Book: The Unofficial Disney Park Cookbook
Author: Ashley Craft
1. What is your earliest memory of visiting Disneyland and how has that experience affected your life?
I was born in Oakland California, so my family drove down from time to time when I was under 5 years old to visit Disneyland. What sticks in my mind as my favorite thing was visiting Toontown.
I loved the silly houses and buildings, especially the rubber jail bars you could squeeze in and out of. Then when I was 5, we moved to Anaheim just 15 minutes from Disneyland. So we were there probably once a week after that! It really began a lifelong love of the Walt Disney Company, and specifically Disney Parks. I have been obsessed with all things Disney Parks ever since!
2. What is it about Disney and their food that made this cookbook a must write for you?
I love to cook and bake, and I love Disney Parks. It was a natural fit for me. I have been recreating Disney Parks foods for a while now, and I always wished there was a cookbook like this available and there never has been.
Disney has put out recipe books, but they typically revolve around restaurant foods, not snacks and treats. And the snacks and treats are Disney to me. That's where the nostalgia is and what I want to make! So, I decided to be the one to write the book.
3. Tough question, but what is your favorite recipe to make in this book?
Very tough question! Probably the recipe I make most frequently is the Gaston's Tavern Giant Cinnamon Rolls. They are delicious cinnamon rolls so big you can cut them like a cake. Definitely a popular one in our house!
4. Because the holiday season is here, what recipe(s) would you advise readers of your cookbook to make for a holiday treat?
There aren't very many seasonal recipes in this book, but some great ideas for the holidays would be to make the Mickey Sugar Cookies or Cookies and Cream Mickey Cupcakes and put a holiday spin on them! Make the sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles or dye the Mickey Cupcakes with red food coloring.
5. Did you visit any Disney Parks this year? And if so, what was the experience like going to Disney Parks during a pandemic?
I actually DID visit Walt Disney World in Florida in early October 2020. It was just my older sister and I who went, so no kids this time. It was really fun for an adults-only trip but I think it would have been hard to bring kids along right now during the pandemic.
Most of the things my kids love best (character greetings, parades, fireworks, dance parties) are on hiatus for now. And wearing a mask wasn't a problem for me and my sister, but the kids probably would have had a hard time keeping them on, especially my 3 year old.
For a stop in, it was a great opportunity for short wait times and cheap flights. If you're thinking of taking your once in a lifetime trip right now -- I'd wait a little longer until things settle back to normal.
6. You broke down the recipes by parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom etc.), what sparked this way of formatting the cookbook and what is your favorite Disney Park to visit?
I wanted to include Park maps with the food items on them, and the best way to be able to do that was to break them down by Park. It also makes it easier for someone to find a recipe they are looking for when recalling a special memory of a trip!
My favorite Park is either Disneyland or Disney's Animal Kingdom. I have a lot of nostalgia for Disneyland, and it certainly holds a lot of magic as the original Disney Park. I worked at Animal Kingdom in 2010, so I know the ins and outs and special stories of every nook and cranny. I love taking people there and just talking their ears off with interesting facts!
7. For people that have never been to a Disney Park, if they were on a 1-Day trip to Walt Disney World what’s a must try food item?
There is too much to see and do! Quick, add 6 days to your trip! But if I HAD to narrow it down to one, I would say don't miss the French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese from Flame Tree BBQ in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Super filling snack with an awesome combo of flavors!
8. Overall, what was your writing process like for this book?
I wrote this whole book in 5 weeks during peak pandemic. My husband was working from home, and my kids were out of school. So, I recipe tested in the kitchen all day, and wrote all night. It was frantic and crazy! It was also hard to get a hold of ingredients because of food shortages during the months of March and April. But I worked hard and got it done.
9. What’s the best book you have read this year?
I finally read Dune this year (in anticipation for the movie) and really like it. Very suspenseful and interesting.
10. What’s the best advice you have ever received on happiness?
No one has control over you. You have control over you. Decide to be happy and try to block out the haters. Surround yourself with people who support you and uplift you, and be that support and uplift for others.
11. Do you plan on making more cookbooks in the future?
Yes! I actually have another book coming out in 2021! It's called The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book. Can't wait for everyone to see it!
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Youtube: Ashley Crafted
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