For Christmas 2018, Disneyland has dozens of festive foods, including both seasonal entrees and special holiday desserts. Since the start of the season, we’ve tried a ton of these, and are sharing our favorites–from churros to cupcakes to ice cream–in this post. (Last updated November 12, 2018.)
One of the reasons we look forward to most about Christmas at Disneyland is the holiday food. No joke. Yeah, “it’s a small world” holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and the Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks are all good, but is there really as big of an E-Ticket as the Plaza Inn Yule Log or Peppermint Ice Cream? (Hint: you can’t–or at least shouldn’t–consume fireworks.)
Eating all of the special Christmas menu items at Disneyland Resort would be a herculean task, and this is a task we’ve proudly(?) attempted to undertake for the last several years in the name of research. For 2018, it seems there are even more choices than ever, and while we have yet to try everything, we’ve put a good dent in the special menu items available for Christmas and are reporting back here with our favorites.
Many of these items ostensibly have nothing to do with Christmas, particularly the hot entrees. Others sound delicious in theory, but are sort of 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.
This post takes a look at some of our favorites that we recommend seeking out if you have the chance…
Yule Log – Any day of the year, Plaza Inn is a gift to mankind thanks to its amazing fried chicken. During November and December, it approaches dangerous levels of awesomeness due to the fried chicken plus the Yule Log. How does the Yule Log taste? Succinctly put, the yule log had us saying “yum” and “wow” about every seven seconds!
Less succinctly put, the Yule Log is the perfect combination of sponge cake and cream, with a different variety depending upon which month you order it. None of the flavors overpowers or is too rich, meaning a single guest can easily conquer this entire largely-sized dessert. Usually, November is a pumpkin yule log and December is a coffee or chocolate one. Plan trips both months to try them each. Worth the airfare, admission, etc.
Peppermint Ice Cream – Because I was an only child, Sarah has had to teach me the “joys” of sharing (kids out there reading this: there are no joys of sharing!). We started by sharing this ice cream and quickly learned that was a mistake. Now we each order our own.
Peppermint ice cream has returned to Gibson Girl this year (it’s also across the Esplanade at Disney California Adventure), and there are a variety of different ways to order it. We like the straightforward approach of the crushed candy cane waffle cone for the “pure” taste of the peppermint ice cream, but the sundae is also a solid option.
Santa Hat Macaron – Between the two of us, this is the most divisive Christmas dessert of 2018. It’s my absolute favorite thing available at Disneyland, and since I’m the one writing the list, it makes the cut. The mint white filling and chocolate ganache are rich yet refreshing, making this a truly decadent dessert that also offers decent value (by Disney standards) as it’s a sizable macaron.
Sarah, on the other hand, took one bite and said, “it tastes too fake.” While the Santa Hat Macaron is definitely not a symphony of all natural flavors, I think that’s a bit of a harsh assessment. At the end of the day, I’m fine with her not liking it, as it means not having to share. We’d both strongly encourage you to give it a shot, as you might also love it. (Either way, it’s much better than the Green Alien “Holiday” Macaron.) The Santa Hat Macaron is available at Jolly Holiday Bakery, where there are numerous holiday options this year.
Holiday Brownie – Also at Jolly Holiday is the Holiday Brownie. When I heard the name, I wasn’t expecting much; Disneyland does a holiday brownie every year, and it’s usually nothing to write home about.
This year, it’s a different story, as this is more like a denser cupcake (there’s also a Christmas cupcake at Jolly Holiday–it’s $2 more, not as photogenic, and not as good) topped with white chocolate mousse, sprinkles, chocolate presents, and a Christmas tree gingerbread cookie. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s all delicious.
Churro Sundae – By our count, there are a staggering 10 different churro choices for the holidays. It’s no surprise that Disneyland is going big on the churros, as a recent price increase now prices these at over $5 each, or over $6 with dipping sauce.
To be perfectly blunt: no churro is worth $5-6. We have absolutely no intention of trying all of the different options, even if the Sugarplum Candy Churro and Gingersnap Churro do sound delicious.
Instead, we think the best option for your churro fix is the Churro Sundae at Golden Horseshoe. This combines peppermint ice cream and a cajeta-filled churro, along with chocolate brownie crumbles, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. Not only is it delicious, but it offers significantly better value for money than all of the standalone churros throughout the two parks.
Chile Relleno – This entree at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante consists of red and green sauce topped with queso fresco and crema and served with rice, ranchero beans, and pickled vegetables. It’s fantastic, with a bit of heat to it and great flavor.
You’ll notice this is the only savory entree on the list, which is a bit unfortunate. We also are eager to try the Philly Cheesesteak Hot Dog at Refreshment Corner, Roast Beef TV Dinner at Carnation Cafe, and Beef & Grits at Cafe Orleans. None particularly scream “Christmas,” but all look pretty tasty.
Disneyland Handmade Candy Canes – Overhyped, overpriced, and overrated, the Disneyland Handmade Candy Canes are a Christmas tradition at Disneyland. Given that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention them.
For the fresh ones, guests wait in line on select days well before park opening; scratch this up to “tradition” because there’s nothing special about these candy canes. The exact same candy canes are available any time during Christmas at Disneyland, so if paying $10+ for a candy cane is your thing, just get one during the day.
Other Disneyland Holiday Snacks – Unless you’re able to visit everyday of the holiday season or you want to seriously spike your blood-sugar levels, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sample every dessert available at Disneyland for the holidays. With that said, here are some other desserts we want to try that we haven’t had a chance to sample (yet): Dessert Nachos at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, Jack Skellington Dessert Trio at French Market, and Coconut Cream Pie at Plaza Inn (it’s impossible not to order the Yule Log, though).
Finally, we also really want to try the Santa’s Lumps of Coal Beignets at Cafe Orleans and Gingerbread Crème Brûlée at Blue Bayou. The latter one looks and sounds the best, and might just be what it takes to get us to return to Blue Bayou!
If you can try all of the snacks on our list in a single day, you have our respect. Consider it the “Disney Tourist Blog Disneyland Christmas Full Marathon” (because eating marathons are way better than running ones). If you’re visiting Disneyland during Christmas-time, make sure to read our Ultimate Christmas at Disneyland Guide to get the most out of the special Christmas offerings!
As for figuring out the rest of your Disneyland trip, including what to pack, whether you should stay off-site or on-site in a Disney hotel, where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland trip planning guide!
Which Holiday Time at Disneyland snacks do you enjoy? Which ones here look the best to you? Any questions about these Christmas foods? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have additional Christmas tips or questions, please share them in the comments!