the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Healthy Eating in Walt Disney World

A Great Lunch Option at Starring Rolls Cafe

A Great Lunch Option at Starring Rolls Cafe

Some of you listened to the Healthy Eating in WDW episode of the WDW Today podcast last week, but there’s still a lot of information and tips for those of you who’d like to — or have to — start eating a bit healthier while you’re on vacation.

Even if you just want “not to go overboard,” (I feel your pain.) the tips, menu options, and “eat this not that” suggestions will help!

General Advice:
First thing first. These are tips everyone already knows, but we sometimes need a reminder or two…or three.

  • Look for fresh, not processed foods: You can find fruits and veggies in every theme park. When you’re in a resort food court, consider a salad, boiled egg, or pita and hummus.
  • Learn to be a “bother:” Order sauces on the side, substitute veggies/fruit for fries, ask that your meat not be cooked in butter, or see if you can order a half-portion of an entree for less money.
  • Watch portion size: Disney likes to give you your money’s worth when it comes to food, so be aware when you order. Make a meal out of an appetizer, and when you splurge on a rich entree or huge dessert, share with someone else at the table.
  • Eat breakfast: Breakfast is going to be one of the easiest and cheapest meals to eat healthily in a restaurant, so book mid-morning breakfast ADRs and fuel up with eggs, veggies, and wheat toast. Plus, there’s no temptation of ordering dessert!
  • Call ahead: If you’re eating at a set-menu restaurant or want healthier, or no-sugar-added dessert options, call or write to Disney ahead of time (SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com, or 407-824-5967).
Sanaa's Menu is Full of Delicious, Healthy Choices

Sanaa's Menu is Full of Delicious, Healthy Choices

No Matter Where You Eat…
…there’s going to be something there that won’t eventually kill you ;-) Here are a few menu options for table-service, parks, resorts, and counter-service dining.

Table Service

  • Sanaa, Kidani Village: Mustard Seed Crusted Scallops, Salad Sampler, Tandoori Chicken or Shrimp with rice
  • Teppan Edo, Epcot: Hibachi-style cooking. Consider fish or chicken with veggies.
  • Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom: Miso Salmon, Mandarin Chicken Salad
  • bluezoo (Swan/Dolphin), Nacroossee’s (Grand Floridian), Coral Reef (Epcot): All have light fish/seafood dishes.
  • Kouzzina, Disney’s Boardwalk: Kouzzina Sampler (Choice of two skewers with Marinated Olives, Spiced Cashews, Dolmades, Tzatziki, Hummus, and Grilled Pita), Fisherman’s Stew, Spiced Briami
  • The Wave, Contemporary Resort: Seasonal Vegetable Stew or Linguini with Clams and Red Sauce
  • Tusker House, Animal Kingdom: Tofu, Chicken, Salmon, Rice, Veggies
  • Tokyo Dining, Epcot: Sushi, Chicken, Steak, Veggies, Rice
  • Marrakesh, Epcot: Chicken Kebabs, Fish Tangine, Salmon
Have a Fruit Bar Instead of a Mickey Bar

Have a Fruit Bar Instead of a Mickey Bar

Counter Service:
Kids’ Picks offerings make it easy for kids to have a healthy meal — choices include carrot sticks, grapes, apple slices, applesauce, jello.

Grown-ups, you can often find grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken offerings. Also, check for veggie burgers, turkey sandwiches or tuna pitas, wraps, and veggie flatbreads.

Restaurants that will offer good, healthy options include:

  • Tangierine Café, Epcot: Veggie Platter, Mediterranean wraps and salads, Couscous, Tabouleh
  • Sunshine Seasons, Epcot: Soups, Salads, Noodle Bowls with Stir-fried Veggies, Roasted Meats, Oatmeal
  • Cosmic Ray’s, Magic Kingdom: Turkey and Bacon Wrap, Veggie wrap/burger
  • Sleepy Hollow, Magic Kingdom: Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station, Magic Kingdom: Steamed Broccoli, Noodle Bowls, Tofu
  • Tamu Tamu, Animal Kingdom: Tuna salad pita, Turkey and swiss on Focaccia
  • Flame Tree BBQ, Animal Kingdom: Turkey sandwich
  • Starring Rolls and Backlot Express, Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Grilled veggie sandwich, Southwest salad with chicken
Fruit and Veggies at the Contemporary Resort

Fruit and Veggies at the Contemporary Resort

Parks:
Options in the parks include: Fresh Fruit, hard and soft pretzels, whole pickles, turkey and veggie sandwiches, no-sugar fruit bars, bags of nuts, Chip and Dale’s food line (nuts, pretzels, dried fruit), fruit cup, dole whip.

