Finding the best viewing of the Disneyland shows can be stressful, especially if you have never done it before. It can be time-consuming to camp out in a spot hours before the show starts when you could be off enjoying the rest of the park. What if we told you there was a way to make it easier, relieve some stress, get a good view and maybe save some time with Disneyland dining packages? Your froggy friends are here to help you decide if they are worth it for your family and share which ones offer the best value or are a good splurge for celebrating a special occasion.
Overview of Disneyland Dining Packages
The Disneyland dining packages offer a stress-free way to catch must-see entertainment. While all parades and shows offer free standby viewing areas, a few offer dining packages and dessert parties to give you a reserved (and sometimes better) area to watch the show. Are Disneyland dining packages worth it? We will help you decide that for yourself with a comparison of all the packages and their pros and cons. After all, that convenience and premium view or seat comes with a cost. You can determine the packages that offer the most value and the shows where you might be able to save some green by skipping a costly package. And keep in mind that you have to eat lunch or dinner anyway, so a dining package might make sense to combine a meal with access to a show.
Most large nighttime spectaculars and parades offer Disneyland dining packages that come with a meal and a guaranteed spot to watch the show. We have tried all the viewing locations and found ones we think are absolutely worth it and others that we would rather save our money for Mickey bars and Mickey pretzels while finding free viewing or a more affordable package. Most offer time savings and convenience, and a few packages offer such a superior view or a seat if that's important to you. Those may be worth the splurge! Others might not be as valuable since those shows offer great viewing areas for no extra cost. For those, we say to save your money for something else. We frogs always want to get the most for our money, balancing out the time savings versus the cost.
One important thing to keep in mind is that shows can get canceled last minute. If you have spent a lot of money on a dining package and the show is canceled, there is no refund or replacement. You got a meal or experience that you may not have otherwise paid for, and you will have to make the best of the situation. So before you spend any money, ask yourself if you actually want to eat there and if you are going to be able to accept a show cancellation. The show most likely to get canceled is fireworks so we usually opt for the free viewing of that. The other shows are a pretty reliable bet and rarely get canceled. However, they could be canceled due to weather or technical difficulties, so it’s always a possibility.
One way to see shows without paying for a package is to see the second show or parade when offered. You can usually get good standby viewing for the latest show of the day due to lower crowds.
Disneyland Dining Packages Available in Disneyland Park
You can reserve Disneyland dining packages for parades, Fantasmic! and fireworks. Here's what each package costs and what you get for it. We are not going to get too specific on menus since they are subject to change. You can apply any Magic Key or Disney Visa discounts to most packages.
Fantasmic! Dining Packages
Fantasmic! takes place on the Rivers of America. It does not have stadium seating like Disney World's Fantasmic! has, so viewing can be a little trickier at Disneyland.
We think the Fantasmic! dining packages are the most worth it of all the Disneyland dining packages, and here’s why. The viewing areas are absolutely front and center without obstruction (just don’t sit behind light poles at the edges of each section). You can save time and stress while getting a decent meal and a fantastic view. Plus, you can sit to watch the show, and your kids can actually see it! All viewing areas are seated on the ground (with accommodations for people who need them), except for one package, which has you seated in your restaurant seat. You do not need to be front row for these viewing areas, In fact, the front row is seated behind a fence railing. We like to be halfway back or toward the back of the viewing area to see over the fence and have a little stretching room for our frog legs.
You might get treated to two different nighttime spectaculars if you time it right, depending on the night you visit. On nights with fireworks, the fireworks show starts three minutes after the first Fantasmic! show ends, so stay in place (actually, they'll ask you to stand up) for a special view with projections, music and fountains to enhance the fireworks show.
There are many standby viewing areas, but they are all standing areas and many have minor to major obstructions (such as light poles, equipment or trees) or distractions (such as people walking in front of you or cast members using lights to direct foot traffic). You'll want to get in place early for the front of any section (such as behind a fence or planter railing) or else your tadpoles will not be able to see above the people in front of them. You can hop over to our post on fantastic tips for viewing Fantasmic! to weigh your options and decide if you want to camp out for a decent spot or pay for an upgraded viewing experience with Fantasmic! dining packages. Again, the last show of the day has easier access for standby. Just hop in place after the fireworks end.
