Orlando theme park food

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Mosca
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2007/06/17 14:16:37 (permalink)

Orlando theme park food

First and foremost, I didn't plan this trip; I was along for the ride. We stayed on Disney property and didn't have wheels, so this really is a report on food in the parks and at the resort where we stayed.

One piece of advice: when every meal is a restaurant meal, all the benefits of 6 hours of walking are negated. We took a box or raisin bran and some plastic bowls and utensils, and bought pints of milk from the quick stop stores at the resorts and stored it in the mini-bar refrigerator. That way we had decent cheap (quick) breakfasts every day, instead of the heavy stuff. I love bacon and sausage and pancakes as much as the next 300lb guy, but it all gets to be too much, for the belly and the wallet.

Universal generally beats out Disney, hands down, but Epcot is really an OK park for food, as long as you skip the fast burger places [see below]. Stick to sit-down and hot dogs in Magic Kingdom. There were some interesting looking places at Animal Kingdom (Mongolian BBQ), but we weren't hungry when we were standing near them and weren't interested in the walk back. MGM is like Magic Kingdom: If there's no waitstaff, skip it.



I'll start with the best. We took a cab over to Universal, and one evening we ate at Pastamore on Citiwalk. Disregarding the theme park atmosphere, if I'd been served that meal at a local restaurant I'd be raving about it here. The bread was fresh (like, HOT fresh), the pasta was al dente, the ingredients were uniformly excellent. Top notch, a real surprise. There were 6 of us, and everyone raved.
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These meals were OK enough:

The sandwiches at Gasparilla's Grill at The Grand Floridian; The jerk chicken salad and the Italian deli meat were both good, as was the cucumber salad. The chicken salad was a little sweet, but otherwise flavorful.

The buffet at 1900 Park Fair (also Grand Floridian) was decent, but at $29 per it's not a good value and it's a "character dinner"; lots of (little) kids. Still, there is a wide selection and most entrees are above average. Desserts are a disappointment though; overly sweet, mostly for the kids.

We had a good hot dog at Casey's Corner at the entrance to The Magic Kingdom; the spicy relish was really good.

The cafeteria in "The Land" at Epcot; another decent surprise. Lots of ethnic food, well prepared. Good sandwiches and chicken. They have a good black bean and cilantro salad.

Cantina de San Angel, in Epcot: Tex-Mex, not bad. Like if Taco Bell was good.

The spicy chicken fingers at The Fire Eater's Grill in Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure. Absolutely drenched in tabasco sauce.

Nascar Grille, inbetween Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Better than you might think! They cooked my 8 oz burger medium-rare, for one, and let me substitute broccoli for fries (gotta watch those carbs). The chicken-fried chicken was also good. A notch above typical corporate food, another surprise.
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Edible, but not really noteworthy:

House of the Blues in Downtown Disney. Ribs were parboiled and then broiled, but still they were edible. Meatloaf was ok enough.

Rainforest cafe at Animal Kingdom. Think, Applebees with trees indoors.

There is a fried chicken stand back in Universal Studios, by the Jaws ride that was average enough.
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Not worth the calories:

Any of the burger/fries stands in any Disney park (Cosmic Ray's, ABC Commissary, etc). Notice that is most of the "easy" places in most of the Disney parks. That food will sit in your stomach like lead, all day. I tried a Cuban Pork sandwich (cured pork, cheese, pickle and mustard on a pressed roll) at ABC Commissary in MGM that was horrible; just horrible. The burgers at these stands are McDonalds rejects. Truly offal.

The loaded up Nathan's hot dogs at Universal. Too much bun, too messy for park food. Flavor was OK, but there are going to be better choices. Get the fried chicken mentioned above.

Most of the sweets stores in any park; the pastries and fudge are second rate. Too much sugar, not enough flavor. Not worth the glucose hit.



That covers most of the stuff from this trip. On our last trip, 5 years ago, I recall enjoying the '50s Prime Time at MGM, but 5 years is a long time and we skipped it this trip. Same with the Mythos Restaurant at Universal's Islands of Adventure, which had a sign proclaiming it best theme park food in the USA.


I hope this leads other RFers in the same circumstances to some decent dining, or at least edible food. It is obviously by no means comprehensive, we were only there a week.

#1

11 Replies Related Threads

    John A
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 07:48:41 (permalink)
    They have you at their mercy. You had the right idea, grab a few staples to keep in the room with you.
    #2
    Greymo
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 08:03:44 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by John A

    They have you at their mercy. You had the right idea, grab a few staples to keep in the room with you.



