Plaza Inn restaurant is offering dining packages for Main Street Electrical Parade with reserved seating and an all-in-one meal featuring Disneyland’s famous fried chicken. This review covers whether the premium parade viewing is worth the money, along with info about what it entails, how to book the MSEP dining package, and more.
Let’s start with some quick background. Main Street Electrical Parade has once again returned to Disneyland, for like its 37th “farewell” run. It’s like the Terminator T-1000 or McRib of parades at this point–just when you thought it was gone for good, BAM! It’s back and ready to attack/taste delicious/light up the night, as the case may be.
This time is (slightly) different. It’s Main Street Electrical Parade’s 50th Anniversary, featuring a new finale float, special merchandise, food & beverage, and a lot of hype. There’s also the little matter that Californians have been without most of Disneyland’s iconic nighttime spectaculars (sorry, Mickey’s Rad Rave doesn’t qualify as “iconic”) for over 2 years. All of this is a recipe for chaos and crowds.
While this review is being published early in Main Street Electrical Parade’s 50th Anniversary comeback run, it’s safe to say viewing the parade is going to be a challenge for the foreseeable future. Pent-up demand remains strong, the park reservations system means a steady supply of locals, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm and emotion around getting back to normal and enjoying a sentimental favorite.
It was a similar story when Main Street Electrical Parade returned during the “off-season” following the Diamond Celebration. The nostalgia-drenched parade marketing blitz in the Los Angeles and Orange County markets drew monster crowds in months that would normally be slow, and locals camped out for hours. Prime parade viewing areas were multiple rows deep long before showtime. It’s going to be the same scenario for the Main Street Electrical Parade 50th Anniversary run.
With that said, let’s turn to details about the Plaza Inn Dining Package for Main Street Electrical Parade. Disneyland’s buffeteria restaurant at the end of Main Street offers this option daily from 1 pm until 3:30 pm (savvy move to put the popular package during off-peak dining hours).
The cost of lunch with the Plaza Inn Dining Package is $40 per adult and $25 per child plus tax. Discounts are available for Magic Key Passholders.
If you’re having trouble booking this, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult. We were able to score a spot, and haven’t seen any availability since. I’d hazard a guess that the entire reserved viewing area accommodates fewer than 100 guests, which is very limited. It’s always possible Disneyland will add more reserved viewing areas or cancellations will occur, so we’d recommend that you keep checking as your travel dates near.
Next, let’s turn to the food offered for the Plaza Inn Main Street Electrical Parade 50th Anniversary Dining Package:
Adult Dining Package Menu
World-famous Plaza Inn fried chicken
House-made smoked mac & cheese
Bacon and pickled onion wedge salad served with house-made ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles
Mickey-shaped sweet honey corn bread
Decadent berry cheesecake
Choice of one beverage: 20 oz. fountain beverage or 20 oz. Dasani water
Child Dining Package Menu
World-famous Plaza Inn fried-chicken leg
House-made smoked mac & cheese
Mickey-shaped sweet honey corn bread
Decadent berry cheesecake
Choice of one beverage: small Dasani water or small low-fat milk
Our reservation at Plaza Inn was for the 2:30 pm “seating,” but it’s likely that we could’ve shown up at any time between 1 pm and 3:30 pm.
The restaurant is still operating as a regular buffeteria during this timeframe, with guests able to order the normal menu from all of the bays except one. There are no reserved tables or servers for this–it’s the normal Plaza Inn lunch/dinner experience with open seating both indoors and outside.
Upon arriving, we checked in with a Cast Member outside, who pulled up our reservation on an iPad. He then sent us inside the restaurant to a line at a cash register set aside for the Plaza Inn Dining Packages.
There, we paid for the meal and were given paper FastPass-style tickets to enter the reserved seating section along with cool custom lanyards to wear while in the viewing area. The Cast Member at the register advised that we save our receipt just in case we lost the lanyards and/or paper FastPasses.
From there, we moved on to the buffeteria bay to pick up our plates.
What’s served for the dining package isn’t one of the normal entrees, but it’s sufficiently similar to determine the value of the package. Given the $19 price of the fried chicken alone, the meal itself is about $25 to $30. Of course, “value” is in the eye of the beholder.
