A portobello mushroom and spinach flatbread pizza garnished
with pesto & artichokes? A Mediterranean-themed skewer piled high with tofu
& vegetables? An expresso brownie?
This is theme park food?
It is according to Karlos Siqueiros, the manager of concept development
for Food Operations at the Disneyland Resort. In much the same way that the
Imagineers used The Walt Disney Company's $1.1 billion reinvestment in Disney
California Adventure as an excuse to reinvent that theme park, Siqueiros saw
the DCA redo as an opportunity to bump out the borders a bit. At least when it
came to the style & variety of foods which could be served at that
Disney theme park.
So when WDI proposed taking out the Maliboomer & the
S.S. Rustworthy and then turning this formerly noisy corner of California
Adventure into Paradise Gardens, a green shady space where theme park visitors could
now kick back & relax, Karlos then became determined to put together a menu
for this part of the Park that would genuinely encourage that sort of behavior.
Offer up a selection of foods that would so perfectly match this now-bucolic
setting that the Guests would deliberately dawdle over their dinners.
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So Siqueiros - putting his head together with Jay Garcia,
the chef de cuisine for the Paradise Garden Grill & Boardwalk Pizza and
Pasta - cooked up a story-driven menu change for this portion of Paradise Pier.
"We decided to use our two new restaurants here tell an
immigration story. Talk about this Italian family who had made the perilous
journey to the United States and arrived here at Paradise Pier. And they were
so taken with the Boardwalk lifestyle that this Italian family decided to make
their home here. More importantly, set up shop here," Karlos explained. "So they
first opened this stand that served Mediterranean-style skewers. And that
proved to be so popular that - right next door - the family built an Italian
restaurant with an elaborate outdoor dining area."
Mind you, it took a while for Siquerios & Garcia to get Disney Parks &
Resorts executives to sign off on this particular restaurant concept for DCA.
Which - with its European-inspired menu (not to mention those musical groups which
will be performing twice-daily on Paradise Gardens' outdoor bandstand) - bring
an Epcot-like feel to this corner of the theme park.
"We did a number of presentations where we'd first decorate
our test kitchen space with props & posters which would then simulate the
look & feel of what we wanted to do with Paradise Gardens," Karlos
continued. "Then we'd invite the executives in so that they could watch our
Chefs work, smell the food as it was being cooked, sample some of our offerings,
get a real sense of the sort of dining experience what we were eventually hoping
to offer our Guests."
Luckily those Disney execs did come around. They eventually
saw the value in adding this type of food - more importantly, this sort of
dining experience - to the Disneyland Resort's already strong roster of
And as pretty as Paradise Gardens is during the day, this
deceptively roomy section of DCA (There's seating for 800 Guests scattered among
all of those shade trees and pergolas) is downright beautiful at night.
"I had this one woman give us the greatest compliment the
other day. She said that she found the whole Paradise Gardens setting to be so
romantic that this was where she was going to have her boyfriend propose to her
here," Siquerios laughed. "So I said 'You've got the whole thing planned out
already, eh?' "
It would be nice if Karlos could hear more of the public's overwhelmingly
positive response to Paradise Garden
Grill & Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. But as the manager of concept development
for Food Operations at the Disneyland Resort, Siquerios really doesn't have the
time right now.
"Around here, by the time we've finished one project, you're already knee-deep
in the next. We're just now putting the finishing touches on all of that
great Route 66-inspired comfort foods we'll be offering next summer in Cars
Land. And just yesterday, I was in a meeting where we were talking about the novelty items that we'll make available in the Parks for the 2012 holiday season," Karlos concluded.
And speaking of those food-based novelty items (EX: That
Mickey-as-a-Ghost collectible popcorn bucket that's offered at the Disneyland
Resort's theme parks during HalloweenTime) ... On Thursday, July 14th,
Karlos Siquerios will be speaking at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden
Grove, CA. Where Karlos' talk - " Tasty Crunchies and Munchies and Novelties" -
will be just one of the many entertaining talks & panels that the Disneyana Fan Club
will be presenting at its annual convention.
For further information on this five-day-long event, please
click on this link.
Sounds and looks like an advertisement.
European, wth?! I´m from Europe but there is no such thing as "European food". It always tasts very American to me, sweet, greasy and no tast of vegatables what so ever.