The Importance of: Disney Food

mickey waffle, disney food
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Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series diving into different aspects of Disney food, attractions, and history, and how those things impacted the culture of Disney fandom.

Sometimes being a Disney fan is a hard thing to explain. From the near-obsessive preoccupation with new attraction announcement and an undying faith in a corporate company, to the almost unbearable whimsy and nostalgia, and even the food. Theme park food for the most part gets a bad rap. Chicken tenders, burgers, fries and a whole lot of soda. In all of those calories, there’s a beacon that stands for way more than that; and that’s Disney food and the history and culture that surrounds it.

The question that remains is, why is Disney food such an integral part of the experience? Why does it have such a following? A fanatic, almost frenzied approach to all things Disney is common, almost expected. But why is Disney food so special? Why does it leave an impression on nearly everyone that steps into a Disney park? Well, unsurprisingly, it all started with not a mouse, but with Walt Disney himself.

“From the moment Disneyland opened it’s gates on that fateful day in July of 1955, there was a shift in paradigm. At a time when American cuisine was uninspired”

When Disneyland was in the planning stages, Walt made sure that he was clear about the standards and expectations he was setting on every single thing in that park. Walt had a hand in the food specifically. A man known to have a complex mind and imagination, happened to be a man of simple tastes.

From the moment Disneyland opened its gates on that fateful day in July of 1955, there was a shift in paradigm. At a time when American cuisine was uninspired, Walt Disney changed two very important things. He changed the way amusement parks and their guests interacted with food, and the way that Americans saw food as a whole.

Disney saw eating as a powerful way for people to connect to places, different times in history, and cultures from all around the world. It’s also worth noting that in most societies all around the world, food is a natural focal point of their culture. Disney and his Magic Kingdom created something essentially the same in its dynamic with visitors of the park. A culture.

If you asked any Disney fan to share a memory having to do with a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar or Tonga Toast, their face almost immediately lights up, and they can easily access that happy memory. Food is something Disney does on a grand scale, and does it well. It reminds us fans of childhood memories, adult memories, all the trips we’ve been lucky to take with our families, significant others, and friends.

Most importantly, Disney food did something that I think not even he could have foreseen. It created another piece of the Disney park culture that all of us now, strangers from all over the world, can connect over.

I hope you never forget that it’s not just about attractions, FastPasses, fireworks, and souvenir shops. It’s a culture. A culture of acceptance, imagination, adventure, and whimsy. That is why Disney, and specifically its food, prevails. It’s not just delicious, its a conduit for connection and it’s absolutely inspiring. There is magic in the power to do that in any capacity, but food is something few can master with such grace.

I hope you’ll join me each week for a Dole Whip float toast, and cheers to a deep-dive and understanding of more delicious culture, memories, and ingenuity that will bring joy for generations to come, just as it has for visitors since the day Disneyland first opened its gates.

Until then, you can whet your appetite with some of our recent articles on a few of the many unique foods and food experiences that Walt Disney World offers.

New 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Details Revealed; Character Dance Parties, New Food, and More

REVIEW: New Churro Ice Cream Sandwich Rides Into Sleepy Hollow Refreshments at Magic Kingdom

REVIEW: Liberty Tree Tavern Replaces Mac & Cheese, Ham, Introduces Pork Roast at Magic Kingdom

 

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About the author

Roger Perez

A Florida born and raised Disnerd that can never say no to tonga toast.

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  • Indeed food is very powerful; everyone likes to eat. One of the fondest memories I have growing up Disney was our family eating in a Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary. We typically did not do the Fast Food areas, except when Epcot opened and the Land Kraft Foods pavilions filled our needs. HOWEVER, over the years, the food pricing has STOLEN AWAY much of that great experience. And that effects the ENTIRE Disney experience. The advent of Dining Plans caused the the added escalation of food prices in order to justify the costs and benefits of the plan. In effort to create more reason to stay on property, these special plans resulted in the costs of experiences for those who are NOT staying on property and can no longer afford the escalated non-discounted pricing. Food prices which were once higher then the outside world, but not crazy high, have for years already, become way too high to be able to enjoy the experience. The result is either guest eating the cheaper over-priced fast food, or go hungry until you leave Disney, and then eat late that night. The result is the LOST experience which is such a part of the Magic. Compare that with Cruise Lines, including Disney Cruise Lines, and there you will find a fest of food where Guests stuff themselves, and THAT is the MOST memorable part of the trip as Guests see value in eating which everyone enjoys. This is just one of many things which decesion makers simply do not understand when they seek to generate money for the company…. because they themselves are not living the experiences, they just do not understand what makes the Magic.

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