I don’t know about you, but attractions are not always the first thing on my mind when going to Disneyland – it’s food. Food is fuel. Food is love. Food is everything! Okay, almost everything. Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time to not only go on Disneyland’s attractions of the past, but I wish I could also try the amazing options and dining experiences here at the park on opening day in 1955. Although we can’t experience dining at these eateries today, the least I could do is to give a refresher, and maybe even bring a little bit of nostalgia for some of you. The list was so extensive that I had to break it into two parts, so here are some of Disneyland’s eateries of the past starting from those in Fantasyland, Main Street, U.S.A., and Tomorrowland!
Welch’s Juice Bar (1955–1981)
If you were ever in dire thirst for a healthy, refreshing treat, Welch’s Juice Bar was the place to be at, conveniently located just to the right of the Mickey Mouse Theatre in Fantasyland. Grape juice and grape ice pops were crowd favorites that children and adults could not get enough of.
“I had forgotten all about the grape juice stand! And as much as I loved the juice itself, I think I loved the big, round dispensers even more. They made the juice seem so enticing,” said a Disneyland Park guest.
What also made this juice bar stand out was the hand-painted mural by Sleeping Beauty lead designer, Eyvind Earle, featuring characters from Fantasia like centaurs and centaurettes, a unicorn, and a fawn hauling Concord grapes.
In 1982, the theater and juice bar were torn down to make room for what we know today as Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and the Village Haus Restaurant.
Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship (1955–1969) & Captain Hooks Galley Pirate Ship Restaurant (1969–1982)
Who wouldn’t want to dine in a ship adapted from one of Disney’s classic films, Peter Pan? I would. Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship was permanently docked in a shallow pond in the center of Fantasyland surrounded by attractions like Mad Tea Party, King Arthur Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Storybook Land Canal Boats.
The restaurant was initially sponsored by Chicken of the Sea and served dishes centered around…you guessed it, tuna. Guests had the option of ordering a tuna sandwich, a hot tuna pie, and even a tuna burger.
In 1969, it was renamed “Captain Hook’s Galley Pirate Ship Restaurant” because it was no longer sponsored by Chicken of the Sea. The menu also got an update with new offerings including a hot roast beef sandwich, hot meatball sandwich, clam chowder, chef’s salad, tuna salad, desserts, beverages, and a tuna burger, which still remained an option from the old menu.
Several years later in 1982, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and King Arthur Carousel were relocated and Captain Hook’s Galley was gone for good.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Red Wagon Inn (1955–1965)
The Red Wagon Inn, sponsored by The Swifts Meat Company, was supposedly Walt Disney’s favorite dining spot in the park and was the only table service restaurant that served full course dinners (breakfast and lunch, too), serving various quality foods like steaks and chops.
It had a Victorian feel to it and was designed by his wife, Lillian. Ceilings were made of stained glass, the entrance hall and foyer were intricately decorated, and the Red Wagon Inn even included a VIP lounge area, a wet bar, and bathroom for special guests.
After The Swifts Meat Company’s lease ended in 1965, the restaurant closed, got a mini makeover, switching from table service to buffet-style, and renamed as the Plaza Inn, serving one of the best (if not THE best) chicken entrée in town.
Plaza Pavilion (1955–1998)
The Plaza Pavilion was a buffeteria-style restaurant present on opening day where guests entered from the side, chose from the selection of food items, paid for their food, and dined either indoors or outdoors on the terrace. There was an emphasis on Italian food consisting of spaghetti, penne pasta with a choice of sauce (Bolognese, Alfredo, Primavera, or Sicilian), chicken breast sandwich, Italian rope sausage sandwich, salads, and desserts like tiramisu and parfaits. In the 1960s, the menu changed, offering fried chicken, fried shrimp, biscuits, and honey.
Although the Plaza Pavilion opened for over 40 years, the amount of success didn’t compare to that of Plaza Inn’s right across the street. Business remained open only on the weekends including days that were expected to be busy, whereas the Plaza Inn opened on a daily basis. In the late 1990s, Disneyland management decided that there wasn’t a need for two restaurants, which ultimately brought the Plaza Pavilion to a halt.
The large space was later used as a Disneyland Annual Passport Processing Center, which on the contrary, didn’t get much use at all for fourteen years. It was simply, “wasted space,” but thankfully, food made its return back to the plaza in 2012 called the Jolly Holiday Café.
