My Top 5 Disney World Breakfast Buffets

I could never imagine starting my day out without breakfast.  Sure, it’s usually coffee and an egg or something equally inelegant, but the way I see it, if I’m getting out of bed, there had better food involved.

I also love going out to breakfast; that’s a real treat! You can have so many things that are too much of a hassle to make yourself, like waffles and fancy omelets and croissants (do these even exist outside of restaurants?).  My only problem with going out to breakfast is deciding between pancakes and something that comes with toast and potatoes because if I’m being honest, I want all of it. I usually end up leaving full, but feeling somewhat deprived at the same time.

That’s where that magnificent thing called the breakfast buffet comes into play, and Disney sure knows how to do it right.  The beauty is that there are SO many different locations that offer breakfast buffets and no two are alike.

Here I have compiled a list of my top 5 breakfast buffets at Disney World;

#5:  Tusker House – Animal Kingdom (Character Dining)

I love doing breakfast here when we go to the Animal Kingdom; it’s nice to eat and then get right out to the park. (I would recommend not making a fast pass selection for Expedition: Everest first thing though!) IMG_0954

The food options are pretty extensive and I really like how they offer the usual fare (MICKEY WAFFLES!!!) right next to some more adventurous selections that you might not see at your typical breakfast buffet.

The theme is that of an African market and there are a few African-inspired dishes to try; if you’re not feeling especially adventurous first thing in the morning that’s ok too because there’s the usual, run-of-the mill offerings as well such as bacon and eggs.  My personal favorite dish from this location is the cornbread-topped corned beef hash casserole; I would definitely IMG_0944recommend trying it if hash is your thing. Also, they have that amazing orange-guava-passion fruit juice that you can only find at some of the Disney restaurants. We don’t typically drink juice, but this stuff is so addictive that our breakfast reservations are often made to include as many places that offer the juice as possible.

My only issue with Tusker House is that it feels a little cramped and dark for my taste.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the atmosphere is unpleasant, but I feel like it could be a little roomier too.  It’s something that I’m willing to let slide, especially because they are really good about making sure that your coffee and juice stay full at all times!

#4:  Boma – The Animal Kingdom Lodge

Even if you aren’t staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this is a definitely must-try.  The BOMAEofferings are similar to what is available at the Tusker House, and yes, they have the juice!  I first tried Bobotie here, which is something like a ground-beef quiche, and it is de-LICIOUS! And of course, you still have your waffles…only they are not Mickey waffles, but Simba waffles.  Don’t worry, they are just as excellent.

What’s even better is that they offer real Kenyan coffee in a press instead of that coffee-like stuff you get everywhere else.  That in itself almost makes it worth the visit! I’ve only seen fresh-pressed coffee in one other location thus far, and that was at Las Ventanas at the Coronado Springs resort.  It is rumored that Kona Café also offers the French-press, but I haven’t made it there just yet to confirm.

The restaurant itself is beautiful; it’s very open and airy with African inspired décor and furnishings.  As an added bonus, you get to sneak a peek into the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge!

#3. Chef Mickey’s – The Contemporary Resort (Character Dining)

We just tried this place for the very first time last year, and honestly I have no idea what took us so long!IMG_4554

The restaurant is in The Contemporary Resort, located right next to the Magic Kingdom; you can take the monorail from MK and if you have an early morning reservation and the monorail isn’t running just yet, don’t sweat it – it’s a quick walk across the street.

What really makes this location fun, besides the bright and modern décor, is that you get to watch the monorail pass through the hotel while you eat.

The food selection is typical American fare, and one of my favorite offerings here is the blintz with cherry topping.  I seriously dream of these weekly.  I’ve seen them in the grocery store, but I know they just won’t be the same; everything in Disney just tastes 10 times better.IMG_4552

Also, it seems like the character rotation was really well orchestrated at Chef Mickey’s; maybe it’s just how things happened to work out during our visit, but I felt like they got the characters to our table one right after the other, which I really appreciated.  That way, I was free to go back for more blintzes as many times as I pleased without worrying about missing the photo op with Chef Mickey!

#2.  Cape May Café – The Beach Club Resort (Character Dining)

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I have done breakfast here several times and it has never disappointed.  First of all, the dining room is absolutely gorgeous; it is designed to look like a New England beach club and it is extremely bright, colorful and cheery.  It certainly has an upscale atmosphere without being stuffy or uninviting.

This place holds a special place in my heart because this is where I first tried the Mickey waffle. I don’t know what they put in them, but there is something about a Mickey waffle that is unlike any other waffle in the world.  I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s a pinch of Disney magic.

Aside from the waffles, I think Cape May Café has my favorite assortment of breakfast foods; delicious frittatas, an extensive bakery section and smoked meats and cheeses, as well as the usual eggs, bacon and the like.  I can satisfy every kind of breakfasty craving possible in this one spot.IMG_2154

When you’re done with breakfast, it’s definitely worth taking a stroll around the grounds before heading to your next destination.  If you happen to be going to Epcot, you can take the ferry to the main gate, or you can take a leisurely stroll to the sneaky back entrance in the center of the World Showcase, which will take you about 10 minutes. We have actually found that this is faster than waiting for the ferry, but if you’re not in a rush it’s certainly a nice boat ride to the main gate.

