Disneyland is synonymous with magical attractions, entertained children, and food options that make you feel like you are in a storybook scene. Part of the fun in Disneyland is the adventure of meeting the Princesses as they hold court in the Royal Hall. Another fun experience could be having breakfast with Minnie and her other Disney pals in the park by Plaza Inn.
Getting photo opportunities with Disney characters is an integral part of the Disneyland experience but eating food and staying hydrated is crucial. Unfortunately, prices of dining packages, quick service options, snacks, and beverages constantly fluctuate.
After purchasing food, nothing would make you sadder than watching a $40 table service meal get cold and left behind because you had to get pictures with Cinderella. Beyond the expense, you may have concerns over you and your family’s dietary needs. While Disneyland has many choices to accommodate your potential dietary and nutritional requirements, this may not be something you want to leave to chance.
The decision to take the food situation into your own hands can occur for various reasons. Still, you don’t want to pack a day’s worth of food and snacks to find out that you must dump it all in the trash before entering the park.
At that point, you would be losing money and a labor of love. Outside food and drink will not be permitted in many entertainment venues and parks. This reality begs the question, can you take food into Disneyland?
Can You Take Food Into Disneyland?
You might have been worried about Disneyland’s ability to cater to your needs or have concerns about what seems to be an exorbitant cost of food and drink. Take a breath now because, according to Disneyland’s FAQs, you are allowed to bring food into Disneyland. The allowance of outside food and beverages is undoubtedly great news, but some stipulations and exceptions exist.
As you enter Disneyland, you must inform a Security Cast Member that you have brought food and beverages. Telling them that you’ve brought food is essential because while you can take food into Disneyland, you are not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages.
However, suppose you are of legal drinking age and would like an alcoholic beverage. In that case, there are plenty of options, including the Mint Julep Bar or Oga’s Cantina. Another exception you could avail yourself of is bringing your own bottle of wine to the Downtown Disney District since the no outside alcohol rule does not apply there. You can enjoy your wine at one of the table service restaurants, but you may have to pay a corkage fee.
The restriction of outside alcoholic beverages is pretty common and understandable. Still, as a result of this rule, you might think that all liquids would be dumped in the trash during the screening process simply as a precaution. But, not to worry, you can take non-alcoholic beverages into Disneyland.
Whether or not you volunteer to have your food and beverages examined by a Security Cast Member, you are subject to random screenings and security checks.
According to Disneyland’s Resort Rules, they reserve the right to deny entry to or remove people and possessions that might interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the resort. While you can take food and non-alcoholic beverages into Disneyland, you can only bring food for yourself and your immediate family.
You must also consider what food you are packing and how you are packing it. Brace yourself because you may have to rethink your packing logistics.
Coolers & Containers for Food
The food you decide to pack and bring to Disneyland is up to you. Still, you’re going to be on the move, and depending on the time of year, you might be combatting challenging temperatures and weather conditions.
Since you plan on taking full advantage of the day and want to enjoy all that the resort offers, you might be inclined to pack a large cooler. Large coolers are great because they can contain all the meals, snacks, and beverages for you and your entire family.
Bringing a massive cooler full of everything you need seems to be the ideal move. However, one of the family members must now become the pack mule or guardian of the cooler. If you were in the process of deciding which family member to elect, Disneyland rule makers have saved them from hauling all of the groceries.
According to the FAQ page, coolers that are larger than a “6-pack” size are not permitted in the park. You can still use a larger cooler, but you would then need to rent a locker to store it just outside of the park. The largest locker can only accommodate a cooler no larger than 19″ wide x 24″ high x 31″ deep.
The prices for renting such a locker can range from $7 to $15 for the day. Renting a locker to store a larger cooler may seem ideal, but exiting and reentering the park every time you want to grab a bite might be inconvenient.
Now that you have food storage figured out, you are good to go. Well, not yet. You and your family invested in glass containers so that you could have confidence in your meal preparation.
