Healthy Eating on a Budget at the Most Magical Place on Earth

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Let’s be honest, most people on vacation aren’t counting calories. But for frequent visitors or those with extreme willpower, healthier options can be tough to find in counter service dining locations. At the request of our readers I thought it was time to shine some light on the less sinful options available in the parks.

Fruit Markets

IMG_2873Fresh and affordable produce is located in each park if you know where to look. Fruit makes a great snack, especially on a hot day. Liberty Square Market at Magic Kingdom, Anaheim Produce at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Harambe Fruit Market at Animal Kingdom are your best bets for finding fruits and limited veggies while in the parks. Epcot is the only park where I have yet to find a free-standing fruit cart, but everything is available at Sunshine Seasons. (Epcot does, however, have a free-standing Margarita stand so I will forgive Disney on this one.)

Allergy Dining Kiosk

This is a new experiment at Animal Kingdom. Only time will tell if this catches on and expands to the other parks. Dining options include hummus with vegetables, flavored rice chips, and several gluten-free vegan treats. This kiosk also has information available for finding food that fits your dietary restrictions (or choices!) inside the park. I have to admit this would have really nice when I was dabbling in the vegan diet, and I find it encouraging that Disney is embracing guests that want to make healthier choices which was always tough at counter service locations.

Don’t want fries with that?

IMG_2549In recent years Disney has started offering other options instead of fries. At just about any location you can swap spuds for apple slices, and there may be additional options depending on where you are. At Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn you can substitute corn on the cob, at Columbia Harbour House steamed broccoli is available, and at Backlot Express you can choose carrot sticks. Be sure to check the menu when ordering so you don’t miss out on these options.

Salads

I know what you must be thinking.. salad… at a theme park? Don’t worry, these are not typical theme park fare! I’ve found that Disney has really stepped up its counter service salad offerings in the past few years. Gone are the days of limp caesar salads on menu after menu. Columbia Harbour House at Magic Kingdom has a couple of unique and delicious salads. In my recent $20 a day dining series I featured great salads at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Epcot is the only park where I can’t think of a really excellent salad, so I would head to the Tangerine Cafe instead for some exotic and healthy choices.

Veggie Burgers Instead of Burgers

Did you know most counter service locations that serve burgers also have veggie burgers available? These are a great way to not only cut calories but also cut costs. On average, veggie burgers are almost $2 less than their beefy counterparts. This is an especially good value at a location like Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn, where you have access to an extensive toppings bar. Not only can you put sautéed mushrooms on your burger, but you can also put together a nice side salad at no additional cost. Other topping bars are hiding at: Cosmic Ray’s and Tortuga Tavern (open seasonally).

So will you be looking for healthier options on your next visit? Would you like to see more on what each park has to offer? Let us know in the comments below, and as always thank so much for reading!

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Posted on August 26, 2013

11 Responses to “Healthy Eating on a Budget at the Most Magical Place on Earth”

  • I love that they are making this so easy! Even in our cruising, it has become easier to eat vegan (me) dairy free (DD) and gluten free (DS).

    • by Daisy Lauren on August 26, 2013, at 1:02 pm EST

      One note for vegan diners – I have never been to a table service restaurant at WDW that wouldn’t work outside the menu with me. When I asked my server what they could do 9 times out of 10 they sent a chef to my table to get the specifics on my likes / dislikes and dietary needs. Every time they made something amazing! Your mileage my vary but don’t be afraid to ask!

  • Great post! We visit once or twice a year, so we don’t necessarily count calories. That being said, if I ate burgers and fries every day of our vacation, I would just feel gross. These are great alternatives for those days that you’re feeling a little sluggish from all the greasy goodness!!

  • Can you find grass fed beef anywhere on property?

    • Hi There! Please understand that this is just my personal experience and not an “official” answer but I have found grass fed beef to be very limited. I’ve only seen it on the menu at the most expensive steak house style restaurants, like the Yachtsman Steakhouse.

      We are working now to bring you resort menus on Touring Plans! Keep an eye out for these in the next couple months. Also, it is always a good idea to call the restaurant directly prior to your trip if you have specific dietary needs.

      Hope this helps! :)

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for nutritional information either, particularly for packaged items at carts. I noticed the orange cream bar at Magic Kingdom the other day, and asked the person manning the card if I could take a look at one to check it’s nutritional information. Instead, she pulled over entire binder full of nutritional info for a bunch of the snacks.

    • by Daisy Lauren on August 26, 2013, at 1:00 pm EST

      Oh yes – THE BOOK!! Most dining locations have one if you have specific questions. This is also helpful for allergy needs.

  • I had a really good roasted beet salad at sunshine seasons in Epcot. It came with roasted pecans.

    My favorite spot for vegetarian food is Sanaa in the Animal Kingdom Villas

  • by Susan McCabe on August 27, 2013, at 6:29 am EST

    Great article! I like to go for the gusto with some of my favorite “splurges”, but strive for a balance.