Here is a look at all of the Fantasmic! packages:
Blue Bayou (may be offered for first show only)
Blue Bayou is the most expensive Fantasmic! dining package for adults at $89 ($35 for kids 3 to 9) plus tax and gratuity, but it does offer the absolute best view of the show, the best table-service dining ambiance and the best food. The other two packages are pretty close in view quality but having sat in all three, we can say there is no competition for the Blue Bayou view. On the night we visited, our section was less crowded than the packed-in Hungry Bear, so we had plenty of room to stretch out.
Blue Bayou is a dining experience in itself, located next to the waters of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It's always a romantic, twilight "outdoor" patio in the Bayou with crickets chirping and frogs croaking. It's always a pricer but more special meal.
But let's talk about the price of the dining package. We priced out the items we ate on the package a la carte off the menu. If you were to dine at Blue Bayou without the package and purchase a salad, an entree (such as filet mignon), a dessert and a mint julep, the price comes to $80.50. That's $8.50 less than the price of the $89 Fantasmic! package. If you were going to dine at Blue Bayou anyway and could walk up to the front and center of viewing 30 minutes to show time with a great view of Fantasmic! for $8.50 more per person, you should toadally do it! (The alternative is to wait at least an hour for a lesser view.) But if it's not in your budget, the other dining packages offer a similar view for less.
To get this package, make a reservation for Blue Bayou. When we dined, we had a reservation and asked our server about upgrading to the Fantasmic! dining package.
Here’s what’s on the menu at Blue Bayou (subject to change and you can choose items from the main menu): choice of a starter, entree and dessert. Items may include gumbo, heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, hearts of palm escabèche, fava bean and pistachio pesto pasta, Monte Cristo sandwich & seasonal salad, fish, filet mignon, a specialty nonalcoholic drink and a Fantasmic! specialty dessert.
This prix fixe menu is made of most items from the regular menu, although there is a special dessert. The dessert is a special Fantasmic! Mickey-themed mouse with white chocolate. You could substitute a different dessert such as crème brûlée!
Pros: It's the best Fantasmic! viewing you can get. Blue Bayou is a high-demand restaurant for its ambiance. It makes for a nice park visit to dine here and watch the show stress-free. Save it for a special occasion.
Cons: It's the priciest package. It might not be such a good dining value if you are vegetarian or get the Monte Cristo (compared to if you order the filet mignon). Also, it's a high cost for a large family. It's hard to get a reservation, but you may have good luck with Walk-Up Availability.
River Belle Terrace
This table-service dining location offers two dining packages, the standard and premium packages.
Standard Package costs $50 per adult and $30 per child age 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity, and is available for both shows. To book this, reserve a regular lunch or dinner (or join the Walk-Up List in the Disneyland app) and ask your server about upgrading to the Fantasmic! Dining Package.
The menu is a prix fixe 3-course meal with special items, or you can select items off the main menu. Options may include loaded potato bites, petite New York steak and scallops, chicken and dumplings skillet, pan-roasted shrimp, chocolate rocky road cake or white chocolate raspberry trifle.
You’ll receive a voucher to go to the viewing section. This section is just to the right of the Blue Bayou viewing and is excellent. Arrive early to sit as far left as possible, but this is a great viewing section. Arrive by 8:30 p.m. so it doesn’t fill up, but this section is not as packed as Hungry Bear.
If you want the 9 p.m. show, aim to eat by 5 p.m. as once that show sells out (demand may vary per day), the later diners will receive the later show. For the later show, the viewing area may be even more centered since there is no Blue Bayou viewing for the second show.
Pros: You have a great and usually uncrowded viewing area near the front and center of the show for a mid-price. The floats and the music that goes with them are lined up with where you sit. You probably want to arrive about a half hour before show time unless you want the very front (but you don't need to be in front to see well). The second show viewing may be even more centered.
