Now that Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure have reopened, we realize guests may have questions about how the experience has changed. This is especially true when it comes to dining. With that in mind, here are a few things we learned during our visit to the Disneyland Resort during reopening weekend.

First, Disneyland’s app is an incredibly helpful tool. The phone icon with small cellphone shows places with mobile ordering (typically counter-service locations) while the fork/knife logo is indicative of carts — popcorn, churro, fruit stands — or sit-down locations where you can either reserve a time or join the walk-up list. Even while you’re still at home, you can browse location menus to familiarize yourself with the changes in place during these reduced operations.

Of interest, River Belle Terrace is still offering the popular Pimento Cheese Dip. Meanwhile, at Disney’s California Adventure, Smokejumpers Grill they have kept some of the Taste of Disney options – popular items typically found at Disneyland like a ½ Monte Cristo and taster portion of the Brisket with Macaroni & Cheese for those not making the jump across the Esplanade.

When considering your lunch or dinner plans, know that you can book your arrival window in advance and we found some of the windows booked up more quickly. So, if you are a primetime eater, you may want to check the app early in the day for your desired time. After you select your arrival window, you will complete your food order. Then, you’ll wait until your arrival window and once at the location hit the “I’m here prepare my order” and the app will let you know when your order is ready for pickup. We found the time from “I’m here” to pick up was longer than previous visits. For example, at Flo's Cafe, we ended up in a queue of about 10-15 minutes to reach the pickup counter.  

Another new element of eating in the parks are the “designated dining areas.” Under current conditions, guests are required to both eat and drink within these areas. With tables more widely spread out, there can be less seating easily adjacent to the food location depending on timing. However, Disney has set up numerous dining zones throughout the park. When we picked up our food at Smoke Jumpers Gril,l there was no seating available in the immediate area, but there were plenty of tables along the waterfall near the parade corridor. We had others in our party who found themselves with what they expected to be a quick snack in Batuu but had to wander a bit before finding a designated location to eat it. So you may want to take a quick glance around for open designated dining spots when you’re ready to eat.

Through the app you can make a reservation or be added to a walk-up list for select sit-down restaurants (space permitting), so be sure to check the app if you weren’t able to book a reservation before your visit.

With so many locations closed, the search feature made it easier to find favorites like Mickey Pretzel. Or, searching the word “allergy” can help point you to restaurants with broader options for whatever your needs. It isn’t perfect as sometimes the search results are a bit too broad and it would be a bit easier if you didn’t have to scroll past closed venues, but they are clearly marked.

And we appreciated knowing what was offered at the various carts. For example at Sleeping Beauty Castle, in addition to the classic churro, they offer a Celebration Churro – Birthday cake flavored. The app also offers information on which carts have a souvenir bucket but it doesn’t indicate which bucket is available. However, we did find the Purple Poison Apple Stein at the Churro Cart near Casey Jr and the app doesn’t list it on the menu.

Overall, we found the app to be a useful tool navigating the altered dining operations and I am hopeful they will keep it a reliable resource with the park’s likely adaptations and changes over the months ahead. I wouldn’t want to miss out on something like the Magic is Here cupcake, a tasty treat I found browsing the Jolly Holiday Bakery menu.

Laughing Place recommends MouseFanTravel.com for all your Disneyland Resort travel planning