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Breakout 2019 is this week! Time to get hype!

I’m Rach, Breakout organizer and resident Breakout tour guide, here to talk about how to get the most out of your Breakout 2019 experience. New to Breakout? Long time Breakout vet? There’s great information for everyone here! This post will discuss your Breakout Basics, how to get ready for the convention, convention survival tips, and food and services around the convention.

  1. Location
  2. Getting Ready Before Breakout
  3. Getting to Breakout
  4. At The Convention
  5. Exploring Around Breakout

Location

The Sheraton Centre Toronto is located at 123 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario, located in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Getting Ready Before Breakout

Pack Smart and Early!

Your packing list should include both gaming supplies and personal supplies. Plan to pack at least the night before you leave for the convention, if not sooner, so you have enough time to review and consider if you’ve forgotten anything.

Some items that might be overlooked include the following:

  • Medication.
  • Clothing with layers. The temperature in con space can shift over the course of the day. March weather in Toronto is incredibly unpredictable and can change quickly from warm and sunny to snowing.
  • A water bottle. It’s better for the environment to fill your bottle from water coolers than use paper cups.
  • Comfy shoes. You may find that you’re doing more walking around the convention then you expect.
  • A swimsuit. The Sheraton has the largest heated indoor-outdoor pool in downtown Toronto. Yes, you can swim outside in the cold weather!
  • Personal ID and any health insurance cards.
  • Pajamas. It can be super awkward to forget these.

Bring Some Cash

While some vendors may take debit or credit, packing a little bit of cash spending money gives you more flexibility. You may also find that carrying cash will help you with budgeting over the course of the convention.

Breakout 2019 at-door passes, Indie Game Store and Bring-And-Buy Auction sales are CASH ONLY.

Most establishments in downtown Toronto accept debit or credit. Some businesses may only accept certain credit cards or have a minimum purchase limit for debit or credit transactions. Always be sure to ask staff if you aren’t clear what payment methods are accepted.

International attendees may wish to consider exchanging their local currency for Canadian currency before they leave for the convention. There are many currency exchange businesses in downtown Toronto, but you might not get the best exchange rate. It’s not uncommon for some stores in downtown Toronto to accept American currency, but the exchange rate will probably be poor.

Getting to Breakout

By Car

The Breakout team strongly recommends you use a GPS software like Waze or Google Maps to help find your way to the hotel.These programs track current traffic conditions and can help you avoid delays. Be sure you’re typing in the right address (123 Queen St W) into your GPS.

Be sure to give yourself extra travel time. Downtown Toronto traffic can be intense during any time to the day and traffic jams in the area around the hotel aren’t uncommon during rush hour. Factoring that extra time can help help reduce commuting stress.

The Sheraton Centre Toronto is located on a major streetcar route. It may be useful to quickly review Ontario streetcar laws if you’re driving. The streetcar laws are little bit different than the laws involving buses, as streetcars pick up and unload passengers from centre of the street rather than the edge. In short, never pass a streetcar when the doors are open. For more information, quickly review this link.

Parking

Parking at Sheraton Centre Toronto is $50 a night and includes valet service. There is no self-service parking directly at the hotel.

Cheaper parking can be found at the Toronto Parking Authority at Nathan Phillips Square Garage, located across the street from the convention centre at 110 Queen Street West. This is an underground lot. The parking lot and the hotel are connected by tunnels. Rates can be found on the TPA website.

There are other TPA parking lots in the area with a variety of rates depending on the location. Locals may refer to these lots as “Green P” and can be identified by their green logo with a big P.

By Plane

Pearson International Airport

Pearson Airport (YYZ) is located in the far west end of the city. There are three reliable options for commuting between the airport and the Sheraton Centre without a rental car: taxi/airport limo, public transit and ridesharing (Uber, etc)

Taxi/Airport Limo

The flat rate from Pearson Airport to the Sheraton Centre is $56 for taxis and $61 for airport limos. While you can prearrange for a cab or a limo to meet you, you can also just pick up a taxis or limo on the departure level of both Terminal 1 and 3. Most airport taxis and limos will take debit or credit cards as well as cash, but always confirm this before getting into a car. The customary tip for taxi/limo service in Toronto is 10-15%.

Please note that the flat rate only applies when traveling from the airport. Travelling to the airport by taxi will cost the standard $3.25 for the first 0.143 km and then $0.25 for each additional 0.143 km. The cost of the trip will be roughly between $55-60 before tip. Rates may vary if you have more than four passengers or have to take a less ideal route due to traffic.

Public Transit

Public transit is a great option if you have a little bit more time and want to save some money on commuting! There are two routes with two different price points: Only using Toronto Transit (TTC) or using a combination of Toronto transit and Union Pearson Express

Taking only Toronto Transit is cheaper option and will cost you the standard TTC fare of $3.25 ($3 if you have a Presto card – more on that later!). This route includes several transfers. Board the 900 Airport Express from your terminal, then transfer to the Line 2 Subway Eastbound at Kipling Station. Don’t worry, Eastbound will be your only option. Then, transfer at St George Station to the Line 1 Subway Southbound, then get off at Osgoode Station. The Sheraton Centre will be one block east on Queen Street West. This trip will take at least an hour. All buses and stations on this route are accessible.

