In the category of strange human behavior…and here we mean food consumption…consider this:
A majority of Americans, 56 percent, skip eating breakfast.
But the vast majority, 98 percent, consider it the most important meal of the day.
This figure involves about 35 million Americans. They don’t eat breakfast.
Its importance comes up when you think of theme parks these days…
…The reason is a recent news report:
several Disney restaurants on site are adding breakfast menus.
It will become a permanent addition at Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom, and the Garden Grill at Epcot’s Land Pavilion.
Today, we’re going to look at some food options.
As opposed to FAST Food, we’re going to give you some places in the parks where you can get FOOD FAST.
Ahem, one exception.
We can’t help but recommend one place that readily admits to fast food, but it is unlike what you find in traditional hamburger and pizza joints. But more of that later.
Whether are you among the 56 percent, or the 98 or wherever you stand (or sit) on this particular issue, you might say:
Skipping breakfast for good reasons
It’s probably safe to say most of you don’t expect to visit Disney or any other theme park to enjoy your breakfast.
Even the experts quoted for this news story admit most people are on this journey not for any culinary delights -- which you normally don’t expect at a theme park, anyway.
Visitors such as yourself are there to enjoy the park amenities.
Food is almost always secondary. And who wants to stop joining lines or bypassing them with your pass to sit down to a meal?
But on the other hand, theme parks in common with fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger-King, etc., have moved in recent years towards offering more food options.
Breakfast, of course, is perhaps the last meal visitors (and suppliers) will consider.
But not only McDonald’s has gotten into this. Hotels with free breakfasts are everywhere.
But to get back to the subject.
A park is like anywhere else: You have to eat sometimes.
So if you, like many of us, have dined at places such as T-Rex in Downtown Disney, you know the reality.
Even a quick look at the menu shows you that a relatively simple appetizer, nachos for two is $16.99. Yes, it’s described as “colosso.”
But whatever the size, it’s costly.
Prices to match big appetites
That is almost as much as a Gigantosaurus Burger. It’s really two beef burger patties (ala McDonald’s Big Mac) at $18.99. It does come with waffle fries, however.
And there is a children’s menu for somewhat lower prices.
Our intent here is to eat reasonably fast and in fairly healthy style, so there is no slowdown in your preferred activities.
Also at reasonable or low prices.
We’ve also asked locals what they liked. And we’ll also give you a half dozen or so places outside the parks that you might consider for quick and usually inexpensive meals.
But first, let’s take a detour from the two major theme parks of Disney and Universal.
Sea World should catch a lot of vegetarians. It offers them juicy Garden Burgers at the Spice Mill.
Veggie Wraps can be found in the Antarctic Market. There’s also healthy turkey sandwiches at the Voyagers Smokehouse.
So if you’re in a mood for alternatives such as those, let’s wander over to see what Disney can offer for lower-cost snacks and fast meals.
Say you want,…no crave…healthy options.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are as common these days as kiddie rides. You can find them among other places at Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Fruit Market. Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti also has Mandarin Chicken Salad.
Low-fat smoothies? Try Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies in the Magic Kingdom.
Veggie sandwiches? Get them at Hollywood Studios.
A Southwest Salad with chicken is yours at Backlot Express. So are salads and wraps. It’s best described as a “counter-serve eatery with classic American fare, beer & a kids' menu.”
Tufo is in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. A vegetable noodle bowl is less than $7 at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station. Also there is a hot dog with chips for less than $6.
Prices are a little more than typical fast food costs at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café.
But most top out at around $10.
And where else might you find a one half Rotisserie chicken with massed potatoes and a vegetable for that price? Healthy turkey sandwiches are also around that price with choices of apple slices.
If it’s still breakfast you want to keep you away from food for a while, try a long-established one: Chef Mickey. The all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Contemporary Resort (this will slow you down some because it is a sit down meal, but it’s a good way to start the day.
All you can eat?
Try The Crystal Palace. American style.
You’re in Florida, so this is a necessity to try.
Cape May’s has a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner.
A staple. Pizza and video games.
At Pizza Planet Arcade in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Also meat ball sandwiches. Videogames will turn up the price, but pizza can be had for under $15.
Don’t forget snacks
If you happen to be staying at a resort on property anywhere, a bargain is the refillable mug for soda, juice, coffee and hot chocolate -- offered everywhere.
Snacks, a variety pack. Gaston’s Tavern is located in the Magic Kingdom by the Be Our Guest Restaurant. It serves a variety of snacks and beverages. Usually less than $5.
Pretzels. They are an under $5 favorite at The Lunching Pad in the Magic Kingdom. These are a bargain because they are large enough for two normal-sized people to share.
Ice cream. Hollywood Scoops is THE place to go.
The average price per scoop is $5, but portions are large enough to share for everyone but the most avid eater. Hand-dipped as well.