    If one chooses not to have a car there, of course, one has to eat all their meals there but there is a choice to make and one is not at anyone's mercy. We have always stopped at the grocer's and bought cereal boxes, milk and fruit for breakfastwhich we ate in our room. This was an asset as it was more relaxing and gave us a nice headstart. For lunch, we had picnics out of our knapsacks with cheese crackers, peanut butter crackers, juice boxes, water, and cheese sticks and pepperoni sticks. Maybe in midafternoon, we would have ice cream on a hot day.

    In the evening, we would enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the hotels. We decided that the cost of a fine dinner there was about 20 percent higher than in other restaurants outside the theme parks but heck..........someone has to pay to in order for Mickey to be happy.

    Incidentally, Mosca, enjoyed your post very much on the meals that you had.
    #3
    John A
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 17:50:39 (permalink)
    From Mosca; "First and foremost, I didn't plan this trip; I was along for the ride. We stayed on Disney property and didn't have wheels, so this really is a report on food in the parks and at the resort where we stayed."

    My reply; “They have you at their mercy. You had the right idea, grab a few staples to keep in the room with you.”

    From Greymo; “If one chooses not to have a car there, of course, one has to eat all their meals there but there is a choice to make and one is not at anyone's mercy.”

    ??? This is Mosca’s post, not mine. Obviously they did not have a car available, what is your point?

    #4
    firecommander3565
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 18:24:50 (permalink)
    I could write a book on this topic. I have 4 kids, 14 year old daughter, 6, 5 and 3 year old boys. My wife is a veggietrian and I eat everything and alot of it.

    The BEST bet if you stay at Disney or Universal (on property) UPGRADE and stay in the "concierge level" room. This provides a free "continental breakfast" everyday, unlimited beverages and snacks ALL DAY (a real money saver for my tribe) And a night time "mangers buffet".

    At Universal, we stayed at the Hard Rock and the Conciege level was awesome! The fruit and pastry at morning were more than I expected. The coffe was good and hot. All day my kids ran down the hall for pop and water and various snacks, Goldfish, chips, etc. At night there was a decent spread for "appetizers". I was ready to dive in, but my wife reminded me to act "as if I've seen food before" because there were people who looked as if they were loading up to "not have to buy dinner". That said, the food was good. We saved $$$ by using this service.

    The following year we stayed at Disney (Grand Beach Club or something like that) The conciege level was OK, which is such a disappointment, because Disney makes lots of $$$$ and could afford to put out a spread like the Hard Rock. The breakfast, snacks and everything else paled to Hard Rock, but still was worth the $$$, as everytime we went to the park we grab a couple of waters, down to the pool , a couple of waters, sightseeing a couple of waters, etc.
    We saved on Breakfast (my kids usually do not eat much of it anyways). Never had to say NO to my kids asking for water or Pop, it was down the hall or in a backpack we had. They also can provide other services, Concierge people sit at the end of the hall to make resevations for dinner or whatever else you want. It is a real time saver. Just leave your request and tell them you'll be back in awhile to see what they could do for you......

    Also, by staying at Universal , you get Front of the Line privledges on all their rides and attractions at the parks, that itself with 4 kids is PRICELESS !!!!!!!!!!!!
    #5
    mr chips
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 18:40:36 (permalink)
    I made a trip to Disneyworld last month and made a choice not to rent a car. Sam and I had some decent meals in the park(the Brown Derby at he MGM most notably). I aws generally happy with the fare athe all-star resorts for breakfast and dinner.
    #6
    Mosca
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/18 20:55:51 (permalink)
    John A, I took that to mean that, having chosen to not have a car, there are still choices of food to be made that can work.

    This was our 6th trip; 3 with car, 3 without. There are advantages both ways. I'm the only "adventurous eater" in my family, so having a car wouldn't necessarily mean good food; it might mean Chili's instead of Rainforest Cafe! But it opens up some of the more unusual aspects of central Florida, like Warbird Adventures and the Flying Tigers Warbird Restoration Facility (since moved), Seaworld, Wonderworks, Splendid China, Medieval Times.... The advantages to no car are, well, no car to screw around with; no parking, no driving, just hop the monorail or the bus and you're off.