Cons: When it comes to food quality, we prefer the budget-friendly Hungry Bear or the quality food, ambiance and more comfortable chairs at Blue Bayou.
The Premium Package for the 9 p.m. show only costs $75 per adult and $45 for ages 3 to 9 plus tax and gratuity. (That's about $4 less for an adult and child than an adult and child at Blue Bayou, BTW.) Guests must reserve this package at this link for 7:15 p.m. You can stay at your dining table for the 9 p.m. show. You can order from the Fantasmic! menu or choose items from the normal menu. There is no package for the second show.
Pros: You have a chair to sit on and space around you and a more relaxed night.
Cons: You are not as close to the show as the seating on the ground, but you are a little elevated. Guests walk in front of the dining area and cast members direct foot traffic with lights. We prefer the food at the other two Fantasmic! dining packages, so if you choose this one, you are going for the chair and may be less about the food.
Hungry Bear On-the-Go (available for both showings)
This is the most affordable package at a quick-service restaurant at $35 for adults and $25 for ages 3 to 9 plus tax. The viewing area is immediate to the left of Blue Bayou. Since there is no Blue Bayou package for the second show, the later show viewing may be more centered than the first show. While the viewing area is good for the price, you’ll want to arrive early enough to get a spot that is more centered rather than further to the side.
Pros: It's the most affordable Fantasmic! dining package. You'll also save even more over other packages because there is no gratuity added here. The viewing area is great and may be even better for the second show since there is no Blue Bayou section for the second show. We liked the chicken and ribs!
Cons: You'll want to arrive as soon as you can to get seating toward the center stage. This is a more crowded section where you are more likely to be cross-legged and tighter to other families. The sides were not our favorite items on the menu, even though we loved the main course.
Parade Dining Packages
The parade packages save you a little time and stress. We like them for viewing the parade with little kids because there is no stress about finding a spot early and waiting there for a while. But you also need to show up earlier than stated on your voucher if you want a curb spot. The Main Street Electrical Parade (running through Sept. 1, 2022) is followed by the Frightfully Fun Parade packages during the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure (discussed further below). Then a holiday parade package may return to Plaza Inn at Disneyland for viewing for the first parade of the night only.
Plaza inn offers a quick-service dining package for various parades. The Plaza Inn Main Street Electrical parade dining package costs $40 for adults and $25 for ages 3 to 9. Dining times are between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. You get a credential lanyard to wear in your viewing area and a voucher that grants you access. The parade viewing area is seated on the ground across from the train station near the park entrance. There are limited benches available first-come, first-served, behind the other viewers.
The food is the famous fried chicken we love with mac and cheese, Mickey cornbread, carrots and includes a beverage. Kids get applesauce (and chicken tenders instead of pieces of chicken) and adults get a wedge salad. This meal will likely change for the holidays.
Pros: You save time and stress over finding a place to sit. The food is great (can you really go wrong with Plaza Inn fried chicken?).
Cons: You'll save time but will still want to arrive about an hour early to get a curb spot. You can find seating for no extra cost if you want to camp out. This spot is a perfectly fine spot to watch the parade. The parade comes around the bend from Main Street, U.S.A. behind you. You can apply discounts.
If you like a spot where you can see it coming for a while, then you might want to find your own viewing spot. We recommend watching the second parade because you can sit below the train station, where the second parade starts on Main Street, U.S.A. Then you can exit the park ahead of the crowds once the parade ends. Spots near "it's a small world," the castle and the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A. have a rather magical effect when the final float passes by that does not occur here. It's a fun surprise but not a deal breaker by any means. If you want to watch the first parade without the dining package, you'll have to invest some time in waiting for it.
Fireworks Dining Packages
There are rarely fireworks packages for up-close viewing of Disneyland fireworks. You may keep an eye out for special holiday packages for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve through Plaza Inn. New in 2022, there is a Plaza Inn Halloween Dining Package with reserved viewing for Halloween Screams on select nights with fireworks. it costs $55 per guest 3 and up. You must book between 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. to pick up your savory and sweet treats, beverages, wristband and credentials. The viewing is in the north side of the outdoor Plaza Inn patio.
