There has been an explosion of inventive treats at Magic Kingdom recently, with some of the best Walt Disney World snacks and desserts now being found in the resort’s flagship castle park. This is a positive development, as Magic Kingdom’s counter service game still leaves a lot to be desired, and there are only so many Disney Dining Plan snack credits that one person will want to use on Dole Whips before wanting something more substantial.
While Instagram is not exactly the hot new thing, we think the “rise” of social media and people sharing photogenic food photos is largely driving the proliferation of these snacks. We’ve been imploring Walt Disney World to do this in posts here for a while–we first published our Awesome Tokyo Disneyland Snacks post over 5 years go and noted in that how popular cute foods could be.
Walt Disney World’s motivation for adding these snacks to Magic Kingdom menus may seem immaterial–a good snack is a good snack–but in too many cases we’ve found that the result is products less concerned with taste and more so with how cute, cool, or weird they look in photos. I don’t really know how else you explain something like the Ice Cream Churro Sandwich or Mermaid Doughnut, which are “awesome in theory or photos” things where taste comes second (or not at all).
Another thing to keep in mind with regard to the surge in snack options at Magic Kingdom is that these kind of food trends are short-lived, and that’s especially true in a theme park where menu turnover seems to occur with great frequency. In other words, if you’re planning a Walt Disney World trip for June 2020, it’s way too early to budgeting your Disney Dining Plan snack credits or salivating over desserts that are currently available. Some of these menus will change 27 times between now and then.
With all of that said, we are ecstatic to see Magic Kingdom getting serious about snacking. Irrespective of whether the decision was motivated by chasing trends or for Instagram photoshoots in front of walls, we’re pleased with many of the results. We’re also optimistic that over time, choices will be tweaked and improved, cultivating (or “curating” as the cool kids say) a solid lineup of savory snacks and decadent desserts that are both fun looking and delicious.
We’ll keep this post updated as those menus change. For now, here is a look at the best snacks and desserts in Magic Kingdom as of Fall 2018…
We’ll start at Cheshire Cafe, located across from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, which itself has a glorious ‘Secret Menu’ pork belly burger.
Our luck with Cheshire Cafe over the years has been very spotty. A few years ago, they had “gourmet” cake cups, or deconstructed cupcakes. The problem was that these tasted like they had been ‘deconstructed’ because they were stale.
The last couple of years, we’ve had much better luck, and the Cheshire Cat Tail becoming a tried and true Magic Kingdom snack option. This is basically a Danish Chocolate Twist with icing to up the photogenic ante and make it resemble Cheshire Cat.
The Cheshire Cat Tail works so well because the pastry is flaky on the outside, doughy on the inside, with the right amount of chocolate to add ample gooeyness. It’s relatively straightforward, but it’s delicious.
Continuing in Fantasyland, Storybook Treats has the trendiest dessert in all of Walt Disney World: the Peter Pan Float. Think of this as the Dole Whip Float: Key Lime Edition. It features Key Lime Ice Cream, Sprite, and a Chocolate Feather.
I was reluctant to buy into the hype, as most of the “praise” I’ve seen on Instagram for this dessert has been of the “OMG IT’S SO CUTE” or “~~~CHEEKY INSPIRATIONAL AND/OR QUOTE ABOUT FLYING, NEVERLAND, ETC~~~” variety, and less about taste.
Suffice to say, the Peter Pan Float is fantastic. Its popularity is deserved, and a good lesson in the appeal of desserts that are cute and delicious. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and tart, toeing the line between the flavor profile of a Dole Whip and Citrus Swirl. It’s refreshing and addictively good.
Adjacent to Storybook Treats is Friar’s Nook, a one-time favorite of this blog that has fallen from our good graces. I thought I’d never forgive Friar’s Nook for eliminating the gourmet mac & cheese dishes from its menu, but that was before I learned of the equally ridiculous Loaded Buffalo Chicken Tots.
Now, I do find it somewhat “problematic” that these Loaded Buffalo Chicken Tots don’t have beer cheese sauce. Not that cheese sauce would go well with the dish, but the loaded tots feel way too healthy as-is. Compared to the glorious 4,890 calorie (estimate) Pot Roast Mac & Cheese, I feel like I’m already sacrificing too much with these diet-friendly loaded tater tots.
Health benefits aside, these are really good–better than they have any business being. The tater tots hold up surprisingly well under the heavy layer of toppings, and the ingredients work well together.
Our next stop is Golden Oak Outpost. Located in “International Walkways” between Frontierland and Adventureland, Golden Oak Outpost doesn’t have to play by the same rules as other restaurants in Magic Kingdom. Historically, this has led to a variety of half-baked menu concepts only about half of which are fit for human consumption.