You have more trust in the quality of your meal because the nonporous glass surface won’t absorb residue, germs, and smells from previous meals. Finally, you are ready to pack your meals for Disneyland and do so in a classy way. Sorry, it seems you will need to reinvest in plastic because glass containers won’t be allowed into Disneyland.
The no-glass rule seems like a reasonable stipulation because broken glass can be a massive disturbance for other guests. In addition, broken glass could be problematic because of the loud breaking sound, which could shock people who are trying to enjoy a peaceful day.
Though, the potential for injury because of broken glass would be even worse. You might think that seems reasonable enough, but what if you have baby food or medications that come pre-packaged in glass containers? Not to worry, you can take small containers such as baby food into Disneyland.
Keeping Food Fresh
Beyond the selection of coolers or containers, you also have to consider how to keep your food cool inside those containers. Unfortunately, Disneyland doesn’t have any provision for keeping your meals and beverages cold.
However, If you have medications requiring refrigeration, you can notify the onsite First Aid. Refrigeration space is limited, but they may help with that issue. Since you won’t have any refrigeration options for your meals, you may have the desire to get creative.
You may devise many solutions to keep your meals cool and fresh during your creative planning. For example, some people know how to handle dry ice and may think this could be a good solution.
Dry ice lasts longer than regular ice and prevents what you’ve packed from getting wet since it releases gasses rather than liquid. However, due to the inherent risks and dangers resulting from improper storage or contact, Disneyland will not allow dry ice.
It is a rarity for someone to know how to use dry ice properly. If you have the skills and knowledge, then kudos, but you must find an alternative method. Most people will find themselves in the more likely scenario of using regular loose ice.
You can collect loose ice from the hotel ice maker, your freezer, or the local gas station. That seems like it should be okay, but it is not. Disneyland is pretty strict in that they don’t allow dry ice or even loose ice but recommend that you instead use a freezer pack.
With so many park guests, Disneyland staff want to ensure everyone enjoys their experience. Not permitting ice may seem needlessly limiting, but you must dump the residual water somewhere as the ice melts.
Suppose even a small percentage of guests accidentally or carelessly allow the ice to spill on walkways. In that case, they could be causing a slip hazard. Nothing is worse than getting injured on what is supposed to be your fun-filled day at Disneyland.
Food You Can’t Take Into Disneyland.
You now understand your options in how you can transport, store, and keep your food fresh. You might be wondering if there are any limitations on what outside food you can take into Disneyland. There are a few specific limitations and some FAQ mentions that seem to be open for interpretation.
Let’s discuss the specific food exceptions first. As mentioned before, you are not permitted to bring alcohol into Disneyland. While it may seem obvious, illegal substances would also not be allowed.
Cannabis and marijuana products are currently legal in California, so you might think bringing such products in with your food or drinks should be fine. Disneyland’s park rules also identify that marijuana or marijuana enriched products are not allowed in the park.
Let’s talk about actual food now. Are there any other restrictions? The FAQ page says that you may bring any food that does not require heating, reheating, or further processing. That is the part where you may need to start interpreting the rules.
The mention of no heating or reheating is important because no microwaves will be made available to you in Disneyland. Although the rule makers don’t specifically identify, this would likely preclude you from getting creative and bringing a camping stove.
Additionally, the Disneyland FAQ page says that food you take into Disneyland must not have pungent odors. However, everyone’s nose is a little different. You can imagine another park guest may become sensitive to a strong-smelling durian fruit, stinky tofu, or any delicious meal made with powerful spices like peppers and curry.
None of those foods are explicitly identified in the FAQs, but if the smell is strong enough and someone’s complaint is equally strong, that may result in one of Disneyland’s Security Cast Members asking you to dispose of your delicious food.
Finally, you have finished jumping through all of the hoops! As you prepare for your trip to Disneyland, there are several points to keep in mind, which may seem overwhelming initially.
Don’t panic; all of the park rules are there to ensure everyone has an equally enjoyable experience. Plan your trip in a way that is considerate to those around you and respectful of Disneyland’s rules. You will undoubtedly have a lovely time and enjoyable meals whether you buy food there or take your own food into Disneyland and enjoy it at one of the picnic areas.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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