Posts Tagged by dining

Dining During Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Nutrition can be one of the most difficult things to manage when you are traveling away from home for a race, or if you are Dopey, races.  This is especially true when you are surrounded by all of the goodies at Walt Disney World.  Joe (you might remember him from his Coast to Coast coverage last year!) is just back from WDW Marathon Weekend and is here to share his tips for dining during a runDisney race weekend!

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When traveling away for a race weekend, runners of all abilities will tell you that any race you run should be no different than your training runs at home.  That goes for shoes, clothing, fuel, and of course food.  So when the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend came upon us, as a runner who was participating in the Dopey Challenge, nutrition and eating while down at Walt Disney World is just as important as making sure that you have the right shoes with you.

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I arrived down in the World on Tuesday before marathon weekend began.  With all of the running that was ahead of me, especially coming from a cold weather climate, hydration was going to be key.  I was staying at Port Orleans French Quarter so having access to a kitchen to make my own meals was not available. However, having a fridge in the room was a big positive. I made sure during the week that I stayed hydrated all the time. In order to accomplish this, I would drink plenty of water and save and reuse the bottles I purchased from the Port Orleans food court.  (WDW allows you free water fills at their food courts and also water fountains throughout the park.)  **This is a GREAT money saving tip!!**

As for eating properly, when running 4 events over 4 days, you have to watch what you are putting in your body days before your events are to commence.  So, I stayed away from salads and other fried foods/burgers that tend to be found all over Walt Disney World and went with healthier options.  Our food court at POFQ had many healthy options for breakfast to include egg whites, fresh fruit and bananas, bagels, etc. I would usually eat these after the races were completed .

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After waking up early, competing, and eating breakfast afterwards, I was not a big fan of lunch as I did not want to feel like I had to eat just for the sake of eating.  But if I did get hungry while walking around the parks in the afternoon, I could grab a lite snack. Like their options in the food courts, Disney has gotten much better over the years with offering much healthier options throughout the theme parks. I would refill my water bottle in one of the water fountains, and grab a banana or piece of fruit while touring the parks.

As for dinner, as someone who does not like to eat before a race in the morning, dinner was going to be the most important meals for me while down for Marathon Weekend.  If I was staying in a DVC or off property, it would be easy to just head to Publix and buy some pasta from the grocery store for my dinner.  However, since this was not an option, ADR reservations would be extremely important as thousands of runners would have similar ideas as me for places to eat before the races. (Italian Restaurants are obviously the most popular). The restaurants that we chose to eat at were Via Napoli in Epcot, Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and the food court at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.  The reason why I chose these restaurants is because they all offered the one meal that I like to eat before a race, pasta.

I checked with numerous websites before I made my ADR reservations to make sure that they had the types of food that I would want to eat.  At Via Napoli, even though the majority of the food on the menu is Pizza, they do offer a spaghetti and veal meatballs option.  The spaghetti was typical spaghetti but the veal meatballs were a nice change of pace and offered some lean protein, which is always beneficial to runners.

At Trattoria al Forno, the menu was a little more fancy. After glancing at the menu, it took some going back and forth with the waiter but I was able to order some linguini with short rib.  Now at first, I wasn’t too sure about this since I thought that beef short rib was going to be too heavy.  However, the portion size was perfect and the flavor of the meat was amazing!  I would highly recommend this dish on a regular/non-running night and am definitely going to add this restaurant into our restaurant rotation for Disney World.  Also, there was plenty of bread to fulfill any lacking of carbohydrate fueling one might have had.

The Wave

At the Wave, the menu was somewhat limited. However, I decided to mix it up a little and have the free roaming chicken breast with plenty of bread on the side. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the portion size was proper, and it did not make me feel like I was loaded down with heavy food or feeling bloated.  I consume a lot of chicken breast while at home, so having chicken breast at the Wave with some bread fulfilled my carbohydrate and protein needs before the 10K race.

