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Tips for Picky Eaters in Disney Parks

Let’s face it. Everyone’s got a picky eater. Whether it’s your kid, your Mom, your husband, or YOU, someone in the group doesn’t eat salad, stays away from seafood, or has a thing about not eating anything that isn’t peanut butter.

The great news is, Disney parks are destinations where none of that has to matter. There are enough choices (whether they’re on the menu or not) that everyone can find something to fill their tummies.

There's More to Life Than Burgers and Fries

Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from my personal experience and from readers about navigating the parks with a picky eater. These are highlighted (and even illustrated) with some great comments from Disney Food Blog Facebook Fans!:

Contact Disney Ahead of Time
If the situation is dire and you liken the picky eating behavior to a special dietary need, you can always call Disney ahead of time to be sure that your needs will be taken care of at any table service restaurant where you’ll be dining. Check our Special Diets at Disney resources to learn more.

From Linds P: If you have something you know they’ll like, you can email specialdiets@disneyworld.com with your pre-made reservations info. You can make sure the foods you like will be there.

Christina W. says: My best friend is a vegetarian who also needs to eat low-carb. She doesn’t like a lot of dairy either. We’ve found that eating at TS restaurants are better for us because she can get specially made meals. She’s not picky (she’ll eat a salad and nothing else) but she likes good food. We ordered a vegetarian sushi platter at California Grill last December that was really amazing. It was almost too pretty to eat.

Victoria S. mentions: I was able to special order chicken fingers & French fries at liberty tree tavern for my niece & nephew. Call the special diets number that is on your confirmation email online or ask when you’re on the phone. Buffets are a good for grazing and getting picky ones to trying something new- they’re not stuck with a whole plate of something they don’t like.

Chef Mickey's Has Something for Everyone

Choose Restaurants With Lots of Choices
Buffets and all-you-can-eat spots are great for this sort of thing, as they usually offer options for every palate. Buffets will always include a kids’ section with dishes like pasta marinara, mac and cheese, chicken fingers or chicken nuggets, pizza, etc. They’ll also have salad areas (for lunch and dinner) and make-your-own-omelet stations (for breakfast), so guests will be able to choose exactly what goes into their meal.

Crystal B. mentions: Buffets for table service meals are the best bet because of the wide variety of options! And the Disney chefs are great at accommodating! When my daughter was 2 1/2 she refused to eat anything but cheese one night when we were at Crystal Palace. The waiter asked why she wouldn’t eat and I told him. He came out with the biggest bowl of cheese cubes I’ve ever seen! She was happy as a clam!

Kristen H. chimes in: I think buffets are great for 2 reasons. 1) There’s bound to be something that they like, and most DW buffets include some sort of mainstay like chicken fingers, etc. 2) If you’re an adventurous eater, you can get something out of their comfort zone, eat it and moan with pleasure, and make the picky eater try it. I really picture Boma in this situation.

Nancy M. proves out Kristen’s theory: I am a little afraid of new “foods.” I usually get my hubby to order something and then I steal it from him. Works every time :)

Boma is a Great Place to Explore New Options With A Safety Net of Standards

Sandra G. says: Husband is diabetic, son is autistic, and I try to eat vegetarian for most meals. We don’t want to spend huge amounts of time and money eating Table Service meals as we have wonderful restaurants in our home area near D.C. That means mostly Counter Service for us–and we find the good old food court at our resort (All Stars Music) works great. My husband loves the turkey dinners, our son will eat most fried items, and I go off the veggies at least once per trip for the salmon dinner.

We also like Sunshine Seasons for the variety; you will find something there for the pickiest eater of any age. Places like Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s and the Backlot Express also will accommodate a range of tastes and dietary preferences, including kosher.

And Boma is wonderful for those who want something exotic/vegetarian/meaty/familiar. My son wasn’t the only adult chowing down on chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, fruit and cookies! We got to enjoy some great new tastes and he was happy too.

Melia S. says: Ha ha! That’s me… my family usually eats at buffets, which are good for picky eaters. And then if I end up not eating much, I just get snacks (popcorn, pretzels, mickey ice cream bars…) before or after to hold me over.

Amber H. replies: I’m a picky eater myself, so when my husband & I were planning our trip, we made good use of online menus to plan our restaurants before we left. Buffets & food courts were great choices … but pretty much everything had at least something I’d eat!!

But a word of warning…

Christina W. says: Buffets work well with picky kids, but some of the pastas are a little iffy. Take the mac and cheese, which you’ll find on every buffet at WDW. My kids won’t touch it. They did like the pasta and red sauce at Boma. I wish they’d have that everywhere. Counter Service works pretty well for them also.

Head to “Meat and Potatoes” Places
When it comes to Disney table service restaurants, you can usually find at least one steak, chicken, and/or pasta dish listed that can be modified to fit any picky eater’s requirements. That said, if choice is what you’re looking for, there are some restaurants that are known for their meat and potatoes reputation.

