Yes is IS possible to eat healthy at Disney! Here are some ways to make it happen.
Thank you to to Disney for providing me with two Park Hopper tickets.
We took the kids to Disney earlier this summer, my first time there since I was eight years old. We hit two parks in one day: Epcot (because we had heard such good things) and Disney Hollywood Studios (to check out the Star Wars stuff, natch).
Unfortunately, it rained. Poured. There was thunder and lightning. We got so wet our fingers turned pruney. Here’s me, trying to be perky in my poncho while actually feeling waterlogged and downhearted.
After breakfast at our rental house and some granola bars I’d packed as a mid-morning snack, we escaped the rain in Epcot’s Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie for Croque Monsieurs (and pastries for dessert, bien sur). Epcot is full of great and unique options thanks to all of the different ethnic restaurants.
Unfortunately, the weather ended up putting a serious damper on things (pun very much intended), and we cut our day short. But our time at Disney taught me something: Finding healthy foods there isn’t as hard as it might seem. You are definitely not doomed to eating overpriced chicken tenders and French fries all day like you are at some theme parks. Sure, you can easily find hot dogs and soda–and I’m all for letting a bit loose on vacation. But there are loads of healthier and more interesting choices too.
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I put a call out to my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook community (hey, come join us!) for the best advice on eating healthy at Disney, and I got a slew of smart tips. Here’s what you said:
Scout out restaurants before you go.
Having a plan will streamline your schedule and let you to better plan your day (and you can make reservations in advance!) so check menus online before you go. Here are places that got good reviews from readers:
- Boma Flavors of Africa restaurant at Animal Kingdom: “Delicious African buffet with lots of healthy options…including a hummus bar!”
- Satu’li Canteen at Pandora-World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom: “Unique and healthy choices.”
- Bengal Barbecue at Disneyland Park: “Kebobs and veggies.”
- Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom: “For quick service.”
- Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom: “It’s a go-to for us.”
- Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs: “Good homemade pizzas.”
- Tomorrowland Terrace at Magic Kingdom: “The salads are filling and refreshing!”
- The Wave at Magic Kingdom Resort Area: “My favorite place for breakfast.”
- Check out this list of recommended Disney restaurants from Real Food Real Deals
Do a grocery run your first day there.
The number-one piece of advice readers gave was to stock food in your hotel room. If you can book a room with a small kitchen, fantastic. At the very least, be sure the room you reserve has a refrigerator. Then hit the grocery store the first day you’re there (here are some helpful tips for grocery shopping in the Disney area). If you don’t have a rental car, take an Uber. Can’t get to the store? Readers recommended ordering via Amazon Pantry, which will deliver to Disney resorts (or Amazon Prime Now for super speedy delivery). You can also order from a service called Garden Grocer. Or pack shelf-stable stuff in your suitcase (one reader recommends loading up one whole bag with foods like homemade bread and muffins, fruit, and granola bars if the airline allows for a free suitcase).
Here are some grocery items to get:
- Veggies (either pre-washed or easy to rinse) like baby carrots, snap peas, celery, and mini peppers.
- Fruit such as apples, bananas, grapes, plums, and nectarines.
- Whole wheat bread
- Jar of peanut butter, nut butter, or sunflower butter
- Cheese sticks
- Deli meat and cheese for sandwiches (see if the store’s prepared foods section or salad bar has small packets of mustard and mayo you can grab)
- Granola bars
- Whole grain crackers
- Frozen edamame (thaw and eat)
- Shelf stable individual milk boxes for cereal
- Beer or wine for adults to unwind at the end of the day
Eat a quick, healthy breakfast before you set out.
Use your stockpiled food as a fast breakfast in the hotel before leaving for the park.
Pack snacks (and even lunch).
Disney allows you to bring food into the parks, which can save you serious time and money. Pack snacks like mandarin oranges, raisins, apples, bananas, nuts, trail mix, jerky, granola bars, individual cups of applesauce, and fruit cups. Pack lunches in a cooler and stash it in a locker until lunchtime if you don’t want to carry it around. One reader said investing in a backpack cooler made things a lot easier for her family. Another mentioned they eat their snacks while they’re waiting in line to save time.
Stay hydrated with water.
Bring water bottles into the park and refill them throughout the day at water fountains
Look for healthy options.
Vacation can definitely be a time to relax the rules but it’s nice to have some balance too. Instead of defaulting to fries, opt for side items of fruits and veggies with kids meals. Look for “Mickey Check” meals for kids that follow nutrition guidelines limiting things like sugar and sodium. (If your child eats dye-free, check out my friend Bri’s post about Dye Free Eating at Disney that includes a free printable). You can also choose meals from the adult menu instead of the kids menu–if the portions are too big, split one meal between your kids or share a meal with your child. And speaking of portions, sharing meals in general saves money and help prevent overeating. Take leftovers with you if you have a hotel fridge.
Thank you to everyone on my Facebook page for the tips!
What’s YOUR best advice for how to eat healthy at Disney?
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