Keep in mind that fireworks can get cancelled due to technical, weather or other issues. You cannot get a refund or exchange if the show is cancelled.
The one regular package that includes some fireworks viewing is the Tomorrowland Terrace Lounge Experience.
Tomorrowland Terrace Lounge Experience
This dining package is a bit different from all the others because it removes you from the show a bit but offers a different angle and another way to hang out in the park. It offers fireworks viewing from a distance. You will not see projections and the music may be piped in (although it may be faint). But it gives you a table for the night, a meal, unlimited cold and hot beverages, a phone charger and games. You will check in and pick up your included meal (an entrée, side, dessert and hot beverages) at Galactic Grill and carry it to the ramp to be seated on a balcony above Star Wars Launch Bay.
The tables on the edge are low tops and the second row is high tops. You don’t really get a preference. If you are a small party of two, you will be seated with another party of two. You can eat your food, and get all the cold drinks you want up top. You can come and go because your table is yours for the night. Play games at your table or play giant games. You can get a blanket to use if you get cold. Fireworks shoot off to the sides of the Matterhorn.
This package is good for a party that needs a relaxing night and an escape from the crowds. The problem with it is that fireworks get canceled pretty often due to winds at altitude, and that’s what happened the night we visited. The show got canceled, and while the food was actually really delicious, we would not pay that price for the food alone.
The menu includes a choice of entree (meatloaf sandwich, chicken parmesan sandwich or a plant-based pasta bake) and a dessert (our choices were chocolate- or cheesecake-based). You can have all the hot or cold beverages you could drink. Condiments are located at the dining location.
This cost is $60 and includes tax but not gratuity. No discounts apply. You need to cancel two days in advance.
Pros: You can come and go until 10 p.m. It’s a different experience for frequent Disneyland visitors, and you can play games and have all the drinks you want. It allows you to see the fireworks without being in the crowds and gives people more space than being in the crowded park. It may appeal to locals or Magic Key holders who can come back to view other shows or the fireworks on another night.
Cons: You are carrying your tray around the park. This can be more challenging for families with disabilities or few people to carry a lot of people’s food. Fireworks can get canceled. Sitting in the lounge keeps you from experiencing dance parties, rides and other nighttime entertainment. The fireworks show is not the full show with special effects and projections in all its glory. You may be seated with others, but that could be a pro if you hit it off and make new friends!
For us, there are great fireworks locations you can hop in place for just before the show starts without spending any more money. Our Disneyland fireworks post can help you find the best place to watch the show. If you want space and a seat and don’t mind seeing just the bursts, this may be worth it, but ask yourself if you spent your evening in this location how you might feel if the show were canceled. If the fireworks are just a bonus, then this may be worth it to you. Do you want to see the show and also enjoy the rest of the park? Then, see the show on Main Street, U.S.A. for no extra money and make the most of your night at Disneyland.
Disney California Adventure Dining Packages
World of Color is the main nighttime spectacular that has dining packages and a dessert party. There was a Frozen dining package before the pandemic, so once a show returns to the Hyperion, there could be additional dining packages in the park. During Halloween Time, there are usually Frightfully Fun Parade dining packages and dessert parties to watch out for.
World of Color Dining Packages
There are two restaurants that offer dining packages for World of Color. Both of them cost the same and share the same standing viewing area. It is pretty well-centered, but people at the front of the section will have a better view than people in the crowd, so this is one you may want to arrive at the start of your return window for.
Keep in mind that World of Color has free standby viewing as well as a free virtual queue. You can join the virtual queue (here's how) at noon as long as you have entered a theme park and have a valid ticket. The virtual queue can put you in the very front rows and give you an excellent view. But keep in mind that the front rows may get wet, depending on which direction the wind is blowing. So you can get a great view without paying extra. You should arrive early for the best viewing selection. You do not want to be to the far sides, especially not to the right, because it becomes harder to see the water screens.
