Round up: Top theme park restaurants

Posted Sunday, July 7, 2013 8:33 PM | Contributed by Jeff

What makes for good amusement park fare might be subjective, but we've ranked our list based on variety of offerings, value, quality of food, and reflection of the park and/or associated ride's theme.

Read more from USA Today.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:00 AM

For the record, while we were on the topic of restaurants, I was just wondering your opinion of RHoFG for when I visit KI again this year, whether or not it was the must-eat-at place that some KI fan boys have been making it out to be on another forum. Sounds pretty average for a park by your report...which is more what I was expecting.

And yes, I totally agree with your and Mac's time=money argument when talking about eating out of the park. But, how valuable time is inside a park for an individual is going to vary greatly. For example, a local Sandusky father with 5 kids visiting CP for the 40th time in the season might be able to score a significantly cheaper sub or pizza meal at a local shop vs buying CP Subway or CP Pizza, including the value of their time lost in the park.

So, I say the value of eating out of the park and whether or not it's cheaper completely depends on the individual's situation and priorities. I do agree that there has been some neutralizing in regards to in-park / out-of-park pricing on some products, but can you really compare the prices when they are not the exact same product? If you can, then one could grab an out-of-park large pizza for $5 at Little Caesars, or one in-park for $25...an out-of-park sub for $5, or one in-park for $15...etc.

Last edited by Jeph, Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:14 AM
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:08 AM

You also lose your good parking space...

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:29 AM

Boma is really good and the setting is awesome. It's almost impossible to get there if you aren't staying there. We had a nice bus driver drop us off on his way back to the garage.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:07 PM

I'm with Gonch here. When I go out to eat, which is quite regularly, I spend between $8 and $15, usually. When I am visiting an amusement park, a meal will cost me just about the same price. The exception is Red Lobster or Outback; places like that, which can run at least twice as much.

About quality, you just have to know where to eat at a particular park. That may take a little research, but it is worth it.

Besides that, I regularly eat at crappy places like McDonald's and Burger King, so I am used to poor quality. I actually have stopped eating at these place so much lately. I'm kind of tired of crappy food. Now I eat more at Steak n' Shake, Fazoli's, and the food court at my local mall.

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:08 PM
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:15 PM

Jeph said:

But, how valuable time is inside a park for an individual is going to vary greatly.

I find that the value of people's time varies in all situations. I happen to be of the belief that most people undervalue their time.

For example, a local Sandusky father with 5 kids visiting CP for the 40th time in the season might be able to score a significantly cheaper sub or pizza meal at a local shop vs buying CP Subway or CP Pizza, including the value of their time lost in the park.

So, I say the value of eating out of the park and whether or not it's cheaper completely depends on the individual's situation and priorities. I do agree that there has been some neutralizing in regards to in-park / out-of-park pricing on some products, but can you really compare the prices when they are not the exact same product? If you can, then one could grab an out-of-park large pizza for $5 at Little Caesars, or one in-park for $25...an out-of-park sub for $5, or one in-park for $15...etc.

Definitely. Everyone makes decisions. I can't help it if I'm the only one that makes the right decisions. ;)

But seriously, here's my take on your examples - I'd never buy a $25 pizza or a $15 sub in the first place. And I can't imagine the need for one being so great that the value to leave and seek one out is greater than the value in just finding more reasonably priced food.

I'm very low maintenance. The idea that someone would have to have a pizza (or whatever specific item) and also have to leave the park to find it as cheaply as possible sort of raises my blood pressure even to type as a hypothetical scenario. In my world, it's creating hassle for no reason.

Again, we all make our choice. But going back to the original point - on price alone, the parks aren't out of line...at the very least, not nearly on the level they were just a few years ago.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:47 PM

Boma is a good choice, but Jiko is a far superior meal to Boma in taste and atmosphere. With Disney continuing to raise their buffet prices, the price point is somewhat similar. Had a fantastic meal there on my Aunt's birthday last year.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is a hidden gem in Disney. I have always had a fantastic meal there and their Cobb Salad is best I have ever had. During the summer months, we typically head their for lunch for their amazing salad.

Notably missing is Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian. I believe it is the only 5 star restaurant in the Orlando Area. This place is truly Disney Dining at their finest, plan at least two to three hours. The wife and I keep thinking about trying the Chef's Table, but have yet to take the plunge.

