Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Disney Eats: Jolly Holiday Bakery Review

Early last summer, Disneyland announced their plan to close the Blue Ribbon Bakery in order to expand the Carnation Cafe and I have to admit, I was disappointed. The Bakery has always been a staple of ours, and while we do like to try new things, it always makes me a little sad to learn something we enjoy is going away.  On the flip side, there's no argument that the Carnation Cafe needs more room, but it's a place we rarely visit (probably because it's so cramped!), so I really didn't have an opinion about the expansion.  Then  I learned that the closure of the Blue Ribbon Bakery would mean the opening of a brand new bakery with a Mary Poppins theme.  I was ecstatic!  Mary Poppins has long been one of my favorite films, and holds a lot of sentimental value for my husband Daniel and I, so we're always happy to see any type of homage paid to this fantastic film and important piece of Disney history.

The new bakery would take over the home of the AP processing center, located in the building now formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion at the end of Main St., USA.  The processing center was closed on July 31st, and in just a little over 5 months, it has been transformed into the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe.  The grand opening was held on Saturday, January 7th, and we were able to be there.

At first glance, not much has changed on the west end of Main St., USA

Approaching the building, if you didn't know about the change, you might just go on your merry way & not even notice there's anything new.  The seating areas existed previously, so that wouldn't give it away.  There are just a few subtle changes to the exterior:  1) The former Plaza Pavilion sign has been replaced with the Jolly Holiday lettering, although the style has remained the same, 2) Teaser menu boards have been added to the exterior sign, and 3) A charming new Mary Poppins weather vane has been added to the rooftop.

A closer view of the changes.

New teaser menus

Raise your hand if you're excited about the new weather vane!!

It's no secret that Disney will jump on any opportunity to create a switchback, and there's no shortage of them here.  Not that it's a bad thing, they've gotta keep the crowds in order, and there's certainly a need for them, just be prepared to wait.  We arrived after the lunch rush, just before 2:00pm, but the line to get in was still pretty long, and the switchbacks actually hid just how long the line really was.  Once you get up the steps, there's a switchback to the right, then the line splits into two as you make your way into the building, letting you decide if you want to go to the left or to the right. Both lines seemed to be moving at the same pace, so the deciding factor for me was a cute little carousel they had on display over on the right side. Priorities!!

The decor inside has just the right touches of whimsy, without being over the top.  Stained glass penguins adorn the windows, character silhouettes are hung on the wall, and there's even a chalk inspired mosaic on the floor!
Penguins are a running theme throughout the building

A lovely floral chandelier acts as the centerpiece of the room

A clever, adorable distraction to help pass the time in line. Can you spot all of the references?

Miniature replica carousel featuring the 4 horses from the film is on display

Chalk inspired mosaic on the floor

Condiment station, where the carousel is on display

The condiment station to the left has a Mary Poppins figurine on display

*Love* this!
There was no real fanfare for the grand opening, but the Cast Members seemed pleasantly excited about their new digs, which I think made the guests excited.  Now that we'd finally made it into the restaurant, we had to decide the heck we wanted to eat! Decisions.....decisions.....

Hey, no burgers or chicken tenders!

I'm sure you're looking at the "Practically Perfect Punch" thinking, "ooooh, I'd like to try that!"  Turns out it was just the Minute Maid Pomegranate Lemonade they have for sale throughout the park. Meh.

One of each, please!

Familiar treats found their way from the Blue Ribbon Bakery

The sandwiches & salads are pre-made and on display

What is all that green stuff on the bottom shelf?!? 

How adorable is this old style "stove" used to house the soup tureens?

After much hemming & hawing (and maybe a little drooling on my part), we finally decided.  Daniel & I ordered the Jolly Holiday Combo to share as a sort of appetizer.  I was worried about how good this would actually be, especially considering that the sandwich was pre-made.  I envisioned rock hard bread, cold gritty cheese, and metallic-tasting bland soup.  I was also a little confused as to how this was a "toasted cheese" sandwich, rather than a grilled cheese, but something was telling me to try it.  Boy, were we glad we did!  The sandwich was warm, fresh, and the cheese was a good gooey quality. The tomato basil soup was flavorful & delicious, and even better when you dipped the sandwich into the soup.  We will definitely be coming back for this!

