Disneyland Tunaburger Recipe (circa. 1955)

I think we all sometimes wish that we could go back in time to when Disneyland first opened—before Dole Whips or Space Mountain, when Autopia had no guide rail and the “Monsanto Hall of Chemistry” was considered a good thing.

Now’s your chance!

During EarzUP! Episode 2: Finding Hotels Near Disneyland, our “factoid” at the end of the show was about the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Cove Restaurant that used to be located in Fantasyland and specialized in Chicken of the Sea Tunaburgers. After Jason read the recipe, there was absolutely no way I couldn’t make it. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t sound good. In fact, it sounded like something I would have made for my cousins when we were 7 and played “I dare you to eat this.” But, for better or worse, this had to happen.

Fast-forward to the night we recorded Episode 4: Unique Things to do in Disneyland. I plopped the canned Chicken of the Sea tuna mixture on a bun covered in Thousand Island, placed sweet pickles on top, baked for 20 minutes and forced Jason, Terrence, and myself to eat them. Here were the results.

Disneyland Tunaburger before cooking
My replica of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Cove Tunaburger about to go in the oven.

I thought they were….sort of good. I don’t like sweet pickles or Thousand Island, but somehow the combination of all things worked, creating a sweet and hearty sandwich. It was comforting and made me feel nostalgic for a time before kombucha and quinoa salads. That said, I don’t really plan on eating it again.

Jason was Switzerland—he thought it was fine. He detected cheese, which he liked, until I told him there wasn’t any cheese in it. He also felt that the buns got a little soggy on the inside, creating a sort of tuna/bready paste which made the overall appeal lacking. Even though he finished the sandwich and stated that it “wasn’t terrible,” he noted that he would never eat it again.

Terrence did not like it. At all. He almost threw up after his one tiny bite (see photographic evidence below). He said that aside from not really liking tuna to begin with, the combination of sweet pickles and thousand island dressing (which already has sweet pickles in it) was overwhelming. According to Terrence this sandwich  is “by far, the best thing that has ever been removed from Disneyland.”

 terrencetunacorrected1   terrencetunacorrected2

So there you have it. This recipe wasn’t quite the homerun I had hoped for, but there was a time when people paid hard-earned money for this little gem at the Happiest Place on Earth, so who knows, maybe you’ll love it! Either way, it was really cool to take a small trip back in time and to actually experience something that people did when Disneyland first opened in 1955.

If you LOVE Disneyland (or tuna or thousand island or sweet pickles), I suggest you give this recipe a try. If you do, we’d love to hear what you think!

Disneyland Tunaburger - Before baking
Disneyland Tunaburger – Before baking.
Disneyland Tunaburger – After baking.

Disneyland’s Authentic Tunaburger Recipe:

6.5oz* can of Chicken of the Sea Tuna (drained)

2 tbsp. Mayonnaise

¼ c. finely chopped celery

4 Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns

Thousand Island Dressing

Sweet Pickle Chips (Slices)

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.     Mix the drained can of tuna with the mayonnaise and celery, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

3.     Spread an even amount of Thousand Island Dressing on the bottom halves of 4 buns.

4.     Spoon the tuna mixture in even amounts on each of the four bottom buns, until there is no more mixture. Place 4 pickle slices on the mixture of each sandwich and top them with the top bun.

5.     Tightly wrap each sandwich individually in foil and bake for 20 minutes.

*I couldn’t find a 6.5oz can of tuna, but I wanted the recipe to be completely accurate so I bought 2 cans of 5oz tuna and measured accordingly.


2 Replies to “Disneyland Tunaburger Recipe (circa. 1955)

  1. Amazing! It’s so cool to get a blast from the past like this. I wonder if it would have fared better if you just heated the ingredients and not the bun. I understand you were sticking to the recipe.

    If you’re looking for an add on segment, what about “Updating” it to something you’d like to see at Disneyland now? I could see a crab cake version of this sandwich served up at Ariel’s grotto.in DCA.

    Great Job Taren (and great faces Terrence)!

    1. Thanks, Greg! I’ll have to think about trying your method of cooking these. Great idea about the crab cake sandwich–that would be a great “updated” version!

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