#1.  O’Hana – The Polynesian Resort (Character Dining)

This feels like kind of a cheat to put this one in the number one spot because it’s not actually a buffet.  Even so, I’m going ahead with it because the breakfast is served family-style, it’s all you can eat, and you get so many items with your meal it almost covers what would be available on a buffet line.img_4363

If you have a table service breakfast anywhere during your stay, you have GOT to do the O’Hana breakfast at least once.  This is always the meal that I reserve first because there is NO way I’m not going to have my pineapple bread!!!

As I mentioned, the meal is served family style, and you start off with two huge pieces of bread; one is pineapple and the other is a glazed raisin bread.  Then you get a platter of fruit such as pineapple, raspberries and melon.  By now, I’m usually starting to get a little full, and that’s when they bring out the giant platter filled with scrambled eggs, breakfast potato wedges, bacon, Mickey and Stitch waffles, biscuits and the best breakfast sausage you will eveIMG_1230r eat!  Plus, they have that amazing juice that I apparently can’t seem to stop talking about.

The dangerous part is that they will keep giving you more of whatever you want; fortunately, they break things up a little with the character visits (yes, Lilo and Stitch appear in this rotation!) and a congo line that keeps the server from getting to your table just long enough to really think about whether you want a couple more waffles, which, inevitably, you do.

Do you agree with this list, or is there another breakfast buffet that you simply cannot miss when you are in Disney World?  If so, leave a comment below and tell me all about it- maybe I’ll have to give it a shot during my next visit!

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Why I Will ALWAYS Choose a Disney Hotel for my Disney World Vacation

One of my favorite parts about planning a vacation is researching hotels.  Of course, this can be a real crap-shoot, especially if you’re visiting a place that you are not familiar with. Sometimes, no matter how carefully you select a hotel, the fantasy just doesn’t match up with the reality, which can certainly put a damper on any vacation.

This is why I will always choose to stay at a Disney hotel when I go to Walt Disney World.

Disclaimer:  I do not work for Disney and I am not being paid to plug their hotels.  That would be pretty sweet though…can I have that job? Pretty please?

I know that most families are looking for the most economical way to do Disney World and one of the questions that always pops up is the question of whether to stay on Disney property or elsewhere.  To me, the answer 100% of the time is always to stay on Disney property, hands down, no two ways about it.

I say this having stayed at a non-Disney property for a vacation a few years ago. Of course, we were doing more of a “Taste of Orlando” type trip where we visited several theme parks and not just Disney. Our hotel was more in the Universal/Sea World vicinity, and while this was probably the best option for what we were doing, I can easily say that the biggest issue that we had was getting to Disney World.

The good news is that there are several transportation options available, the first of course being a rental vehicle.  However, this can get a little pricey once you add up the hotel parking costs (our hotel charged $15 per day), the park’s parking costs which are between $20 and $35, plus the daily cost of renting the car which can fluctuate between $20 and $150, depending on who you rent from and what you rent. Plus, you get the joy of driving in Orlando traffic while trying to find your way to Disney.  If that doesn’t say rest and relaxation, I don’t know what does!

You also have the option of taking a Lynx bus, which is Orlando’s public transportation system . This is probably the cheapest way to go if you are staying outside of Disney, as you can purchase an all-day pass for $2.25 per day and with some research and planning, you can find a stop in the general area of most hotels.  But please remember, this system was designed for Orlando residents and not visitors, so their top priority is not getting you to Disney World as quickly as possible. In fact, it took about 45 minutes for us to get to the Disney Ticket and Transportation Center from where we were staying – about 7 miles away.  That was precious time that could have been spent riding Splash Mountain, dammit!

Then there is the taxi option, but I would use this one sparingly as this can get pretty expensive, depending on where your hotel is located. Our one-way fare was around $30, not including tip.  Hey, weren’t you trying to save money on this vacation?  If you do have to take a taxi, choose Mears; they are professional and friendly and come highly recommended by locals.

So, now you’ve gotten your transportation taken care of, what about food? The good news is that there are a LOT of great restaurants in Orlando that are very reasonably priced.  If you plan on dining in the parks however, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.

One thing you should know is that if you plan on staying outside of Disney World, you can NOT get a Disney dining plan.  This might not be too devastating if you only plan on having one counter-service meal in the parks per day, but if you want to eat all of your meals in the parks, the Disney dining plan offers a better value, especially if you plan on getting in on some character dining. And trust me. If you have little ones, you do want to do at least a few character dining experiences.  These meals are typically buffets and cost between $35 (breakfast) and $60 (dinner) per adult, if not more.

Ugh. So much to consider. Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing and having fun with your family?