Finally, the last race night, we took it easy and had something at the Port Orleans Food court.   One of the stations at the food court was an Italian type station that had macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, meatballs, and pizza. Of course (as you can see a pattern here), I had the spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a nice quick meal that didn’t require an ADR and that we could eat at our convenience and head to bed early in preparations for the marathon day.

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I learned that it was important to make ADR reservations as soon as our 6 month window opened because most runners would flock to the Italian type restaurants of Walt Disney World.  My greatest fear would be to be searching for something to eat the night before the marathon and not be able to get served at a restaurant that served pasta or some type of Italian food.  I did witness this at Trattoria al Forno as we were leaving the restaurant, I witnessed a runner arguing with the hostess at the front of the restaurant about trying to obtain a to-go order of pasta.  This runner stated that he was a runner and just wanted a plate of pasta to go.  The hostess stated that they could not accommodate him because he didn’t have a reservation.  So, note to all runners out there, it appears that Disney won’t let you order to go meals at a restaurant if you do not have an ADR.

I know its hard to travel to a place that we all love and not consume Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, Dole Whips, citrus swirls, popcorn, and churros to name a few things.  But you have to remember, we all paid a lot of money for these races, took time off of work and our real lives to travel down here for them, and also trained for months and months to have the best possible experience.  It would be a shame to throw all of that hard work away by not fueling your body properly.  All it takes is some planning ahead, take note of what you would normally eat while at home, and apply it while you are on vacation.

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Finally, of course when you are done with your events, there is nothing wrong with having a nice big glass of beer and a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar! Because after all, you earned it!

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Joe Quattrocchi is from Riverdale, NJ and is a proud member of the Essex Running Club.  He has been visiting Walt Disney World for much of his life and has taken over 30 trips to the resort.  Having recently caught the runDisney bug, Joe is the running correspondent for the ResortLoop.com Podcast and has recently joined the Mickey Milers.  You can follow along with his racing adventures on Twitter and Instagram!

Race Weekend Dining at Disneyland Resort

Disneyland has some incredible dining options and choosing which ones are best while you are visiting for a race weekend can be a tough decision!!  You want to enjoy all that goodness, but you have to keep in mind the optimal nutrition for the races.  Now after the races are a whole different story…

Well I’m happy to say that Jenna is back today with a TON of tips and delicious food porn from her recent trip to Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.  If you are hungry, you have been warned!

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Whether you eat to optimize your running, or run so you can eat all the things, you’ll be able to find something great to eat on a race-cation to Disneyland. I took full advantage of the diverse choices available.

TangaroaTerraceSalad

While you’re at the Race Expo at Disneyland Hotel, why not stop over at Tangaroa Terrace for this beautiful salad? The Tangaroa Terrace Salad has mixed greens of lettuce, cabbage and kale, and is topped with pineapple, grape tomatoes and toasted macadamia nuts. It comes with crispy marinated tofu, but I opted for sautéed shrimp instead. It was extremely good and fresh tasting.

BreakfastOfChamps

The one big drawback of staying on property at Disneyland is that you are somewhat limited for early breakfast. I couldn’t find any information on whether Paradise Pier was going to have food for sale early on race days, so I packed a package of bagels and some single serve peanut butter packs for breakfast. That banana cost me $2 at the coffee/breakfast stand at Paradise Pier. All subsequent bananas were 2 for $1 from the 7-11 a half mile from Disneyland. The ART bus makes that trip a little shorter, but you’ll still have to walk a ways. I understand Von’s grocery store delivers!

CarnationCafeVanillaLatte

After an early morning running the 5K, I needed two things: caffeine and carbs! The Carnation Café on Disneyland’s Main Street met both needs admirably. I started with a lovely vanilla latte.

CarnationCafeAppleGranolaPancakes

Then I moved on to the apple-granola pancakes. The pancakes are light and fluffy and the apple and granola toppings are yummy! It comes with either hickory smoked bacon or chicken-apple sausages. I had the sausages and added a side of fresh fruit. They serve breakfast until 11:00. A later breakfast meant no lunch for me that day.