Standby areas are not as great as the virtual queue or dining packages (although we do love the bridge). So if you cannot join the virtual queue, or are arriving later in the day, a dining package or dessert party is a great backup plan. The second show is the least crowded, so if you do not want to spend any money or time and are going to be in a standby area, then see the second show. If there is extra room in the viewing areas, you may be let in. As long as you are behind a fence or planter box, you will be able to see or near the back of a viewing section. Aim for a buffer of space between you and the people in front of you. You should be able to see this very tall show on fountains of water.
Wine Country Trattoria (available for both shows)
Wine Country Trattoria costs $59 per adult and $35 for ages 3 to 9 (plus tax and tip). It's a 3-course prix-fixe meal with a starter, entree and dessert and a nonalcoholic beverage. This Disney California Adventure table-service dining location gives you a taste of Tuscany with pasta dishes.
To book, reserve lunch (12:30 p.m. to 2:55 p.m) or dinner (3 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.). Join the Walk-Up List in the Disneyland app if you don't have a reservation. Ask your server about upgrading to the World of Color dining package.
Pros: The viewing area is centered and has a buffer of space around it so it’s easy to see.
Cons: You’ll want to arrive early rather than late to your viewing location to get a front-row view in that section, especially if you have shorter tadpoles. If the section is busy when you arrive, try to go to the back of the section, putting a buffer of space between you and the people in front of you.
Storytellers Café (available for both shows)
Storytellers costs $59 per adult and $35 for ages 3 to 9 (plus tax and tip). This all-you-can-eat buffet is located outside the theme park in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. But don’t worry — a special theme park hotel entrance takes you right there. It’s just as close as if it were in the park.
You’ll book a normal dinner reservation and let your server know that you’d like to upgrade. If you can't get a reservation, look for Walk-Up availability in the app. You’ll get the same buffet food (along with some items your server can bring you), a voucher for the Preferred Dining Viewing area and a box of macarons to enjoy during the show.
If you want the first show plan to dine between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the second show (or if there is only one show) dine between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Pros: It’s all you can eat, so you can fill up your hungry bellies. Plus take some dessert with you! The viewing area is centered and has a buffer of space around it so it’s easy to see.
Cons: You’ll want to arrive early rather than later at your viewing location to get a front-row view in that section, especially if you have shorter tadpoles. If the area is busy when you arrive, try to go to the back of the section, putting space between you and the people in front of you.
World of Color Dessert Party (available for both shows)
This is the only option that allows you to sit and dine while you enjoy the first or second World of Color show. It is pricey at $89 per guest, ages 3 and up. Tax and gratuity are included. No discounts are applied. You get cheese, crackers, fruit and desserts. You can get up to two drinks. Adult drinks are included. Kids get light-up sippers, if available.
It is nice to have a seat and a good view. This is a good experience to celebrate a special occasion or date night. Seating is toward the back of the viewing area (behind the dining packages). The first row has low-top tables and the back row has high tops. The seats have a buffer between them and the people in front at a lower elevation.
You can check in early near the restrooms across from The Little Mermaid and pick your seat. We'd aim for something toward the center of the viewing area If we had to pick. We’d go with a high top especially since it gets you just a little higher than the crowd.
Pros: You can sit after a long day, enjoy a drink and relax during the show.
Cons: You need to check in early and get seated early or you might not have time for a second drink. You might get seated with other parties. It is the most expensive choice for the least amount of food. You are toward the back of the viewing so you cannot see the bottom of the water, but you can see the show well. Keep an eye out for obstacles that could potentially get in your view. You pay in full when you reserve and must cancel a day in advance if you can't make it.
Parade Dining Packages
There are two parade dining packages for the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party Frightfully Fun Parade.
Wine Country Trattoria Frightfully Fun Parade Dining Package
Wine Country Trattoria has a lunch and dinner dining package that provides a reserved but separate area to watch the parade. It is only available on Oogie Boogie Bash party dates for people with party tickets. It is a three-course meal with a starter, entree and dessert. The package costs $59 for adults and $36 for children ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity (discounts do not apply). There is a $10 up-charge for ordering rib-eye steak. Upon arrival, you'll request an upgrade to the dining experience. You'll need to show your Oogie Boogie Bash ticket to get the experience.
