White Water Snacks is a counter service restaurant in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland Resort. This review features food photos, a look at the menu, thoughts on ambiance, and other random stuff. For starters, you might be thinking, “wow, this blog is reviewing a snack stand?! Really scraping the bottom of the barrel now, huh?”
My response is that I realize this blog has long been regarded as the pinnacle of fine journalism (where’s my Peabody Award?!), and I assure you that you should not dismiss White Water Snacks as a snack stand. The name is misleading, but I would say White Water Snacks is the underrated gem of Disneyland Resort dining.
Why is White Water Snacks so awesome? Let’s take a look at the relatively simple answer…
In terms of ambiance, it’s rather unassuming, and you might think that there’s nothing special about it. That’s true to a degree, as thematically it’s a major letdown in the otherwise richly themed Grand Californian. The one upside is dining at one of the tables outside in relative tranquility with only the sounds from the pool providing light background noise. Still, this is nothing special.
About the only time there’s anything special about the ambiance at White Water Snacks is during the Christmas season, when there is a small tree, gingerbread house, and some other decorations. It’s not heavily done, but I’d describe it as charming.
Then there’s the menu. A first blush, it’s fairly limited and basic: burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. Wow! That’s the thing… it’s deceptively basic. Amongst those standard items hide three of the greatest counter service entrees in all the (Disney) land.
First up is the Carnitas Angus Burger. Think Disney burgers are something to be avoided? Then you’ve never tried this little beauty. This is far and away the best counter service burger at Disneyland Resort, and might even give the Carthay 8 oz Angus Burger a run for its money as best overall burger. (Okay, that’s a stretch, but seriously, this thing is good.)
I’m not sure if the beef patty is different here than at other Disneyland counter service spots, or if it just is masked by the carnitas, avocado, Pico de Gallo, and pepper-jack cheese. Whatever the case, this burger is always delicious. The pork is juicy, the avocado tastes fresh, and the flavors really work together well.
This has become one of my go-to entrees at Disneyland Resort. Whenever people I’m with are willing to go to the Grand Californian, I get this. (Note: I do not endorse the ordering of this burger this grapes–I normally get fries like any good American, but Sarah wanted the grapes.)
Then there are the nachos. As I write this, my mouth is literally watering as I look at them. You can get them with chicken or shredded beef, and they are spectacular. For a long time, these nachos have been discussed in hushed voices among Disneyland fans, not wanting the secret about their excellence to get out.
No, they are not as good as the Internationally-Acclaimed, Award Winning Cove Bar Lobster Nachos (some might say eating those is a spiritual experience), but they are darned good. The portion size is large, the salsa always tastes fresh, and the guacamole and jalapeños round out the flavor incredibly. Heck, dare I say these nachos would be excellent without the meat. (First I order grapes, now this? What is happening to me?!)
As icing on the cake, or ice on the Coke, as the case may be, White Water Snacks has Coke Freestyle machines! Not only do they have these machines, but they allow free refills at them (for now, at least). This is a huge victory for caffeine addicts everywhere. Seriously, Coke Freestyle is awesome, and free refills make it even awesomer.
If the awesome foods above aren’t your style, White Water Snacks also has a grab and go area where you can get sandwiches, salads, fruits & veggies…or CUPCAKES! They always seem to have a good selection of holiday (Halloween & Christmas) options, which we can all agree is distinctly patriotic.
Finally, there’s breakfast. White Water Snacks has the normal selection of uninspired breakfast items found all over Disneyland Resort, but lately, they have had a sign also “temporarily” offering breakfast quesadilla and a bagel sandwich topped with avocado. Both are excellent–two of the best breakfast items at Disneyland Resort.
During this year’s 24 hour party, every restaurant in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure had a 30 minute plus line for breakfast. Our group was thus debating walking to McDonald’s on Harbor Boulevard, because we thought that might be faster. Instead, we went to White Water Snacks, where there was virtually no one. This is frequently the case–hence the restaurant’s status as an underrated, overlooked gem. I really think the “Snacks” in the name (plus the out of the way location) causes guests to skip it.
Overall, White Water Snacks is an unassuming location that doesn’t necessarily have the most robust menu, but does have 3 items (the burger and 2 varieties of nachos) that are among the top counter service entrees in all of Disneyland Resort. Those 3 things, plus the Coke Freestyle machine, plus the desserts and breakfast overcome most qualms I have with the relatively bland decor and the rest of the menu. It’s not as “fun” of a restaurant as some (most) other counter service locations, but dang are those 3 things delicious.
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Overall Score: 9/10
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Have you ventured into the overlooked gem that is White Water Snacks? Did you enjoy your meal? Have you had the life-changing Carnitas Angus Burger? The nachos? Are you planning on eating here? Share your thoughts in the comments!