StageDoorCorndog

A corn dog and fries is probably not the healthiest choice for race-cation dining, but there’s no denying that it’s a tasty choice! Stage Door Café in Disneyland and Corn Dog Castle both sell hand-dipped corn dogs that are better than any corn dog you’ve had in the past, hands down. If you want to healthy it up a little bit, you can opt for apple slices instead of fries.

ParadiseGardenGrillBeefSkewer

For a far healthier choice in the same general area of Corn Dog Castle in DCA, one of the Mediterranean skewer platters at Paradise Garden Grill is excellent. You can select your choice of grilled steak, lemon-oregano chicken, spicy meatball, or grilled tofu and vegetables. You then choose either chili sauce, chimichurri sauce, or tzatziki. All platters come with rice pilaf, cucumber salad and pita. I chose the grilled steak with chimichurri sauce. The steak was well-marinated, tender and tasty. The whole platter was delicious and I would definitely recommend Paradise Garden Grill for someone looking for a good counter service meal in DCA.

ParadiseGardenGrillBand

As a bonus, Paradise Garden Grill has lots of comfortable outdoor seating and a bandstand for entertainment. I just happened to sit down when the Ellis Island Boys jazz band was playing. It was a great way to enjoy a meal!

RiverBelleTerraceRoastTurkey

If you’re in the mood for a homey, filling counter service meal in Disneyland, I recommend the River Belle Terrace. I had tender roast turkey and gravy, roasted potatoes and succotash with a buttermilk biscuit and a side of cranberry marmalade. They also have roast beef, fish, black bean cakes, as well as sandwiches and salads. Its close proximity to the Rivers of America make it a great choice for a quick meal before staking out a spot for Fantasmic.

WineCountryTrat_Bruschetta

If you haven’t opted for the Pasta in the Park party the night before the half marathon, but you want to carb load, Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure is an excellent choice. We were seated a few tables over from runDisney hero Sean Astin, which confirms my opinion. We started with the rustic bruschetta with roasted artichokes, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions. There were four pieces of bruschetta (two of our party were a little quick to grab theirs, so the picture is missing a little something), which turned out to be the perfect portion to share.

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All three of us chose the campanelle Bolognese as our entrée. The servings are quite large (I only ate about half of mine) and the sauce and pasta are excellent. The “pasta your way” at Wine Country Trattoria comes with three pasta choices (campanelle, spaghetti or tagliatelle) and five different choices for sauce.

When you’ve finished your race or races, you will naturally want to celebrate! Luckily, Disneyland offers a lot of different choices for a celebratory meal or drink! I chose to celebrate the 5K and the Half Marathon three different times, just because I’m like that!

MendocinoTerraceSparkling

Immediately after recovering from the half, I texted my friends “I need champagne.” They didn’t need to confirm. We knew where we were going. Mendocino Terrace in California Adventure is next to Wine Country Trattoria and offers a lot of different red, white and sparkling wines, as well as beer and soda. I started with a sparkling flight poured by friendly and knowledgeable sommelier, John. Flights are not listed on the regular menu, so you do have to ask if you want that option, and because they use glass glasses instead of plastic, you do need to stand at the bar while tasting. It soon became apparent that the St. Hilaire was my favorite, so my friends and I had an additional flute or two while enjoying the afternoon parade from the terrace.

MendocinoTerraceCheeseBox

I also got the cheese box which had an assortment of cheeses (including a fantastic bleu)), grapes, candied walnuts and a couple of packets of grissini breadsticks.

ArielsGrottoView

But how would you like to have dinner with a view like that, knowing that you’d have an equally great view of World of Color later? We had our post-race dinner at Ariel’s Grotto for the World of Color package. It’s a fixed price meal, and you really can’t beat the view down on the lower terrace.

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ArielsGrottoSuperfruitSangriaRed

Upon being seated, we had beautiful bread and the superfruit sangria that’s available at nearly every Disney lounge. I’ve even had that sangria at Disney’s Vero Beach resort!

ArielsGrottoButternutSquashSoup

The meal starts with a choice of two soups: butternut squash and crab chowder; or a house salad. I got the delicious butternut squash soup and my friends had the crab chowder, which they said was excellent. The serving size is exactly right for a three course dinner.