Funnel Cakes. Again, an average price of just $5. The name says it all.
You can find them at Epcot.
Any taste of food you want?
Epcot. Tastes around the world. Take your pick. But China’s fare includes Potstickers for around $5, Germany offers Bratwurst for under $7 and France has quiches for $5. Japan’s Kabuki Café has sushi for under $5.
And what about Universal?
If you want that increasingly popular breakfast, Croissant Moon Bakery – nicely located at the Port of Entry – Islands of Adventure – probably is the best bakery in any theme park. It offers only a small variety but any and all baked goods are first-rate. Large portions. Food in a hurry. Also indoor and outdoor setting.
Another breakfast place may be predictable.
Yes, Green Eggs and Ham Café.
It comes out something like McDonald’s Egg McMuffin but an improved version. Not as bargain priced, of course. And no two-for-one, either.
One of the first spots as you enter the park will give you among the best food you’ll get here. Who says?
Locals who go here
It’s the Beverly Hills Boulangerie.
Great coffee and oversize muffins for breakfast. Healthy offerings. But lunch offers soups, salads, sandwiches. Snack style desserts also include chocolate croissants and cheesecake.
For snacks, it’s hard to resist Schwab’s Pharmacy. Nostalgia fans and older people will remember this is the famous California drugstore where famed actress Lana Turner and others were discovered. Gooey sundaes but an expensive treat at $7 or so.
Also in the snack area, consider getting a giant, pink-frosted donut at Lard Lad Donuts.
One of the more recent items associated with Harry Potter are chocolate frogs. Found throughout Wizarding World. Eat them at risk of croaking.
Two long-time favorites here are Mythos and Conficso Grille. Mythos is not really Greek, as it sounds, but used to be regularly voted best theme park restaurants. Neither it nor Conficso are bad and are adequate for theme park food but neither is outstanding. Above average dishes such as mushroom meatloaf but seared mahi mahi. But others have surpassed the pair.
Among relative newcomers that have risen as favorites are Three Broomsticks. British pub food. It’s quick, cafeteria style. Often recommended: the smoked chicken. Some entrees for $10 or so.
Don’t forget your healthy vegetables here, either, much better than overcooked versions in England. The theming here gets the highest marks. There’s also Butterbeer, of course.
For sit downs, Louie’s Italian Restaurant meets family standards though whole pizzas can reach $30. That is still much cheaper than buying individual meals.
Also subs but hot dog lovers might prefer the Classic Monster Café. It also has pizza and ever-popular macaroni and cheese. Monster decorations dominate here but should not spoil theme park appetites.
Another relatively new place at Potter is the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. Pub style fish and chips. Some of the best food in the park
For pizza, try the Red Oven Pizza Bakery, with a wide choice of toppings. Thin crust style.
When worst becomes best
That is what has happened with Fast Food Boulevard here.
Credit this transformation into one of the most fun assortment of food anywhere in theme parks. And add to it the fact that number 1. You can’t get food like this anywhere else in the park; and 2. The menus by themselves are tongue-in-cheek funny.
In addition, serious options are found here for vegetarians and even vegans (outside of the perennial garden salad).
Prices are generally slightly higher than normal fast food, but portions are often larger.
Restaurants are right out of The Simpsons TV (said to actually have been taste-tested by writers there).
Names are familiar such as Krusty Burger, The Flying Dutchman, Flaming Moe’s Luigi’s Pizza and Chicken Shack. Most of the restaurants that include food karts are recommended but one warning: long lines are common place. Check the televisions while you wait to view Simpson episodes
A few local places, briefly mentioned
- Jimmy Fallon dines at times at Beefy King. It’s a 40-year-old traditional family run place that answers the question “Where’s the beef?” Also other sandwiches. Modest prices. Try the tater tots.
- Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que is aptly named. Good hearty barbeque with a picnic-like setting. Service is consistently good, with never too long a wait.
- If you are willing to get somewhat farther from Orlando proper, Harry and Larry’s Bar-B-Que in nearby Winter Garden is often spoken of in hushed tones by locals. Family run, simply delicious. Cheaply priced.
- A very modest restaurant in a shopping center, Q’Kenan gets high marks for Venezuelan comfort food. What’s that? Dishes that the staff will walk you through include familiar ones such as beans and rice, cheese, shredded chicken and ham. Most items are under $5.
- Pho 88 is family run with a huge selection of Vietnamese dishes from soups to entire meals. Prices under $10.
- There’s nothing fancy at the Relax Grill at Lake Eola, but the prices are modest. American and Mexican offerings dominate. Live music, Sundays.
- Tako Cheena can give you three great tacos for about $9. Good tacos, we mean. A small, friendly and inviting place to eat quickly.
As for breakfast, who needs it?
A recent headline in the Washington Post might be appropriate to your own theme park visit.
“Is Skipping Breakfast really so bad?” it asks. ###