We here at DFB talk a lot about what the BEST food items are in Disney World.
We have lots of favorites — some are classic and some are brand-new — but there are some Disney foods that are undeniably good. How? They’ve stood the test of time!
We’re taking a look at some of the dishes in Disney that have been around since OPENING DAY of their park or restaurant. You KNOW how often menus change in Disney, so that’s quite a feat!
Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill
First up, we’re taking a look at a classic dish from California Grill, the signature restaurant on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. California Grill is always an experience thanks to the sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts, and, if you’re there at the right time, the perfect view of the Happily Ever After fireworks show in Magic Kingdom.
Like most of the signature restaurants in Disney World, California Grill has a rotating menu that changes based on market-inspired and seasonal ingredients and decisions from the chef. It’s also gone through several different executive chefs since 1995, so you can imagine that not many original menu items have stuck around.
That is, except for the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli. This appetizer was introduced on the first California Grill menu when the restaurant replaced Top of the World in 1995. It’s seen very minor adjustments over the years, but it’s still a single, large ravioli stuffed with goat cheese in a tomato broth topped with crispy mushrooms.
The ravioli was a hit then and it remains a hit today. In fact, we consider it one of the best things we’ve ever eaten in Disney World!
Cobb Salad at The Hollywood Brown Derby
Cruising on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we’re headed to a classic Disney World dining location — The Hollywood Brown Derby. This location is a replica of the famous Brown Derby restaurant in the real Hollywood, and it features the iconic Cobb Salad to boot!
For those who don’t know, the Cobb Salad was supposedly invented by (original) Brown Derby owner Robert Howard Cobb (there are actually a few versions of the story of the origination of the Cobb Salad!). In nearly all cases, the salad is comprised of finely chopped Greens, Turkey Breast, Bacon, Egg, Tomatoes, Crumbled Blue Cheese, Avocado, Chives, and Cobb Dressing (similar to French dressing).
The dish has been a staple of the restaurant in Tinseltown just like it has been at the Disney World iteration. To truly represent the original restaurant, The Hollywood Brown Derby opened with Disney MGM Studios in 1989 with a Cobb Salad on the menu.
And it’s still there to this day! Seriously, you gotta try this Cobb at least once. There’s a reason it’s lasted so long!
Grapefruit Cake at The Hollywood Brown Derby
The Cobb Salad isn’t the ONLY dish at The Hollywood Brown Derby that’s stood the test of time. Once you’re done feasting on your greens, you can wrap up your meal with the DELICIOUS Grapefruit Cake. Ever wondered how this treat came to be?
Rumor has it that famed Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons told the REAL Brown Derby’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb, that all of his desserts were way too fattening and he should offer something healthier.
Cobb’s response was to tell his chef to make a dessert that had grapefruit in it because, at the time, a grapefruit was popular around Hollywood for its “slimming abilities.” The grapefruit cake — with all it’s NOT so slimming cream cheese frosting — was born!
Like the Cobb Salad, the Grapefruit Cake debuted on the menu when MGM Studios opened in 1989 and it remains the most popular dessert to this day. If you can’t get to Hollywood Studios soon, we recommend making one for yourself at home. This cake is THAT good.
Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace
You might think that the arguably MORE famous Dole Whip is the treat that’s been around from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom’s opening day, but it’s actually a different frozen and fruity delight! We’re talking ’bout that Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace!
So, why was the Citrus Swirl around on the opening day of Magic Kingdom? Well, it all comes back to some of the sponsorships of Adventureland at the time!
Sunshine Tree Terrace (and The Enchanted Tiki Room [then called the Tropical Serenade], FYI) were both sponsored by the Florida Citrus Commission back in the ’70s. Disney ended up using OJ from Florida orange growers in the Orange Swirl and even created a mascot to go with the sponsored locations — the Orange Bird!
Now this special treat is a little bit different because it HAS disappeared from the menu a few times (once for a LONG time only to reappear in 2012!).
Recently, Disney even tried to replace it with the VERY different Orange Swirl made with Orange Dole Whip, only to bring back the original. The OG Citrus Swirl is a combo of frozen orange juice and vanilla soft serve.
It’s a really unique treat with the tangy real orange juice that we think every Disney World fan should try at least once! Now, you can get Orange Swirl OR the OG Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace (plus a bunch of other Dole Whip flavors!). So, despite some hiccups, Citrus Swirl has been delighting guests since Magic Kingdom opened in 1971.
Safari Amber Beer in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Next up, we’re checking out a drink that’s been in Disney’s Animal Kingdom since it opened in 1998. The Safari Amber Beer was developed by Anheuser-Busch for the new theme park and it’s still available in restaurants around the park to this day!
Recently, we’ve spotted it at Pizzafari, Flame Tree Barbecue, Harambe Market, Restaurantosaurus, The Smiling Crocodile, Tamu Tamu Refreshments, Yak & Yeti Quality Beverages, Yak & Yeti Restaurant and the Dawa Bar — it seems like it’s everywhere! You can also spot the Safari Amber at Epcot’s Refreshment Outpost and occasionally at dining locations around Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
If you’re a beer lover, you gotta try the Safari Amber at least once. After all, it’s EXCLUSIVELY available in Disney World!
Fish and Chips at Rose & Crown Dining Room
We’re wrapping up our tour of iconic opening day foods with a visit to the United Kingdom Pavilion in Epcot! This was one of the original nine World Showcase pavilions that opened with Epcot in 1982 and Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room has been around since the beginning!
Of course, the most iconic item on the menu at Rose & Crown is the Fish and Chips — and they’re tasty too! The fish always has the CRUNCHIEST batter and the chips (fries, FYI!) are usually perfectly cooked — crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This meal is super representative of UK culture and eats and we’re so glad it’s stuck around.
Pro tip: If you’re looking to snag your Fish & Chips QUICK, you can buy a similar meal from Yorkshire County Fish Shop just next door to the Rose & Crown.
YES these Disney eats should be on your bucket list. After all, they’re practically historic! Any dishes and drinks that can stand the test of time quite like these goodies must have something pretty magical going for them!
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Have you tried these opening day foods? Tell us in the comments!