21 Ways to Eat Healthy at Disney World
Walt Disney World is known for many things, like Mickey Mouse, the Cinderella Castle, and Magic Kingdom. A vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth should be the time that you relax a little and indulge in all the treats it has to offer. This doesn't necessarily give you license to go wild with food, though. With culinary monstrosities like the Oreo-covered funnel cake and giant 1,000-calorie turkey legs beckoning you at every corner, it's not always easy to eat healthily while at Disney. But unlike making it through Splash Mountain without pulling an embarrassing face, it's not an impossible feat.
There are plenty of ways to have fun and stay healthy within the parks and resorts—without bringing home a bloated belly and extra pounds. Keep these tips handy while you keep rocking those Mickey ears, and check out the reasons for gaining weight on vacation for all your big getaways!
Eating Healthy at Disney's The Magic Kingdom
The most iconic of all the parks, the Magic Kingdom is home to the most A-list stars of the fairytale world. Translation: There's no way you're not hitting up this part of Disney!
Hit Up the Liberty Square Market
The Magic Kingdom is ripe with many sweet treats, but the Liberty Square Market offers a huge variety of healthy options, like antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free snacks. The biggest draw, though, is the market's roasted corn that's seasoned with a variety of spices like barbecue, lemon pepper, and Jamaican jerk.
Look For Lighter Options at Quick-Service Restaurants
There are plenty of burgers and chili fries to be had at the Magic Kingdom, but restaurants like Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Café (in Frontierland), Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (in Tomorrowland), and the Pinnochio Village Haus (In Fantasyland), all offer lighter options like veggie burgers, Mediterranean salads, hummus, and vegetarian chili.
Get Your Fill of Seafood
Cinderella's Royal Table is a fantasy-filled experience for kids, but it also boasts a different healthy seafood option every day. (Find out which fish to choose and which to avoid with our exclusive report on 40+ Popular Types of Fish—Ranked for Nutrition!) The full-service restaurant also offers plenty in the way of vegetarian options, like rice made with eggplant and onion topped with pesto and a balsamic vinegar.
Columbia Harbor House also features standard healthy fare like salmon and steamed broccoli.
Eating Healthy at Disney's Epcot
At twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, we'd like to think you're getting in twice as many steps. But regardless of how much you pound the pavement, you can still avoid fat traps with these healthy-eating tips.
Eat Around the World
One of the many, many draws of Epcot is the World Showcase, a celebration of cultures around the world divided into 11 different "countries." Each country features the country's signature fare, along with knowledgeable cast members originally from each country. This means you'll get the best—and healthiest—dishes from each country, along with someone to explain each dish and its ingredients. For example, you can order dishes made with beans, guacamole and salsa in Mexico, sushi and edamame in Japan, and vegetarian platters and cous cous in Morocco. (Inspired by the different cultures? Then check out these 10 International Breakfasts Healthier Than Yours!)
You can't get much more "local" than this: The Garden Grill Restaurant, located in The Land Pavilion, keeps a sustainable menu with meats like turkey and seafood, along with vegetables grown on-site in the restaurant's own greenhouse. You can even ask questions about the food and take a ride through the crops before sitting down for your meal.
Call the Shots on Your Sandwich
There are plenty of ways to customize your food at WDW, but the Sunshine Season Food Fair in The Land Pavilion features a ton of sandwiches and salads that you can customize from the start. Your wish is their command! We recommend getting in some of these 30 High Fiber Foods so that you feel powered up for the rest of your magical day.
Eating Healthy at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Rawr! Was that one of the animals in the Africa part of the Animal Kingdom—or your rumbling stomach? Feast your eyes on these fresh tips!
Find Food With an Allergy-Free Focus
This is truly special. The Allergy Kiosk offers various gluten-free snacks, along with information on common food allergies like gluten or wheat, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs, and corn. The cast members there are able to provide information on food allergies, along with education on special dining options throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Focus on Freshness
The Animal Kingdom pays homage to the lands and animals of Africa and Asia, so it's only natural that the foods also mirror that of those continents with a large focus on fresh produce and meats. For example, many of the quick-service kiosks offer options like pineapple, edamame, and Asian noodle salads. Speaking of produce: When it's time to restock your fridge after returning home, employ these pick perfect produce tips.
Eat Tandoori Style
Sanna, a restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village, is an African-Indian fusion restaurant that focuses on tandoori cooking methods. Tandoori refers to cooking in a clay oven, known as a tandoor. Commonly used for cooking meats, it holds in the spices and flavor of marinades, meaning that a lot of extra sauces and added ingredients—and added calories—aren't necessary.