Staying at a Disney resort truly lets you enjoy your vacation by making everything as seamless and convenient as possible, and that’s why I like it so much.

Transportation is included with any Disney vacation package- for free!  They offer the Magical Express that takes care of getting you to and from the airport; all you have to do is check off a box when you make your vacation reservation.  Disney also offers free transportation for getting from your hotel to the theme parks, as well as other hotels (this requires a bit of strategy though, but that deserves a separate post unto itself!).

I also never worry about whether I’m making a bad choice when I’m going with a Disney hotel, because there ARE no bad Disney hotels.  I’ve tried both the Value level resorts and the Moderate level resorts, and they are all maintained as impeccably as their highest level Deluxe resorts.

Then there’s the dining plan.  I LOVE the dining plan, because it gives us the chance to experience some of the Disney restaurants that we might not otherwise be able to if we were paying for it out of pocket.  Plus, I appreciate the convenience of not having to budget for dining; it’s already taken care of and all I have to worry about is tipping for our table service meals. I usually choose the basic dining plan, which includes 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal and 2 snacks per day, per person.  For two people, it usually adds about $1,000 to the final cost of the vacation, which might sound like a lot but when you break it down, it comes out to roughly $84 per person per day for food.

Finally, Disney also offers a lot of extras at each of their resorts such nightly screenings of Disney movies “under the stars”, child care, free parking and recreational activities not offered elsewhere.

To me, choosing a Disney package is a no-brainer; I literally do not have to think about anything from the moment we check in to the moment we check out. Sure, I might save a few bucks staying outside of Disney World, but at the cost of enjoying my vacation.  That is why I will ALWAYS choose to go with a Disney vacation package for my Disney World vacation;  I get to focus on what really matters, and that is spending quality time with my daughter while forgetting the stresses of life for a little while, and that is priceless.

All Because… (or, Why I LOVE Disney World)

I never went to Disney as a kid (cue the violins); I heard other kids talking about it in elementary school but I knew it wasn’t an option for my family so I never really got excited about it. Then, one year when my brother and I were in high school, my parents gave us the option to either go to Disney World as a family, or go to our rented beach house – that we went to EVERY year – and bring a friend. Angsty teens that we were, we chose the beach house. Spend time as a family? No way. Besides, Disney was “lame” and “for kids”, and we were certainly not kids. Ugh… what fools we were. I still shake my fists in rage at teen me for that one.

img_1233Here it is – the first post!

This is kind of exciting for me, because I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a Disney blog for a year or so, if not longer.   The first post is always the hardest though…what should I write about? There are so many things to talk about, where do I even start? There is no way that I can even begin to cram all things Disney into one little post!

Gosh lady. Relax. Take a breath.

Anyway, I figured that this initial post might be a good place to tell you a little bit about why I’ve decided to write a blog about Disney in the first place. I touch on this a little in my “About” page, but here I’ll give you the full nitty-gritty of what put me on “Team Disney” for life.

I never went to Disney as a kid (cue the violins); I heard other kids talking about it in elementary school but I knew it wasn’t an option for my family so I never really got excited about it.  Then, one year when my brother and I were in high school, my parents gave us the option to either go to Disney World as a family, or go to our rented beach house – that we went to EVERY year – and bring a friend.  Angsty teens that we were, we chose the beach house.  Spend time as a family? No way. Besides, Disney was “lame” and “for kids”, and we were certainly not kids. Ugh… what fools we were. I still shake my fists in rage at teen me for that one.

Fast forward about a decade or so to 2005; I was in my mid-twenties, married and had a three year old daughter (I still have the daughter, by the way…she’s just much older now). It was that year that my mother-in-law decided to surprise us with an invitation to join her and her husband for an all-expense paid trip to Disney World.  Only, I felt kind of awkward thinking about spending a whole week with my in-laws, as we weren’t super close. So again, instead of being completely amped for this amazing gift that was being given, I went back into “Disney is lame” mode.  I had NO idea what was coming.

Ok, this is going to get a little cheesy and emotional here, so consider yourself warned.

I went into the trip thinking that we were going to an amusement park for a week.  What I experienced from the moment I stepped onto Disney property was a place that was truly – I’m just going to say it – magical.  The attention to detail that went into everything from the food to the rooms to the rides and attractions transformed this place into a living, breathing story book and as silly as it sounds, for that whole week, I was a kid again. A kid who had to swipe napkins from every food stall because her tears of wonder were causing her mascara to run into her eyes.

I have returned several times since, and I have to say that I still feel that way each time.  I have learned to pack waterproof mascara though.

Ok, so why the blog?

Let me ask you this.  Have you been to Disney World? Are you thinking about going but want to know more first? Have you been several times but you just enjoy reading about it because it brings back happy memories? Are you wondering if you should try that restaurant or stay at that hotel? Do you hate everything Disney and you are just trying to figure out what the hype is all about?

Well, there’s your answer!

Happy reading. 🙂