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Plaza Inn, but I think its pricing has gotten out of hand. I still remember when the chicken was $13. (Old man shakes fist at cloud.) Additionally, it seems like the quality has been more hit or miss–dropping $19 for dry chicken is not my idea of a good time.
Our chicken was flawless. The amount of breading, texture, seasoning, consistency, juiciness, tenderness, and overall flavor were all pitch perfect. If I could always be guaranteed fried chicken of this caliber, I’d drop $19 and do every meal at Plaza Inn. The only disappointment about the meal was the house-made smoked mac & cheese, which was basically mac minus cheese.
Although the Plaza Inn Main Street Electrical Parade 50th Anniversary Dining Package indicates it’s a set menu, entree substitutions are allowed for those who are allergic (or whatever) to glorious fried chicken. Sarah made such a substitution, ordering the Chipotle-Pineapple Glazed Salmon.
This salmon is an ambitious and tasty dish by buffeteria standards, offering a perfectly-prepared, flaky fish with a unique and fruity glaze. However, it’s also significantly smaller than the fried chicken. That’s obviously to be expected. When you roll up to Nobu, they’re not handing you a heaping bucket of salmon, Colonel Sanders style.
Even with the smaller salmon and cheeseless mac & cheese, we have no complaints about the food served as part of the Plaza Inn Dining Package. It was a fantastic meal. (If you could get the mac & cheese swapped out for mashed potatoes, you’d be living the Disneyland dream.)
We left full, and didn’t eat again for the rest of the day. Easily $25 here in value, which puts the reserved seating at around $15 per person. Given that guests were already camping out to claim Main Street Electrical Parade spots in mid-afternoon when we left Plaza Inn, that’s probably not too steep of a price for the viewing area.
The paper FastPasses are for reserved seating during the first performance of Main Street Electrical Parade.
These tickets indicate that you should check in at the Town Square flagpole approximately 30 minutes before the parade steps off. You’ll want to arrive much earlier than that. Disneyland fans love nothing more than to camp out for things; when it comes to stuff like this, there’s always a line for the line, so to speak.
The seating area is on the back side of Town Square, facing the Main Street USA Train Station.
It’s a large section, and there was plenty of breathing room for people even in the second and third rows to sit down and spread out a bit. The downside of this was that guests scrambling for last minute spots kept asking if they could squeeze in. (The above photo doesn’t adequately illustrate how packed other sections were versus this area.)
Technically, this is a viewing area and not a seating area. Disneyland promises a reserved viewing, and nothing more. Unlike seating sections, there are no chairs here. Also, you might have to stand if you arrive late or if the people in front of you are standing. Just because everyone around us was able to sit down does not mean that’s how it’ll be in the future.
In terms of Main Street Electrical Parade viewing locations, I’m more or less neutral on this spot.
The view is perfectly fine; I just prefer the more iconic perspective with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background for photos. My one recommendation would be to sit on one of the far sides of the viewing area; this should give you a little more space and also a better perspective of the parade floats rounding the corner.
Ultimately, we highly recommend booking the Plaza Inn Dining Package for Main Street Electrical Parade’s 50th Anniversary. If you’re taking a vacation to Disneyland, you’re going to want to try that famous fried chicken regardless, and that puts the cost of the reserved seating area at $15 per person. While that’s not an insignificant expense for a family of 4, the time and headaches saved in not having to camp out hours in advance and “guard” your turf is worth that amount.
We’re normally not particularly keen on paying a premium for only okay nighttime spectacular viewing areas (looking at you, Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert parties), but it’s just different at Disneyland. Locals with time to kill stake out spots for hours, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. We’ve already decided that we’ll be (attempting to) book this again for Sarah’s mom, as she loves Main Street Electrical Parade and the added cost is worth avoiding the aforementioned chaos. Also, I’ll take any excuse I can get to eat more Plaza Inn fried chicken.
Have you booked the Plaza Inn Dining Package for Main Street Electrical Parade’s 50th Anniversary? Think this is a good or poor value? Having trouble scoring reservations for this dining package? Are you excited for the return of Main Street Electrical Parade or is yet another farewell run too much? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment on crowds and the hassle of saving spots for the parade? Any questions? 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!