The Union Pearson Express will give you a more direct route for a little bit more money. The fare for the Union Pearson Express is $12.35 ($9.25 if you have a Presto card – more on that later!) for a one-way adult fare between Union and Pearson. Tickets can be bought in advance online or at the station. Once you’re at Union Station, transfer to Toronto Transit ($3.25/$3 with Presto) and board the Line 1 Subway Northbound towards Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Get off at Osgoode Station. The Sheraton Centre will be one block east on Queen Street West. All stations on this route are accessible.

Rideshare

There are several rideshare companies with coverage in the Greater Toronto Area. Uber and Lyft are the most popular.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Billy Bishop (YTZ) is a small regional airport located downtown, on the Toronto Islands. The airport is very close to the Sheraton Centre. You might be able to spot it as you land! There are two options for commuting between the Billy Bishop airport and the Sheraton Centre without a rental car: a combo of shuttle/public transit or ridesharing.

Shuttle/Public Transit

Billy Bishop has a complimentary shuttle bus service that connects the airport’s mainland pavilion to the intersection of Front Street and York Street.

Once you reach Front and York, you could walk north on York Street 750 metres until you reach the Sheraton Centre at York Street and Queen Street. Alternatively, you can board the subway at Union Station ($3.25/$3 with Presto) and take the Line 1 Subway Northbound towards Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Get off at Osgoode Station. The Sheraton Centre will be one block east on Queen Street West. All stations on this route are accessible.

Rideshare

There are several rideshare companies with coverage in the Greater Toronto Area. Uber and Lyft are the most popular.

By GO Transit or Via Train

The fastest route from Union Station is to take the Line 1 Subway Northbound towards Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Get off at Osgoode Station. The Sheraton Centre will be one block east on Queen Street West. All stations on this route are accessible.

Commuting via the TTC (public transit)

The Sheraton Centre Toronto is located between two stations on Line 1: Osgoode and Queen. Both stations are accessible and have elevators.

If arriving at Breakout via Queen Station, the Sheraton is two blocks west on Queen Street West.

If arriving at Breakout via Osgoode Station, the Sheraton is one block east on Queen Street West.

The subway does not provide 24 hour service. The last northbound train out of Osgoode leaves at 1:40 am and the last southbound train leaves at 1:50 am. The last northbound train out of Queen leaves at 1:40 am and the last southbound train leaves at 1:40 am. Subway service starts later on Sundays than other days, with trains starting around 8am.

Presto

Presto is a smart card fare payment system that can be used for many public transit systems in Ontario, including Toronto Transit, GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express. Presto often gives you a slight discount on your transit fares. Presto cards cost $6, plus the amount you load on for fares, and can be bought at Customer Service Outlets, Fare Vending Machines, Ticket Vending Machines and Shoppers Drug Mart stores.

Is getting a Presto card worth it? If you’re spending some time exploring Toronto via transit before and after Breakout, it may be handy to pick up a card. You can find more information on the Presto website.

At The Convention

Practice the 5-2-1 Rule

The 5-2-1 Rule is a good starting point for convention selfcare. It goes as follows:

5 Hours of Sleep a Day

The exact number of hours may vary depending on the person and their needs; some versions of this rule suggest “3 hours of sleep”, for example.

Try to get enough sleep that you feel rested upon waking up. You’ll be the best judge of this. Be sure to be honest with yourself!

2 Meals a Day

“Meals” in this case are meals that include a reasonable amount of real food and should include something from each food group. A candy bar is not a meal, nor is an energy drink.

If your schedule is super packed, consider stashing some healthy snacks either in your hotel room or in a personal bag to eat while on the run.

1 Moment of Personal Care a Day

Many versions of the 5-2-1 Rule list this as “1 Shower a day”, but personal care isn’t limited to just showers. Personal hygiene and mental health are connected and taking time for hygiene can help you rebalance.

The author likes having a showers. Her friend takes baths every convention night. Both are equally valid.

Remember: You Can Always Tap Out

Breakout can be loud and busy, especially on the Saturday. If you find yourself overwhelmed, remember than you can always step away from the convention space to collect yourself.

All attendees have access to the Quiet Room, located in the Wentworth room. It may also be helpful to take a walk around the hotel or leave to get a meal off-site.

Exploring Around Breakout

The Sheraton Centre is connected to the PATH, the world’s largest underground shopping complex. Think of the PATH as a giant skywalk that’s buried underground and has a lot more stores than your typical skywalk. Or, if you rather, think of the PATH as a giant dungeon crawl. Once you get settled at the Sheraton Centre, you may never have to go outside again all convention.

Here’s a simplified map of the PATH.

It can be easy to get lost or turned around deep in the PATH, as there’s less visual cues than if you’re walking out on the street. If you’re not sure how to get back to Breakout, try asking a staff member at a nearby store for directions to the Sheraton Centre or look for the nearest exit to the surface.

Food

Our location in downtown Toronto is central to many fantastic food options! If you’re new to the city and looking for food, it might seem a bit tricky to find food options directly around the hotel at first.

