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.
How great is the artwork on the menu??? I love it!
Let’s just say, I’d love to go back and have a Monte Cristo Sandwich for $1.50…
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
The restaurant was open for “Luncheon” as well.
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.
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.
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.
Walt stopped off at the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher 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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition to treats, the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor also served breakfast!
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.
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.