Are Theme Park Breakfast Events a Good Deal?
The first hour when a park opens is the best time to ride rides. Should you spend that time eating breakfast with the park's characters instead?
Written by Robert Niles
Most theme park vacationers start their day by grabbing a donut or bagel at the hotel before hitting the parks. But many theme parks now offer elaborate breakfast events for fans who want a special start to their day.Tweet
But are these breakfast events a good choice for theme park fans? It's a tough question, when one considers that the first hour after a park's opening is the best time to ride the park's most popular attractions – before lines build and the weather overheats. Spend that time at an in-park breakfast buffet, and you're missing out on valuable ride time.
Some parks eliminate that dilemma by opening early for their breakfast event. The gold standard for this type of breakfast is Brickfest, at Legoland California in Carlsbad. Visitors can purchase tickets at any park ticket booth, which allows them into the park at 9 a.m., one hour before the park's scheduled opening time. During that hour, visitors can ride the park's AquaZone Wave Racers, Bionicle Blaster spinner ride and Technic roller coaster, as well as partake in the buffet at the park's Sports Cafe. The spread includes scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, sausage, fruit, cereal and bagels.
The price for adults is $10.95, $6.95 for kids, and does not include park admission, which must be bought as well. Brickfest continues through August 31.
Early-entry breakfasts, even if they do not include free ride time as Legoland's does, give you the extra advantage of positioning you inside the park when the front gates open. That puts you many steps ahead of the crowd in rushing to the park's most popular attractions.
Many parks target their breakfast events at families with young diners, adding appearances by the park's characters to the morning meal. Perhaps the most popular theme park character breakfast is the Once Upon a Time Breakfast offered at the Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant inside the castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Picture courtesy Walt Disney World
For $29 for adults and $15 for children, diners enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast featuring eggs, breakfast meats and French toast. This is not a buffet, however; waiters will bring entrees at diners' request. But the real draw is Cinderella and the other Disney princesses and princes, who wander around the room, greeting diners at their tables. For parents wanting guaranteed one-on-one time for their kids with a Disney princess, this meal fulfills that fantasy, first thing, allowing kids to ride that high throughout the rest of the day.
Visitors will need to call Disney World's dining reservation number, 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463), up to 90 days in advance in order to book space at the breakfast, which sells out quickly. If you can't get into the castle breakfast, Disney offers another Princess character breakfast at Restaurant Akershus in Epcot. Call the same number for reservations to that event.
Other Orlando parks also offer character breakfasts.
If Disney's breakfasts appeal more to little girls, Universal's gone after the boys with a Spider-Man themed breakfast at Confisco Grille at Islands of Adventure. The Cat in the Hat also appears at the breakfast, which costs $15.95 for Adults and $9.95 for children. The event runs from park opening until 10:30 a.m. everyday. Visitors should call 407-224-4012 for reservations, which are helpful, but not always essential.
SeaWorld Orlando serves breakfast at its Seafire Inn restaurants from 9 a.m. to 10 each morning. The breakfast costs $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids ages 3-9, and includes appearances by the park's Shamu character (not the actual killer whale) and some of the park's other walk-around characters. SeaWorld allows visitors to book reservations for this event online.
For toddlers and other young theme park fans, face time with characters might be more important than the rides themselves, making spending that important first hour in the park at a character breakfast a good call for their parents. But if you kids would rather grab an extra ride on Splash Mountain than get a hug from Cinderella, that hour might be better spent getting on as many rides as they can.
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