The happiest place on earth might also be the most wonderful place to snack according to some corners of the internet. Disneyland has a monopoly on nostalgia and sweet treats are as much a part of the wholesome experience as colorful characters and timeless stories.
Thanks to a loyal following of "Disney adults" (this author included) with more sophisticated palates, the appetite for Disney-themed restaurants, food festivals, and elevated culinary offerings continues to grow. In 2023 alone, Disneyland debuted a brand-new "Princess and the Frog"-themed restaurant and "Big Hero 6"-inspired San Fransokyo Square at Disney California Adventure Park that's packed with new eateries. Both venues serve up eclectic cuisine ranging from Bayou signatures like gumbo with heirloom rice to Japanese fusion plates (think beef birria ramen) and even plant-based options like veggie-packed yaki udon — a far cry from the typical Disneyland turkey legs with which the park is more commonly associated.
While there will always be a place in our Mickey-loving hearts for park signatures like Dole Whip, there are just some Disneyland desserts that satisfy a different kind of sweet tooth. We've tasted as many of these treats as we could get our hands on and turned to online fan reviews to fill in the gaps. The result? A compilation of can't-miss snacks that just might give the classic pineapple soft serve a run for its money.
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Love them or hate them, churros are a signature of the Disneyland desserts game. Almost as iconic as fruity-fresh Dole Whip, the scent of cinnamon sugar wafting down Main Street is a nostalgia-inducing experience that will transport even the most jaded adult right back to childhood, "Ratatouille"-style.
The fried sticks of cinnamon sugar-dusted dough can be found at kiosks all across the park, but the most iconic spot for a sugary pick-me-up is the churro cart right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Go for the classic or check out the seasonal offerings for a twist on tradition. Past limited-time (but often recurring) favorites have included the apple pie churro, s'mores-dusted variety, and, of course, a pumpkin spice edition.
In true Disneyland fashion, themed variations on the classic churro are also on offer. Available at nearby Disney California Adventure Park are the Buzz Lightyear-themed Spicy Churro (think hot tamale candy) and the "Guardians of the Galaxy"-inspired Sweet Sprial Ration, a colorful, fruit-flavored take on the fried treat.
Sweet, fluffy, and fried to order, Mickey-shaped beignets are a favorite among Disneyland desserts for good reason. Served warm in a paper bag at the recently refreshed Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square, these deep-fried delights are best enjoyed after a thorough shake to evenly distribute all that powdered sugar. The classic confection is delicious any time of year but be on the lookout for seasonal twists like peppermint, gingerbread, banana, and chocolate strawberry.
Fans of Disney's "Princess and the Frog" might remember Tiana's signature beignets, a confectionary creation brought to life at the newly debuted Tiana's Palace restaurant. While sadly not Mickey-shaped, these beignets take on a unique twist with a lemon icebox cake-inspired filling and glaze that add an extra zing to the otherwise simple fried dessert. Pair your beignets with a mint julep and a muffuletta under the restaurant's glazed green glass awning, and you might just find yourself transported from California to the Crescent City.
As classic as the ride it's named for, the oversized Matterhorn macaroon is a soft, buttery, coconutty confection that provides just the right amount of sweetness on a hot summer afternoon. The sugary, coconut-rich batter is piled high to create a pint-sized version of Disneyland's iconic Matterhorn Bobsleds ride, complete with a white chocolate snowcap and sugar crystal "snow."
More akin to a sugar cookie packed with shredded coconut, the treat isn't a true coconut macaroon but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The flavorful results speak for themselves: this is a soft, chewy treat that is delightfully dense with just the right amount of texture from the shredded coconut. And ringing in at around $4 a pop, it's also one of the best-valued Disneyland desserts. Grab a Matterhorn macaroon from the "Mary Poppins"-themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Main Street USA and enjoy its coconutty goodness in the shadow of the iconic ride.
Grey Stuff Gâteau
Lumiere wasn't lying in "Beauty and the Beast" when he told Belle to try the grey stuff — it really is delicious. Disneyland's real-life version of the fairytale treat isn't quite as haute as the French fare from the film, but it certainly is tasty.
