Do you prefer theme parks' sweet or savory holiday food specials?

December 15, 2018, 1:08 PM · If you want to try all the special food that Disney and other theme parks are offering this holiday season, you'd better come hungry.

Very hungry. And bring several very hungry friends with you. Because there's simply no way that a single person could even begin to hope to eat all the special meals, snacks, and desserts that you can find on parks' holiday menus. Even if you tried, your stomach or your bank account will cry for mercy before you could finish.

That's by design, of course. Theme parks for years have been using seasonal food specials and festivals to drive attendance during "down" times. They have learned that the more items they add to their menus, the more repeat visits — and more spending — they can drive from hungry fans.

Harry Potter holiday dinner
The Holiday Turkey Platter from The Leaky Cauldron at Universal Studios Florida's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

But even if you come back again and again, you're probably still making choices rather than ordering the lot. So what kind of items do you find yourself going for when eating your way through a seasonal menu? Do you prefer those sweet desserts and treats... or do you find yourself ordering more savory appetizers and entrees?

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party cookies
Cookies and hot cocoa from this year's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World

The desserts inevitably get the most attention. Designed now as much for your Instagram feed as your taste buds, theme parks are constantly raising their game on cakes, pastries, milkshakes, doughnuts, and other sweets.

Very Merry Milkshake and cans of Who Hash
Very Merry Milkshake, in front of cans of Who Hash, at Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood

But I find myself looking for the savory options when theme parks introduce special menus. I used to be big dessert fan, but as I've gravitated toward a lower-carb diet (for a variety of reasons), I have lost my sweet tooth. My stomach cannot handle too much spicy heat, either, so that leaves me searching for items that deliver flavor in more creative ways.

Curry Cauliflower Soup and Shrimp and Grits
Curry Cauliflower Soup and Shrimp and Grits from Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure

That's just me, though. I know that many fans enjoy the sweets as a special indulgence. Or they don't care about eating any of this stuff, and are just buying the stuff for the photo ops. (Not judging — it's your money. Spend it however you'd like!) I am curious to see what the breakdown of preferring sweet vs. savory is among theme parks. So let's put it to a vote.

Regardless of how you voted, what have been some of your favorite seasonal food items at theme parks — whether for the holidays, Halloween, or other food festivals? And what were some of the disasters that you had hoped never to speak of again?

Please share your story in the comments.

Replies (3)

December 17, 2018 at 11:07 AM

I prefer the sweet theme park food specials primarily because the savory ones are not created with vegetarians in mind. Look at that turkey holiday platter from Universal; it's pretty but I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole.

December 17, 2018 at 12:36 PM

Desserts are ALWAYS overpriced, so I would have to go with savory. Plus, sweets are frequently 1-note dishes that they rarely offer anything dramatically new or different. Sure, sweets can look amazing, but I can stare at gorgeous desserts on the counter without spending a dime. Savory dishes have far more range and diversity, representing a wide array of styles/cuisines and flavor profiles.

The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival has offered more amazing dishes than I can count, but it's also brought its share of disappointments (mostly due to execution and portion size/price).

December 17, 2018 at 6:02 PM

I agree with Bobbie that the savory dishes don't have as many options for vegetarians....

In terms of the desserts, sometimes I find that while they are visually appealing, for the most, they actually taste similar to what you can get year round (whereas the savory dishes are completely different menu options)

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