Orlando theme park food
Sun, 06/17/07 2:16 PM
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.
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.
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.
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.