Disney Does Special Dietary Needs!

Happy Hump Day!  It’s Wedding Wednesday but sometimes I just have to diverge from my beaten path (I can’t even THINK about weddings this week!)  So I saw this and it really hit home for me.  Danny keeps kosher.  Since most people outside of the major cities don’t really understand what that is, we usually just tell people that he’s vegetarian.  Disney understands :).  I just saw this blog and had to share it with all of my friends (and friends of friends) who have special dietary requests.  It’s a really really long one so I am trying to cut it down a little for you (my notes will look like this):

Hidden Mickey!!

Vegetarian Dining at Disney

By: PAULAK      JUNE 12, 2012

Special dining requirements should not stop you from enjoying meals at the unique restaurants throughout Walt Disney World. If you have food allergies, are vegan or require kosher meals the best idea is to call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) at least 48 hours before your reservation. They will be able to take care of everything for you, making sure that your meal will suit your needs. You might also want to take a look at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/special-dietary-requests/, there’s some great information there. If, like me, you are vegetarian, there is no need to call. Most Disney restaurants have vegetarian options on the menu and those that don’t are ready to make adjustments to make your meal meat free.

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 12 years. I’m ovo-lacto, which means that I will eat eggs and dairy but not meat. My adult daughter made the same choice several years ago and her father will eat seafood but not red meat or poultry. Dining out since we’ve made these changes has been challenging at best, too many places seem to think that there’s nothing wrong with beef stock in the sauce or have said that we can “just eat around” the meat (Danny doesn’t get to eat really awesome things because of the meat stock in the sauces, even though they LOOK like they should be vegetarian). Fortunately Disney is not like that.

Warning!  Just because something looks like it is meat free does not mean that it is. The good thing is that the cast members in the restaurants are extremely knowledgeable. Most of the servers that we have had already knew the vegetarian options and those who didn’t found out immediately for us. I’ve discovered that something as vegetarian sounding as Lo Mein with Tofu at Yak & Yeti is made with a clam base but a vegetarian version is available. If I didn’t ask I would have ordered the non-vegetarian version without realizing it. That may not be a big deal to most people but it is to me.

I’m drooling! Who’s going to Disney with me?!?!

Most of the counter service restaurants have veggie burgers available. I’ve been told that Disney uses the Gardenburger brand at most places but no one will officially confirm that for me. The burgers themselves are vegan (again, ask to be sure) but the rolls are not, although vegan rolls are usually available. Many of the counter service options also have a veggie wrap of some type. (For sure in EPCOT you can order Kosher meals directly off of the menu.  Be warned these are frozen and microwaved, but they are great if you are Glatt Kosher and don’t want to lug your own food throughout the park.)  These are also a good choice, especially if you want your vegetables for the day. If it is a themed choice (World Showcase, for example) the best bet is to just ask when you order. If something sounds good ask if a vegetarian version can be made. It may take a minute or two longer but the results will be worth the wait

The list of great experiences is a lot longer. Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney immediately comes to mind. The menu does not look vegetarian friendly but our server went through it page by page and pointed out all of the items that can be adapted. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere incredible. Another wonderful surprise was the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot. I was sure that there would be nothing at a seafood place but I was wrong. Our waitress described the Vegetable-Potato Strudel to us in great detail and it was even better than she said. It might be my favorite of all the dishes that I’ve had at Disney. Cosmic Rays at the Magic Kingdom is probably my favorite counter service option, the veggie burgers are fantastic and the toppings bar extensive. I also love Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney, just ask them to remove the meat if you don’t like any of the meat free choices.

There are a couple more places that I need to mention although they are not meal options. Even if you have no special dietary requirements you need to go to Babycakes NYC at Downtown Disney. It’s hard to find, look for Pollo Campero, they’re in the same building. Babycakes is a small bakery that features items that are vegan, kosher, gluten-free and also do not have refined sugar. (We went here and sampled their goods… OMG!  I have no dietary restrictions and I was still blown away!)  They are also delicious. My personal favorite is the chocolate chip cupcake with chocolate frosting. They’re expensive but melt in your mouth good. The Magic Kingdom also has some options for those with special dietary requirements. Main Street Bakery carries the Divvies brand of snacks, which were created with people who have food allergies in mind. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor has both Rice Dream and Tofutti available. You can also find soy milk in many places throughout the park.

Vegetarian dining at Walk Disney World is not difficult at all. If you ask a lot of questions you will be more than happy with the results. You might even have the chef come out from the kitchen to discuss the options. You will not have to live on pizza while at Disney, you will have just as many delicious meals as the meat eaters who are with you.

2 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on sojournwithstacey and commented:

    A long time ago I posted this article and while looking back at my Disney blogs, I think it’s time to post it again! The reason I think it is time is because over the years, even I forget. We were just in Disney (kid free!!!!) two weeks ago and we forgot the cardinal rule of dietary restrictions… we forgot to ask if a dish was meat free. That grouper dish was the first taste of bacon Dan has had in YEARS and while it was delicious, it was also an important lesson. Don’t forget to ask!

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