Eating Healthy(ier) at Walt Disney World [Eating on Vacation]

Creative Commons License photo credit: disneyandy

I love Disney World. No really, I *LOVE* Disney World. From the moment I enter the “happiest place on Earth” to the moment my vacation ends with the “saddest drive on Earth,” I feel nothing but magic and peace… except, of course, at meal times. The “happiest place on Earth” has traditionally also been home to the unhealthiest food on Earth – greasy hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, turkey legs, fried chicken fingers. Not exactly the kind of faire I’d like to be consuming for six days straight.

Before heading to Disney World this past trip a couple weeks ago, I ran across this article at CalorieLab discussing the difficulties the author’s family experienced finding healthy food at Disney World. The author makes some good points – in general, fruits and vegetables aren’t as available as hamburgers and Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwiches, and while meal choices have become more nutritionally desirable, snack choices are still generally abysmal. But is the author’s basic premise, that healthy choices are “hard to find,” really accurate? I decided to pay attention on this trip and find out. I’ll cover each park in detail, pointing out where healthy choices can be found, over the next few articles. To start with, however, here’s some healthy-eating tips that apply to all the parks.

Nutritional information is generally not available.
Disney World maintains four e-mail addresses (one for each park) for nutrition information requests. I wrote to each address, explaining I have to strictly monitor my daily caloric intake and asking for nutrition information for their in-park restaurants. I imagine the employees receiving my query wondered why the **** I am visiting Disney World if I’m worried about what foods I’m eating, but they politely responded with “our foods change so frequently it is impossible to maintain that kind of information.” I received the same response at counter-service and seated restaurants. If you have particular dietary needs like food allergies, you can submit a form before visiting the parks and it appears restaurants will bend over backwards to meet your needs. There’s also a highly-recommended book, [amazonify]158771048X::text::::Passporter’s Open Mouse by Deb Wills and Debra Koma[/amazonify], that covers how best to handle many “special needs” issues, including diet, when visiting Disney World. For poor schlubs like me that just want to count their calories, it looks like we have to rely on educated guesses.

Creative Commons License photo credit: mfshadow

All turkey legs are created equal.
One item of interest I received from the Disney nutrition e-mail contacts was a list of portion sizes and general ingredients for several common snack and counter-service items. I compiled a couple of those documents to create the table below. It’s worth doing a little research into the caloric content in these foods – for example, one turkey leg contains approximately 2 calories per gram, or over 1400 calories. Articles like this one from the Orange County Register are rare, but seem to support general guesses, which is all I can make until Disney starts publishing nutrition information.

Product Item Weight Notes
Hot Dog (all beef) 4 oz All beef contains mustard seed
Hot Dog Bun 2.75 oz Contains wheat, soy, whey, and corn
Hamburger (all beef) 4 oz
Hamburger Bun 2 oz Contains wheat, soy, whey, and corn
Boca Burger 3.5 oz
Grilled Chicken Sandwich 5 oz Cooked in canola oil with Italian spices
Chicken Strips (breaded/fried) 8 oz Breaded – contains flour, egg, soy, whey, and corn
Chicken Nuggets (breaded/fried) 3 oz Breaded – contains flour, egg, soy, and whey
Fish Filet (breaded/fried) 7 oz
French Fries 4 oz Potatoes, corn and high oleic canola oil
McDonald’s Fry Cart Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and beef
Fryer Oil N/A High oleic canola oil
Turkey Legs 25 oz Cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium, erythobate and sodium nitrate
Macaroni & Cheese 6 oz Amy’s® brand: gluten, soy, corn free. Contains milk (advance notice required)
Side Salad 6 oz
Entrée Salad 9 oz
Salad Toppings – Meat 5 oz
Salad Toppings – Dressing 2 oz Ken’s Steakhouse brand
Individual Pizza 11.8 oz
Popcorn 2.5-3.5 oz Orville Redenbacher’s; Popcorn Oil contains coconut, corn, and canola blend (produced in a plant that produces peanut oil)
Soft Pretzels 3 oz Processed in a plant that contains peanuts and tree nuts
Tapioca Dinner Rolls EnerG® brand Does not contain dairy, wheat, corn (advanced notice required)
Chocolate Chip Cookies Processed in a plant that contains peanuts and tree nuts

Bring your own snacks and bottled water.
One thing the Disney respondents shared was this tidbit:

The Guests are allowed to bring food items, such as snacks or foods that do not require heating, into any WALT DISNEY WORLD® Theme Park. Just inform a Security Cast Member checking the bags that you have food allergies and they will gladly allow you to bring in these items.

I always bring a few [amazonify]B000GFG5XK::text::::Odwalla Bars[/amazonify] with me, which serve as my snacks throughout the day. I typically visit a grocery store like the one at Crossroads on my first day, buy a week’s worth of bars and a few bottled waters, and freeze the water overnight so it melts throughout the day and stays cool. This way, I steer clear of high-calorie snacks like ice cream and pretzels, save money I would otherwise spend on expensive snacks and bottled water, and save the 30 minutes it would normally take to stand in line and eat so I can …. well, stand in a different line.

