10 theme park foods that will get your taste buds in on the thrills

But please wait till after the rides!

By Lois Alter Mark,

Admit it. A big part of the reason you love theme parks is the food. In fact, for many of us, that IS the theme of these parks.

Where else can you find so many colors and flavors and sinful treats all in one place? And where else can you actually rationalize sampling them all?

Here are ten you have to try at least once.

The Big Pink donut | Universal Studios

The Big Pink donut at Lard Lad at Universal Studios — Photo courtesy of Global Munchkins

Join The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum over at Lard Lad Donuts at Universal Studios for one of the show’s most iconic items: the big pink donut.

Once you’ve tasted this big sprinkly delight, which is bigger than the average man’s hand, you’ll understand why Homer actually considered selling his soul to the devil for a donut.

Character-inspired chocolate dipped apples | Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Disney Minnie Mouse chocolate dipped apples — Photo courtesy of Phillip Fryman

Almost too cute to bite into – Instagram them before you do! – these gourmet candy apples are classic Disney.

No matter how old you are, you'll literally feel like a kid in a candy store in the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Confectionery. No need to feel guilty about the chocolate, caramel, marshmallows and jelly beans because the foundation of this particular distinctive treat is a tart, juicy Granny Smith apple, after all. And you know that saying about an apple a day...

Cinnamon bread | Dollywood

Dollywood's cinnamon bread — Photo courtesy of Katie Van Dyke

Dolly Parton’s signature cinnamon bread is so beloved, the recipe has been copycatted all over the place. But everyone will agree there’s nothing like the original at Dollywood.

You can smell the buttery, cinnamony goodness wafting from Grist Mill, where guests line up, happily anticipating their first bite of the hot-out-of-the-oven bread. Trust us and buy more than one loaf.

Funnel cake sundae | Six Flags 

Six Flags' World Famous Funnel Cakes — Photo courtesy of Six Flags

Sure, funnel cake is a theme park staple but no one does it like this. Six Flags’ amazing World Famous Funnel Cake Sundae is a homemade, custom-blended powdered sugar funnel cake topped with creamy soft serve ice cream, real whipped cream, a maraschino cherry and your choice of fresh strawberries, sweet chocolate sauce or weekly specials like candy corn and s'mores. 

Offered at limited times throughout the season, you can also try the M&M’s Ultimate Funnel Cake, the Big Texan Funnel Cake, the Unicorn Funnel Cake and the triple-stacked Funnel-Quake, which just erupts in flavors!

Granny’s apple fries | LEGOLAND

Granny's apple fries at LEGOLAND — Photo courtesy of Karilyn Owen

This signature treat was invented at LEGOLAND, where creativity is celebrated in every area. The culinary geniuses cook Granny Smith apples, slice them like French fries, dust them with cinnamon sugar, add a few secret ingredients and serve them with a vanilla cream dipping sauce.

You can find Granny’s Apple Fries in the medieval Castle Hill section of the California park. Buy one for each person or you may find yourself jousting for them.

Dole whips | Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Disney Dole Whip — Photo courtesy of Phillip Fryman

You haven’t had the full Disney experience until you’ve waited on the very long line for one of these frozen works of art which have developed a cult-like following since being introduced in 1986.

This tropical sensation is basically whipped pineapple non-dairy soft serve, yet it’s so much more. Available in Adventureland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s still whipping fans into a frenzy and has become as synonymous with the parks as Mickey himself.

Cheeseburger Steamed Pods | Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Cheeseburger Steamed Pods at Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom — Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Collins

I see you, you lovely little futuristic twist on the cheeseburger.

Available in the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar, the newest addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, bao buns – steamed pods – are stuffed with ground beef, ketchup, mustard, pickle and cheddar cheese. They’re served with crunchy vegetable slaw and vegetable chips. You’ll be blue if you miss out.

King Size Shakes | Hersheypark

Hersheypark's King Size Shake — Photo courtesy of Maryland Momma's Rambles

It would be inexcusable to visit Hersheypark – “The Sweetest Place on Earth” – and not indulge, so head right to Simply Chocolate and go big. More specifically, go King Size.

The 32-ounce King Size Shakes are available in Hershey’s, Reese’s and Kisses, and are delicious in themselves. But it’s the toppings – slices of peanut butter pie, sprinkles, pretzel rods, Reese’s Pieces, mini Reese’s Cups! – that put them breathtakingly over the edge.

School Bread | Epcot

School Bread at Norway Pavilion at EPCOT — Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Collins

You can find this Epcot favorite in the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe at the Norway pavilion.

Based on the snack Norwegian parents packed in their children’s school lunches, this sweet – but not too sweet – bread is filled with vanilla custard and topped with icing and coconut. It helps explain why the Scandinavian countries are considered the happiest in the world. 

Smoked meats | Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Smoked meats at Trapper's Smokehouse at Busch Gardens Williamsburg — Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

No need to ask directions. Just follow the irresistible smells to Trapper’s Smokehouse in the New France village of Busch Gardens Williamsburg for a real meal.

Choose from hickory- and oak-smoked spare ribs, baby back ribs, beef brisket that’s smoked for ten hours or their famous slow-smoked chicken. After basically eating dessert all day, it’s the perfect way to end your visit with some protein.