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There’s something about theme park food that, to quote Mary Poppins, is “practically perfect in every way.”
The sweet treats and salty snacks make any day in the parks just a little bit better, but these five unique items take it one step further.
“Since 1955, Disney parks have been the place where guests can connect with the stories and characters they cherish most and, more and more, food and beverage offerings are an integral part of that story,” said Ed Wronski, director of culinary development for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “Dining options across our parks and resorts blend cuisine with storytelling and provide our guests with an experience only Disney can deliver."
From the Magic Kingdom to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, theme park food and drinks have been elevated to the point that uniquely themed items aren’t reserved for holidays; rather, they’re available every day of the year.
Bioluminescent BeveragesEverything about Pandora — The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort is out of this world. The land, recently named one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places by “Time” magazine, comes to life at night with a bioluminescent glow — and so do the beverages.
“Inside this incredible immersive land are delicious items that have become must-try experiences for visitors to the Valley of Moara,” said Alex Dunlap, food and beverage content relations coordinator for Walt Disney World.
Satuli Canteen’s nonalcoholic Pandoran Sunrise drink — a blend of pineapple, mango, lime and melon — can be ordered with a bioluminescent Unadelta seed to create a glowing treat. At Pongu Pongu, which appropriately means “party party” in the language of Pandora’s Navi people, guests can sample frozen cocktails such as the nonalcoholic Night Blossom, which has colorful layers of apple and desert pear limeade topped with passionfruit boba balls (with rum it becomes a Rum Blossom), or the Moara Margarita, which features tequila with strawberry and blood orange topped with strawberry boba. The strikingly green Hawkes' Grog Ale is another favorite.
ButterbeerEven the food and drinks are magical at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Park guests probably know they can enjoy a cold glass of Butterbeer in the magical lands. But what’s not as well-known is that this beverage, which is Harry Potter’s favorite drink and described as a combination of butterscotch and shortbread, can be enjoyed many ways. The famous drink is served “traditional” (over ice), frozen or hot (available during the winter), but it can also be found as Florean Fortescue's hard pack and soft-serve ice cream; two-layer fudge; and potted cream at the Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks restaurants.
“The No. 1 activity people come to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for is to have a Butterbeer,” said Steven Jayson, corporate executive chef for Universal Orlando. “It’s the most iconic thing we’ve created here.”An even better-kept secret is that witches and wizards over 21 can add a bit of extra magic to their Butterbeer at the Hogshead Pub in Hogsmeade. Anyone for a hot Butterbeer and rum or frozen Butterbeer and vodka?
The Gray StuffWhen the menu for Be Our Guest Restaurant in Florida’s Magic Kingdom Park was created in 2012, Lenny DeGeorge, executive chef of culinary concept development for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, said, “Our role is to finish the story.” And the best ending to any story is a sweet one.
The Master’s Cupcake is a chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere’s special “gray stuff,” a reference to the lyric “try the gray stuff, it’s delicious,” sung by the enchanted candlestick in the movie’s rousing song "Be Our Guest.”
“Themed food allows guests to be totally submerged into magical storylines,” said ToniAnne Mizzi Hall of Pixie Dust Vacation Planners in New Jersey. “It’s impossible not to feel like Belle while enjoying the ‘gray stuff’ in the Beast’s castle. It truly makes for the most memorable dining experience."
At Disneyland Resort’s Red Rose Taverne, a “Beauty and the Beast”-themed quick-service restaurant, guests can try Grey Stuff Gateau, a white chocolate mousse and red velvet cake with a raspberry center.
Matterhorn MacaroonsAt the “Mary Poppins”-themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland, guests can get a sweet treat that pays homage to the park’s first and most famous mountain: the Matterhorn Macaroon.
“The Matterhorn Macaroon is a little sweet that looks like the real thing,” said Pam Brandon, a food writer for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. “This is classic Disneyland park fun.”
Not to be confused with French macaron meringue cookies that appear on many theme park menus, this confection is a “snowcapped” mountain-shaped chewy coconut cookie topped with white chocolate. For coconut-loving families, this treat is large enough to share (though it’s so delicious that everyone will want their own).
Unique ElixirsIf visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando aren’t careful (or if they’re distracted by the fire-breathing dragon), they might pass Eternelle's Elixir of Refreshment without realizing it. The small kiosk located in Horizont Alley near Gringotts Wizarding Bank offers magical elixirs such as Fire Protection Potion, Babbling Beverage, Draught of Peace and Elixir to Induce Euphoria. When mixed with water (Gillywater in the Wizarding World), the result is a colorful potion that will quench the thirst of wizards and muggles alike.
“Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment is a must-stop during a trip to Diagon Alley,” said Denielle Ricci, who does content development for Universal Orlando. “You’ll see your drink transform before your eyes and experience a delightful flavor surprise.”