Creative Commons License photo credit: avainyeh

Search for the fruit.
If you’re going to spend the cash for snacks at Disney World, you still have healthy alternative options, most notably fresh fruit. According to Disney, there are some permanent sources for purchasing fresh fruit in the parks. On entering the park, take a look at the map to locate the fruit vendors and plan to pass by those areas at “snack times.” Disney’s recommended fruit vendors include:

  • Magic Kindgom: Liberty Square Market (seasonal), Mickey’s Toontown Farmers Market, Main Street Bakery
  • Epcot: “Most quick service locations” [From previous experience, the Land pavillion consistently sells fruit, but I don't recall a comparable vendor in World Showcase]
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Sunset Ranch Market, ABC Commissary
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Harambe Fruit Market, Drinkwallah

Do you have healthy eating tips you’d like to share, or favorite places to buy healthy snacks? I’d love to hear them – please share in the comments below. Next stop – healthy(ier) eating at the Magic Kindgom!

This entry was posted in Diet and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Eating Healthy(ier) at Walt Disney World [Eating on Vacation]

  1. Pingback: Eating Healthy(ier) at WDW Magic Kingdom [Eating on Vaction]

  2. Pingback: Eating Healthy(ier) at WDW Epcot Futureworld [Eating on Vaction]

  3. Pingback: San Francisco Orders Restaurants to List Calorie Information [Food Police]

  4. Pingback: A corollary to a previous question - Disney World Trivia .com Forums

  5. Pingback: 3-part article on Eating Healthier at WDW - PassPorter Community - Message Boards and Forums

  6. Freda Tan says:

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this today. This is a great story. Thanks!

  7. directory says:

    Good morning, I am new to this site. I have just learned about this site. I am going to read on and it’s very interesting to know

  8. Thank you for another informative article. Where else would anyone get this kind of information in such a amazing way of writing.

  9. Kaylee says:

    I referred few investment and realty blogs and can say that it will take end of 2010 to appreciate values again. What do you think?

  10. Lou Tinnon says:

    A buddy encoraged me to read this website, great post, fascinating read… keep up the good work!

  11. diet plan says:

    I bookmarked your site. Thanks for all the reading material. I enjoy reading here!

  12. Pingback: Snacking healthy at Disneyland

  13. 84542, Strattera Buy Cod Watson Brand
    , Ordering Strattera With Overnight Delivery
    , <a href=""]Strattera Orders Cod At Wa
    , 90192

  14. I’d wish to thank you for the efforts you’ve got made in writing this write-up. I’m hoping the same greatest perform from you inside the future also. In reality your inventive writing skills has inspired me to begin my very own blog now.

  15. It was some sort of contentment finding your site last night. I came up here just now hoping to discover interesting things. I was not let down. Your ideas on new techniques on this subject matter were informative and a great help to my family. Thank you for creating time to write out these things and then for sharing your opinions.

  16. buy dvds says:

    Many thanks for your time and energy to have put these things together on this weblog. Mary and that i very much appreciated your suggestions through the articles over certain things. I know that you have quite a few demands on your own schedule therefore the fact that you actually took just as much time just like you did to guide people really like us via this article is actually highly appreciated.

  17. shun knife says:

    Thanks a lot for your time to have had these things together on this weblog. John and i also very much prized your knowledge through the articles about certain things. I know that you have a number of demands on your own timetable so the fact that a person like you took just as much time just like you did to guide people just like us by this article is also highly valued.

  18. It really is rare to come across a professional person in whom you may have some trust. In the world at present, nobody actually cares about showing others the best way in this subject matter. How fortuitous I am to have definitely found such a wonderful site as this. It really is people like you who make a true difference currently through the ideas they share.

  19. leadership says:

    The recommendations you have given here are rather precious. It turned out such an exciting surprise to have that waiting for me immediately i woke up this very day. They are constantly to the point and simple to grasp. Thank you for the valuable ideas you’ve got shared right here.

  20. It is rare to encounter an expert in whom you can have some faith. In the world today, nobody absolutely cares about showing others the answer in this subjecttopic. How blessed I am to have definitely found a wonderful web site as this. It’s people like you who really make a true difference currently through the ideas they share.

  21. It can be rare to come across a professional person in whom you will surely have some faith. In the world at present, nobody really cares about showing others the best way in this issue. How fortunate I am to have found a real wonderful web site as this. It’s people like you who really make a true difference in this world through the tips they discuss.

  22. Almost all I can say is, I am not sure what to comment! Except needless to say, for the wonderful tips which are shared using this blog. I’m able to think of a zillion fun tips on how to read the content articles on this site. I think I will at last take action with your tips on those things I could never have been able to manage alone. You’re so innovative to let me be one of those to learn from your handy information. Please see how great I am thankful.

  23. I adore the opinions on this blog, it definitely gives it that community sense!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>