Review: Paradise Garden Grill in Disney California Adventure

I’m not sure how beautiful a day it is today in your neck of the woods, but on my last visit to Paradise Garden Grill in Disney California Adventure, it sure did FEEL like paradise! Ah, the SoCal weather…

Paradise Garden Grill

Atmosphere

This dining spot is an outdoor eatery. It shares its Paradise Pier location and seating with Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta next door, and Bayside Brews nearby.

The whole group forms a little mini-town at the edge of the Pier, and its relatively remote location means that you could luck into an un-crowded eatery if you’re dining at the right times!

Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta Seating Area

Available seating includes covered and uncovered outdoor seating, so if it’s unseasonably cold or warm, take that into consideration before dining here.

But, like I said, it’s SoCal, so it’s probably going to be beautiful. ;-) (Yes, I’m originally from Buffalo, and yes, I’m jealous.)

Paradise Garden Grill Covered Outdoor Seating

Once you’ve ridden Toy Story Midway Mania a few times and checked in with Ariel “Under the Sea,” it’s time to head on over for a relatively healthy meal!

Eats

The menu here follows the (I think) awesome trend of customizing your eats to  your liking. It’s basically a mix-and-match Mediterranean menu where guests get to choose their skewer base: Steak, Chicken, Beef Kefta, or Veg/Tofu; and their sauce: Moroccan Chili, Chimichurri, Tandoori-Spiced Yogurt, or Tzatziki.

(Note that the price has gone up to $11.49 for the platters since this photo was taken.)

Paradise Garden Grill

Dessert choices include Baklava and a Brownie and Strawberry Skewer (not noted on the menu, but reviewed here!), and you can indulge in [Read more…]

Top 6 Disneyland Bars and Lounges

Let’s face it. Sometimes a Disney vacation can be absolutely exhausting! That’s why we like to seek out bars and lounges in which we can share fun with family and friends or relax while enjoying good food and special beverages.

Schweitzer Falls at Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar

A while back, we took a look at our Top 10 Disney World Bars and Lounges, and now it’s time to take a peek at our favorites in the Disneyland Parks and Resorts!

Here are our picks for Top Six Disneyland bars and lounges — a list that includes a little help from our Facebook Friends! Thanks for your input!

Ready to jump in? Here’s our favorite place to while away some time at the Disneyland Resort…

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam’s should be your first choice for chilling out in Disneyland!

This is due to some great bartenders, unique drinks (often served in souvenir glasses), good food, and, of course, the interactive activities here. (Careful not to sit on the sinking bar stools!)

This place is an awesome tropical retreat located at the Disneyland Hotel. Check out our Trader Sam’s Review here!

Trader Sam’s Bar

While there is indoor and outdoor seating, all of the action is inside where there is limited seating (about 50 spots); so get here early as evenings may be quite crowded.

Cove Bar

Located in Disney California Adventure, the Cove Bar (not to be mistaken for Cove Cafe on the Disney Cruise Ships or the Cove Bar at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort…) is your place to escape the long lines and hot sun while enjoying great water-side views.

View from Cove Bar

Leave the thrills behind and savor specialty drinks and craft beers. The Raspberry Rain is a memorable choice! Look for an attractive menu offering my favorite, Buffalo Wings, and Lobster Nachos.

Hearthstone Lounge

Make the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian Resort a must-do in Disneyland.

Whether you are looking for some quiet alone time or bringing along friends, this cozy fireside lounge has a lodge theme and soaring ceilings that immediately relax you. And that’s before your first drink order!

Take a seat at the bar, on a cozy sofa, or at a [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: The Holiday Specialty Caramel Apple (A.K.A. the Peppermint Beast)

Walking past Marceline’s Confectionery in Downtown Disney, I noticed a new caramel apple on display in the candy kitchen window.

It’s size was enormous compared to the other two on display, and I knew I needed to do some investigating!

Holiday Caramel Apples at Marceline's

On our way out, I decided to grab one to go and conquer this beast at home.

At $12.99, this apple is way expensive, but you can basically feed a whole army with it. AND this is what you will want to do because as I was paying for it, the Cast Member announced to the entire population of Marceline’s, “1400 Calorie Apple Right Here!”