A good rule of thumb for finding restaurants on the street is to either walk north until you reach Dundas Street or to walk immediately west on Queen Street. Don’t expect to see a lot of big, well-known restaurants chains, especially American chains, in downtown Toronto. However, if you keep an open mind, you’re bound to find an amazing food experience!

I have an idea of what I want, but need help finding it

If you know roughly what you want to eat but aren’t sure where to look, try using either Google Maps or Yelp to search for nearby food options that match what you’re craving.

I just want a basic chain restaurant experience

The intersection of Yonge and Dundas has countless chain restaurants. Around here you’ll find The Pickle Barrel, Milestones, Jack Astor’s, Red Lobster, Spring Rolls, JOEY, Paramount Middle Eastern Kitchen and 3 Brewers. If want to go more casual, there’s also Blaze Pizza, Chipotle, Five Guys and Panera.

What are my vegetarian and vegan options?

Breakout Guest Nicole Hoye has put together a map listing of the local vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

What are my allergy-free options?

Allergy-free options are difficult for restaurant suggestions. Speaking as a person with food allergies that fall outside of the most common food allergies, a restaurant that is safe for one food allergy might not be safe for another allergy.

In my personal experience, restaurants in downtown Toronto have always been very accommodating with my food allergies. You may want to quickly google a restaurant and review the menu online before visiting. If you have any doubt, always call ahead to confirm that a restaurant is safe for you to eat at.

What are favourite restaurants of the local gaming community?

  • Cafe Crepe: coffee and crepes – 246 Queen Street West
  • Chatime: bubble tea – 132 Dundas Street West
  • Eggspectation: brunch – 483 Bay Street
  • Frans: local late night institution, open 24 hours! – 200 Victoria Street
  • Fresh on Spadina: vegetarian & vegan – 147 Spadina Avenue
  • Gyugyuya: Japanese curry – 177 Dundas Street West
  • Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: ramen – 91 Dundas Street East
  • Java House: lunches – 537 Queen St West
  • Kanga Aussie Meat Pies: Aussie-style meat pies – 65 Duncan Street
  • Kinton Ramen: ramen – 396 Church Street
  • Little Nicky’s Coffee: coffee and donuts – 375 Queen Street West
  • Maezo: modern Indian Cuisine – 67 Richmond Street West
  • Mi Taco Taqueria: tacos and burritos – 247 Queen Street West
  • Mystic Muffin: lunches, famous apple cake – 113 Jarvis Street
  • Pablo Cheese Tart: Japanese-style cheese tarts – 114 Dundas Street West
  • Paddington’s Pump: greasy spoon – 91 Front St East
  • Sansotei Ramen: ramen – 179 Dundas Street West
  • Sweet Lulu: build-your-own-stir-fry – 350 Bay Street
  • Tsujiri: Matcha and desserts – 147 Dundas Street West
  • Uncle Tetsu’s: Japanese cheesecake – 598 Bay Street
  • Yueh Tung: Hakka food – 126 Elizabeth Street

I Really Want a Food Court

The Eaton Centre and PATH feature countless food courts to explore.

For those looking for a food court adventure, check out the Assembly Chef’s Hall at 111 Richmond St West or the Village By the Grange food court at 51 McCaul St.

Delivery Options

Toronto has a couple of app options for food delivery. Check out Foodora, DoorDash, SkipTheDishes and UberEats for delivery option. Keep in mind that delivery works best if you have a hotel room at the convention. Please do not request delivery to the convention space.

Another option if you don’t have a hotel room is to use the food pre-ordering app Ritual. Ritual allows you to order and then will alert you when you should leave to pick up your food. Some of the food delivery apps feature a pick up option as well.

Hey, where’s the nearest…

Shopping in General

The PATH features a lot of stores if you want to explore your Toronto shopping options.

The Sheraton Centre is also connected to the Toronto Eaton Centre through the PATH. The Eaton centre features over 300 stores and is one of the largest shopping malls in Canada.

Printing, Copying and Office Supplies

Try the Staples at 375 University Ave, about two blocks away from the convention centre.

Pharmacy

Rexall at 250 University Avenue (corner of University and Queen) has a well-stocked pharmacy and is open 24 hours.

24 Hour Convenience Store

7-11 at 372 Bay Street

Grocery Store

Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s is located in the basement of Saks at 176 Yonge St. This business is connected to the hotel via the PATH. Note that Pusateri’s is a high-end grocery store and carries luxury brands. Expect a higher than normal sticker price for all items.

A more standard grocery selection can be found at either Rabba Fine Foods at 126 Simcoe St and The Market by Longo’s 111 Elizabeth St. The Rexall at 250 University also has a small grocery section.

Liquor Store

The nearest LCBO open over the weekend is located at 595 Bay Street in the Atrium on Bay, just north of the Eaton Centre.

Walk-In Clinic

MCI The Doctor’s Office Atrium at 595 Bay Street in the Atrium on Bay, just north of the Eaton Centre. They’re open 7 days a week.

Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital at 30 Bond St has a 24 hour emergency room. The ER must be accessed from the corner of Shuter and Victoria.

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