Alright guys, so a few weeks ago I wrote a review of my absolute favorite quick service in Disney World, Satu’li Canteen, well today I’m back to tell you not just my favorite quick service in Disneyland (and DCA and Downtown Disney) but my actual favorite food stop of any sort in any part of California Disney- Jolly Holiday Cafe! And of course price factors in but I’ll tell you, Jolly Holiday was my favorite for how good the food is, cost is just a bonus!
Jolly Holiday is a quick service dining location on Main Street USA in Disneyland park. You order inside and then all the seating is outside either covered or open. It’s a great place to sit and relax during your park day and is an absolutely beautiful scene with the music and the castle and the incredible landscaping Disneyland is so great with!
To start off this review, though, I have to get my one complaint out of the way. My overall experience at Jolly Holiday was the best of any Disneyland/DCA dining location but I would not be being true to my experience if I didn’t start with this. If gluten sensitivity isn’t a concern for you please just go ahead and skip the next paragraph haha!
I’d been seeing for weeks before the trip how amazing Disneyland snacks are and so many people recommended epsecially the giant pink Mickey Macaron sandwiches at Jolly Holiday. When I finally got to Jolly Holiday and went to order, though, I found out they are NOT AT ALL gluten safe. The chef told me that apparently they don’t make any of their bakery case items on site, they’re all transported from off property on the same trays/tray racks as gluten containing items meaning the cross contamination risk is basically level guaranteed (I asked this multiple times to multiple different chefs and they all had this answer for me). Welp. I was not happy. This held true for all of Disneyland/DCA and I basically couldn’t enjoy any sweet items except for pre-packaged items like Mickey Bars. While they had a great substitute for me at Jolly Holiday (I’ll get to that soon), I have to be honest and say I was extremely disappointed that Disneyland doesn’t take care for their gluten sensitive guests and doesn’t do something as simple as isolating or packing non-gluten-containing items seperately so that they can remain gluten free and be safe for guests like me. Disneyland on the whole was a difficult time for me with gluten free food and as much as I loved what I COULD have, I felt like it was more of a struggle than it should have been to find it, not all the chefs were as helpful as I’ve come to expect from Disney Cast Members, and overall there just wasn’t as much intentionality from the company in ensuring allergy guests’ experience is still magical. While I really did love all the food I’m about to show you, it was a hard enough experience over the couple days that the stress of being able to find food will be a major factor in deciding if going to Disneyland again is actually worth the time and money.
I could tell you about how much I loved my meals at Jolly Holiday but I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves first: I was in Disneyland for 5 days and I managed to eat at Jolly Holiday not once, twice, not even three times but FOUR TIMES guys that’s literally every day except the last day when I only had breakfast! THAT’S how much I loved this place and, truth time, three of those 4 trips I had the exact same thing, the gluten free grilled cheese with tomato soup. They actually had a ton of gluten free meal options (just not the desserts), they could do pretty much all of their sandwiches and salads gluten free.
I know it looks pretty average and when I first saw it I was doubtful but somewhere between the toasted bread and that absolutely MAGICAL cheese bend was grilled cheese heaven. And the soup? I’m not usually a big tomato soup fan but this was perfection, absolute perfection. Pro tip: try getting a side of the chips and dunking them in the soup- SO GOOD.
The one other time I decided, as much as it pained me to do so, to try something different and I was so glad I did! I got the caprese sandwich and I am SO GLAD I ventured out! They really give you a hearty serving of the fresh mozzarella, the tomatoes were fantastic, and instead of normal pesto they do a delicious combination of citrus aioli, basil vinaigrette, and sweet balsamic glaze. It was one of the best sandwiches, gluten free or not, that I’ve ever had. I don’t know what kind of gluten free bread they’re using (it looked like a hamburger roll haha) but it’s without a doubt my favorite Disney gluten free bread.
For dessert they gave me the choice of an OMG cookie or brownie. While I was sad about not having the Disneyland specialty items (I have a general rule of preferring whenever possible to not eat food I can order online/at home when I’m in Disney because I want to try new and special things), they heated this cookie up so perfectly I was a very happy camper. It was a tasty cookie and it has been a long time since I had a piping hot, melty chocolate chip cookie (fyi, Sprinkles GF chocolate chip cookies remain my absolute favorite but these were still great).
A final thought/tip...
In review, while I was sad about the overall difficulty of finding GF food, the food I did find was truly amazing. I was so happy with this meal (hence why I went back every day). HOWEVER. If you or someone in your group is GF I strongly urge you to go to the restaurant ahead of your party. Every time I ate here I loved it but my friends either had basically finished their meal or had to wait until their food got cold to eat with me. I am used to GF food taking longer but seriously expect at least a 10-15 minute wait (while the rest of the food is ready basically immediately) if they’re busy. My advice is to run ahead and order first so you can all eat together.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to Jolly Holiday? What was your experience like?