During my last trip to Disneyland, I did try Carthay Circle and I was not a fan. The atmosphere was stunning, but the food left a lot to be desired. However I am shocked The Blue Bayou did not make the list. I have experienced a few meals there and found it to be top notch. My last visit there was for a business dinner and the client was blown away from the meal.

Mythos is great if you try one of the special dishes of the day. 99% of the time I order the risotto of the day and always found the flavor and presentation to be excellent. I have tried a few of their other menu options and they tend to be more of the standard theme park type food verse the special meals of the day.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:30 PM

Generally, when we go to theme park trips, we stay at 3-3.5 star hotels that have free hot breakfast. I just pig out there and just eat light snacks we sneaked in the park for the rest of the day.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:43 PM

At some point in life, 'eating out' went from spending a few dollars at fast food to spending $20+ at a decent sit down (hopefully non-chain most of the time) restaurant. Theme park food prices don't bother me, per se. I'm not paying $8 for a crappy burger anywhere.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:03 PM

I have been to many parks over the years, and unless I know there is a decent place to eat inside the park, I will eat before I arrive, and find a 24 hour place when I leave. There are quite a few 24 fast food joints around Cedar Point. The only problem with those is, they usually get packed after the park closes, with very little staff.

My brother and I wanted to have breakfast at Bob Evans, and when we got there, it seemed there were people sitting on the grass, and they had a loud speaker calling off names of people who were waiting for tables. I said hell with that, and every place we went was pretty much the same. We ended up finding a place called "Friendly's" And, we had a very nice breakfast there, before heading to Cedar Point.

Though, I will stop at any subway, Taco Bell or Burger King, if there is no wait. Went to a white castle once, and felt you got very little food for what you paid. I will have to scope the main drag on my way through, and see if there are any other decent places to eat. If not, I hear the midway market calling my name.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 8:42 PM

I'm curious. Why is Friendly's the only restaurant in your post that has quotes around it? Are you suggesting that it's not really named Friendly's? Or that it's not actually friendly?

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 9:10 PM

I can get friendly with a Fribble...

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:32 PM

(I always walk into a park with a pocket full of flavor packs (The kind you put in bottled water) I purchase ONE bottle of water, and refill it as necessary at the drinking fountain. I'll have a lite snack for lunch (Usually a plate of French Fries) and have dinner after I leave the park. Total tab for the day in the park? Less than $10.00. The one big exception is EPCOT, I'll $plurge at their restaurants.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:41 PM

Why don't you bring your own water bottle into the park? It works at Cedar Fair Parks.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:07 PM

Yeah, because then you could use it to steal free Coke. At least that's what SheiKraFiend taught us. Oh, wait....

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Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:10 PM

I wasn't implying to steal coke. It's different. You actually bought the water bottle at a different store. If you'd feel guilty bringing it in, you could bring an empty one and fill it up with drinking fountain water.

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Friday, July 12, 2013 12:20 AM

I sometimes bring my own water bottle in. It's not the kind you buy with water already in it. It's the kind they you buy empty and refill. Sometimes if I want the water to be really cold, I'll try to get a cup of ice.

Other times, I will buy a bottled water, either in the park or snuck in from the gas station. Those newer bottles that use less plastic can be crushed pretty easily and then popped back into shape, so when I am not using it, it takes up lass space than the older ones.

Bringing the flavor packet into a park with you is a pretty good idea, Regulus. I use them at work a lot. I really like the Crystal Light Naturally Flavored Cherry Pomegranate. I've been trying to stay away from artificial sweeteners lately though.

I'm going to go get some cool clear water right now, just like God made, but cleaner. Yummy!

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Friday, July 12, 2013 6:45 AM

If I am doing a day trip to a park I will typically bring a picnic lunch and buy a full dinner (if the park has good food, Ill buy it, no matter the price.) On longer trips I tend to do the "midday lupper" and evening snack.

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Friday, July 12, 2013 3:40 PM

Tyler Boes said:

I wasn't implying to steal coke. It's different. You actually bought the water bottle at a different store. If you'd feel guilty bringing it in, you could bring an empty one and fill it up with drinking fountain water.

Just so you know, throwing coins off of Diamondback, or fasely using the exit to act like you're disabled and then tweeting about it is just as frowned upon around here, Tyler.

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Friday, July 12, 2013 4:46 PM

I don't do any of those thuggish things.

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Friday, July 12, 2013 8:04 PM

Then why do you tweet about doing it? You're either a 'thug' or a liar.

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