Great Places to Carb Load for a Disney Race!

Alright, fellow runners! For those of you in Orlando this weekend for the Disney World marathon and half-marathon, it’s time to decide where those all-important pre-race carbs are going to be consumed!

Carb Loading Tips: Experts say the best carbs for increasing those super-important glycogen stores come from starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes. You should also have some protein alongside your carbs. Try to avoid sugary options, such as fruit and baked goods.

So let’s take a look at a few of our favorite carb-tastic treats!

Dinner Carb Loading

When planning for an early morning race, it’s at dinner the night before where you’ll truly pack your energy stores. And when it comes to starchy carbs, everyone knows the king of eats is pasta!

Epcot‘s Italy is THE place to find incredible dishes that will help you distribute your energy throughout the race.

My first pick? Definitely Via Napoli. This place has incredible pizza, but the pasta selection is fresh and delicious as well.

Be warned that the options here are baked and tend toward the heavier side, so you may want to make a few special orders to lighten them up a bit.

Candele from Via Napoli

Next door to Via Napoli you’ll find the more upscale Tutto Italia. You can’t go wrong with either location when carb-loading.

Magic Kingdom
If you find yourself in the Magic Kingdom the night before your big race, head over to Tony’s Town Square for a traditional dishes like their Chicken Parmigiana or Spaghetti with Meatballs.

Chicken Parmigiana from Tony

The Multigrain Pasta Primavera is a great dish on the lunch menu. If you’re there for dinner and this sounds good, explain the situation to the server; perhaps they’ll be able to make you some!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, check out the Little-Italy-Meets-Hollywood vibe at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano.

We were super impressed on our last visit here, when I ordered the guest favorite Penna a la Vodka. My tip? Get the cheese plate for an appetizer and add some cheese into your pasta. Awesome flavor booster!

Penne a la Vodka from Mama Melrose

Animal Kingdom
You’ll rarely find traditional Italian fare at Animal Kingdom, but if you’re looking for an interesting sit down option, Tusker House offers a great dinner buffet.

Tunisian Couscous Salad at Tusker House

In addition to protein-packed spit-roasted meats, you’ll also find a good assortment of rice, couscous, and orzo dishes that will easily fill your carb quotient.

Resort Dining
No park tickets? There are some spectacular options outside of the standard Disney park restaurants, too. At the Disney World Swan and Dolphin, try Il Mulino New York Trattoria for rustic, authentic Italian eats from the Abruzzi region. One of our favorite parts about this restaurant? They also serve half portions of their meals, so feel free to try two choices!

Half Order of Gnocchi at Il Mulino

Looking for a high-end, contemporary approach? Consider the delicious La Luce by Donna Scala at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, within the Disney World gates. The handmade pastas and house sauces here are out of this world!

And don’t forget to follow up with Butterscotch Pudding (yep, I’m totally serious).

Risotto del Giorno at La Luce

Carb-Tastic Snacks

Not in the mood for noodles? No problem. We’ve got a couple of other options you might be able to grab on the go!

If it’s a snack you’re after, check out the Liberty Square Market and one of our most favorite snacks: piping hot Baked Potatoes!

Baked Potato from Liberty Square Market

We’ve even spotted Baked Sweet Potatoes there as well, which would give you even more nutrition for your glycogen buck!

The Bradley Falls Kiosk in Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers some great options, including a Vegetarian Asian Noodle Salad full of fresh veggies and flavored with a sweet/spicy sauce.

Bradley Falls Noodle Salad

So what are your pre-race eats of choice? For those of you who are runners — or who are aspiring runners — chime in and let us know what your pick would be for Disney World carb-loading before your next big race!

runDisney Events Announced for 2012-2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, January 10-13, 2013, Walt Disney World
Tinker Bell Half Marathon, January 18-20, 2013, Disneyland Resort
Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend, February 22-24, 2012, Walt Disney World
Expedition Everest Challenge, May 4, 2013, Walt Disney World


  1. Christal says

    AJ this is a great list for the awesome WDW runs this weekend, but I wonder if you have or will have a list of places for Disneyland for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon next weekend?

