Is Breakfast Better at Your Disney Resort or in a Theme Park?

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[A note from Len: We’re trying a set of new dining reviews this week.  Below is an article on the merits of breakfast at your Disney resort or in a theme park.  We’d love to hear your comments on the article, including its style, length and content, as well as any breakfast tips you’ve learned over the years.  Post these suggestions and comments below.  Thanks!]

Breakfast in a theme park, or at a resort? Disney characters, or no characters? We tried two – both buffets with very different approaches to the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast at Tusker House

If you want Disney characters and a twist on your ordinary breakfast, this is the place. Donald’s Safari Breakfast gives you a good head start at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (book your breakfast for 8 a.m. to beat the crowds);  photos with Disney characters, and plenty of choices for picky eaters. But you can also try something new, like mealie pap or yam casserole.

Atmosphere:  Somewhat austere, with concrete floors and wooden chairs that make it a little cold (design is supposed to look like a South African schoolhouse). Buffet is spread out and easy to navigate with several stations in an open-air, market-style room with high ceilings. You can see (and smell) roasting chickens for lunch and dinner. Chefs keep a close watch on the buffet, replenishing often.

Why kids love it: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy. Lots of sweets, including donuts, on the buffet.  Mickey Mouse waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon on a kid-height buffet. Nothing too challenging.

Why grown-ups love it:  The breakfast buffet has about 80 items. While picky eaters can fill up on cereal, bacon and eggs, more adventurous eaters can try bobotie (spiced meat and egg pie), fruit chutneys, yam casserole. Also delicious carved ham. Dietary restrictions are easy to accommodate – just ask for a chef and the kitchen is well prepared to handle any allergy, even if you just prefer soy milk for your cereal. Ask.   And it beats waiting in line in the park for photos with Mickey Mouse.

What we recommend:  Chocolate mango bread, mealie cornbread, scrambled eggs with chutney, roasted potatoes with chili spice, plantains.  And plenty of hot coffee.

To sum it up: A good location close to Kilimanjaro Safaris. You can book breakfast an hour before park opening, so you can dine and dash to Kilimanjaro Safaris (or have someone grab FastPass while you’re eating breakfast).  $23, 10 and older; $13, ages 3 to 9.  Not our favorite Disney buffet, but the location, characters and interesting  tastes make it worthy if you’re starting your day at DAK.


Breakfast at The Wave

If you want to avoid Disney characters and rowdy kids, opt instead for a delicious breakfast at The Wave…of American Flavors at the Contemporary .  There’s  a menu if you want to sit still and be waited on, but we prefer the buffet, a new addition that you can’t even see it unless you peek around a wall at the back.

Atmosphere:  Quiet.  Really quiet. Conversation-for-two quiet.  A great place for a business meeting (you’ll see plenty of Disney execs here). Service is efficient and friendly, and there’s often someone from the kitchen tending the spotless buffet.   Wood tables, nice linens, always a full cup of coffee.

Why kids love it: So the kids may not love this as much as grown-ups – but there’s plenty on the buffet for little ones. Fresh fruit (we love the peeled slices of oranges and fresh strawberries), cold cereals, hot oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, bagels with cream cheese, jams and jellies. And they bake all the iced Danish right there.   No characters, but solid fuel for the day.

Why grown-ups love it:  Most everything on the menu is on the buffet except for specialty drinks. Go on calorie overload with eggs Benedict, biscuits and sausage gravy, pancakes, grits with bacon and cheddar cheese, bread pudding … or be healthful with multigrain waffles, turkey sausage, oatmeal, fresh Florida fruit, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, smoked salmon, housemade granola.  That’s the best part about a buffet: you can have a little taste of everything.

What we recommend:  We love the yin and yang of pairing gooey bread pudding with stringent yogurt, fruit and granola, or creamy grits with a boiled egg. The bread pudding is divine, ditto for the sausage gravy. And we can make a meal of the smoked salmon with capers, red onion and tomatoes.  The buffet mix-and-match is almost endless.

To sum it up:  If you don’t see something you want, just ask – the kitchen is happy to accommodate. We love this breakfast. Quiet, well-run dining room, delicious and filling food, it’s a great way to start the day. $18.50, $11 ages 3 to 9.

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