Your Guide to Thanksgiving at Disneyland: Top Spots and 5 Helpful Tips

Updated 9/27/18. 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.

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 on Thanksgiving. It 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 can just simply make a dining reservation at any of the table service restaurants 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.

Disneyland Hotel Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at Disneyland buffet

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:

Date available:

  • November 22, 2018

Choose from a time in this range:

  • 11:30am and 6:00pm

Pricing:

  • Adults – $120
  • Kids (age 3-9) – $35
  • Full payment is required at the time of reservation.
  • Kids 2 and under are free.

Buffet Style Meal Choices Include:

Enticing Starters and Salads

  • Artisanal cheeses
  • Charcuterie
  • Chilled poached jumbo shrimp and crab legs
  • Market-fresh green and prepared salads
  • Smoked salmon

Carved-to-Order Meats

  • Succulent roast turkey
  • Prime rib of beef

Favorite Fixings and Sides

  • Homemade stuffing
  • Sweet potato soufflé
  • Fresh cranberry-orange relish
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy

Decadent Desserts and Pastries

  • Classic pumpkin pie
  • Make your own Ice Cream Sundae
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Cookies
  • Tarts

Children’s Buffet

  • Crisp Chicken Nuggets
  • Homemade pizza
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Fresh corn
  • Dessert selection

Complimentary Beverage Selections

  • Lemonade
  • Ice Tea
  • Milk and chocolate milk
  • Soft drinks
  • Coffee
  • Tea

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

Book your reservation ASAP- this experience sells out every year. If you have your heart set on this experience, book it now. 

Top Five Tips to Enjoying Thanksgiving at Disneyland

Family eating outside at Carnation Cafe

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 Dining Reservations

If you plan on doing the Disneyland Hotel Thanksgiving 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 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

Sleeping Beauty castle with blue sky background

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!

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.

4. Purchase MaxPass and Download the Disneyland App

Phone with the Disneyland app

One of the best things Disneyland has introduced to help folks navigate the crowds is MaxPass. If you’re unfamiliar with MaxPass, make sure you read up on our extensive guide here. If you’re also unfamiliar with FastPass, that’s equally as important so study up on our FastPass guide too!

In order to be able to use MaxPass, you need to download the Disneyland app. We suggest doing this prior to your visit and becoming familiar with the app. Everything you need to know including ride wait times, character interactions, entertainment times, and more is on this app. 

The ability to digitally select FastPasses from your phone will save you so much time in the parks. You can literally start booking your FastPasses the instant you enter- even before the official opening time!

This also saves energy by limiting the necessity to walk back and forth across the parks needlessly.

And another great bonus, all of your photo downloads from PhotoPass are included!

MaxPass is $10 per person, per day.

5. Be Patient and Thankful

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. Take our advice, show up prepared, and be ready to give thanks.

Plan Your Disneyland Trip Today!

Let us help you plan your Disneyland vacation! To get started, subscribe to our FREE deals newsletter for access to exclusive content and deals you won’t find anywhere else. Check it out HERE! Don’t forget to check out some of our other helpful planning guides:

  1. Best Times to Visit Disneyland 2018
  2. Best Disneyland Souvenirs 2018
  3. Disneyland Restaurant Reviews and Tips
  4. Disneyland FastPass Guide
  5. Booking Disneyland Packages

Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

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