Resorts:
Disney’s Resorts are usually where you can find the most healthy options for grab-and-go. Most resorts have a quick service area with yogurt, cereals, fruit, veggies, sandwiches, milk, and other healthy options. Check the food courts and gift shops for these.

Home-away-from-home (Villa) resorts also will carry deli meat and cheese, whole grain bread, and other picnic items. Consider having a healthy picnic on the Boardwalk instead of grabbing burgers at a counter-service place.

Lots of Great Options Here

Lots of Great Options Here

Eat This Not That
I debuted the Disney World Version of Eat This Not That on the WDWToday podcast, but there were a few combos I didn’t get to mention. Don’t have nutrition info for most of it, but what I do have, I’m posting! By the way, this is for those of you who don’t want to completely deprive yourself of some good-tastin’ stuff, but still want to make better choices overall.

Instead of a Mickey Bar: 1 Bar, Calories: 330, Fat: 22g, Carbs: 31g, Protein: 3g…
Have a Dole Whip: 1/2 Cup Prepared, Calories: 80, Fat: btwn 1 and 3g (differing based on sources). Note that the usual Dole Whip serving is more than a 1/2 cup, but even with size, you’re saving on fat calories.

Instead of an ice cream cone at the Fountainview in Epcot…
Have a Kaki Gori from Japan

Instead of a Cosmic Rays cheeseburger…
Have a grilled chicken sandwich with veggies or a veggie wrap

Instead of a Margarita from Mexico…
Have a glass of wine from Germany

Instead of ordering steak at a table-service restaurant…
Have a pork or chicken dish for one or two nights

Instead of cheese fries… (I know. Painful.)
Have a soft pretzel, or even some pretzel nuggets with cheese sauce

A Dole Whip is Low-Calorie and Low-Fat

A Dole Whip is Low-Calorie and Low-Fat

Instead of a Turkey Leg (Nearly 1000 calories!!)…
Have a deli sandwich at a bakery or a grilled chicken sandwich at a counter service restaurant

We Can Do It!
So, you can see that Disney’s made huge strides to improve the availability of healthy, fresh items for their theme park, resort, and restaurant guests. There really are some gorgeous, delicious dishes available that won’t mess with your heart or pack on the pounds. Do a little bit of research, look at menus ahead of time, and go in armed with some will power.

You should always have fun on vacation, but your choices don’t have to be ALL bad. ;-) Enjoy!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

36 Comments

  1. Great column about this topic AJ. Eating at WDW is like being on “temptation island” and while there are some healthier options, they aren’t as easy to find as the 1000 calorie turkey leg. I totally agree about being a “bother”. You should definitely ask for food the way you like it cooked or without the fattening additives like sour cream or butter or whatever.

  2. Lori says:

    Great information…and advice! Thanks for bringing to us.

  3. Eeyore says:

    I heard that all of the hot dogs were going to be chicken… true? If so – YUCK!!! Can’t they at least leave Casey’s alone?

  4. ErwinM says:

    Splitting is always an option. Even when I was 50 pounds heavier, a whole turkey leg was too much food for me, but it was comfortable to split with my wife (and a whole meal at 500 calories isn’t bad by anyone’s standards). You’ll probably get charged a fee for an additional plate at a table service restaurant, but that’s not a problem for quick service.

  5. AJ says:

    Matt — Thanks. “Temptation Island,” no kidding. I’m a person who “lives to eat,” so it’s nice that Disney has a lot of moderate choices that are still enjoyable. Whether I make those choices…that’s a different story.

    Lori — Glad I could help! Lots of great veggie items, too!

    Eeyore — Yep — the hot dogs are now a mix of chicken and beef. You still get some beef in there, at least. I hear you about Casey’s — there’s something special about a Casey’s hot dog, to be sure.

  6. Eric says:

    Great article. Thank you.

    We are always trying to eat healthier…. even while on vacation… well except when we go to Cracker Barrel or having a dessert…. anyway we try.. :)

  7. AJ says:

    Erwin — Thanks for the confirmation and notes from your experience.

    Eric — You bet! You can at least try and be “aware.” I always enjoy my food more when I do that anyway.

  8. Janna says:

    I tease about gaining weight on my November Disney trip thanks to your great posts but with many trips under my belt (pun intended), I have yet to gain weight while at Disney. Part of that is all of the walking but most of it is about making better choices. I love that I can get fruit for a snack credit at Pop (although my husband and older son manage to always use all of our snack credits, leaving me without)!

