Disney California Adventure has some excellent Christmas entrees and desserts at its counter service restaurants. From Cars Land to Schmoozies, there are some must-eat holiday snacks. In this post, we’ll share some of our favorite Christmas foods served at DCA.
Year by year, the Christmas food lineup has improved at Disney California Adventure. This year, there are so many genuinely delicious items that we decided to do separate lists for each park rather than just lumping DCA into our Best Christmas Foods at Disneyland list.
To our surprise, the holiday menus are so good at Disney California Adventure that it’s actually the better of the two parks this Christmas season (at least in food terms). This is in large part thanks to Festival of the Holidays, but even without including that foodie event, DCA still has a formidable slate of holiday eats. We’ll cover the best of Festival of the Holidays separately–for now, here are the highlights of the counter service restaurant menus…
As with Disneyland, there are dozens of ‘special’ menu items at Disney California Adventure this Christmas. Most of these things are fantastic. It was actually tough to narrow down our list, because so much of what we tried was exceptional, with the only real knocks being in terms of price.
On the other hand, some things sound delicious in theory, but are duds. Others still just sound like really bad ideas, and are as bad as they sound. Finally, some items are just your basic pre-packaged holiday snacks, and don’t necessarily disappoint, but don’t impress, either. If you a menu item catches your eye that isn’t on this list, our recommendation would be to wait for someone else to order it, and take a peek at the finished product, rather than simply taking the leap of faith yourself.
With that said, here are our favorites from Christmas at DCA…
Gingerbread Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich -Schmoozies is always an under-the-radar all-star, and that trend continues with their holiday lineup. When I first tasted this brown sugar cinnamon ice cream crushed between two gingersnap cookies, my reaction was that it tastes really familiar. Then it dawned on me: this was the distinct scent at the start of ‘it’s a small world’ holiday in edible form.
Both Sarah and Guy were *crickets* at my odd proclamation about the taste, but I nonetheless stand by it. What we all did agree upon is that this is the highlight of the Christmas offerings at Disney California Adventure. It’s refreshing, delicious, and a fairly good value as compared to alternatives.
Peppermint Crunch Shake – Also available at Schmoozies is this peppermint ice cream shake, topped with chocolate cream-filled cookie crumbles, crushed peppermint, and peppermint whipped cream.
This thick shake has great texture thanks to the cookies and peppermint, and it tastes great. It’s also incredibly photogenic, which is fairly rare for the always-delicious shakes and smoothies here. My one hesitation in giving this a more enthusiastic recommendation is the price: it’s a couple dollars more expensive than the ice cream sandwich above, and not quite as good. While we like both, if you’re only getting one, make it the ice cream sandwich.
Chocolate Peppermint Pie – Heading to Cars Land, we have a handful of options worthy of making the list. We’ll start at Flo’s V8 Cafe, which also has the Chocolate Peppermint Shake and “Blue Plate Special” Thanksgiving-style dinner.
The first highlight is this Peppermint Pie, which is 4″ in size, and packs a dense and flavorful punch. This one is a bit pricey for the size, but it “feels” high quality, and we ultimately think it’s worth the money–the taste is exceptional.
Santa Cone Hat Macaron – For the last couple of years, Cozy Cone Motel has offered seasonal macarons that are fairly sizable and taste surprisingly good. That streak continues with the Santa Cone Hat Macaron with cookies and cream filling.
There’s absolutely nothing “Christmas-y” about the flavors here, and this isn’t as good as the Santa Hat Macaron over at Jolly Holiday, but it’s still delicious and recommended–especially if you want something that isn’t mint.
Hand-Dipped Chocolate Bar with Candy Cane – Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream finally has a solid slate of holiday ice cream thanks to the addition of Peppermint Ice Cream, as well as a variety of premium cones. Since we already mentioned those in our list for Disneyland, we’ll focus on what’s unique to DCA here: the hand-dipped chocolate bar.
These bars are always good, but the crushed candy cane gives it a great texture and added flavor. There are a lot of great ice cream choices at Disney California Adventure, but we recommend saving space for this one.
Holiday Dinner Pizza – This option at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta is topped with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, bacon, vegetables, and cranberry sauce. Depending upon your perspective, that might sound horrific or like a delicious homage to holiday favorites.
It is most certainly the latter. Somehow, the flavors here all meld perfectly, making for a hearty entree that’s high-quality and delicious. We should note here that Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta is notorious for items sitting around for too long under the heat lamp, so if you see a single old slice that looks like it’s been sitting around for hours…you might try coming back again later. Ours was fresh out of the oven and perfect.
Viva Navidad Food – Viva Navidad is the celebration of Latino holiday culture that takes place in Paradise Park, and it’s the bomb. As is the case during other seasonal events, a special Viva Navidad menu replaces the standard menu at Paradise Garden Grill.
Over the course of the last several holiday seasons, we’ve dined at Paradise Garden Grill a number of times, and every single one we have tried is excellent. We’ve been meaning to do a full Viva Navidad dining post for ages, but all you really need to know is that Paradise Garden Grill should be a dining stop for you during the Christmas season, and you should be safe ordering anything on the menu. It pretty much all rocks.
Turkey Pot Pie Bread Bowl – We have become fans of the bread bowls at Pacific Wharf Cafe, in large part because the bread itself is delicious and filling (if you’re willing to eat the entire bowl, they’re great value for money).
This one ranks up there with the best of the bread bowls we’ve tried–better than the mac & cheese bread bowl, which is a fan favorite. The Turkey Pot Pie is rich and creamy; a nice and hearty meal for a chilly evening while enjoying the Festival of Holidays performances. Highly, highly recommended.
Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding – The Turkey Pot Pie Bread Bowl + This + Mariachi Divas are a perfect 1-2-3 punch. Words don’t do this dessert justice, so I won’t even try.
Seasonal Drinks – This is one of the things that makes the list mostly so we can say, “don’t try them.” We’ve had a few of the seasonal drinks around the park, and whether they are types of (overpriced) coffee or (overpriced) mixed drinks, they are almost all bad.
The exceptions to that are the drinks at Carthay and Lamplight Lounges, as well as Trader Sam’s (all of which are delicious, in typical Trader Sam’s fashion).
That covers it for our favorite Christmas foods at Disney California Adventure–so far. We still want to try a few things, such as the Turkey Carnitas Poutine at Lamplight Lounge and Holiday Dessert Nachos at Studio Catering Co., but we’re pretty confident in our picks here aside from those (potentially good) options.
While we’ve highlighted the best here, keep in mind that there are many other savory snacks and decadent desserts, ranging in quality from okay to atrocious. Perhaps your tastes will differ from ours, and you’ll enjoy those; if you don’t mind the potential for a lump of coal (metaphorically speaking, although coal might taste better than the Funnel Cake Fries at Award Wieners), you should give some other items a try, too!
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
Have you tried any of the Christmas foods at Disney California Adventure? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of DCA’s holiday treats? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!