Vote of the week: Picking a place to eat
I know that this isn't an issue at many regional amusement parks, where your lunch and dinner options are limited to the same fare you'd find at a typical mall food court. But I'm interested in reading about how TPI readers make a decision at parks like those run by Disney, Universal and Busch, where visitors have the option of a finer dining experience.
What are you looking for at mealtime in a theme park? What is the most tempting factor that lures you to a particular place to eat, whether that be a sit-down restaurant, counter-service joint, or even the Turkey Leg Wagon?
Tell us, in the comments, about your favorite theme park eateries.
Disney had always been a trend setter when it comes to good food at the parks. Animal Kingdom had a little catching up to do with variety of restaurants, but they have revamped Tuskers and with the new Yak and Yeti open there is really a good variety.
My priority is good, decent-quality non-fast food. Nearly all of the relatively few theme-park fast-food encounters I've had have been far less than spectacular, and I'd rather go without altogether. My preference is a good station-service or sit-down, in a moderate price range. (Most of my theme-park time is at Disneyland; there, Plaza Inn and Redd Rockett's are my mainstays.)
My favorite for Dinner is San Angel Inn- Mexico in Epcot, Breakfast- Whispering Canyon- Wilderness Lodge on Disney Property, Lunch- Sci Fi Cafe Disney's Hollywood Studios.
In Orlando, we usually leave the park and go to a nearby hotel to eat dinner. For example, we'll go to Animal Kingdom Lodge if we're at Animal Kingdom or the Boardwalk if we're at Epcot.
My comment concerns only WDW dining:
For me it gets down to quick service and hopefully the rest. is near by. Since I only go down to FLA/CA every 2-4 years my time in the park is very important. So my goal is to eat decent food in as timely manner as I can so I can then go back out and ride as many rides as possbile and soak up the atmosphere. If I lived closer to the big theme parks and visited more often than I would perfer quality more than I do now.
I want to throw in a good word for the Busch parks, and for Legoland. I've found the food at both to be far above average for the industry. After all, when you think about it, Busch is the only theme park company whose primary business is a food product. (Yeah, it's beer, but still....)
I can't imagine going on a trip to Universal and not eating at Mythos in Islands of Adventure. It's one of my favorite restaurants ANYWHERE.
If I didn't have young children, my vote would have been high quality food, for sure. But let's face it, ninety percent of the time when I am in a theme park I have my 3 and 5 year olds with me, so they factor into the decision a great deal. I try to look for places that have child friendly and healthy options. Beverages are where we usually have difficulty, because our children don't drink soft drinks. We prefer milk, and then real fruit juice (in that order), but it is not always available. In a pinch, a non-carbonated and caffeine free drink like fruit punch is acceptable, or the old stand-by of bottled water. But we drink bottled water throughout the day, so we like to give them something different during meal times if possible.
Missy, I carry bottled water and just skip ordering a drink with lunch. If we're at a counter service place, we just drink our bottled water. And if it is a table service restaurant, we request the tap water. No calories, no carbs, the best hydration and no cost!
I voted for the high quality, cooked to order food. I don't mind paying a little more for a tasty meal. And given since it's a theme park, most of the prices are usually high anyway so a few extra dollars shouldn't hurt to enjoy a pleasant dining experience.
I would have to say that my vote would vary with the people I am with. I am partial to the high end meals, but the counter selections are not half bad.
All of the above. Fortunately, in the higher end theme parks, you can usually find a combination of most of these. Take, for example, the Stanleyville Smokehouse in Busch Gardens Africa. You are instantly attracted by the tantalizing aroma of beef and chicken being cooked over a fire including the "wood of the day," which varies in the mix to subtly change the barbeque flavor in the meats. Your seating area includes a close-up view of the "splash-down" pool through which SheiKra splooshes every minute or so while you enjoy the best smoked barbeque in the park...a true feast for all your senses!
it is not about the money to me. where i get mad is when i pay a lot of money for crappy food. i want quality food in a clean indoor place. not fast food and eat outside.
I like Mythos at IOA, even though I feel it's a little overrated. The Sci-Fi Diner at MGM is a must for the well themed environment. Epcot has too many great restaurants to choose from.
I think all of these are important, but when it comes to big theme park resturaunts, the best is getting a place that can seat you when you're ready to eat. Even with places like disney where its recomended that you make reservations, you still end up waiting anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes to get seated. I'd gladly sacrifice things like themeing for a place thats ready when I am.
Our main decision criteria wasn't an option, so I didn't actually vote. We choose primarily based on what we feel like eating. If we're craving burgers, we head to place that sells burgers. If it's a cold, dreary winter day, we'll walk all the way across the park for a bowl of hot clam chowder.
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