In my last article “And to all a good bite,” we discussed the importance of advance carb-loading for endurance athletes and looked at on-site dining options for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. With Disneyland's Tinker Bell Half Marathon just around the corner (and the Disneyland Half Marathon/10K Dumbo Double Dare weekend announced for September 2013), it’s a perfect opportunity to take a look at carb-loading options in the Disneyland area. You may be surprised to learn that the West Coast park has several great options available, including a few that were even a surprise to this seasoned annual passholder. Let's look at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, as well as the Downtown Disney area if park admission isn’t on your agenda or you are looking for a nearby dining experience that doesn't require park admission.
Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have breakfast options that range from full character breakfasts to grab-and-go options. If you’re looking for character breakfast buffets, consider Plaza Inn in Disneyland with Mickey Mouse and Friends or Ariel’s Grotto in DCA for a true "Disney princess" experience. Reservations are advised, especially for busy event weekends.
If a sit-down restaurant experience sans characters is more to your liking, consider either the Carnation Café on Main Street in Disneyland with their signature Mickey Mouse waffles or the River Belle Terrace. A favorite of Walt Disney, this eatery is located on the borders of Adventureland and Frontierland and is known for its Mickey Mouse pancakes. If you’re over in DCA taking an early morning ride on Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land, stop by Flo’s V8 Café for a plate of its sure-to-become-famous French toast.
Of course, if you’re looking for a grab-and-go breakfast option, don’t forget pastries at Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Café (the in-park Starbucks venue) in DCA, the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street in Disneyland, or La Brea Bakery Café and Jamba Juice located in Downtown Disney. For those taking part in the Disneyland run events, both La Brea Bakery Café and Jamba Juice open earlier on event mornings for a quick bite before you head to the starting line.
Those seeking lunch or dinner carb-loading options will find a wonderful variety of restaurants and quick service options in and around the Disneyland/DCA area.
While I personally live for the fried chicken at Plaza Inn, it’s not exactly high in carbs for runners (fat yes, carbs no). Instead, consider enjoying one of the restaurant's pasta options. If you’re in Tomorrowland, check out Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port—it features not only pizza but pasta, as well. Over in DCA, Ariel’s Grotto offers a character dining experience and pasta for lunch or dinner. You can also wander out to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (formerly the home of Pizza Oom Mow Mow and McDonald’s) for a meal under a stunning canopy of popcorn lights and old-time ambiance.
If you’re having too much fun on the attractions to slow down for a sit-down meal, consider stopping by either the Lucky Fortune Cookery for an Asian rice bowl or the Pacific Wharf Café for a Boudin sourdough bread bowl of soup or chili. I’ll even let you in on a little known secret: Those heavenly sourdough bowls are also put to good use at breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit on the side—something to consider perhaps for after the half-marathon.
In Downtown Disney, pasta rules with sit-down options available at Catal Restaurant and Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria. If time is of the essence, consider "running by" Napolini, Downtown Disney’s own gourmet Italian deli for pasta to go.
Sometimes you just need a quick carb to top off the tank. If warm, chewy pretzels are calling you, drop by the Refreshment Corner on Main Street in Disneyland (as an added bonus, the pretzels are Mickey Mouse-shaped), Bayside Brews in DCA, or Jamba Juice in Downtown Disney. Personally, I’m a big fan of baked potatoes (hold the sour cream) which you can find in Disneyland at the Troubadour Tavern in Fantasyland. And if your carb-cravings run more to fresh fruit, check out Fillmore’s Taste-In, located in Cars Land in DCA.
Start early and often
Remember, carb-loading for endurance events such as the Tinker Bell and Disneyland half-marathons should start at least three days in advance to better prepare your body for going 13.1 miles. Fortunately, for those of us staying near the parks, the Disneyland area has a variety of on-site and near on-site options to choose from. If you have any favorites that I didn't list here, share them with everyone in the Comments section. I plan to be at both Tinker Bell and Disneyland half-marathons—see you there!