Raspberry jam-filled red velvet cake gets a thick coating of whipped cookies and cream mousse (aka, the grey stuff), all served on a buttery lemon-tinged shortbread cookie. The acid from the raspberry jam cuts through all that sweetness and the lightness of the mousse helps to counterbalance the richness of the cake. All that to say, this dessert just works. It's this textural contrast and surprising lightness that gives iconic Grey Stuff the edge over Dole Whip, especially for those who prefer chocolate over fruit in their sweet treats.
The sweet treat found at Red Rose Taverne is a fan favorite all year long but seasonal accoutrements help the confection stay festive. Guests visiting during the Halloween season might see a tiny tombstone adorning their "Grave Stuff," while diners at Christmastime might enjoy a version dotted with green and red sprinkles and a tiny gold star topping the towering treat.
Vintian Mineral Mousse
Ever since the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland in May 2019, space-inspired treats have found a permanent home in stomachs and on Instagram feeds across the fandom. Alongside newer favorites like blue and green milk are surprisingly well-plated sweets like the Vintian Mineral Mousse.
Found at Batuu-based quick-service spot Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, this out-of-this-world Disneyland dessert resembles a pile of polished space rocks, though it's arguably much more delicious. The centerpiece is a dark chocolate mousse with a brûléed banana center accented with iridescent disks of strawberry mousse and vanilla chantilly, a dusting of chocolate crumble, and a cherry for good measure. Think of it as an interstellar spin on the classic banana split.
More mousse-like than soft-serve Dole Whip, the Vintian Mineral Mousse earns top marks for its theming. The beautifully presented plate is perfectly Instagrammable — a highly desirable quality among Disney food fans. The tantalizing trio of mousses was added to Docking Bay 7's menu as a seasonal item for May the 4th celebrations in 2022 but remains a seemingly permanent fixture nearly a year and a half later.
Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaron
Is there anything as disappointing as taking a bite out of a gorgeous dessert only to find that it looks far better than it tastes? Luckily, you can judge a book by its cover (or a macaron by its color) when it comes to the Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaron. The beautifully crimson confection is not only stunning to look at but is practically perfect in every bite.
A sweet rose-tinged raspberry cream is layered with fresh raspberries and sandwiched between two palm-sized Mickey macarons that are artfully brushed with a dash of pixie dust ... or rather, silver shimmer powder. The textural contrast between the crisp yet chewy cookie with the fresh, juicy raspberries and smooth cream is a tastebud-tingling experience, while the light floral notes from the rose elevate this Disneyland dessert from park food to patisserie. This is a treat best enjoyed on the veranda of Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe overlooking Sleeping Beauty Castle. As an added bonus, the Instagram-worthy dessert is naturally gluten-free.
Disneyland churros are so popular among the park's food fans that they get not one, but two mentions on this list. Whenever you need a sugary pick-me-up, simply pop into any confectionary shop and grab a sinfully sweet square of churro toffee.
That's right — one of Disneyland's most famous treats got a candy-coated makeover because fried dough isn't indulgent enough. Housemade toffee gets a dip in sweet white chocolate and a pixie dusting of cinnamon and sugar for an addictive bite that will transport you right back to childhood.
As simple as it sounds, churro toffee is highly addictive not just for its sweetness but its unique texture. Crisp toffee, smooth melted chocolate, and the grainy sugar crystal coating entertain your tastebuds while the spice from the cinnamon mellows out all those super-sweet notes. While you may not be able to finish a whole square in one sitting, the toffee keeps surprisingly well and makes for a mouthwatering souvenir of your food-filled Disneyland day even after you've returned home.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream
It turns out you don't actually need a park ticket to indulge in one of Disneyland Resort's most mouthwatering desserts. Found in the nearby Downtown Disney District, Salt & Straw's unique ice cream flavors have garnered a cult-like following among the Disney food crowd for their quality ingredients and tongue-tingling flavor combinations. While beloved Dole Whip is technically a non-dairy soft-serve ice cream, the pineapple concoction can be a little one-note, especially when compared to the frozen desserts Salt & Straw churns out.