Jolly Holiday Combo: Toasted Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Basil Soup - $8.99

Thick shredded cheese fills the sandwich

Originally, I ordered the Ham & Cheese Quiche, but they were all sold out (boo), so I opted for the Chicken Waldorf Sandwich on Brioche.  I enjoy chicken salad, and it did not disappoint. The apples were crisp & fresh, and let's face it, walnuts added to just about anything will make it taste better. The brioche held up surprisingly well against the messy chicken salad, but it was a little drier than I would have preferred. I added a bit of mayo to help (packets are available at the condiment station) and it was perfect.  The fresh House Chips were a nice touch, but they were so fresh that many were still soggy from the oil they had just been cooked in. Blech.
Chicken Waldorf on Brioche: Apples, Walnuts, Celery and Craisins - $8.99

Daniel ordered the turkey sandwich, pretty standard fare, but it was odd that it didn't have cheese on it.  Swiss or provolone would go very nicely with this lunch time staple.  The bread was fresh & not crunchy, which is often a problem with ciabatta bread. The accompanying mustard aioli actually had a bit of a honey mustard flavor that was unexpected, but still good.  He added mayo to help cut the sweetness a bit, though. After the toasted-not-grilled cheese sandwich was gone, he enjoyed dipping this into the leftover soup.  This also came with the House Chips. 
Oven-Roasted Turkey: Turkey, Tomatoes, Lettuce & Mustard Aioli on a Toasted Ciabatta Roll - $8.69

With every new quick service menu at Disneyland, we find there's a fancy new signature cupcake offered.  Who am I to argue?  So for dessert, we opted for the new Lemon Strawberry Cupcake to share.  This seemed to be a popular choice among many of the guests - after we sat down, we noticed just about every table had one of these.  The cake was moist with a light lemon flavor.  The icing seemed to be a thick whipped cream style frosting that wasn't too heavy or overly sweet. I enjoyed the tartness of the lemon cake & the strawberries, mixed with the sweetness of the frosting.  Daniel on the other hand wasn't crazy about the strawberries, something he normally likes. He thought the flavor of the berries overpowered everything else.  He really enjoyed the cake, though.  While I liked it more than he did, it wasn't anything I'd rush back to try.  There were many other yummy looking treats in that case that I'm already dreaming about trying on our next visit. 
Lemon Strawberry Cupcake - $4.99

A friend of ours joined us for lunch.  He ordered the Roast Beef sandwich and the "seasonal" fruit pie, which was apple.  While the sandwiches are pre-made, they can be special ordered.  In this case, he didn't want the horseradish aioli so they were able to make it for him as long as he was willing to wait.  We didn't try his sandwich, but he wasn't too impressed with it - "nothing special".  We did try a bite of the apple pie, which was just OK. The flavor was fine, the crust was decent, but the apples were rubbery.  I'm sure this is because it was just sitting under a heat lamp.. The addition of the sugar crystals baked into the top of the crust was a nice touch of sweet, though.

Hot Angus Roast Beef on Toasted Onion Roll:
Caramelized Onions, Horseradish Aioli and White Cheddar - $9.69
Seasonal Fruit Pie in the upper right corner - $4.99

All of the seating is outdoors, on two levels.  There are a few tables on a covered porch area, with most of the seating on the ground level surrounding the building.  The lower tables offer umbrellas to shade you from the sun, when needed.  Your guaranteed to have a great vantage point from any seat, with views of the Hub, Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Matterhorn and Tomorrowland.  If you time it right, the tables on the Main Street side of the restaurant could be a nice spot to watch the parades and even the fireworks from, albeit slightly obstructed.

Now let's talk about cost.  We ordered 3 entrees, 2 sodas and 1 dessert. With our 15% AP discount, the total came to just over $35.  Not too bad in the world of theme park food, and much better quality than most theme park counter service restaurants.

This new bakery offers a much different experience than what we ever had at the Blue Ribbon Bakery.  While they did offer lunch options, we never saw it as a destination for a meal., it was always just a place to stop in for a sweet fix.  The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe offers so much more.  I foresee this quickly becoming a new staple for us, leaving us asking "Blue Ribbon who?".

Don't mind if I do!


  1. Fabulous! Fabulous! Clapping for the weather vane, for sure! So impressed with the details and I can't wait to try it. I love how it's also almost a Starbucks with all those coffees. The touch of the chips being wrapped in newspaper as they do in England, the quaint setting and surprisingly extensive menu makes me all the more excited.
    Thanks so much, I thoroughly enjoyed reading that!

  2. I can't wait to get back to Disneyland!

  3. I looked at your pics of the outside and didn't even notice the weather vane until you pointed it out!! Great eye : ) I can't wait to go back and REALLY observe the park through fresh eyes. (Cant wait to try the grilled cheese and tomato soup... slurrrp)