Even Teppan Edo Has Steak

Eric L. relays this story: My friend “D” doesn’t actually eat food. She lives mainly on frozen food-like objects like chicken fingers and Papa John’s Pizza. She’s also an obsessive Disney geek. I’m a top down food eater. I’ll attempt just about anything (provided it doesn’t bite back or contain mushrooms that could kill me). We tend to stick to places that appear “safe.” There are plenty of meat and potatoes places like Le Cellier, Rose and Crown, Sci-Fi, or 50′s Prime Time. Sometimes I do want to eat somewhere more exotic, like Sanna or my beloved San Angel Inn. In those cases we are perfectly happy to split our party — even if it’s into parties of two or three and one. Flexibility is the key.

Erin T. says: I have the pickiest boyfriend! However, I have noticed if there is a good sized steak with a type of potato…we are golden! I will eat anything, so I got him to eat at Tokyo Dining with the promise of steak. It was his favorite meal! Plus, I got to indulge in my favorite…sushi! Win win!

Morocco's Tangierine Cafe Has A Few Outside the Box Choices to Sample

Use the Vacation to Explore Outside the Comfort Zone
Because Disney food is usually so safe for picky eaters, it’s also an opportunity to try some new items while knowing you have a back-up plan of mac and cheese if need be!

Nikki N. takes the risk: I’m a fairly picky eater, but I try to put that aside when I’m at Disney World. I tell myself that I have to step out of my comfort zone and try new foods! Being on the free dining plan helps that a bit because if I don’t like it…well, there’s plenty other food to choose from later!

Thanks to everyone for these great tips and tricks! Disney parks are safe havens — both table service and counter service restaurants — for picky eaters, but that last tip is a good one. Consider stepping out of your comfort zone to try a few new items; you never know what you’re going to find!

Do you have tips for eating with picky eaters in Disney parks and resorts, or are YOU a picky eater who has found some good staples in the restaurants? Let us know in the comments section below!

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14 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    Among the many things that make the internet great is that you can check all the restaurants and their menus (as well as prices ) at WDW. My wife is the picky eater but as long as there is one thing on the menu she will eat, she will go to any restaurant I wish to try. Plus, it’s fun to just read the menus.

  2. AJ says:

    Alan — Agreed! It IS fun to read the menus. Great point on doing the research beforehand.

  3. carolyn says:

    I love to read the menus, too. I’m a vegetarian and always check to see “hmm… what’s on the menu for me? What would my mom eat? What’s for dessert?” :)

  4. jon says:

    if at counter service, get 1 safe option and get an adventurous option, then share. doesn’t even have to be from the same restaurant. like at epcot, go get yourself a safe option of a burger and fries at the american pavilion, then get the tabouli and baba ganoush with lamb gyro if you’ve never tried it from morrocco. at worst you have 1/2 your meal be something you know is good. at best, you now have another food to add to your favorites.
    and it’s not like disney counter service skimps on the serving size anyway.

  5. Anna Mae says:

    For picky eaters, the kids menu often has more safe options. They’ve let my adult sister order a kids meal & the waiter told us that is what he orders too. Alternatively, it also shows you what other options the restaurant has to swap a safe side of fries or a veggie for a more adventurous side.

  6. Daniel says:

    i once went with a friend who ate ONLY pizza. We had no problem finding food for him.

  7. Melia says:

    THAT”S ME! oh i do feel special….

  8. Galloping Gourmand says:

    “D” also eats a lot off the kid’s menu. Disney is always willing to let you order out of any of the menus available.

    Daniel: He only ate Disney Pizza? That could be considered cruel and unusual.

  9. marianne says:

    We had the greatest waiter at the Turf Club last week. He arranged for my son to have an onion ring and french fry dinner and my daughter to have chicken fingers and fries (both were eating as adults on the DDP) even those these items were not necessarily on the menu. The chef even came out to see how we liked them … best service we had on our whole visit!

  10. Heather says:

    love this post! I am the picky eater who doesnt eat salad or seafood, but we have eaten at MST disney TS restaurants and I have always been able to find something to my liking, one of the reason we keep going back!

  11. Josh says:

    I’m exactly like Eric L., I will eat pretty much anything as long as it doesn’t kill me. ;)

    Also, Just out of curiosity what are “TS restaurants”?

  12. Josh says:

    Oh, and I’m with GG on this Daniel.

    Living off of only DISNEY Pizza is pretty cruel.

    Unless you go to a certain location or two.

    But if it’s just in the parks, he probably shortened his life span.

  13. RB says:

    Josh: The “TS Restaurants” are Table Service Restaurants! :D

  14. Josh says:

    Thanks RB.

    That’s makes a whole lot more sense if it is Table Service, since you can talk to the chef making the food on location.

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