Your Guide to Thanksgiving at Disneyland 2023 Top Spots and 5 Helpful Tips
If you plan on experiencing Thanksgiving at Disneyland, you have many options at your fingertips. One important thing to figure out, as far in advance as possible, is where you plan to eat that day.
Disneyland Thanksgiving crowds, like most holidays, tend to be large and arriving with a solid strategy is the best way to prepare for these crowds.
If you are looking for an elaborate Thanksgiving experience like only Disney could provide, you could consider the character meal offered for celebrate Disneyland Thanksgiving. This Disneyland Hotel Thanksgiving feast comes with a hefty price tag but guests always enjoy it- it sells out every year!
If that is out of reach or you simply don't want to pay those high prices (the more family members you have, the more it will add up!) you should make a dining reservation at another great Disneyland table service restaurant inside the parks.
Regardless of your choice, our guide to Thanksgiving at Disneyland is here to help you plan your day so you can enjoy this holiday at one of the greatest American traditions around.
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Top Five Tips to Enjoying Thanksgiving at Disneyland
Showing up at the parks prepared and knowing what to expect is the best way to ensure a successful Thanksgiving at Disneyland. Here are our top five tips to make sure you have the most magical Thanksgiving at Disneyland ever.
1. Make Your Disneyland Thanksgiving Dining Reservations
If you plan on doing the Disneyland Hotel Thanksgiving (outlined below) then make your reservation ASAP. If you plan on going another route, it's still crucial that you book a dining reservation in advance to ensure a low stress meal without having to worry about long waits for a table.
You can make your reservation up to 60 days in advance. If you decide you need to cancel, all you have to do is cancel within 24 hours to avoid being charged the $10 per person penalty fee. You can book dining reservations from the Disney Dining website or call (714) 781-DINE.
Some great options to consider for a hearty Thanksgiving meal are:
- Blue Bayou Restaurant
- Cafe Orleans
- Carnation Cafe
- River Belle Terrace
- Carthay Circle Restaurant
- Flo's V-8 Cafe
- Wine Country Trattoria
- Lamplight Lounge
All of these restaurants tend to be popular year round so making a dining reservation is a wise decision! You can view all of their menus and prices on the Disneyland Dining website.
2. Show Up Early and Stay Late for Thanksgiving Day
We cannot stress this enough when you're visiting the parks on a busy time of the year. Thanksgiving, like any other holiday, is a day you an expect large crowds. Who doesn't want to spend a holiday at Disneyland?
The best way to maximize your time is to arrive early. Make a plan to get up early, eat breakfast before you come, and arrive at the park gates an hour prior to official park opening.
Typically, they will begin letting people in the parks 15-30 minutes to the official opening which puts you in a great position to line up for Rope Drop. Before the official opening, the entrances to the lands are guarded with ropes and cast members. Being there early enough to make Rope Drop is a great way to be able to walk right on some of your favorite attractions. Don't miss it!
But even better than arriving early? Stay late! This past Thanksgiving we stayed until the park closed at midnight and after the fireworks the parks cleared out leaving many rides with minimal waits after a pretty busy day. This is the best way to handle Thanksgiving at Disneyland.
3. Use A Touring Strategy/Plan Your Day
Using a touring strategy is the best way to maximize your time. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of what's going on that you have a hard time deciding which ride to choose next. Those few moments of indecision and group discussion tend to take up valuable morning time when the lines are short. Consider using one of our touring plans to help you maximize your time.
Both of our strategies offer options for adults/big kids and little kids.
If doing a touring plan isn't your thing, at least make sure you have a general idea of which rides are your top priority so you can go to those first thing in the morning or ride after the fireworks at night!
4. Download the Disneyland App
Download the Disneyland app before your trip so you're familiar with how to access the ride times and use mobile ordering. This app is used for many things at Disneyland and you'll thank yourself for being familiar with it before our trip! Be sure to check out the new Disney Genie+ system.
Using mobile ordering is a great way to handle crowds at Disneyland so you can avoid long lines for food so it's a feature you should utilize on Thanksgiving. Plus you can also opt to purchase Genie+ which will allow you to reserve your spot in line for popular attractions.
5. Be Patient and Thankful – It's Thanksgiving in Disneyland!
And most of all, remember that it is Thanksgiving! Practice gratitude and patience in your day and you'll be bound to have a pleasant experience.
Be thankful for your family, friends, or whoever else you are spending this wonderful experience of Thanksgiving at Disneyland with. Be thankful that you are spending this day of gratitude and thanks at the Happiest Place on Earth.
A crowded day at Disneyland only becomes stressful when you let it- don't let any crowds ruin your magical day. But be prepared, Thanksgiving at Disneyland will be very, very crowded from the moment you arrive. Many assume that Disneyland is empty on Thanksgiving but that is not the case, it's one of the busiest days of the holiday season. If you arrive knowing this and prepared to take your time and be patient- you will do just fine. Take our advice, show up prepared, and be ready to give thanks.
Disneyland Thanksgiving Menus at Other Restaurants 2023
You can also find other Thanksgiving meals at many of the other popular table service restaurants around Disneyland!
- Carnation Café: Oven-roasted Turkey Breast, Bourbon Gravy and Cornbread Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie
- Blue Bayou Restaurant: Herb-basted turkey breast, with Butter Whipped Potatoes, Cast Iron Cornbread Stuffing, Citrus-Cranberry Sauce, Market Vegetables and Turkey Au Jus, Kid's turkey dinner, Pumpkin Crème Brûlée with pecan cookie.
