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Vote of the week: Breakfast at a theme park?

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Published: July 17, 2009 at 7:19 AM

We've long recommended getting to the park early to get the most from a theme park visit. But that brings up one important logistical question:

What to do about breakfast?

Do you eat breakfast in the park? Or before you leave home (or the hotel)? If it is a roadtrip, how you eat along the way, at a restaurant or in the car?

So that's the vote of the week. I understand that you might use several of these options, so let's make the vote result the typical option on your biggest theme park trip of the year.

My favorite option is to eat in the park when it is part of an early admission deal. I love when Legoland California offers its 'Brickfast', for example. That deal offered a buffet at the park's excellent, though underappreciated, Sports Cafe as well as early admission on several rides in the Imagination Zone section of the park. This way, there's no trade off between eating the park and losing valuable early-morning ride time.

In the comments, tell us about your typical (or favorite) theme park-morning breakfasts. Have a great weekend, and stay tuned to TPI this weekend for our summer roadtrip series report from Holiday World!

Readers' Opinions

From Brandon Mendoza on July 17, 2009 at 7:27 AM
Does La Brea Bakery Cafe count as outside of the park? Love that place for breakfast!
From Tim W on July 17, 2009 at 7:28 AM
Usually just at the hotel when im on vacation since when your at a park you want to dive into the fun already. However with DVC at disney world, we can make our own breakfast now.
From Randy Clover on July 17, 2009 at 7:44 AM
Usually I just skip breakfast. I surprisingly don't eat lunch until around 2:00 pm. If I am driving a long way in the morning to get there and need gas, I hit a truck stop. They always have good food, and of course you are not stopping multiple times. When I am riding rides, I guess I just don't think about food. I am usually looking at the rides mechanical systems so I don't feel hungry or that I need to eat.
From Paul Jeffs on July 17, 2009 at 7:49 AM
I prefer to have a bowl of cereal or some fruit in the hotel room, get to the park for opening and then have some pastries or similar for elevenses - only started doing it this way last year and it made all the difference to the amount of time spent standing in line.

My only exception is to have breakfast in Disney's Animal Kingdom as early as possible, so that we're able to see the animals when they are at their most active before the heat hits.

From Jill Harrington on July 17, 2009 at 7:50 AM
We usually try to stay somewhere that offers the free 'breakfast' in the AM, so we can grab something on our way out the door. WDW trips are a little different, since there is no hotel on property that offers a freebee breakfast (except the concierge level rooms, of course), but we typically hit the food court craziness long enough to grab a fruit bowl or a yogurt parfait and eat in the car on the way to the park.

Point is, quicker is better in my book! Breakfast eats up precious park time (or precious sleep time, if you get up early enough to eat before the parks open!).

But don't forget those character breakfasts - they're always fun as well!

From Eli Katzman on July 17, 2009 at 7:59 AM
It depends where I'm going... I NEVER eat in the park for breakfast. If I'm really excited for a new park, I can just eat a granola bar. I can eat it at home, in the car, or i might not even eat it... well, if i do or not, that 10:00 am meal will hold me over till... at least 2:00!
From James Rao on July 17, 2009 at 8:08 AM
Breakfast-on-the-go for me and mine, usually Kashi bars, especially the malted chocolate crisp version.

We generally hit the parks when they open, eat a Kashi bar while riding the TRAM or waiting for the park opening ceremony, tour until about 11, eat an early lunch, hit some high capacity attractions, then bolt back to the resort until dinner time.

From Anthony Murphy on July 17, 2009 at 8:21 AM
I voted for in the hotel, but then again, I stay at Old Key West which rooms include a full kitchen. I find it saves us time and money, but we are all older so we can stand staying up and staying at the MK to like 2.

One place in the parks that I actually really like for breakfast is the Sunshine Food Fair in the Land. Get some freshly made breakfast sandwiches on crossants. Very nice!

From Marc Ricketts on July 17, 2009 at 8:21 AM
Usually at the Hotel. The one where we stay at DL doesn't start their's early enough during early entry, so we grab something in the park. Have started having a morning at the Carnation Cafe once a trip as well. Boy's outgrown the character thing for the most part, but we'd usually do a late breakfast for those. Actually, we'll go for the latest seating for breakfast if it's a reservation.
From Eric Malone on July 17, 2009 at 9:12 AM
Typically, when we're going out to theme parks, we eat breakfast at home. However, sometimes that's not the case (for example, staying longer than a day), so we try to eat at the hotel so we're not distracted before the end of the morning rush, and can sit down to a nice lunch a bit past mid-day.