    Of course, thanks to your blog, I have many more food stops to fit into our trip!

    And chicken hot dogs? Ewwww

  9. Shayne says:

    Great post! I haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet … I’m running about 4 episodes behind.

    At Beach Club Marketplace, we were so pleased to find the deli sandwiches you mentioned — it was a quick, filling and hot lunch (they will toast the sandwiches for you) that left me feeling much better than a cheeseburger would have.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I did eat a cheeseburger at Beaches & Cream the next day that left me feeling pretty happy as well. :D But at least I made better choices on most days, which was my goal!

  10. chris says:

    Great post and lots of good, workable ideas. You obviously you put a lot of work into this post and into your contribution to the WDW podcast.

  11. Gray says:

    Now you’re singing my tune, AJ! GREAT article! I love that there are so many great, healthy options at WDW that go beyond your basic, boring salad. I would never have guessed that a Dole Whip was such a healthy snack.

  12. AJ says:

    Shayne — Thanks for the reminder about the deli sandwiches at Beach Club. That’s a great addition to the list!

    Chris — Thanks for your comment. I think this topic is pretty important — I’m thinking of adding an Eat This Not That column to the blog. Maybe every month or so.

    Gray — Thank you! There are more and more options every day; especially in table-service dining.

  13. AJ says:

    Janna — The walking DOES help! If you’re a commando Disney guest, it’ll be hard to gain weight. (If you’re a pansy Disney guest, like me, who only rides rides in the morning and with fastpasses, you won’t walk nearly enough!)

    If you have other ideas for good, healthy eating choices in the World, let me know!

  14. Jen says:

    Dole Whip good for you?? Stop the presses! That’s great news! I also love the apple slices that you can get in the parks. They’re usually kept chilled and can be a great cool snack on a hot day.

  15. Jeff C. says:

    Confession time! We spend most of the year counting calories and maintaining a healthy diet, but when we are prepping for a Disney trip (and usually our stays are for 10 days!) I lose a few pounds in advance and let go at Disney!

    My body goes into shock the first 2 days then throws in the white flag and accepts that this will be uncontrolled! I certainly won’t mention how many bacon double cheeseburgers I might have at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe….Joe is much more rational and controlled. He the ying to my yang. Or something like that….. :)

    But I can attest to seeing Joe take advantage of the many healthier options available, and over the past 10 years we’ve been going, there are indeed many, many more options. Sunshine Seasons at Epcot was a great addition and offers alot of really good selections.

    Forgive me….it’s a disease…..addiction….I can’t help it!

  16. Annette says:

    Pitting a Dole Whip against a Mickey bar? That just makes a person want both. :-)

  17. AJ says:

    Jen — Those apple slices are usually my go-to treat!

    Jeff — Again, the 80/20 rule at work! If you’re careful with your eating 80% of the time, use that WDW vacation as your 20% “let go” time. My main problem is keeping up with the 80%…

    Annette — Ha ha! Ice cream fest!

  18. Jason says:

    Perfect timing! I’m planning my long awaited return trip to WDW and am trying to wrap those plans around a wife with a very specific, healthy diet. This helps immensely!

  19. AJ says:

    Great news, Jason!! Also, just checked out your blog — looks great! Can’t wait to see your posts about your upcoming trip!

  20. Nicci says:

    We leave in 34 days. Since our trip last year I have lost 107lbs.
    Now I’m not just worried about the calories/fat but the sodium. I have gotten good at making low cal/fat choices but all the hidden sodium is as scary as the tower of terror.
    I have the advantage of little kids (to share with) We are on the DMP so i have plenty of options and we are doing a lot of buffets.
    Any suggestions. maybe a future blog?

  21. AJ says:

    Nicci — HUGE congrats!! That’s an awesome accomplishment (pls share secrets!)! YES, the low-sodium blog is a great idea. I’ll put it in the queue and start doing research.

  22. Rachel says:

    Is that last photo a machine with salads, like the ones with soda?

    Do they have this on the parks?? Please, answer me if possible through email!

  23. Jeff says:

    I’m a Californian with a long history of going to Disneyland. I’m baffled why the selection of food at Disneyworld is so poor compared with Disneyland. Disneyworld it’s hogdogs, hamburgers, pizza and assorted sweets and sodas. At Disneyland there is so much more to choose from. It felt like nothing but overpriced junk food, but when I compared the various restaurants, I was right. Has anyone else noticed this?