You'll dine between 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. before or during the early entry time in the park. (You'll need a daytime ticket that gives you access before 3 p.m. if you reserve before 3 p.m. After 3 p.m. your Oogie Boogie ticket will get you in, but be sure to arrive early.) You will let your server know you'd like to upgrade to the package.
Pros: You don't have to waste any party time dining. You can fill your belly with a full meal before the party start. You know you have a place to watch the parade. If you cannot get a reservation, you may be able to walk up, up to 6 p.m. You may be able to apply discounts.
Cons: The packages are limited and not guaranteed, which may have you needing to come up with a plan B if they sell out. You may need to arrive at the reserved area earlier than stated to get a good spot. You need to make sure you have a ticket that gets you into the park for your reservations time. Oogie Boogie guests can enter as early as 3 p.m. Guests with a daytime ticket can dine earlier. You can find you own parade viewing for free.
Sonoma Terrace Oogie Boogie Bash Dessert Party
This parade dessert party allows you to watch the parade from your table. It offers "ghoul-inary" delights including scrumptious themed desserts and two beverages (plus a bottle of water) along with reserved seated viewing of the parade in front of Sonoma Terrace. Adults may choose drinks with alcohol. Reservations can be made for the dessert party up to 60 days in advance. This experience is available in two sessions per night, with reservation times beginning at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. during party nights.
You'll be able to check-in up to 45 minutes before the first parade (which starts at 7:50 p.m.) and up to 30 minutes before the second parade (which starts at 10:05 p.m.). Seating is first-come, first-served, so we highly recommend arriving earlier than recommended for the best seat. You may be seated with other guests or in a back row. The dessert party begins 30 minutes before the parade starts and can be enjoyed up until the parade ends. The front row is low tables and the back rows are high tops.
Tickets for the dessert party are paid for when you reserve. It's $89 per person (ages 3 and up) and includes tax and gratuity. Children ages 2 and under may attend free of charge, but they must be seated on the lap of an adult. You'll need to have Oogie Boogie Bash tickets to book. If the parade is canceled due to technical issues or weather, your dessert package will not be refunded.
Pros: You get a seat to watch the parade.
Cons: You have to check in early to get a good seat. Some seats are in a second or third row or around the corner from the oncoming parade. Small parties may be seated together. You can save money by hopping in place on the parade route around the same time you might check in for the dessert party without spending any extra money. You can use your trick-or-treating sweets to make your own dessert party for no added cost! The party is costly and you cannot apply discounts.
Tips for Disneyland Dining Packages
If you are considering booking a Disneyland dining package here are a few tips:
- Make sure you have a park reservation for that park or a park hopper ticket if starting in the other park.
- Check the show schedule for your date of the visit so you know all show times (they can vary each day).
- Choose a package that allows you to potentially see two shows. For example, after the first Fantasmic! show, you can stay for the fireworks. After the Main Street Electrical Parade, walk over to Main Street, U.S.A. to catch fireworks.
- Decide whether you already want to eat at the restaurant where the dining package takes place. If so, that's a big plus.
- Look at the menus ahead of time to make sure you like the choices. (There are vegetarian and gluten-free options or substitutions.)
- Eat on the early side of the dining window as packages are limited.
- Book 60 days in advance for the best selection.
- If you do not get a reservation, keep checking as cancellations do pop up. Also, check to join the Walk-Up List in the Disneyland app.
- Ask if you can add people to your party when you check in if others want to join you. We have been able to add people if there's availability.
- Ask about discounts. Most packages can have Magic Key and Disney Visa discounts applied, but a few do not.
- If you can't make your reservation, cancel the day before or try to reschedule for a future date.
- Only book if you are comfortable knowing that shows can be canceled last minute with no refund.
- For Fantasmic! you are fine to sit in the middle or back half of the seated areas, rather than the front row against the fence.
- Let your server know of any allergies.
Do you have any further questions about the Disneyland dining packages? Ask in the comments section below. You'll need a theme park ticket and reservation to view these shows. Save money on your Disneyland theme park tickets when you purchase from Undercover Tourist so you have a bigger budget for Disneyland dining packages.