated from July 31, 1960 through January 3, 1989.  Here you could grab a glass freshly squeezed orange juice and/or lemonade.  Upon closing, the site became home to the Blue Ribbon Bakery. In 2012, Blue Ribbon closed to make way for an expansion of Carnation Cafe.

Sunkist Citrus House

Sunkist Citrus House

Looking for pancakes? Aunt Jemima Pancake House was the place for breakfast.  Located on the Rivers of America in Frontierland, the Aunt Jemima Pancake House was in operation from August 1955 to 1971. It later became Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen, then went on to become Magnolia Tree Terrace and is currently known as the  River Belle Terrace.

Aunt Jemima's Kitchen

Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen

Frontierland favorites included Davy Crockett’s Delight, the Mark Twain Special, the Golden Horseshoe Special, and Slue Foot Sue’s Favorite.  Pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, and sausage were all on deck for hungry visitors to start the day.

Aunt Jemima's Kitchen Menu

Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen Menu

Or last stop will be Carnation Ice Cream Parlor. Located on Main Street USA, the table service ice cream parlor specialized in ice cream desserts, pies, and cakes.

Carnation Ice Cream Parlor

Carnation Ice Cream Parlor

In addition to treats, the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor also served breakfast!

Carnation Ice Cream Parlor Menu

Carnation Ice Cream Parlor Menu

In January of 1997, Carnation Ice Cream Parlor closed. Its outdoor patio was remodeled and opened as the Carnation Cafe. Even though Carnation was bought out by Nestle, Disneyland was allowed to continue the use of the name Carnation.

The inside of ice cream parlor also became Blue Ribbon Bakery, which later closed and was remodeled to expand the Carnation Cafe.  I really wish that the Carnation Cafe still offered some of the specialty sundaes. In 2011, my family conquered a Matterhorn Sundae! Unfortunately they are no longer on the current menu.

Matterhorn Sundae

Matterhorn Sundae

Hope you enjoyed this fun little time hop. I sure wish someone would invent a time machine so that I could go back and eat/drink my way through Disneyland’s past!

Which “archived” Disneyland restaurant would you bring back if you could? It’s a tough call, but as of right now, I’d choose Tahitian Terrace.  Ask me in  a year or so and I bet it will be the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (insert extremely sad face here).

Do you remember or have you visited any of the establishments featured in the D23 Expo Archives Exhibit? Let us know your old favorites in the comments below!

For more information about the D23 Expo or to become a Disney D23 member yourself, visit the D23 website.

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!

Comments

  1. Dru says

    Spaghetti and chili?! Yum! It’s a staple at Steak and Shake, for those sad times when you can’t eat at Disney!

  2. Heather Sievers says

    Dru – I’d never heard of spaghetti and chili served together until this post. But if you say it’s good, I may have to give it a try! We don’t have Steak and Shake here in California. Next time I’m traveling and see one, I’ll check it out!!!

  3. says

    Tahitian Terrace was my absolute favorite when I was a kid and I remember being DEVASTATED (I was ten so it was like a really big deal) when it closed. I wish they would bring it back it some sort of affordable capacity (not like the special event they just did).

  4. shannon says

    Such a great post. Thanks! Coming to Disney in the 70s meant a fresh-squeezed cup of OJ at Sunkist as well as a yummy grape juice at Welch’s. This was after my parents had splurged and treated us to dinner at the Casa de Fritos. I too wish I could be transported back, wouldn’t that be fun?

  5. Heather Sievers says

    Falon – Me too! I heard about that special event, but I don’t know anyone who attended. It sounded fun!

    Shannon – Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! I would love to go back in time to Casa de Fritos!

  6. Maus says

    How about the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship? My favorite as a kid. My family never served tuna so this was the one and only place I had it. My mom worked at the Red Wagon Inn when the park first opened. Table side dining and Walt’s favorite place to eat. I will so, so miss the Big Thunder BBQ. Still holding out hope that it will be relocated.

    As for Spaghetti and Chili, it was on the menu at Bob’s Big Boy restaurants too.

  7. Leslie says

    I remember eating at Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen back in the 70’s as a kid on our few visits. The stack of blueberry pancakes was masive and so good. I have often wondered if they were still avialable at Disneyland. Have not been there for 30years..need to make a return visit.

  8. Joyce Patton says

    Those are so cool! My brother in law (from first marriage) was a waiter at Tahitian Terrace for years. Loved that place!

