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by Disney Magic Diva

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for EveryoneHave you ever spent your birthday at Disney? I have – once.  My birthday falls during the holidays, and, because of the crowds, it’s not an ideal time to visit a Disney park. (For almost every other reason, though, it’s a PERFECT time to visit!  The decorations are phenomenal!) My husband, though – well that’s a different story!  His birthday is in mid-January, and while the decorations are gone, the crowds are too!  It’s a great time to visit Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort.  And so we have planned trips around his birthday – once to Disney World and twice to Disneyland.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Outside seating

On our last birthday visit to Disneyland, we had the entire family with us – 7 adults and 3 grandkids. While we knew everyone would have their own interests and priorities of what to do while at the park, we wanted to be sure to plan a special meal together to celebrate his birthday.  We had some difficulty picking an appropriate place.  We wanted something that would appeal to everyone, and yet keep the kids happy.  We thought about a character meal, but frankly the kids just aren’t into the characters too much, and the adults prefer something other than a buffet.  (IF you’re interested in a character meal, check out Character Diva’s article on how to pick the one that’s best for you!) We settled on lunch at the Carnation Café, and we were very pleased with our choice!

The Carnation Café is located about mid-way down Main Street U.S.A.  It has a lovely patio with red and white striped umbrellas, and is a perfect spot for people watching while enjoying your meal.  We were hoping to score a table outside, and we were so happy when we were seated there.  It serves classic American comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and offers some of Walt’s favorite dishes.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Inside seating at the Carnation Cafe

Diva Tip: Carnation Café is home to Oscar Martinez, Disneyland’s longest tenured cast member. Oscar recently celebrated 60 years of service at Disneyland!  Although Oscar wasn’t on duty during our visit, be sure to say “hello” to him when dining at Carnation Café, and maybe even try the breakfast potatoes named for him!

Reservations are suggested for Carnation Café, and can be made 60 days in advance. We had a reservation for 12:10 pm, and arrived about 10 minutes early. It was a short wait to check in, and we were able to request our seating preferences and a space for our stroller.  We were given a pager, and only had to wait a short time outside before we were called in to be seated.Our table on the patio was just perfect for the 10 of us – not to crowded and plenty of room for the stroller.

We began our meal with an appetizer of fried pickles – a family favorite! Unlike other restaurants, though, these pickles are served as pickle spears instead of chips. Dipped in Parmesan and panko, the pickles were browned to a delicious crisp and served with a tasty dipping sauce. We devoured two orders of them without any trouble!

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Fried Pickles were a delicious appetizer!

For entrees, our family had several different selections. My husband, the birthday boy, had to try one of Walt’s classic dishes – Chicken-fried Chicken.  He gave it a big thumbs-up! The buttermilk fried chicken breast was served with mashed potatoes, country gravy, veggies, and a roll.  It was almost too much for him to finish – almost!

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Chicken-fried Chicken

My son also opted for one of Walt’s favorites – Homemade Meatloaf. He is a meatloaf fanatic, and this dish did not disappoint.  According to the menu, it is a “special blend of beef and pork served with ketchup glaze, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and seasonal vegetables.”  I guess they forgot to say it’s practically an entire “loaf!”  The portion size was huge, and could easily be shared.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Homemade Meatloaf

Two of us enjoyed the Romaine Salad with Shrimp. As much as I wanted to try a classic Walt dish, my appetite just wasn’t ready for something that heavy and filling.  I was so very pleased with my choice in the salad.  It was fresh and light, just what I was looking for at the time.  The salad consisted of romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, hickory-smoked bacon, blue cheese and topped with a generous portion of shrimp and creamy ranch dressing.  It was delightful!

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Romaine Salad with Shrimp

The other three adults all chose café specialties – the Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt, the Roasted Turkey Sandwich and the Main Street Cheeseburger.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt

All were happy with their choice!  The Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt is an Angus chuck patty, pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, hickory-smoked bacon, and spicy house sauce on grilled sourdough. My son thought it was extremely tasty, and would order it again. The same could be said of the Main Street Cheeseburger.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Main Street Cheeseburger

It also consists of an Angus chuck patty, topped with Tillamook cheddar, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, and house sauce on toasted brioche. Pretty much your basic, yummy cheeseburger.  The Roasted Turkey Sandwich was also exactly what you’d expect and can find at several Disney restaurants.  Freshly sliced turkey, tomatoes, Monterey jack, lettuce, pickled onions, and ustard on a potato roll.  All of these sandwich choices are served with your choice of fresh fruit or seasoned French fries.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Roasted Turkey Sandwich

The grandkids shared one order of Mac & Cheese. The menu lists that it is served with broccoli and fresh fruit, but the kids wanted French fries, and the server was happy to substitute that for them.  It was plenty for the two of them.

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Kids Meal Mac & Cheese

Diva Tip: We have always had tremendous cooperation in asking for substitutions at Disney restaurants. If there is something you are wondering about, don’t be afraid to ask.  While not everything is possible, the cast members are always willing to do what they can to make your meal magical!

Disneyland's Carnation Cafe: A Magical Meal for Everyone

Mickey Birthday Cupcake

We so very much wanted to order some dessert, but no one could imagine taking another bite. Our server, did, though, insist on bringing my husband his Disney birthday cupcake!

Diva Tip: If you are celebrating a birthday while visiting a Disney park, be sure to mention it when making your dining reservation, and again when you check into the restaurant.  Disney loves to celebrate with you!  And nothing is quite as magical (or yummy!) as a free cupcake from Mickey!

We had a lovely time at Carnation Café, and it was just the respite we needed to rejuvenate, refresh and re-energize for an afternoon at Disneyland. We all thought our meal was delicious, and would definitely return to the Carnation Café.

Are you ready to give it a try? Contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel to plan your next trip to Disneyland, and let her make your reservation for you!  And just like that Mickey birthday cupcake, her services are FREE!

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