  24. AJ says:

    Jeff — It really does depend on where you go. Disney World has lots of great counter service restaurants that offer healthier, interesting foods, but because there are over 400 places to eat in Disney World it can sometimes be hard to find them amidst all the rest. Disneyland, on the other hand, has some really stellar counter-service that I think is just as high-quality as the table-service food in many instances (Zocalo and French Market come to mind). It’s just a matter of digging a little deeper in WDW sometimes ;-)

  25. [...] know a typical California Roll has less than 300 calories?  Guess what I ordered.  A site like The Disney Food Blog has lots of menus, recipes, and tips for diners.  Ordering a dish that comes with a story like [...]

  26. disneydoc says:

    I really appreciate this topic! I went to WDW for a week early in the summer, and came home a few pounds lighter, despite treating myself to huge ice creams every afternoon (except for the Dole Whip day)!! I ate all those good salads that you mentioned. Yak & Yetti’s Mandarin chicken salad was good. Pinocchio’s place in MK had a good counter service salad too. Epcot’s Japanese quick service had a chicken dish with veggies over white rice that was also good. I took fruit with me for snacks, a pack of 100 cal pretzels, maybe a single granola bar.

    I didn’t feel at all deprived, and did not have that weighted down too full feeling. Thanks again for your post….more please?

  27. Ashley says:

    Yak and Yeti also has these delicious lettuce cups- minced chicken breast with water chestnuts in some time of yummy sauce with shredded carrots, bean sprouts and Hoisen sauce for topping! Yum! A cool and healthy treat that’s filling too!

  28. jolieblonde says:

    Reading this food blog and looking at the pictures is my daily treat. I’ll be going to Disneyworld in about three weeks and can’t want to sample some goodies in person. Like Nicci mentioned above, I have to watch my salt intake. I have Meniere’s disease and too much salt will have me spinning-no tea cups needed :) Knowing that fruit & veggies are available is great! If any one in this blogosphere has any more unprocessed food ideas at the mouse house, please share!

  29. Kendal says:

    Hi! Maybe you can tell me…. how would you suggest a vegan survive a day at Disneyland? I’m mostly interested in Disneyland in California and EuroDisney near Paris. It seems a lot of restaurants (in general) think a vegan can make a lunch out of a tiny salad, but we need over 2000 calories a day just like everyone else! Especially if you’re walking around all day. What would you suggest?

  30. AJ says:

    Kendal — My suggestion would be to dine table-service as much as you can, and make sure to speak with the chef to share your diet requirements. He/She can then create a meal for you that fits your specifications. Counter-service can be difficult as a vegan, though it’s getting better. Check out the menus at counter-service locations before you go to see what might fit the bill. Buffets might also be a good option, as you’ll be able to eat as much as you want of the foods that fit your needs.

  31. Kendal says:

    Thanks! Glad to know they can be flexible. I’ve only been to Disneyland and Euro Disney once each, several years ago, so I’m not familiar with the restaurants there, but next time I go maybe I’ll look them up and figure out who’s got the buffet or something ahead of time. :-) Although I’m not sure the French know what a buffet is….

  32. Geannie says:

    As far as contacting special diet, here is the fact I cannot stress enough. Know your menus, know what you’d like to have adapted, and if you get a form letter back special diets telling you that it can be managed when you arrive, call. Speak to a human, and let them know that you have some very specific requests. Especially when you have allergies as well as dietary requirements. I got the form letter and let it go on my last trip. I had a few great meals, but there were issues.

    Many things can be handled on arrival, BUT:

    1. Some restaurants/chefs are much better at this than others, and you won’t necessarily know the difference in advance.
    2. ALL the chefs I have dealt with have said their job is easier with advance notice.
    3. Even places that handle on the fly custom requests well, there can be a delay between your food and the rest of the table. Worse, especially for those with kids, is if they delay all the meals coming out. Advance notice can alleviate this.

    So, if you get the brush off initially, because your needs seem “easy” be politely persistent.

  33. AJ says:

    Geannie — Great points!!

  34. Kristin says:

    Hi,

    I’m a weight watchers member who is going to Disney World in December. Is their anyway to find out nutrition labels for some of the foods, because I still want to eat what I like, I just would like to focus on portion control at the parks. Thanks!

  35. AJ says:

    Kristin — Most packaged foods will have nutrition labels. If you’re at counter service locations, you can ask a manager to see the nutrition book, which may or may not give you ingredients and nutrition information. It can be tough to find nutrition information for table-service options and many counter service options, though.

  36. joanne torchia says:

    Are the WDW parks ever going to consider gluten free menus? Right now all I can eat at the parks is salad (no croutons) and possibly a chicken breast. I was told that I would have to go to one of the upscale restaurants to get special orders. Help.

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *