Why Disneyland at Halloween is the Best Disney Ever

No Disney is bad Disney – but some Disney is definitely better than others. For me, Disneyland at Halloween is the actual best. I wrote about it for Forbes: read it here. But here are some spoilers, like the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion. IMG_4607

Then there’s also the Cars Land makeover into Radiator Screams, which is adorable, even for someone who really doesn’t like that movie (at. all.). See?

Then there’s all the characters dressed up for Halloween, which might be my favorite part of all.


Nah. Who am I kidding? It’s the Haunted Mansion.

Eating Your Way Through Disneyland Halloween Time: A 2018 Food Guide

Of the many excellent things about Halloween Time at Disneyland, the food is absolutely my favorite. The magical chefs at the park really turn up the creativity, and produce foods that are mostly delicious, but more than that, are just plain fun to eat. Here are my favorites:

Mummy Macaron


The Mummy Macaron from Jolly Holiday Bakery

I love this dessert so much. Macarons aren’t really my favorite, but the mild flavor of the white chocolate cookie paired with the on-the-nose Oreo flavor of the buttercream filling was excellent. The perfect nostalgic-tinged grown-up treat – but I was glad I got a to-go container so I could finish it later, because it was definitely too much for one sitting. Find this at Jolly Holiday on Main Street USA in Disneyland. Hidden Mickeys: 9/10

Pumpkin Pie Shake


Pumpkin Pie Shake from Flo’s V8 Cafe

I expected to have about three sips of this shake, but it was excellent. A pumpkin ice cream milkshake, with a generous caramel swirl, graham cracker garnish and pumpkin spice sugar on top. I loved the really good pumpkin ice cream, but the caramel was a little too much for me eventually. Find it at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land in California Adventure. Hidden Mickeys: 8/10

Slow Burnin’ Mac and Cheese


Slow Burnin’ Mac and Cheese from the Cozy Cone Motel

There’s really no such thing as bad macaroni and cheese, but this spicy version hit all the right notes: cheesy red pepper sauce, cavatappi pasta and crumbles of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on top, all inside a pumpernickel bread cone. So. Good. Hidden Mickeys: 9/10

And Then… Churros

Maleficent Churro


Maleficent Churro from the Churro Cart in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

I love a good churro, but this one was only ok. Dusted with Oreo powder and purple and green sugar, it looked festive but was missing some of the vital churro essence that comes in a traditional cinnamon treat. Hidden Mickeys: 3/10

Pumpkin Spice Churro


Pumpkin Spice Churro from the Churro Cart in New Orleans Square

Packed with cinnamon and nutmeg, this churro really was kind of spicy, which was a pleasant surprise. The cream cheese dip worked nicely to cool it down. Hidden Mickeys: 7/10

S’mores Churro


S’mores Churro from the Churro Cart next to Grizzly Bear Rapids in California Adventure

This churro was a bit messy, but worth it. Covered in chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces and chocolate and marshmallow drizzle, the s’mores churro really did taste like a s’more with – dare I say? – an upgraded delivery system. Hidden Mickeys: 7.5/10

I skipped the cake pops and crispy treats – but seriously, how cute are they?



The Great Dole Whip Hunt: Where to find Disney’s best frozen treat

If you haven’t had Dole Whip, Disney’s famed pineapple soft serve, I’m not surprised. It’s hard to find and definitely not widely publicized. That’s because they don’t have to talk about it. The elusive frozen treat has a rabid cult following, inspiring countless knock-off recipes all over the internet. (Spoiler alert: none of them actually taste like the real thing.)

Technically speaking, Dole Whip comes in two flavors: pineapple and vanilla. But for my purposes, pineapple Dole Whip is the only Dole Whip. Before you ask, yes, it’s that good. Here’s where to find it.

Walt Disney World

In Magic Kingdom, at Aloha Isle, by Aladdin’s Flying Carpets and the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland.

In Animal Kingdom, at Tamu Tamu Refreshments by The Festival of the Lion King in Africa. (Bonus – you can get it spiked with dark or coconut rum!)

Outside the parks: At Disney’s Polynesian Resort, at the outdoor Pineapple Lanai and at Captain Cook’s, the quick service restaurant on the property. At Pop Century, in the quick service cafeteria. And in Disney Springs at Marketplace Snacks.

During Epcot’s Food & Wine and Flower & Garden festivals, Dole Whip is available at some kiosks, like Pineapple Promenade.




A Dole Whip Float at Aloha Isle in Disneyland. Pro tip: when in doubt, ALWAYS get the float.



In Disneyland park, at the Tiki Juice Bar next to the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland.

At the Disneyland Hotel Coffee Shop, by the pool at Disneyland Hotel. (Also available with rum. Don’t think. Just do it.)


Still life with Dole Whip and Coconut Rum. Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom. When you get a 6am flight, drop your bags and go straight to the park, what other breakfast option do you have? None.

Trader Sam’s: Disneyland’s Best Hidden Secret

Real talk: Disneyland has a hidden tiki bar.