Eating Healthy at Hollywood Studios
Last but not least: You can channel your inner-celebrity by eating light at this Hollywood-themed area of Disney!
Go For Produce
Anaheim Produce—located conveniently on Sunset Boulevard—is an easy grab-and-go quick service restaurant that offers a variety of fruits and veggies (including carrots and celery sticks!) for snacking on-the-go. Need something with a little more crunch? They also sell healthy portions of rice chips and trail mix. For more satisfying snack inspo, check out these grab-and-go snacks!
Look For Lighter Lunch Options
The Studios park is full of gut-busting fare, but the Starring Rolls quick-service cafe offers plenty of lighter options for both breakfast and lunch, like a turkey sandwich served with fruit and a mixed green salad topped with pear, dried cranberries, tomato, and white cheddar cheese.
More Ways to Eat Healthy at Disney
Now that you have specific eating healthy at Disney World tips for each of the four main parks at Walt Disney World, don't miss out on your chance to dial it up a notch with some more overarching ideas.
Speak to the Chef
The Walt Disney World parks may all be extremely busy—especially during the peak summer season—but each cast member (what employees are called at Disney) is trained to provide exceptional customer service. Restaurants are no exception. The chefs in most table-service restaurants will come out to the table and discuss ingredients and special requests. One note: It's best to give them a heads-up before you walk in so there isn't a delay.
Make Arrangements Ahead of Time
Disney has made great strides to accommodate people with varying food needs, ranging from allergies to vegan—and everything in between. It's so important that the resort now has a special diets department that only works with guests to make special diet arrangements for their trip.
Order the Child's Size
The key to keeping a healthy diet is to watch portion sizes, but Disney's version of a healthy portion is probably different than yours. One option is to look for the kid-size meals on the menu of any sit-down or quick-service restaurant. However, being able to order a meal for yourself from the menu will depend on the location—some let you eat what the kiddos do, others won't. And be mindful of these healthy foods to eat in moderation, too.
Look for Healthier Options at Your Resort
Staying on Disney property brings with it extra perks, like on-site healthy options. Many of the resorts have a grab-and-go area with healthy foods already built into the price of your stay. Options vary, but many include yogurt, cereal, fruit, sandwiches, and milk, so fill up on those before you leave for the day—or pack a couple of snacks in your bag so you have something to munch on the park.
Look for the 'Mickey Check'
The "Mickey Check" is part of Disney's Magic of Healthy Living crusade to make nutrition choices easier for families. The Mickey check on menus identifies meals that meet Disney's nutrition guides. Find that and you know the food will be served in appropriate-sized portions with limited sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.
RELATED: The science-backed way to curb your sweet tooth in 14 days.
Have Your Groceries Delivered
Online grocery delivery is the perfect option if you want to make health-friendly meals in your room but don't have a car to drive to a nearby store. Garden Grocer specifically offers service to the Walt Disney World resorts—and the grocery prices are similar to those you find at your local store. The only difference is that you'll pay a delivery fee—$14.00 for orders under $200, but only $2.00 for purchases over that.
Ask for Swaps
Most Disney restaurants will allow you to swap out items—like fries for sweet potatoes—if you ask. But, you can also swap out desserts on the meal plans for healthier options. Of course, this isn't something that's advertised, but some servers will give you a snack like fruit or bottled water if you ask. It's not guaranteed, but again, you can always ask. For ideas on which swaps to make and other calorie-trimming tips, check out these ways to cut calories!
Crowdsource Your Disney Health Questions
Walt Disney World is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world. This means busy parks, but it also means that a cottage industry of Disney-related blogs and forums are now available online. These blogs and forums are extremely helpful because you can get an answer to almost any question and even learn some clever travel hacks you wouldn't have heard about otherwise. One such powerful tool is WDWInfo.com with a menu search engine that allows you to pull up meals and menus at WDW based on a variety of terms. It'll also give you information on what's in the meal so you can plan what you'll eat before you get there.
Plan a "Cheat" Meal—Or Two
Vacation isn't supposed to be like everyday life, so you don't have to keep as tight of grip on your diet if you don't want to. Plan to indulge in a dessert or alcoholic drink (or even a boozy dessert!) while you're there. It won't detonate your healthy lifestyle and you'll be back on track as soon as you get home. Plus, some desserts—like the ever-popular Dole Whip—are actually pretty healthy.
Bring Your Own Meals
Disney has a million-and-one options when it comes to food, but you aren't required to buy it when you're in the parks. You can bring in prepared sandwiches, snacks like nuts and protein bars, and water—anything that doesn't need to be reheated on a stove or in the microwave. Just be prepared for security to check any bags you bring into the parks. We love these healthy snack ideas for both your Disney days and when it's back to real life!