- Café Orleans: Battered & Fried Holiday-spiced Monte Cristo with Smothered Pommes Frites, Citrus and Cranberry Salad, Classic Pumpkin Pie topped with Spiced Chantilly
- River Belle Terrace: Traditional Turkey Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup. Oven-roasted Turkey Breast with Country Pork Belly Stuffing, Sweet Potato Mash, Seasonal Vegetables, Gravy and Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin Pie with Pepita-Bacon Brittle and Spiced Chantilly Cream. Kids' Turkey Dinner: assorted Vegetable Crudité with House-made Ranch Dressing. Oven-roasted Turkey Breast with Country Pork Belly Stuffing, Sweet Potato Mash, Seasonal Vegetables, Bourbon Gravy and Cranberry Sauce. S'mores Pudding
- Wine Country Trattoria: Holiday Turkey Meal: Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey Gravy, Stuffing, Green Beans and Orange-Cranberry Sauce. Kids' Holiday Turkey Meal:
Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey Gravy, Stuffing, Green Beans and Orange-Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin Pie topped with Spiced Chantilly.
We dined at the Blue Bayou on our Thanksgiving Day 2021 and overall, it was a fine experience. You can either order off the Thanksgiving pre-fix menu or opt for the regular menu.
Unfortunately, most menus on holidays are pre-fix menus meaning there won't be any modifications allowed. Since I'm a vegetarian, this was a problem for me since I didn't want turkey! I wasn't able to just increase my sides in place of the turkey either, most they could is just leave the turkey off the plate so I opted to order something else. Not all restaurants can be this strict though, a friend of mine had Thanksgiving dinner at Carnation Cafe and was able to do more substitutions so this will vary.
The kids meal is just a smaller version of the Thanksgiving menu but this was actually really small portions in compared to the usual kids meals at Blue Bayou.
Thanksgiving dessert was pumpkin pie creme brûlée which is a different take on a Thanksgiving classic. Overall, our experience at the Blue Bayou on Thanksgiving was great due to the ambiance and nostalgia of our favorite restaurant but the options at other Disneyland options offer a bit more flexibility for diners that need modifications and bigger portions.
Disneyland Thanksgiving at the Disneyland Hotel
One popular option, and only available on Thanksgiving Day, is the Disneyland Hotel Thanksgiving that takes place in the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom. If enjoying Thanksgiving at Disneyland is your top goal then this is a great way to experience it. During the meal you can expect to see a variety of Disney characters that come out to greet you and take photos.
Here is the run-down of the experience from 2019 just in case it returns:
Choose from a time in this range:
- 11:30am and 6:00pm
- Adults – $180
- Kids (age 3-9) – $70
- Full payment is required at the time of reservation.
- Kids 2 and under are free.
- Tax and gratuity included.
Buffet Style Meal Choices Include:
Enticing Starters and Salads
- Artisanal cheeses
- Chilled poached jumbo shrimp and crab legs
- Market-fresh green and prepared salads
- Smoked salmon
- Succulent roast turkey
- Prime rib of beef
Favorite Fixings and Sides
- Homemade stuffing
- Sweet potato soufflé
- Fresh cranberry-orange relish
- Fall harvest vegetable medley
- Mashed potatoes and traditional giblet gravy
Decadent Desserts and Pastries
- Classic pumpkin pie
- Make your own Ice Cream Sundae
- Chocolate mousse
- Crisp Chicken Nuggets
- Homemade pizza
- Macaroni and cheese
- Fresh corn
- Dessert selection
Complimentary Beverage Selections
- Ice Tea
- Milk and chocolate milk
- Soft drinks
One specialty cocktail or nonalcoholic specialty drink is provided with buffet. In addition, a full bar selection is available for purchase, including wine by the bottle. Guests will receive one complimentary family photo from Disney PhotoPass Service per reservation.
Book your reservation ASAP- this experience sells out every year. If you have your heart set on this experience, book it now.
Plan Your Disneyland Thanksgiving Trip!
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- Best Times to Visit Disneyland
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- Disneyland Restaurant Reviews and Tips
- Booking Disneyland Packages
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hello, i actually just called Disney Dining this morning. The Hotel Buffet is now $180/adult, and $70/ 3-9, including tax and tip
Thanks for the update!
no problem! i almost hung up when they told me…but it IS tax and tip included. $500 for a family of 4…still going to do it though lol
Is all 0f the hotels and Thanksgiving day and weekend s0ld out we wanted to be on the moon rail hotel circuit fron 27 or 28 thru the weekend
How do I find out about where we can do a character Thanksging Buffet? Menus, and prices??
We don’t have the 2021 dates and details yet but this guide will be updated the instant we do!
All things considered (block out dates, convention schedule, holiday crowds), what two days during thanksgiving week do you think would be best? We can choose any 2 days from the Saturday before though Wednesday. Can’t decide if weekends or weekdays would be better!
It’s hard to say! Weekends will be popular because of the holiday decorations so I might lean more towards the Monday-Wednesday! Either way, things are a bit unpredictable right now.
Is this still accurate for 2022? I’ve read from another site that there are only 3 restaurants offering thanksgiving dinner.
Are they offering Thanksgiving dinner this year at the sit-down restaurants you’d mentioned above? They’d usually have them listed on their menus by now, but I don’t see anything?