Technically speaking, Trader Sam’s isn’t hidden. It’s in the middle of the Disneyland Hotel, by the pool. But it’s hard enough to find that even on a busy park day, there isn’t going to be much of a wait to get in. (There’s a Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian at Walt Disney World, but unless you get there half an hour before the bar opens, you’re waiting a guaranteed 45 minutes. It’s also not as fun as the California outpost, and there are other places to get the same drinks at WDW – so all in all, I’d say skip it and use your time more wisely elsewhere.)

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A Hippo-Po-To-Mai-Tai at Trader Sam’s in the Disneyland Hotel

Yes, there’s Disney magic at Trader Sam’s. When you order a Shipwreck cocktail, a ship in a bottle on the wall goes down in a fake storm, and the bartenders spray the crowd with water, yelling “BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES! IT’S A SHIPWREEEEECCCCKKKK” or something similar. It changes every time – and it’s so funny. There are a couple of cocktails on the menu that come with surprise little shows like that, but I’ll leave the others for you to discover yourself. Trader Sam’s also has really good food, at prices that are surprisingly affordable for Disneyland, like a $13 Tuna Poke bowl.


The best part, though, is that Los Angeles is where tiki drinks originated, and where there’s a thriving tiki bar scene. So not only can you go and enjoy a Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum (you won’t get the joke unless you’ve been to the Enchanted Tiki Room… but you’ve definitely been, right?), you can enjoy said tiki beverage while having a really interesting conversation with the bartender about tiki culture and where they like to go when they’re not working at the most magical tiki bar in all the land. Not that I know this from experience – but I did get a really solid pro tip about the best time to go to one of LA’s most famous (and most crowded) spots.

Epcot World Showcase Guide: France

Yes, Disney is a magical place, and wherever you go, there will be fairy dust falling from the sky. But for everyone, there are more magical places than others. Mine is the France Pavilion in the Epcot World Showcase. To me, there’s nothing more special than sitting under the little Eiffel Tower, sipping pink champagne from Les Vins de France, watching Belle and Princess Aurora say hello to excited little (and not so little) fans. But did I mention the pink champagne? Here are my can’t-miss picks for what to see, eat, and drink (and eat and drink again) in France.


France Pavilion in Epcot: Best friend not included

Les Vins de France

This wine bar is everything. My family always jokes that if they can’t find me in Epcot, I’m at the wine bar in France. They. Are. Never. Wrong. Conserve wine by buying the $5 souvenir glass that has a proper stem. Otherwise you’ll be walking around with those tiny sample cups and spilling your precious French vin everywhere. The selection of French wines here is really excellent, whether you’re a wine snob or not, but do yourself a favor and get a glass of bubbly. I love the (very pricey) Moët Pink Champagne, and the Nicolas Feuillate Champagne. My preferred World Showcase route is to start in France with bubbles, do the entire lap, and circle back to France for a glass of red Chateauneuf du Pape at night.


Les Vins de France: Honestly, how can you pick?

Les Halles

This bakery is a little bit hidden behind a gift shop, but the croissants and desserts are worth finding. I challenge you to try just one thing. You can’t do it. The chocolate mousse and raspberry mousse have been among my favorites, but you can’t really go wrong. Pro tip: if the line at the wine bar is long, you can get almost everything they serve in here, too.

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Raspberry Mousse with Chocolate Cake, plus Champagne

Wine and Champagne Cart

There are two kiosks in the main walkway through France – one serving quick snacks like French Onion Soup, and one serving adult beverages. If you want wine, go inside to the wine bar, because the selection is much better. But that’s beside the point, because what you want here is a Grand Marnier Slush, a frozen drink made with Grand Marnier orange liqueur and Grey Goose L’Orange vodka. When they ask if you want to supersize it and add an extra shot – don’t think, just say yes.


Grand Marnier Slush from the Wine & Champagne Cart

Monsieur Paul

One of the great tragedies of my life is that, despite having been on five WDW vacations in the last three years, I’ve never eaten at Chefs de France. I’ve made and had to cancel four different reservations there. But I have eaten upstairs at the fine dining Monsieur Paul, and it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had, not just at Disney, but anywhere. I had Soupe aux Truffes, an oxtail broth-based soup with beef, vegetables and black truffles, topped with puff pastry; and Grilled Beef Tenderloin with potato macaire and oyster mushroom fricassee. But all that was eclipsed by the amazing dessert: a Milk Chocolate Sphere with chocolate almond cake and chocolate ice cream inside, with a warm chocolate cognac sauce poured tableside that melted the top of the sphere and gave me access to the deliciousness inside.


Milk Chocolate Sphere from Monsieur Paul

A Breath of Spring at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival

Of all the times you could visit Epcot, my hands-down favorite is the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. Every spring, Imagineers transform Epcot into a magical wonderland, filled with real floral sculptures and topiary art. It’s so beautiful that it’s hard to imagine Epcot in any other way… and even when you go back a few months later and wine is falling from the sky at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, it’s still kind of a bummer that there isn’t a Tinkerbell made of flowers in England. Here are my favorite moments from this year’s festival.

Future World











And, Of Course, France