  9. Heather Sievers says

    Maus – I totally remember the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship. They didn’t have it featured in this exhibit though. How amazing that your mom worked at Red Wagon Inn! I bet she had some amazing experiences there.

    Leslie – I love that you remember your experience there! You can still get some great pancakes at Disneyland but I bet they don’t compare to the blueberry ones you speak of!

    Joyce – I would LOVE to see Tahitian Terrace make a comeback. Then I wouldn’t have to go all the way to Bora Bora for that experience! ; )

  10. Wendy says

    Hi Heather,

    I think the Tahitian Terrace should be reopened with an Ohana style menu. I also think the Tomorrowland Theater needs to be converted into a SciFi Diner (there’s already a kitchen at Pizza Port). Both venues are a waste of space, and could be converted into a steady revenue stream. We are also sad about the closure of Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. Although the quick service offerings at Disneyland are very good, there is a lack of family friendly table service restaurants in the park. Carnation Café and Café Orleans are good, but my kids aren’t excited about eating there, leaving Plaza Inn (breakfast only), Blue Bayou, and soon to close Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. =(

    Today, I read the Hungry Bear is converting to a table service restaurant…do you have any info? Maybe Disney is moving Big Thunder BBQ to that location?

    Thanks!

  11. Wendy says

    Hi Heather,

    One last thing…the Matterhorn Sundae! We loved that, too! I don’t understand why that’s not on the menu anymore! It’s only ice cream and toppings, everything is readily available. I thought it might make a reappearance for the Diamond Anniversary. =(

    Thanks!

  12. Marmorgan says

    I went to Disneyland many times growing up before 1980, but I cannot for the life of me remember the Welch’s Grape Juice Bar! I wonder if my mother steered us away from it, figuring that grape juice plus kids already amped by being at Disneyland was just a big laundry problem waiting to happen.

    +1 On bringing back the specialty sundaes at Carnation Cafe! I remember splitting a Matterhorn sundae with friends at Grad Night, though my favorite was the Big Thunder — hot fudge *and* hot caramel! Yes!!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, DFB!

  13. Essie says

    Heather, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I can’t tell you how very, very much I enjoyed this report! I love to hear all about DL and I love seeing photos from times gone by with the different hair dos and clothes styles. The old menus were so much fun to see, both the artwork and the prices! I would loved to have gone to DL as a kid, but since I didn’t, it’s a real treat to enjoy it through the DFB. Thanks.
    PS: I think the Welch’s frozen grape juice drink would have been my favorite and I would have loved the Frito chips slide!

  14. Heather Sievers says

    Wendy – I LOVE all of your ideas & agree with you on everything! Sci Fi would be an amazing addition to Tomorrowland. It’s one of my favorite places to go in WDW. I haven’t heard anything about Big Thunder BBQ relocating, but that would be so great. My family also loves to go there. It’s one of the only spots (other than Plaza Inn) where everyone is more than happy to dine! And yes to the revival of the Matterhorn Sundae!!!!!

    Marmorgan – Glad you enjoyed the time hop! My guess is that was exactly what your mom was thinking! HAHAHA!

    Essie – So glad you liked the post! And I agree, a bag of Fritos from the Fritos Kid and an icy glass of Welch’s grape juice sounds delicious!

  15. Ben says

    When I was a kid my family tradition during our annual trip to Disneyland was to have a sundae at the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor. We would stop on our way out during/after the Main Street Electrical Parade and people watch while we ate our ice cream. The Big Thunder Mountain was my favorite and I remember my dad getting the Matterhorn quite a bit as well.

  16. Deneice says

    Sunkist also used to sell citrus “jellies” my grandmother loved. When I was younger I used to love gettin grape juice in Fantasyland until some man was paying no attention and bumped into me spilling it all over my pastel sundress! There were no kids!

    I know it wasn’t part of the exhibit, but I also enjoyed the pirate ship and The Egg House (I think that was the name) on Main Street.

  17. says

    Deneice – Oh my gosh! I forgot about those jellies! I LOVED those, especially the pink grapefruit one. Thanks for reminding me of them!

  18. Robin says

    Does anyone remember the name of the Italian restaurant that you had to take the monorail to get to? You could get off the monorail to either go to the restaurant or go to the Disneyland hotel. I know it was opened until at least 1990 or so. I really miss that place…

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