I was like, “Seriously?” And the answer? “Yep.”  A little disgusted with myself, I justified the situation knowing I was going to share it with my family.

1400 Calories Sitting on the Counter of Marceline's

The Granny Smith Apple is first dipped in caramel; it is then given a coating of peppermint (YES! PEPPERMINT) chocolate and rolled in a serious amount of red & green M&M’s. After that, it’s drizzled with white chocolate and sprinkled with sparkly sugar crystals.

The official name of this apple is literally “Specialty Holiday Caramel Apple.” A little boring right? Especially since they could call it something fun like “Peppermint Beast…”

Bringing her home.

Immediately after opening the package I had to do a public service and weigh this thing. It felt really heavy, and I was curious about the actual weight.

So, I grabbed my little scale and went for it.  Any guesses? [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Holiday Treats in Disneyland and DCA

With a few weeks left of the Disney Holiday Season, you still have plenty of time to head on over to the Disneyland Resort to taste some of the special holiday offerings. Read about some of the fun eats and events happening this year on our 2012 Disneyland Holiday page, and check out even more below…

And even if you aren’t a candy cane or egg nog fan, it’s worth a trip just to see the decor. I mean come on, look at this:

Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle

I recently visited Disney’s California Adventure to get a sampling of all the yumminess the resort has to offer this season — and let me tell you, there are some pretty tasty treats.

A sampling of this year's holiday goodies.

Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are carrying a line of holiday caramel apples.  Choose from a festive Mickey or Minnie, or go for the cute snowman complete with chocolate Mickey ears and a sour belt scarf!

Festive Mickey & Minnie Caramel Apples

Snowman Caramel Apples

Both parks are also carrying a variety of Christmas Cupcakes, including this chocolate peppermint one! The frosting is whipped and infused with peppermint flavor.

It was by far my most favorite part of the cupcake. Warning though: with that bright green and red frosting, your tongue stands no chance against staining…

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake

Traditional chocolate cake cupcakes with red & white vanilla frosting topped [Read more…]

Money-Saving Tip: The “No Kids Meal Challenge”

Let’s welcome back guest author Katie Drake with an interesting food challenge: saving cash by NOT ordering kids’ meals! Sounds counter-intuitive? Read on…

The Kids’ Meal Dilemma

Tell me I’m not the only parent this has happened to: you sit down for lunch, and instead of eating their chicken nuggets and apple sauce, your child is eager to get moving to the next ride.

So you and your spouse pick at the nuggets, eventually throwing most of the meal away. And 30 minutes after lunch is done, you hear the dreaded whine: “I’m hungry.”

No Kids Meal Challenge

The No Kids Meal Challenge at Walt Disney World

I’m not a plate cleaner myself, but I do hate seeing so much food – and money – go to waste. So on our recent trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, our group of three families agreed to a challenge: no kids meals.

Instead, the three sets of parents would share their meals with the five kids in the group, supplementing with snacks if we were still hungry.

We figured this would save us some cash, result in less food being thrown away, and leave more room in our tummies for the Mickey-shaped pretzels and Dole Whips we always seem to buy anyway.

No Kids Meals Group

We figured this would work:

  1. because Disney’s portions are generally pretty big,
  2. our kids are still fairly small (ranging in age from one to five years old),
  3. we’re never actually hungry in the parks anyway since there is so much good stuff to eat by way of snacks.

Always prepared, the moms did supplement our meals a bit. String cheese, juice boxes, crackers, apple sauce, and fruit snacks all made their way into the parks with us, and they were available whenever any child showed the slightest hint of hunger away from a meal or other snack. [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Breakfast at Flo’s V-8 Cafe

Since it’s one of my new favorite places to grab a quick lunch/dinner at Disney California Adventure, I figured I should probably head over to Flo’s V-8 Cafe to try out some breakfast options as well. I am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint!

Flo's V8 Cafe

Atmosphere

As you walk into Flo’s, you are handed a breakfast menu that includes photos. I actually love that fact that they include pictures of the meals. It makes it so easy to order, especially when you’ve got little ones with you.

