Yesterland Plaza Pavilion
Presented by Contadina

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Roger J. Runck, 1968, courtesy of Robin Runck

Welcome to the Plaza Pavilion, a buffeteria-style restaurant!


Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1996

Presented by Contadina

Befitting the sponsorship by the Carnation Company’s Contadina brand, there’s an emphasis on Italian food. You might want to start with a Caesar Salad. Then, perhaps you’d like Spaghetti or Penne Pasta, with your choice of sauce—Marinara, Bolognese, Alfredo, Primavera, Sicilian, or Chicken Alfredo. Or how about a Chicken Breast Sandwich or an Italian Rope Sausage Sandwich? If you’re still hungry, finish your meal with Tiramisu or a Parfait Dessert

The dinner menu adds a Baked Pasta Dinner and dinner-size portions of the pasta lunches.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1996

Sidewalk café

Grab a table on the terrace in front of the restaurant. Enjoy your meal!


The Plaza Pavilion was an opening day restaurant at Disneyland. It appeared on guide maps as the Pavillion Restaurant (with two Ls). Its original sign said “The Pavillion” (also with two Ls).

The restaurant’s main entrance faced the Plaza, a part of Main Street, U.S.A. Guests would typically enter the “buffeteria” from that side, choose their food, pay for it, and continue out the back of the restaurant to its dining terrace in Adventureland. Tables overlooked the Jungle Cruise waterway, with boats returning to the dock. Maps in early Disneyland guide books showed the “Pavillion Restaurant” twice—as part of Main Street, U.S.A. and of Adventureland.

The restaurant’s odd straddling of two lands ended with plans to transform it into three separate restaurants. An article (“On Safari”) in the Summer 1962 issue of Vacationland, a promotional magazine published by Disneyland for distribution at Orange County motels and hotels, described changes underway in Adventureland, including these:

Walt Disney’s “Enchanted Tiki Room,” one of three new restaurants at “Stouffer’s in Disneyland” and Disney’s first “by reservation only” dining spa, may steal the spotlight from the other new attractions. For Walt Disney is bringing together all the talents of his “imagineers” to create a complete dinner show performed by an exotic collection of birds, flowers and Polynesian Tikis that actually sing, talk and act!

Many new animation techniques, developed exclusively for Disneyland, will “bring to life” the birds, idols and flowers. And, lest you should think it’s not possible for inanimate objects to sing and act, just remember that this dinner-show is based upon legends and myths treasured for centuries by the natives of the South Pacific.

Stouffer’s, one of America’s foremost restaurateurs, will also open European and American Kitchens in its Plaza Pavilion (facing Main Street) and a Tahitian Terrace overlooking Adventureland. The latter will feature nightly dancing and South Seas entertainment.

The Adventureland side of the Plaza Pavilion became the Tahitian Terrace with tiered seating for dinner shows—and without direct access from the other side. The Plaza Pavilion was finally just in a single land.

Did you catch the part about the “Enchanted Tiki Room,” being a dinner-show restaurant too?

By the time Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened June 23, 1963, it had become an attraction with continuous shows, not as a restaurant with a limited capacity. But even today, it still has its own restrooms, a reminder of the original intent.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Detail from the 1964 Disneyland Souvenir Map by Sam McKim © 1964 Walt Disney Productions

Around the Plaza in 1964

The Plaza Pavilion on the southwest side of Disneyland’s central Plaza had a counterpart on the southeast side. Originally it was the Red Wagon Inn. Then it was expanded and enhanced in 1965 to become the Plaza Inn, an ornate Victorian-era “buffeteria” restaurant—the fanciest restaurant at Disneyland at that time and still a popular restaurant today.

Somehow, the Plaza Pavilion became the poor relation to the splendid Plaza Inn. The Plaza Pavilion had an outdoor terrace, while the Plaza Inn had ornate indoor dining rooms in addition to outdoor garden seating. The Plaza Pavilion was only open on weekends and busier days, while the Plaza Inn was open daily.

Not surprisingly for a restaurant that was open for 42 years (although seemingly closed more than it was open in its later years), the menu changed over time. The Italian menu at the top of this article was from the Plaza Pavilion’s final years, when Contadina was the sponsor. In the 1960s, the Plaza Pavilion was the place to go for fried shrimp, fried chicken, biscuits, and honey.

Disneyland management of the late 1990s, under the leadership of controversial Disneyland president Paul Pressler, decided that Disneyland did not need two restaurants on the Plaza.

The Plaza Pavilion closed at the end of the 1997 summer season. The building, its sign, and the terrace seating remained, but the Plaza Pavilion never reopened as a restaurant.

Instead—for fourteen years—the Plaza Pavilion became the most underused prime location in Disneyland.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Disneyland Annual Passport Processing Center

It’s not that the Plaza Pavilion was completely unused. It took turns along with the Bank of Main Street being the Disneyland Annual Passport Processing Center. This seemed like a questionable use for such a central, high-traffic location. And it certainly didn’t add any “magic” to the Plaza. But, hey, the old pass system required a place to take photos, and the Plaza Pavilion wasn’t being used for anything else.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Smile for the camera in the Annual Passport Processing Center

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Junior Chef sign on the Plaza Pavilion

Well, it was used for some other things too.

For a few years, the terrace at the Plaza Pavilion hosted “The Nestlé Toll House Junior Chef Baking Experience,” a hands-on cookie-making activity for children aged four to ten. Each participant was rewarded with a warm Nestlé Toll House Cookie at the end of the 25-minute activity.

Many guests walked past this location—a perfect place to generate revenue, right? Guests could buy and trade Disney pins. And they could start the process of buying into the Disney Vacation Club timeshare program. But that was all.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Pin Kiosk and Disney Vacation Club kiosk

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Christmas decorations

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2008

Seating

The former dining terrace could provide overflow seating for guests who carried over food from elsewhere, such as a hot dog from the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner or a Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar outside Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

To guests, it looked as if the Plaza Pavilion might reopen any day. The light bulbs of its old-fashioned sign usually glowed brightly. The Plaza Pavilion was even dressed up for the holidays.

But, year after year, the Plaza Pavilion only became an ever-more-distant memory.

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Lifeless

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Empty terrace in 2009

Plaza Pavilion at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Still wasted space in 2010

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending…

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café sign

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Jolly Holiday, looking like the Plaza Pavilion

On January 7, 2012, the former Plaza Pavilion became the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café after an extensive interior renovation. The new counter-service restaurant was themed after the animated sequence from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. The 1964 movie was set in Edwardian England, so the time period and style of the café is right for Main Street, U.S.A.—even if the country isn’t.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Jolly Holiday Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Café was a welcome addition to Disneyland. After an absence of more than 14 years, there was once again a delightful eatery on the southwest side of the Plaza.

As with the sidewalk cafés of Paris, guests enjoying baked goods, meals, and beverages bring life to the “neighborhood” and make it a better place—not only for themselves, but also for those who are just walking by.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Café at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Jolly Holiday on one side, Aladdin’s Oasis on the other

Meanwhile, some things have not changed. The Jolly Holiday Bakery Café (former Plaza Pavilion), Aladdin’s Oasis (former Tahitian Terrace), and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room are still a single building, just as designed in 1962.


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Updated July 17, 2015.