ArielsGrottoBBQTriTip

There are a number of different entrees on the dinner menu, but I didn’t stray too far into the exotic. I had the red oak smoked honey-whiskey barbecue tri tip. It came with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the sauce and the beef was cooked exactly the way I like it. My friends had the tri-tip with the addition of a grilled lobster tail.

ArielsGrottoDDessertTrio

Dessert at Ariel’s Grotto is a trio of petite desserts: a chocolate covered strawberry, s’mores cake, and crème brulee. All were delicious and right-sized.

The dinner package includes preferred viewing for the California Adventure night time show, World of Color. The viewing area is not the innermost “wet zone” ring around the lagoon, but is just inside that ring. I got thoroughly misted by the show, but had a fairly unobstructed view. I had a FastPass for World of Color the previous year and would have to say that this viewing area is better and less crowded.

FantasmicDessertView

If a view like this and a chance to celebrate while sitting and enjoying decadent desserts is more your celebration style, I can’t recommend the Fantasmic! Dessert Party enough. It’s a little pricey, but definitely worth it if you don’t want to stake out a spot hours in advance to stand up for the duration of Fantasmic with what might still end up being an obstructed view. I was lucky enough to have a front-row center seat for the show. And besides that: dessert!

FantasmicDessertBox

When you’re seated for Fantasmic, a server takes your drink order. Coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, soda and water are all available. I had hot chocolate and water. Then your server brings you a large box filled with tasty treats. This included flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, a coconut macaroon, a lemon tart, and a huge, raspberry-filled cookie. The box also contains a bunch of red grapes, five pieces of individually wrapped cheeses, two packs of crackers and two truffles. The box’s size and shape makes it a neat lap top table/container and makes it easy to carry leftovers out of the park. I was only able to eat some of the desserts, and took the rest, all of the cheese, crackers, and truffle back to my room to enjoy later.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating my way around Disneyland and I think it’s clear where my running/eating motivation lies. What are your favorite Disney foods to eat on race-cations?

Countdown to Disneyland: A Newbie’s Point-of-View

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Well the countdown is officially underway!  In six weeks from today I will be arriving in Disneyland for the very first time!  I am both excited and a little over whelmed.  As a Walt Disney World veteran who knows the the entire 42 square miles of Disney property like the back of my hand, I’m actually overwhelmed by this much smaller resort…go figure!

Disneyland is like the motherland for Disney fans everywhere.  It’s the Happiest Place on Earth.  It’s Walt’s park.  I want to see and do EVERYTHING!  But where do I begin?  What do I do?  Most importantly, where do I eat???  Not only do I have these things to worry about, but I will be running in the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge while I’m there!

So I’ve come up with a list of a few MUST DOs while in Disneyland and I’ll be going into everything in a little more detail over the next six weeks as I countdown to my trip…so exciting!

MUST DO DISNEYLAND

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (squeeeeeeee!!!)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • Storybookland Canal Boats
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

MUST DO DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue
  • Aladdin Musical
  • California Screamin’
  • Radiator Springs Racers

MUST DO DINING

  • Blue Bayou
  • Carthay Circle Restaurant
  • Napa Rose
  • Trader Sam’s
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe

Now my hope is to get to ALL the attractions, but these are the things that must happen or I will be inconsolably sad.  We will be there for 4 1/2 days, so I’m hoping this is possible and that I won’t be too exhausted before and after the races to get everything done.  And let’s not forget about those races!  I am beyond excited to run a brand new course through 2 parks, the city of Anaheim and Angel’s Stadium.  I’ve heard the half marathon is flat and fast and I can’t wait to take that on!

As I mentioned, I’m going to be diving into each one of things in more detail over the next few weeks as I prep for my trip, but what I really need is YOUR help.  I want to hear what your Disneyland must dos are.  Are you a newbie with the same overwhelming excitement as I have?  

Oh and how fitting that I’m starting this series today…Disneyland’s 58th Birthday!!  Let the party begin! 🙂