I had no problem “selling” the waffles to my boys.  My whole family was with me on this visit, so we made sure to order just about everything on the breakfast menu!

Flo's V8 Picture Menu

When you get up to the counter to order, there’s also a large menu board.

Flo's Breakfast Menu Stand

And I love the juke box and diner style clock that sits there as well…

Jukebox with Diner Style Clock (and me in the chrome - HA!)

This is all of the [Read more…]

2012 Disneyland Candy Cane Dates

Guess what everyone!?! TODAY marks the first day to get your hands on The Handmade Candy Cane: Disneyland’s hottest holiday commodity.

Handmade Candy Canes from The Candy Palace

For those of you who aren’t aware of Disneyland’s Handmade Candy Cane tradition, you can read all about the Race for Handmade Candy Canes here.

Handle with Care!

Things are a little different this year!

The biggest news of the season is that Candy Canes will be made in BOTH Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. This means twice the candy cane fun.

Candy Cane making will be alternating between the two parks, as often 4 days a week.

At Disneyland, the Candy Canes will be made at the newly renovated Candy Palace while over at Disney California Adventure, they will be made at Trolley Treats.

Ready for their new homes!

How it Works:

Technically you are not supposed to line up before park opening, but guess what people do. When I went for the first time, I was lucky and got there just 30 minutes before park opening. But I talked to someone who was there by 4:00am, which to me is nuts. So basically, it’s your call.

Wristbands may be picked up at park opening. There will be 40 wristbands per batch and three batches per day.  This means that 120 wristbands will be given out at park opening.

The earlier you are there, the earlier your batch. Your wristband will get you ONE candy cane.  If you have people with you, you HAVE to be together as a group. They will not hand you wrist bands for anyone who is not with you.

Your wrist band will have the date and batch time on it. You may pick up your candy cane any time after your batch time. Your wrist band guarantees you your cane, but you must pick it up by 4:00 or it will be sold to someone in the stand by line.

Last year candy canes were going for $12.95; I am not aware if there has been a price increase or not.

Prepping to Cut

2012 Candy Cane Dates:

ANNNND. Something I found very interesting when I went and checked each day’s park hours… No taking advantage of Early Admission Hours. The Disneyland Resort has purposely left out Early Admission Hours. So basically, the days the Candy Canes are being made at Disneyland, there are zero that have early admission hours. It’s the same over at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland’s Candy Palace Dates: [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Red Trolley Candy at Disney California Adventure

Along with the addition of the new Red Trolley Line at Disney California Adventure comes an adorable line of candy to go with it.

Red Trolley Car

These “Trolley Treats” can be found all over DCA. Their cute packages make them pretty irresistible!

Trolley Treats on Display

Available candies include Mickey shaped red licorice, taffy, a nostalgic candy mixed bag, and rainbow lollipops. All items are priced at $4.95.

I haven’t tried them yet, but I love the look of the Mickey Shaped Licorice. I’m curious to see if they have more of a Red Vines type or taste, or if they are more [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Hand Pulled Taffy at Trolley Treats

Newly opened Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure has a handful of signature items that I’m very excited about!

Trolly Treats on Buena Vista Street

One of them is this brightly striped, hand pulled taffy made on site in their very own candy kitchen!

This new signature line comes in four flavors (from left to right below): Lemon-Lime, Strawberry-Orange, Watermelon, & Raspberry Peach.

Hand Pulled Packaged Taffy

Taffy Flavors and Ingredients

When I heard that DCA would be making hand pulled taffy in the candy kitchen, I was actually picturing salt water taffy pieces; so when I saw these striped strips I was really surprised and [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe with Starbucks!

After all of our coverage of Cars Land, we’ve got another great gem in the heart of Disney California Adventure’s new Buena Vista Street! I’ve already been there a few times and I can tell you that the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe is a great stop for a quick bite to eat.

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe

This, by the way, is also where you’ll find the very first Starbucks to be located inside of a Disney theme park.

I love that the signage for Starbucks is discreet.

Atmosphere

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe is a counter service restaurant themed with The Silver Lake Sisters in mind. Who are the Silver Lake Sisters you ask? The story here is that they were a trio of singers with a love for [Read more…]