Yester California Adventure at Yesterland

The Original

Corn Dog Castle

Where Corn Dogs Rule!
Corn Dog Castle in 2002

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Disneyland in California has Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Magic Kingdom in Florida has Cinderella Castle. Yester California Adventure has a castle too—the original Corn Dog Castle.


Corn Dog Castle billboard detail

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2003

Three other locations, all in the great state of California

You can’t miss the “castle” when you arrive at the Route 66 portion of the park’s Paradise Pier. A huge billboard towers over a little trailer with a red and yellow awning.

Corn Dog Castle in 2007, side view

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Step up to the window and place your order.

Get ready for a big, all-beef hot dog—a traditional frankfurter or spicy sausage—dipped into a golden cornmeal batter, deep fried to a crunchy brown, and served hot. If you prefer cheese, order a generous bar of cheddar prepared the same way.

Corn Dog Castle pickup window

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Freshly fried corn dogs are ready at the pickup window.

This is not an ordinary hot dog on a stick. This is the royalty of corn dogs. Sure, it isn’t a low-fat meal, but now and then it’s worth it to stray a bit. If you want to feel slightly more virtuous, ask for apple slices instead of chips as your side dish.

Corn Dog Castle front view

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Striped awning

Squirt some ketchup and mustard on your corn dog. Or make neat red and yellow stripes on it, just like the awning. Head to a nearby bench or to tables a little further away. Bite through the golden batter into the juicy meat.

Yum!


Corn Dog Castle opened along with the rest of Disney’s California Adventure in February 2001.

It turned out that Disney’s California Adventure had too many eateries when it opened, but Corn Dog Castle was a success anyway. Guests enjoyed the generously-sized, good-quality corn dogs.

Whether Corn Dog castle was also an aesthetic success is open for debate. Officially, Corn Dog Castle was “a tribute to California roadside billboards of the 1950s,” but the artwork looked like something from an earlier decade than the 1950s.

The tacky appearance was intentional. The concept was the irony of a simple trailer calling itself a castle and having a billboard larger than its actual front. But did that make it a charming, evocative tribute to the past? Or did that just make it an eyesore that didn’t belong in a Disney theme park?

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2004

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2004

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2007

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2007

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2007

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Corn Dog Castle menu board in 2013

The menu at Corn Dog Castle stayed remarkably consistent over the years. The Royal Cheesecake Brownies disappeared from the menu. Sliced apples joined the “bag o’ chips” as a side dish option.

Corn Dog Castle behind a wall, August 2009

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

Corn Dog Castle behind a construction wall in 2009

Around the beginning of June 2009, Corn Dog Castle closed. A construction wall for The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure went up in front of it.

A new place to buy corn dogs

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

“Where can I get a corn dog now?”

For around 15 months, corn dog fans had a new choice. The park’s Bountiful Valley Farmer’s Market added corn dogs to its menu. That option ended September 7, 2010, when Bountiful Valley Farm closed for demolition.

Supposedly, Corn Dog Castle would return about two years after closing. It made sense that the Disney Company would want to reuse the structure. Although it looked like a trailer, it was really a permanent restaurant facility with all the necessary infrastructure—food storage, power, water, sewer connections, and so on.

However, it seemed likely that it would look quite different when it reopened. The celebration of tackiness in that corner of Paradise Pier would be replaced by early 20th century charm. According to displays at the Blue Sky Cellar at the time, the former McDonald’s Burger Invasion would become the Paradise Garden Grill and the former Pizza Oom Mow Mow would become Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. There was no artwork showing how Corn Dog Castle would be reborn.

Corn Dog Castle at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

The new Corn Dog Castle

Corn Dog Castle reopened in May 2011.

Surprise!

It still resembled a trailer below a billboard, just with new artwork on the billboard. Even the name was unchanged.

Corn Dog Castle at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2011

The King is now a pilot.

Now the King is flying an airplane, presumably to tie in with Goofy’s Sky School next door.

Corn Dog Castle at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

A genuine Corn Dog Castle corn dog, fried to a crunchy brown

There’s no longer any pretense that Corn Dog Castle is on Route 66.

However, there’s a genuine connection between corn dogs and the real Route 66—but it involves Illinois, not California. A vintage-style poster appeared at bus stops in Chicago in 2007.

Visit the Birthplace of the Corn Dog (Illinois Bureau of Tourism)

Here’s how a May 1, 2007, press release from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism describes the poster:

Springfield’s Cozy Dog Drive-In, the famous Route 66 landmark and the birthplace of the corn dog on a stick. Inventor Ed Waldmire Jr. created the tasty treat when he coated his hot dog with batter and pierced it with a cocktail fork. He called his new creation a “crusty cur,” but fortunately his wife had a more appetizing idea, dubbing them “cozy dogs.” The Cozy Dog was “born” during World War II, an era reflected in the poster’s art, which featured a nurse feeding an infant corn dog with a bottle of mustard.

Other states also claim to be the birthplace of the batter-dipped, deep-fried hot dog. Brothers Carl and Neil Fletcher began selling “Corny Dogs” in 1942 at the State Fair of Texas. Jack Karnis of Oregon sold “Pronto Pups” at the Minnesota State Fair in the 1940s. There are claims that the corn dog was first served in the 1930s at the Louisiana State Fair. Other claims go back even further.

A real corn dog is on a stick, right? Ed Waldmire Jr. of Illinois gets credit for that innovation. Thus any claims that the corn dog was invented in another state can be dismissed.

Cozy Dog Drive-in Sign, Springfield, Illinois

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

The Cozy Dog Drive-In is still operating on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois.

The next time you’re in Springfield, Illinois, stop at the Cozy Dog Drive-In. It’s not the original building (which is now the site of a Walgreens next door), but Cozy Dog Drive-In takes its historic roots seriously. The counter service restaurant is full of Route 66 memorabilia and displays about its own history. They use small Oscar Mayer franks, so don’t expect the same taste (or the same price) as Corn Dog Castle.

Cozy Dog Drive-in logo, Springfield, Illinois

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2009

The Cozy Dog logo evokes the 1950s, but it’s the original logo from the 1940s.


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Updated March 17, 2014.