Eating Cheap At The Mouse

Chef Mickey
Photo used courtessy of

Due to a number of circumstances, the wife and I have been doing our best to cut back on spending money. Saturday we went with some friends to Disneyland, and had to find some affordable food. Though it may seem an oxymoron, there are ways to have affordable food at Disneyland.

The most obvious way to save money is to share food. I don’t like to share food ever. If I share a meal, it can be guaranteed I’ll be hungry again within the hour. However at the Stage Door Cafe they have a chicken strip with fries meal. That with a bottle of water (that we could refill) cost us less than $10. I realize there are lots of meals to be shared (anything in a bread bowl, pasta dishes, pizza meals) but there are also cheaper places to eat if you step just outside the gates.

In Downtown Disney there’s a mexican restaurant called Tortilla Joe’s. While the food is average and the sit-down meals are not cheap, during the week they have happy hour! The exact hours are not listed on the website but we usually go around 5pm. The appetizers are much cheaper and quite filling. They also have drink specials! Alcoholic drink specials! :-)
Another place I frequent is White Water Snacks in the Grand Californian Hotel. It’s right next to the pool. You can access it either from downtown disney, through the main lobby, or if you’re in California Adventure, you can use the special gate by Grizzly River Rapids. It is meant to be for hotel guests, but anyone can use it. It’s also a great way to avoid the crowds at the end of the day. They have several cheaper dishes to eat there. I like the kids chicken strips and fries (seeing a pattern?). The portion is more than enough for an adult. Another great thing about this place is they have more drink options! The patio is usually a quiet shady place to relax and actually enjoy the food your eating.
If you don’t mind crossing streets, Mimi’s Cafe across Harbor Blvd. is mostly reasonably priced and has good food. If you show up after 10pm you’ll probably see most of the parade performers you saw in the park too!

Words of warning. Do NOT eat at the McDonalds in California Adventure, or across from the parks on Harbor Blvd. The prices are jacked up due to location. Same goes for that Denny’s and IHOP. None of them run any specials either!

8 Comments so far

  1. Jeff Donaldson (fejsez) on July 19th, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

    White Water Snacks is probably the best deal on property. I just wish they were open till 11pm like when the hotel opened.

  2. Jon (oc_jon) on July 19th, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    Actually, the best deal on property is Dole Whip. Not an opinion mind you, it’s a fact.

  3. Jeff Donaldson (fejsez) on July 19th, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

    While a Dole Whip is a meal in itself, and also a personal favorite, for a complete meal I think l the steak or chicken nachos at White Water Snacks is the best deal on property. Feeds 3 nicely. Fact! :-P

  4. Gina (oc_gina) on July 19th, 2008 @ 10:58 pm

    Although not necessarily the cheapest eats, we like to go to the Storyteller Cafe at the Grand Californian. You get a nice sit-down meal (with extremely yummy bread) complete with fancy waterglasses and linen napkins for what you would pay for hamburgers at the parks.

  5. Dave Share (daveshare) on July 20th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    DOLE WHIP!!!!! :-D

    I’ve personally never been a fan of their buffet dinner places, but then again, I don’t have kids.

  6. Jon (oc_jon) on July 20th, 2008 @ 11:49 am

    Story Tellers just updated or will soon update their menu.

  7. Dave Share (daveshare) on July 20th, 2008 @ 3:56 pm


    Every time Disney "updates" their menu, it turns to shit.

    #1 on my list is all the cast member dining options!

  8. frazgo on July 26th, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

    The fam and I were terribly disappointed when Disney got rid of the caramel dipping stuff for the churros. That made them special. Now they are just fried and sugared dough.

    Our favorite still is going to DT Disney for a sit down dinner break from the park. We always time it just right so we are getting off the monorail back in the park just in time for the fireworks.

    Related. Brennan’s sucks.

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