PEOPLE food editor Shay Spence made the ultra-cheesy theme park snack at home to see if it lives up to the hype.

By Shay Spence
April 16, 2020 12:16 PM
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Disney; Shay Spence

As a theme park fanatic who has spent the better part of the last few years eating my way through Walt Disney World and documenting it on Instagram, I’ve been in dire need of an outlet for my appetite for corn dogs and funnel cakes as the parks are temporarily closed.

Thankfully, Disney has recognized this need among its loyal fans, releasing recipes for its most popular snacks at home. So far, they have unveiled the recipe for churros, Dole Whip and, most recently, the super-cheesy grilled cheese from Toy Story Land.

Given that these foods are usually mass produced for millions of guest per year, I’ve remained somewhat skeptical about whether these are actually the recipes they use in the parks. The Dole Whip recipe, for example, contains a scoop of vanilla ice cream—but the real version of the iconic pineapple soft serve is famously dairy-free. Clearly, this is a modified at-home adaptation.

When I saw the grilled cheese recipe—which comes from Woody’s Lunch Box at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando—it seemed like it just might be the real deal. I’ve had this sandwich many times, and marveled at the perfection of a classic: melted and creamy on the inside, and crispy and buttery on the outside.

But, wait: Disney’s recipe actually calls for no butter at all. How is this possible? My world shattered.

Instead, you spread a garlic mayonnaise on the outside of the bread before putting them on the griddle. I’ve often scoffed at the idea of using mayo in place of butter on grilled cheese, even though it’s gained favor in recent years. (Why fix what isn’t broken, right?) But if one of my favorite versions of all time uses it, I decided it was worth exploring.

Sixteen slices of cheese and half a jar of mayo later, I had four of the cheesiest, crispiest grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever produced. Just look at this cheese pull. Look at it! (And yes, that is a Forky tank top.)

In my professional opinion, this recipe—unlike the Dole Whip—is a legitimate replica of the one you can get in the park. The extreme cheesiness is achieved not only because there are four slices of cheese (two provolone, two cheddar) per sandwich, but also a cream cheese spread in between the cheese slices.

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And the mayonnaise? Easy to spread and gets an even golden brown crust from wall to wall. I refuse to say I’ve fully converted from butter, but I’m definitely no longer a skeptic of mayo’s efficacy.

While the recipe on its own is fantastic, I do have a few notes based from my experience that might be helpful if you’re making it yourself at home.

  • You can cut the garlic mayo measurements in half; a whole cup is overkill for four sandwiches. I also used 1 tsp. garlic powder instead of the 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic because it’s what I had on hand, and it was totally fine and delicious.
  • A thick-cut bread is really important here if you’re going to use the amount of cheese they ask you to use. I used a Texas toast. If you only have standard-sized bread on hand, I would half all of the cheese amounts (which might be a more manageable eating experience anyway.)
  • To make sure the cheese is melted before the bread gets too toasted, turn the heat down to low after you flip the sandwiches the first time and tent them loosely with foil to trap the heat inside. You can then flip it one more time to re-crisp the top side. This is standard practice for any grilled cheese, but especially this one where there is so much cheese.
  • For the cream cheese spread, I substituted whole milk for the heavy cream with no detriment to the final product.

You can find the full recipe on Disney’s website and check out the step-by-step process on my Instagram story.