    firecommander3565, we were at Disney's Grand Floridian; I didn't know about the concierge level there. I had no input at all into this trip, given the choice I'd have gone to Hawaii! At Universal we paid the extra $25 per person and got those Express Passes. Man, that was the best $$ spent on the whole trip. EP beats Disney's Fast Pass six ways from Sundays. The Fast Pass is a benefit for staying at a Disney hotel, but all FP means is a 15 minute wait instead of a 70 minute wait. What was cool though was the "Magic Your Way" service. We put our luggage on the plane in Wilkes-Barre and flew a charter direct to Orlando; we got off the plane and onto a bus to the hotel, where our luggage "magically" appeared in our rooms while we were out at the parks. At the end of the trip, we called the bell captain and they took our bags; we got our boarding passes at the hotel, and next saw our luggage on the carousel in Wilkes-Barre. THAT was nice, not having to lug that stuff all over creation. whatever that cost, it was worth it.

    Now that our (mine and my inlaws) kids are teenagers, the trip is a lot better. No more meltdowns because it's too hot and the lines are too long and we missed seeing Mickey. No more "It's a Small Word" over and over and over. And we get to go on the good rides, like Spiderman and Hulk and Dueling Dragons and Space Mountain, instead of Dumbo and Teacups (but "Cat in the Hat" is still cool as all heck).


    Tom



    #7
    John A
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/19 07:22:17 (permalink)
    Hi Tom,

    "John A, I took that to mean that, having chosen to not have a car, there are still choices of food to be made that can work."

    Exactly, I agreed that not having a car dooms you to eating on the property but does not preclude snacks in your room. We have been here 28 years, with two children (And now grandchildren) we have spent a lot of time at theme parks. It does not take long to learn to carry snacks even when day tripping.
    #8
    Greymo
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/19 08:15:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by John A

    They have you at their mercy. You had the right idea, grab a few staples to keep in the room with you.



    My point was "That they have you at their mercy" is not correct. YOU choose what you want to do, not them. I have been going there since the year it opened and I have stayed on property and off. Either way, it was my choice, and if I chose to stay without a car, I was just as happy.

    With the price of admission being so expensive, most people want to take advantage of every minute. So they make the decision to stay on property and to eat there. That is what I meant. (And if you stay on property, a car is not going to be used.)

    And there are many places to eat where the food is far better than one would get on Internationl Drive or on Route 192.
    #9
    LeeMargo
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/20 11:30:40 (permalink)
    This topic could not have come up at a better time. I have been to Disney at least 7 times, probably more like 10, but the last few trips have been with friends/senior trip etc, but I am going in August with my parents who have not been in at least 10yrs. We plan to do more adult things such as Pleasure Island, Cirque du Soleil, made reservation at the California Grill (the restaurant at the top of the Contemporary...anyone ever eaten there?), Mama Mias (dinner package comes included with the Fantasmic show at MGM) and 2 other restaurants that I can't think of right now... I'll be back to ask for reviews once I talk to the parents to see what other reservations they made. I love the Beach and Yacht club... stayed there several times... I really like the HUGE choc. peanut butter brownie sundae at Beached and Cream, and when I say huge... I mean huge, and YES I always finish it! The Hoopty Doo Review is a great dinner show and I really enjoyed the ribs! I was not very impressed by the luau at the Polynesian and the food though abundant was only so-so. Any suggestions for an all adult trip would be greatly appreciated!
    #10
    Greymo
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/20 11:56:08 (permalink)
    We had dinner at the California Grill about 4 years ago. Although it is highly regarded by many, we would never return there. We were seated directly in front of grill area and we could smell the smoke the entire time. I also remember that one steak and one fish entree were very overcooked. If you do go there, request seating away from the grill area,

    Our very favorite place to dine at Disney world is Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. It is lovely and quiet and the service is flawless. We have eaten here several times, the last time being this past November. Their food is representative of Tuscany, the Provence and the Spanish Riviera. We book a table late enough to watch the fireworks from "the world" and always book well in advance and request a table by the window.
    #11
    KenK
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    RE: Orlando theme park food 2007/06/23 23:49:10 (permalink)
    Because we have never failed to have a memorable meal at the Brown Derby in MGM , we always seek it out as a must visit. Also good to tie it into the Fantasmic dinner package if they still offer it. Another must for us is the seafood restaurant in the living seas pavilion in Epcot. One of our treasured memories was the time we were seating next to the glass of the aquarium. One of the giant sea turtles brought a head of lettuce down to the bottom on his side of the glass. He enjoyed his dinner watching us, as we enjoyed ours watching him, literally inches apart from each other.
    #12
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