As for what to eat for breakfast? Pretty typical breakfast. Eggs, bacon and toast. The eggs are great for giving you the energy you need to stay moving 'til lunch. ;)

From Mary Morris on July 17, 2009 at 9:25 AM
Although I voted for breakfast out of the theme parks - usually IHOP or Denny's it depends on how many people are staying with us. If there are a lot of us it is easier to have breakfast at the villa while everyone is getting ready.
From 128.43.31.254 on July 17, 2009 at 9:40 AM
I voted with 'at the hotel', but I usually make breakfast in the timeshare kitchen. I never pay for a park breakfast.
From rick stevens on July 17, 2009 at 9:52 AM
I voted for hotel, but it depends on the situation. If I am staying at a hotel I will eat there. If coming from home, either at home or in the car. I get to the park early to hit the rides, not eat breakfast. If I happen to be going to the park on multiple days, I will eat breakfast in the park on one of the days. Character breakfasts are great for the kids.
From 67.83.35.16 on July 17, 2009 at 10:10 AM
Bagels on the way to the park. They are light enough that they wont upset your stomach while on the rides, but satisfying enough that they will give you enough energy until lunch time.
From 71.130.131.142 on July 17, 2009 at 11:16 AM
I live in Los Angeles so I typically eat at home when going to Disneyland, but if I do get there early, I'll go to La Brea Bakery or the River Belle, for old time's sake. That being said, I've only been once to the River Belle in the past 5 or so years, and I visit Disneyland at least once a month.
From Emily G on July 17, 2009 at 2:03 PM
I would always if I have chance eat at the hotel/at home depending where I am. I can't cope being awake too long without eating and doubt I could resist the temptation of heading straight to the rides.
From 74.163.130.30 on July 17, 2009 at 2:22 PM
We usually stay off property and at a hotel that offers a free breakfast....saves a fortune for a family on a 1-2 week vacation ($25 to $40 a day if you don't get free breakfast, thats about $250+ per week we can spend elsewhere on vacation)
From James Koehl on July 17, 2009 at 4:41 PM
We live close enough to CP to eat at home before we head to the park, but we have tried Donut Time and always loved their pastries, cookies, etc. We often get some to eat on the way home. The restaurants in the Breakers Hotel are also great for bigger breakfasts.
From William LeMasurier on July 17, 2009 at 8:22 PM
Over the past few years we've been fortunate to always book our Disneyworld trips that have been offered with the Free Disney Dining plan as part of the package.

When under this plan, it's best to use just a snack for just a quick grab and go breakfast, as a full counter service meal plus your table service meal later on in the day is PLENTY of food for an average or ABOVE average adult.

Disneyland trips I would suggest choosing trusted breakfast places (Denny's, IHOP, or Carrow's)...but if you have a rental car, I would suggest skipping those restaurants that literally border the Disneyland grounds...not only are these ones extremely busy because of the massive number of motels and hotels that share they same streets but the prices are often a bit more inflated due to the proximity to the Disneyland resort (just like Niagara Falls Ontario...add at least $2 per entree more than the same menu at the same franchise a couple of miles down the road)

From Mark Kausch on July 18, 2009 at 2:11 AM
My favorite breakfast is no more for several reasons; not the least is that Disneyland's Sunkist House restaurant/cafe is no more. We used to go to that counter service restaurant for OJ for my wife and coffee for me and - yeah, I guess this is weird - tuna sandwiches for eats. At least, that's what I had. I don't really remember what she had. Obviously, because it was before my cup of coffee.
From Mark Hollamon on July 18, 2009 at 5:43 AM
Since we have passes to all Orlando attractions, we usually eat breakfast at home and make it a light one, especially if we are going to do coasters.

There are several great places to eat breakfast at the parks including Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary, Boma at AK, the Crystal Palace at MK, HRH and one cannot forget the Sunday Gospel Brunch at HOB! If we are just going out for breakfast we will usually hit one of these.

From Rod Whitenack on July 18, 2009 at 11:10 AM
The only breakfast item I regret sampling is the Green Eggs and Hamwich in the Dr. Seus area in Universal's Islands of Adventure. I was never hungry when I was in the area, but I always wanted to get one just to tell people I had (and LIKED) Green Eggs and Ham.
From Judd Hall on July 18, 2009 at 11:37 AM
We've got it worked down to a pretty good routine in Orlando. We always stay at Champions World Resort and go to Bob Evans for breakfast. Load up on breakfast so we can save the cash that we'd usually spend eating in the parks. Plus it's a nice meal from back home.
From 192.195.66.47 on July 22, 2009 at 9:31 AM
Always off-site for me, as I like a little peace, quiet and solace before I hit a theme park. No offense to the screaming brat contingent or group of rowdy teens, but I like the most important meal of the day to myself and my spouse

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