Innovative scoops like strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper or Arbequina olive oil put a sophisticated twist on the simple scoop shop concept, with just enough whimsy to fit nicely into Disneyland's storytelling ethos. In fact, the Portland-based brand's mission is to tell a "culinary story" through its ethical sourcing and Pacific Northwest flavor focus.
Before you go dismissing Salt & Straw's Anaheim outpost as too upscale for child-like palates, consider tasting more classic combinations like salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough or cinnamon snickerdoodle. The results are craveable ice cream flavors simply made even more indulgent with high-quality ingredients.
Jack Jack Cookie Num Num
When Disney does a chocolate chip cookie, you better believe it's the chocolate chip cookie of your childhood dreams. The superpowered version served at Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums on Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park is a warm-from-the-oven deep-dish skillet cookie the size of your hand. Need we say more?
But it's not all about size with this Disneyland dessert. The chocolate chunk-filled cookie gets a nutty boost from brown butter, and when served warm, the center is a gooey and rich delight you'll want to scoop out with a spoon. Since chocolate chip cookies are best enjoyed with a glass of milk, the dedicated cookie kiosk offers a wide range of dairy drinks, including chocolate, strawberry, and 1%, plus plant-based options like soy and vanilla almond milk.
This gigantic treat is perfectly shareable, though you don't have to split it if you don't want to. Just be sure to grab your cookie after riding the nearby Incredicoaster. Chocolate chips, milk, and superpowered roller coasters don't exactly go hand-in-hand.
Cosmic Cream Orb
Once you've braved "Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout" on Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park, you're probably going to need a little sustenance. Luckily, you don't have to venture far for your next out-of-this-world treat.
Just steps from the adrenaline-inducing ride, you'll find Terran Treats, an innocuous stand selling Disneyland desserts like churros and Cosmic Cream Orbs. These charcoal-colored cream puffs are generously stuffed with whipped raspberry cheesecake dyed a stunning shade of purple. With its black craquelin coating and vibrant violet filling, this cream puff would be right at home at a Japanese patisserie, though its space rock-inspired look grounds it firmly within the bounds of the Guardians universe.
Airy, fruity, and sweet with a slightly crisp exterior, this interstellar cream puff hits all the high notes your tastebuds are craving, with an Instagram-worthy look, to boot. The filling tends to lean heavier into the cheesecake flavor than the fruit, which isn't necessarily a bad thing depending on your personal dessert preferences. The mousse-like interior is surprisingly light, though you'll want to grab some extra napkins before tackling this one.
Choco-Smash Candy Bar
Among the oversized offerings available at Pym Test Kitchen in Disney California Adventure Park is the super-sized Choc-Smash Candy Bar. The premise around the menu at Avengers Campus' signature eatery is size manipulation via Pym Particles, so naturally a superhero-sized candy bar made the cut. The Choc-Smash has been on the menu since day one and continues to be a Disneyland dessert staple for its clever theming and chocoholic craveability.
Built for sharing, the roughly footlong confection combines peanuts, caramel, nougat, and chocolate brownie into one mouthwatering treat. While the menu claims that the candy is dipped in dark chocolate, it tastes much closer to a semi-sweet blend than a bitter cocoa-forward coating.
You'll want to battle this bar with at least three friends and a knife for divvying up your rations. In keeping with the restaurant's size schtick, the candy bar's wrapper is comically small — funny and well-themed when you receive your chocolate, less so when you need to carry around leftovers. If you can't finish the Choco-Smash in one sitting (no one would blame you), just ask for a box so you can conquer your chocolate craving later.
Funnel Cake Fries
Arguably the worst part about funnel cake is how difficult it is to eat. For a classic fair food, you'd think there'd be an easier way to consume the messy confection. Disneyland's take on the traditional funnel cake remains a crowd favorite for its easy-to-eat presentation and seasonally changing flavors.