  2. Morgan says

    Just a word of caution, a group of us ate at Via Napoli the night before the WDW Half last year and I had a bit of trouble special ordering. I asked for my pasta to be made without cheese since I don’t eat dairy before a race. After some communication issues, the manager came over and said it couldn’t be done. At that time there was only one option on the menu that didn’t contain dairy so I was kind of stuck. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I was pretty surprised that it couldn’t be done.

  3. says

    We usually head for Italy in Epcot — geez, I miss L’Originale Alfredo di Roma! But we’ve had great pre-race meals at both Tutto Italia and Via Napoli. We’ve also done Mama Melrose once, and I agree the penne alla vodka is so yummy.

    One place we’ve done that wasn’t on your list was Restaurant Marrakesh. The couscous dishes made for a great pre-race meal for us.

  4. Brooke says

    I love the baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes, as well as that incredible noodle salad! I’m so hungry now! :-)

  5. Jeff says

    You may also want to check out Pasta in the Park Party at Epcot. Here are the details!

    Start off your 2013 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend by joining us for the Pasta in the Park Party at Epcot®! This event is a great way to relax and be entertained before your big race. Space is limited, so make your plans to attend early. Guests that purchase tickets for one of the above dates for Pasta in the Park prior to December 1, 2012 will receive a commemorative Pasta in the Park Party ticket!


    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Buffet Dinner – 6:30pm – 8:30pm
    Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – 9:00pm
    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Buffet Dinner – 6:30pm – 8:30pm
    Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – 9:00pm
    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Buffet Dinner – 6:30pm – 8:30pm
    Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – 9:00pm

    Pasta in the Park Party Tickets

    $47.50 for Adults (ages 10 and up)
    $28.35 for Children (ages 3-9)
    NOTE: Tickets are not interchangeable by day; date purchased must be the date attended.

    The Pasta in the Park Party at the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend features:

    Buffet pasta dinner and dessert at the World ShowPlace Pavilion inside Epcot®
    Disney character appearances
    Live DJ
    Reserved viewing location of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show

    The Pasta in the Park Party menu includes:

    Mixed Greens with Lite Vinaigrette & Cucumber Yogurt Dressing
    Herb Balsamic Potato Salad
    Herb Roasted Chicken
    Bowtie Pasta with Grilled Vegetables and Basil Pesto
    Wheat Penne Pasta with Marinara Sauce
    Parmesan Cheese
    House-made Focaccia Bread with Butter
    Whole Bananas
    Chocolate Brownies
    Ice Water with Lemons and Limes, Lemonade and Fruit Punch
    Cash bar

    Tickets are not interchangeable by day; date purchased to attend must be date ticket is redeemed. Entry into Epcot® before 6:30 p.m. will require a Theme Park ticket. The above menu is subject to change without notice. All prices are listed before tax. All the above is subject to availability.

  6. Katie says

    For night races (like Wine & Dine), the non-cream based pastas at Rainforest Cafe for a lunch are also another great option.
    Even if you can’t carb-load, the most important thing is to be hydrating!

  7. says

    Don’t forget about Port Orleans Riverside and Art of Animation for their ‘create-your-own’ pasta dishes. Might be nice to avoid the park crowds :)

  8. Eva says

    Part of me wants to keep this place a secret, but Trails End is by far my favorite place to carb load. Mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, pasta, breads, casseroles…and the healthier options such as fish, salad, chicken etc. Also, we found that if you are doing the Goofy, you can get a late breakfast ADR at Kona and get some great carb loading grub (Tonga Toast or Macadamia Nut Pancakes) after your half marathon on Saturday to restore and prep for Sunday!! We just finished the half and walked over to the zip we were there :)

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