America's Best Amusement Park Food
Club 33: Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.
If Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, then the members-only Club 33 is amusement park food-heaven. Tucked behind New Orleans Square, found behind a door with an ornate "33," is a dining room fit for a king, adorned with Napoleon inspired-décor. Choose from the ever-changing a la carte menu or the five-course vintner’s amuse-bouche menu. While this restaurant may be a delicious departure from typical theme park fare, it doesn’t come cheap. The annual membership, plus the $72 a head minimum, seems like the equivalent of buying every (deliciously cinnamon-y) churro in the park.
Knoebel's Amusement Resort: Elysburg, Pa.
Family-owned and operated since 1926, Knoebel’s Amusement Resort might be the best-kept secret of the amusement park world. If free admission, free parking, and free entertainment — not to mention over 50 rides — isn’t enough to hook you in, they are also the 13-time winner of Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for Best Food. From hand-dipped ice cream to apple cider slushies, to homemade caramel corn, Knoebel’s features a wide variety of tasty treats that not only help you cool off in the summer heat, but satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t forget to grab a slice from Cesari’s Pizza.
Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs: Coney Island, N.Y.
At Luna Park, there are few things more notorious than the Cyclone. But Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs earned its stripes as a Coney Island institution by churning out mouth-watering hot dogs since 1916. Based on a recipe developed by founder Nathan Handwerker’s wife Ida, these high quality dogs are much better than your average grab-and-go theme park meal. Stop by for a hot dog and choose your toppings — from chili to sauerkraut to salsa — and make sure to order the crinkle-cut French fries. We recommend letting it all digest before giving the rides another go.
DelGrosso's Amusement Park: Tipton, Pa.
An amusement park known for its food as much as its rides? When can we go? As the self-described purveyor of America’s Best Amusement Park Food, we knew we hit bank when we found DelGrosso’s. High up in the Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania, this park positions itself a double-threat, boasting both quality coasters and cuisine. Spaghetti Wednesdays are enough to draw a crowd, letting you choose from the homemade DelGrosso’s Italian-style meatballs or the special of the week. And if you can’t make it to Tipton each week for their family style cibo buono, you can always buy their sauce online.
Les Chefs de France: Disney World, Orlando, Fla.
If any restaurant can fool us into thinking we’re actually dining in Paris, this is it. We know — we had trouble believing it, too, when we remembered it’s in one of the busiest amusement parks in the country. Beneath the “Eiffel Tower” in the France Pavilion at Epcot lies Les Chefs de France; a highly-rated restaurant serving traditional French food. Alsace specialties always trump ordinary park eats, especially when they are finished off with a signature crème brûlée. It conjures images of baguettes and berets more than it does Mickey and Minnie.
Ms. Knott's Chicken Dinner: Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif.
Homemade jam might have been the first specialty churned out at Knott’s Berry Farm, but the theme park is better known now for its full-on fried chicken dinner. Forget turkey legs — make sure to grab a table at Ms. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, a Southern California institution since 1934. One of America’s most popular single-location family restaurants, Mrs. Knott’s started as a way for the family to make ends meet and transformed into a successful — and scrumptious — dining locale where park goers could skip the sno-cones and go for some southern hospitality.
Kennywood: West Mifflin, Pa.
Kennywood takes usually unappealing amusement park fare and goes where few parks have cared to go — upgrading their flavor to total tastiness. Their famous fresh-cut Potato Patch French fries have put them on the map for unforgettable and invigorating park eats, but you can also choose from over 20 refreshment stands and snack carts for a variety of foods to cure your coaster cravings.
Mythos: Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
Theme Park Insider’s winner of Best Theme Park Restaurant six years in a row should be your top priority when taking a break from riding the rides at Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando. Mythos’ blueberry-and-pistachio-crusted grilled pork and their cedar-planked salmon are sure to shake your preconceived notions of the bad food and badly themed eateries far too common in the amusement park world.
Holiday World & Splishin' Safari: Santa Claus, Ind.
Aptly named Holiday World for its location in Santa Claus, Indiana, this theme park offers more than just family fun. Unlike usual foods indigenous to roller coaster playgrounds, this park was granted the national “Making a Difference” award (given by The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) for its allergen-friendly menu in 2009. They proved their health consciousness by offering foods that don’t contain common allergens like wheat, fish, shellfish, nuts, and milk. With a bounty of gluten-free and dairy-free items, Holiday World hopes to fulfill all your diet and thrill-seeking needs.
The International Café: Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, Calif.
Recipient of the 2010 Santé Award, The International Café can proudly boast they are the only eatery located within a theme park to win the esteemed peer-judged restaurant competition. With the help of acclaimed executive chef Eric Kopelow (who won the 2010 Chef of the Year by Chef Magazine), this restaurant has been recognized for delicious dishes that will have you forgetting you’re at Universal Studios Hollywood. Skip the line for Jurassic Park and get carnivorous by chowing down on the shaved roast beef with Brie cheese and roasted pears. Dare we say — this meal will be the ride you remember best.