A change in season calls for a change in clothes. For Disneyland, that means wreaths, garlands, and lights in blue, red, and green hung on every building. Oh, and holiday food offerings.
But we're not talking about the gingerbread cookies and homemade candy canes all along Main Street. That's easy. We're talking the special stuff — festive foods that take festive to a whole new level. Here's what I mean.
1. Peppermint Ice Cream and Brownie Skillet at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ
After gorging on ribs, sausage, cornbread, and barbecue chicken at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (which is, in fact, all-you-can-eat — good luck), you know what you need? A brownie in a hot skillet topped with peppermint ice cream and crushed candy cane. Yes, wipe away the barbecue sauce from your face. It's time for dessert.
We're talking gooiness and brittleness juxtaposed with cold, cold mint. Alas, it's easy to enjoy this dessert — not just for the taste, but also for the surrounding Western ambiance. Take in the fact that there's live country music playing, and that drinks are served in mason jars. Good day to celebrate the holidays at Disneyland, no?
2. Holiday Tamale Plates at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
Whether you're standing in line for Space Mountain for two hours or looking for Frontierland, you're going to be on your feet all day. My point? You'll need protein and carbs.
Enter the holiday tamales plate at Rancho del Zocalo, a Mexi-inspired, cafeteria-style eatery. Granted these tamales are undoubtedly Americanized, but they're not bad if you're craving Mexican food or want something filling for the price (at Disneyland, anyway). Trust me, you'll get loads of food. The plate comes with slices of carne asada, a tamale, re-fried beans, and Mexican rice – or, in other words, just enough energy to get in line for Space Mountain for the third time.
3. Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate at Blue Bayou
Amidst the darkness of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a fancy restaurant called Blue Bayou. Though it's known for its Cajun/Creole dishes – like its Monte Cristo sandwiches and Jambalaya – its seasonal pumpkin pie hot chocolate is a nice reminder of the holidays, even for pirates.
The taste? Just like post-Christmas morning: leftover pumpkin pie blended with hot chocolate. It's got that pumpkin spice vibe, but in a more soothing fashion.
4. December Yule Log at Multiple Locations
Come December is Disneyland's annual holiday tradition: December Yule Log. This year it's available at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, Plaza Inn, and Disney's PCH Grill. Disneyland's Yule log is every chocolate lover's fantasy: a log of chocolate sponge cake rolled with coffee butter cream, covered in thick chocolate ganache, and sprinkled with chocolate crunch candies. Some call this the holy grail of Disneyland holiday desserts.
5. Peppermint Stick Ice Cream (Served in a Crushed Candy Cane Waffle Cone) at Gibson Girl Ice Cream
For sweet tooths who like double trouble, Gibson Girl's peppermint stick ice cream served in a crushed candy cane waffle cone is ideal. You get double peppermint (from the ice cream and the crunchy candy cane bits), and double crunch (from the candy cane bits and waffle cone). Sure, they use Dreyer's ice cream (and you can get that anywhere), but the cone is real the star here. Located on Main Street, a scoop or two is a not a bad way to start the day, or end the night.
Disneyland's holiday offerings will last until January 6, so if you want to try them, go soon.