I hesitate to fixate on this Golden Oak Outpost too much because the menu is constantly changing and it closes for inordinate amounts of time after each new menu flops. Over the last few years, it’s been closed roughly 89.1% of the time. Nevertheless, the current menu intrigued us and we couldn’t resist trying a couple of things, both of which were surprising good.
The same praise we gave to the loaded tater tots applies to the Chili Queso Fries. A hearty dish with good flavor and generous portion of toppings (even if it doesn’t look that way from the photos). I enjoyed this on a humid fall day–I can only imagine how much more satisfying the fries will taste on a chilly day in December…assuming this menu is still offered then.
Golden Oak Outpost also has some fried vegetable dishes, but if you think some batter is going to trick me into eating cauliflower, you’re dead wrong.
Continuing into Adventureland, there are the two obvious choices that must make any list of great snacks in Magic Kingdom: Citrus Swirl and Dole Whip.
Both of these are as good as ever. Dole Whip is arguably not deserving of all the praise heaped upon it, but it’s still really good.
If forced to choose between the two, I’m choosing the Citrus Swirl every time. This is a uniquely Magic Kingdom creation, and has a fun history with Orange Bird and a triumphant return.
By contrast, Dole Whips can be found in a variety of places outside of Walt Disney World. That doesn’t diminish the taste of the Dole Whip at all, but it does make it less novel–and “special,” at least for me.
Also in Adventureland, you’ve got the Adventureland Egg Roll Cart. I had been hearing hype for the Cheeseburger Spring Roll for a while, but was a bit apprehensive. Walt Disney World can barely manage to do cheeseburgers right, how could this be that good?
Well, it is. The meat is juicy and delicious, and the rolls are cooked to perfection. The flavor here is probably helped by the fact that the roll itself is pretty greasy and there’s a liberal amount of cheese inside, but what’s the point of going to a theme park if you’re not going to indulge in some unhealthy foods?
I could see some people not being huge fans of the Cheeseburger Spring Roll due to the greasiness (Sarah was “meh” on it), but I loved it and would highly recommend it.
The only downside is the portion size and price. These spring rolls are not exactly cheap, and if you’re paying out of pocket, they’re not a good value…but the cheeseburger one is so delicious that I’m willing to overlook that.
Another tried and true Magic Kingdom snack is the waffle sandwiches found at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. These are offered in a handful of flavors, but sweet and savory.
Our go-to has long been the Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Nutella), which simultaneously manages to taste fresh and refreshing while also feeling like it’s rotting your teeth. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but we love it.
I also enjoy the Breakfast Egg & Cheese Waffle Sandwich, but it’s been a while since I’ve had it. This waffle sandwich is only served until noon, and we never seem to make it to Liberty Square until the afternoon.
In our experience, it’s among the best breakfast offerings in Magic Kingdom, though.
Finishing up on Main Street, we have some controversy and disagreement between the two of us about what belongs on this list. The obvious choice is the Mickey’s Kitchen Sink Sundae from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor.
This is not nearly as large as the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream, but it’s definitely big enough for 2-3 people to share, and it’s a lot of fun. It makes me cringe a bit to pay for the Mickey shorts container knowing I’ll never do anything with it, but the novelty of the experience is undeniable.
The question is not whether that belongs on the list–we both agree that it does. The question is whether the final slot should go to the Doughnut Sundae (also at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor) or the Brownie Temptation from Main Street Bakery.
Both are similarly delicious, and decadent snacks so sugary that you’ll feel you need to brush your teeth immediately after consumption. An argument can be made that the Doughnut Sundae deserves to make the list because it’s better–albeit by a slight margin–and is topped with ice cream instead of whipped cream.
The argument in favor of the Brown Temptation is part convenience: it’s a great snack to grab if you’re already in line for Starbucks, and don’t want to wait in line again for ice cream.
It’s also part deliciousness: even though it lacks ice cream, the Brownie Temptation is a thick and moist brownie that has significantly better flavor than the normal phoned-in brownies around Walt Disney World. The other toppings only make it even more of an indulgence.
Oh well, looks like we just included both on the list. “Darn.”
Overall, Magic Kingdom has been stepping up its snack game lately, and we hope that trend only continues. It’s mutually beneficial for Walt Disney World and guests, as we love delicious and photogenic snacks, and they make more money in the process. While I’d love to see more of an emphasis on smaller, less-expensive options more conducive to strolling and snacking around Magic Kingdom, what Disney has done thus far is a great start!
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What are your favorite savory snacks and decadent desserts in Magic Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree with list of the best options? Any “extinct” Magic Kingdom snacks that you miss? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!