Sunkist Citrus House (1960–1989)
For those who weren’t in the mood for grape juice at Welch’s Juice Bar in Fantasyland, 100% fresh-squeezed orange juice and lemonade at the Sunkist Citrus House next to the Penny Arcade were other options for Disneyland Park goers. Also on the menu were frozen juice bars, lemon tarts, coffee, and donuts. It later became the original Blue Ribbon Bakery followed by Gibson Girl Ice Cream.
American Egg House (1978–1983)
One way to start off a day at the park was with a delicious and nutritious breakfast. The American Egg House was a crowd favorite serving not only breakfast, but lunch and dinner too. The menu included items such as egg salad sandwiches, eggs benedict, Quiche Loraraine, warm danishes, custard pies, as well as other non-egg dishes like hot dogs, tuna salad sandwiches, pita bread sandwiches, and more. Today, this area is home to a shop called Disney Showcase featuring Disney character merchandise.
Blue Ribbon Bakery (1990–2012)
Looking for a sweet treat or coffee to start your day? The Blue Ribbon Bakery had lots to offer, ranging from muffins, scones, biscotti, croissants, Matterhorn Macaroons, and hot and cold beverages. They also served smoked ham, turkey, and three cheese vegetable medley sandwiches if you were looking for a bite to eat around lunch time. During the Christmas season, pumpkin muffins, gingerbread cookies, holiday biscottis, pumpkin spiced lattes, and eggnog were among several popular holiday treats.
The original Blue Ribbon Bakery actually opened next to the Penny Arcade, replacing Sunkist Citrus House in 1990. In 1997, it relocated next door on the corner of Disneyland’s Main Street and West Center Street until mid-2012 when Carnation Café took over the space.
Fun Fact: A skilled baker (who eventually became Blue Ribbon Bakery’s main baker) and his wife left their European home to pursue a new life in America. His friends convinced him to enter a baking competition at the state fair because his treats were so delicious. He won the first place prize, a blue ribbon, and that was how the Blue Ribbon Bakery got its name!
Space Bar (1955–1966)
Also making its debut on opening day was the Space Bar located in Tomorrowland. And no, it was not that kind of bar serving alcoholic drinks. It was initially an automat type of restaurant, which operated as a restaurant and a wall of vending machines. Automats allowed guests to choose from different kinds of freshly made foods like tuna sandwiches for 50 cents and pies for 20 cents shown behind little windows. It was the ultimate “fast food.”
Eventually, the vending machines were removed and the Space Bar switched over to having walk-up windows for food. Here you would find burgers, chili dogs, sandwiches, salads, drinks, and pastries.
To make room for the Carousel Theater and a newer version of Tomorrowland, the Space Bar was torn down in 1966.
The Yacht Bar (1957–1966)
The Yacht Bar was a snack bar in Tomorrowland and although it wasn’t a yacht, it got its name partly due to the proximity of the Tomorrowland Lagoon, which was decorated with exterior panels that were painted like nautical flags.
If you were ever looking to spend about $1 for a meal, this was place to be at! The food options included chili cheese dog (40¢), french fries (25¢), pie (30¢), pizza (65¢), submarine sandwich (75¢), milk shake (40¢), popcorn (15¢), and drinks like milk (15¢), hot coffee (10¢), Coca-Cola or Pepsi (15¢ for small; 25¢ for large). And yes, guests had the option to choose between Coca-Cola or Pepsi!
Looking for a table to eat at? There was no need to because there weren’t any! Instead, coral-colored fiberglass chairs were available with a side desk attached to the side.
When the New Tomorrowland opened in 1967, The Yacht Bar was removed and so did the choice between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Today, the space is occupied by Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
The Lunching Pad (1977–1998)
Right below the PeopleMover station and Rocket Jet platform in Tomorrowland was a snack bar called The Lunching Pad, serving hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream bars, and other snacks.
The Launching Pad was originally called The Space Bar before it got torn down to make room for the Carousel Theater and made its way to be situated under the PeopleMover. Around the same time that Space Mountain opened, its name changed to The Lunching Pad. The changes did not stop there. In fact, the snack bar underwent a “Little Green Men” makeover when Toy Story was released in 1995. Three years later, Tomorrowland experienced another renovation and the area was transformed into Radio Disney headquarters followed by another transformation in 2007 to what we know today as a souvenir shop called “TomorrowLanding – Gifts from Outer and Liquid Space.”
And there you have it! Did you get the opportunity to dine at any of these locations? Share your experiences below. We would love to hear about them! Keep an eye out for Part II in the near future where I will discuss more Disneyland eateries in the past from Adventureland, Bear Country, and Frontierland.
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