Instead of one long strand of dough, shorter sticks are fried up individually and then plated in a pile to resemble a classic funnel cake. The freshly fried bits are then tossed in flavored sugar and topped with even more sugary goodness in various forms depending on the time of year.
To find out which seasonal surprise awaits your tastebuds, simply head over to Award Weiners at Disney California Adventure Park and scope out the menu. During Halloween at Disneyland, you might find fall's favorite Poison Apple Fries dusted with cinnamon sugar and topped with a candied apple compote and green apple glaze. In the summer months, try a tropical twist with pineapple and cherry compote, whipped cream, toasted coconut, and a bright red maraschino cherry on top. While the flavors may change, funnel cake fries remain a signature among Disneyland desserts that you'll want to add to your foodie bucket list.
Japanese-Style Fluffy Cheesecake
Japan comes to California via the newly opened San Fransokyo Square at Disneyland's California Adventure Park. One of Disneyland's new top treats is a delightfully light Japanese-style fluffy cheesecake.
So, what's the difference between Japanese-style cheesecake and New York cheesecake? It's all about the texture. Classic Western cheesecakes are rich, firm, and dense, whereas the Japanese version is more akin to a souffle. This textural difference is accomplished by folding the cream cheese into whipped egg whites, which results in a smooth and fluffy finish, not to mention a much lighter-tasting dessert. Where New York-style cheesecake isn't technically a cake (it's actually a baked and set custard) because it lacks a raising agent, Japanese-style cheesecake is a flourless sponge cake flavored with cream cheese.
Baking technicalities aside, the light and fluffy version served up at Aunt Cass Café in San Fransokyo Square will instantly transport you to a Japanese bakery. A healthy dusting of powdered sugar and a small spoonful of strawberry compote are all the accouterments you need to enjoy this not-too-sweet treat.
Darth By Chocolate Parfait
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, a chocoholic's dream came true in the form of a Star Wars-themed treat served exclusively at Disneyland. The mouthwatering masterpiece available at Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland featured indulgent layers of chocolate pudding, red velvet cake, chocolate mousse, and crushed chocolate cream cookies that converted many a sweet tooth to the dark side. Darth Vadar- and red lightsaber-shaped chocolate pieces placed on top were a touch of theming perfection.
When the park re-opened following a 13-month COVID closure, Darth by Chocolate became a difficult dessert to find, making sporadic appearances only to vaporize again without a trace. Luckily, the fan-favorite made two scheduled appearances on themed menus in 2023. Fans are hopeful that the popular parfait will remain an annual staple for Star Wars Day (May 4th) and Halloween for many dessert-filled days to come.
The multi-layered Darth by Chocolate gets a leg up over Dole Whip for its indulgence — it's a rich treat that satisfies a different kind of sweet tooth than the tart pineapple soft-serve. Just be sure to scoop all the way to the bottom of the parfait to enjoy the full textural impact of this cleverly themed treat.
One of the few remaining relics from Disney California Adventure Park's early days, Schmoozies! is a small retro-themed stand in Hollywood Land that serves up refreshing sips and fruit-packed smoothies. These treats are available all year and are certainly worth a second look, but the real highlight here is the seasonal milkshakes.
While not quite as over-the-top as Black Tap's CrazyShakes found at Downtown Disney, these ice cream concoctions are much more practical Disneyland desserts that don't sacrifice flavor. Often rimmed with chocolate or colored sugar, these shakes let the rich, smooth ice cream stand on its own, though sometimes a simple yet effective topping like a themed donut adds a sugary touch of seasonality. While similar in style to fruity Dole Whip floats, Schmoozies! milkshakes incorporate both dairy and a touch of theming for an extra creamy dose of nostalgia.
Recent highlights have included a "Steamboat Willie"-themed cookies and cream shake (adorned with two sandwich cookies to resemble those iconic ears) and an Ursula-inspired purple coconut and taro shake dusted with blue sugar in honor of Halloween. Schmoozies! Is currently closed for renovations but is expected to reopen with its full menu in November, just in time to debut its holiday dessert offerings.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.