Experiencing Kosher Food at Disneyland
Yesterday, my wife and I visited Disneyland to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary (a special thank-you goes to my sister-in-law, who hooked us up with tickets (and an extra thank-you for watching our children so we could go)). When planning our visit, my sister-in-law and I decided to order kosher meals for my wife and I for dinner. While we have visited Disneyland on many occasions, we had never availed ourselves of the packaged kosher meals there, so this was a special opportunity to do so. We were interested to see what the experience was like for enjoying kosher-packaged meals at Disneyland.
We arrived for our 5:50pm reservation at Cafe Orleans, and got seated just before 6:00pm. We had a nice location, seated on the patio looking out at a major pedestrian intersection in New Orleans Square, which was entertaining. While we were seated, we ordered Diet Cokes to accompany our meals. While waiting for our soups [and throughout the meal], we got continuous refills of Diet Coke (from a pitcher(!)), which was great to be able to continually drink.
With three options for an entrée – lasagna, beef brisket, and honey breast chicken – I had pre-ordered several days ahead of our dining the two meat meals, so we could eat each other’s’ meals. Unfortunately, they had, somehow, run out of the beef brisket. Having ordered several days in advance, we were both surprised and disappointed that they would be out of a food item that we had pre-ordered four days in advance. Our waitress then offered us alternatives, such as lasagna, pizza, or chicken nuggets, but we decided to just get a second order of the honey breast chicken. (Obviously, getting either the lasagna or pizza would have not been a good choice, since we were going fleishig, and I was unsure how much was included in the chicken strips or since it was not an entrée, how that might affect our meal.)
However, our waitress then returned to inform us that they only had just the one honey breast chicken and not a second one. So, we decided to go with the chicken nuggets. (It still baffles me how, having ordered days in advance, that they wouldn’t have our meals already stocked.)
After forty minutes of waiting, our soups finally arrived. It really was strange to us that meals that we had pre-ordered, made a reservation for, and required a mere microwaving would take that long to get to us. As my wife wondered, “Why does it take 40 minutes to microwave soup?” We each had ordered the vegetable pea soup, which was quite salty, although I enjoyed the salt level (though, for some, it might be a bit much). I thought it was at a nice temperature, although my wife found the middle of her soup to still be a bit frozen (she was able to mix it with the rest of the soup to get a lukewarm temperature).
After finishing our soups, we then sat and enjoyed the weather, the crowds, and our Diet Coke for another 20 minutes before our next course came out. We then received our glazed breast of chicken with mushroom risotto and eggplant ratatouille, as well as the chicken nuggets with potato pancakes. With the latter meal, there were six chicken nuggets with four latkes, but, as my wife noticed, there was curiously no sauce on food items that are typically accompanied by sauce. However, we requested ketchup and mayonnaise, which significantly helped the flavor. Nevertheless, the latkes taste “like frozen latkes” and the nuggets were strange, even to me (my wife said she was not sure it’s even chicken”).
As to the glazed chicken breast, the chicken was super dry and lacking sauce – or, at least, the flavor of a sauce or glaze – that it took on the flavor of the mushroom risotto. The mushroom risotto, though, was fine, although the chicken was kind of disappointing (with some Tabasco sauce (that I had requested) and some of the ketchup, it became more palatable). (I also didn’t particularly care for the eggplant ratatouille, but that could have just been my palate.)
One thing that I had read on the Disneyland Parks & Resorts Dietary Request Reference Sheet was that each entrée was to be accompanied by an appetizer/soup, 4-way roll, and a dessert. While we had received two of those three items, there was no roll offered to us. While we didn’t need to eat a roll, it was strange that the website would mention that it was to be included, yet there were none around at Cafe Orleans.
Finally, our dessert arrived, which was their apple streusel dessert (the only dessert option available for kosher consumers (why there isn’t anything chocolatey for dessert is beyond me)). Unfortunately, they only had one apple streusel dessert in stock. Why they would have only one dessert on hand when we had ordered days in advance is again baffling.
So, we ended up sharing the apple streusel dessert, which was, as my wife pointed out, more accurately described as “apple cake that wasn’t baked sufficiently in the middle.” I actually enjoyed the very soft, doughy middle, although my wife pointed out that that indicates its lack of having been properly baked.
With the exception of my wife’s soup, everything was of an appropriate temperature, although my wife is quick to point out that it was merely microwaved and the apple streusel wasn’t properly baked. My wife was “thoroughly unimpressed” with both the food and the food experience (long waiting for microwaved food, out of pre-ordered items, etc.) For Disney, that prides themselves on quality and the experience, she noted, “I expect more from them. This was worse than airplane food.”
One thing we noticed was that the food was from Florida. The food was prepared by Webermans in Miami, Florida (under the OU’s supervision), which meant that it had to be driven to the airport, then flown across the US, then driven down to Disneyland. Why not get the food from Los Angeles? LA has the most kosher restaurants in the western United States and is not that far of a drive from Disneyland. With the ability to provide fresh food just a drive away, as opposed to flying it across the country from Florida, why would Disneyland not just strike up a deal with a local caterer (that could also provide fresher and quicker food options)? (Who knows? Maybe Disney Parks have a good enough arrangement to secure kosher food in bulk from Webermans, supplying Walt Disney World that sending off some of their food to California is more worth it for them than to make an arrangement with an LA-based caterer, but is that really the best option for them?)
Our issues with our food was noticeable, as we kept making comments to our [very kind and sweet] waitress, who eventually brought out the manager. We were able to discuss with him about several of the issues with the meal and, after patiently listening, he apologized for the state of the food. When we were ready to receive the bill, our waitress came to us and informed us that the restaurant had covered our bill since they were so apologetic for the food situation.
I am very glad that the manager decided to not charge us for our dinners (yes, my wife was ready to complain separately after the meal, so this solved this situation for us). We had a pleasant experience with both the manager and our waitress, so we had good service, just, unfortunately, poorly-managed food arrangement. Since we didn’t receive the bill, I can’t tell you how much these kosher-packaged meals would normally cost, nor, for that matter, could I tell you if it would be worth it to order these meals in the future at Disneyland.