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Disney Food for Families: Counter Service Dining with the Adventurous Child

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has a very adventurous eater in her family — her daughter, Josie! Here are some great suggestions for kids who want something a bit different than the standard kids’ meal fare!

I’ve written before about my finicky, fearful daughter Louisa who never met a chicken nugget she didn’t like.

As it turns out, her twin sister Josie has a completely opposite dining profile. Josie will try anything, loves exploring new foods, and craves variety to spice up her meals. An endless stream of pizza bores her. If you have an adventurous eater in your life, you’ll want to find options beyond the ubiquitous pizza, pasta, hot dogs, and nuggets.

Josie enjoying the meat of a giant bird

In recent years, Disney has done a somewhat better job of providing a range of healthy and innovative foods on their childrens’ menus. Here I’m going to focus on some of the out-of-the-pizza-box Walt Disney World children’s counter service meal and snack options for those looking to avoid the kid food basics while on the go.

Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbor House and Cosmic Ray’s offer mixed greens with chicken for children.

Menu -- click for larger version

A pork and shrimp egg roll from the Adventureland Egg Roll Wagon makes a satisfying meal or snack for a child.

Corn Dog and Egg Roll Stand in WDW's Adventureland

Tortuga Tavern (formerly El Pirata y el Perico), is open seasonally. When its operating, you can find cheese quesadillas and beef tacos served for children. A nice side benefit here is that you can take advantage of the toppings bar to add lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes, salsa and other goodies to supplement the quesadilla.

Toppings bar

My favorite snack at the Magic Kingdom is the surprisingly low-guilt Dole Whip at Aloha Isle. If you’re searching for an even healthier snack, you can find super sweet fresh pineapple spears here.

Dole Whip offers something other than standard vanilla and chocolate soft serve

The Liberty Square Market area serves healthier choices such as fresh fruit, pickles, corn on the cob, and my favorite – baked potatoes. And the Turkey Leg cart serves those Flintstone-sized turkey legs — an Adventureland adventure all on their own. These can easily serve two or three hungry children.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The ABC Commissary serves children ham & cheese wraps.

Anaheim Produce and the Backlot Cantina offer crudite, whole and cut fresh fruit, trail mix and pickles; and Toluca Legs Turkey Company is another spot for the giant hunks of meat.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Baked chicken drumsticks are available at the Flame Tree BBQ. Yum!

Flame Tree Barbecue sign

Harambe Fruit Market serves, not surprisingly, fresh fruit; and Safari Egg Rolls has snack-worthy eponymous eats.

Menu

Safari Turkey is the AK place for those mega-turkey legs!

Epcot

This is probably the Disney jackpot for many of your adventurous diners, including kids!

In World Showcase, the Fife and Drum Tavern (American Adventure) has the Epcot turkey legs while the Liberty Inn (American Adventure) next door offers a chilled chicken wrap for kids.

La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico offers cheese empanadas.

Cheese Empanada

Lotus Blossom Cafe in China has sweet & sour chicken for kids; and the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK pavilion is a great place for fish & chips.

Fish and Chips

Head to Yakitori House in Japan for Teriyaki chicken. Also, the new Kabuki Cafe just opened in Japan, which offers adventurous kids the option to try sushi and several other Japanese dishes!

Boulangerie Patisserie tucked into the backstreets of the France pavilion serves quiche, ham & cheese croissants, and a cheese plate.

Resorts

Several of the resort counter-service locations have grab-and-go items like hummus and veggies, sushi, salads, sandwiches, and more that will offer your adventurous eater a few non-traditional items to choose from!

Sushi California Rolls

Room for Improvement

Of course there is room for improvement. Even the non-nugget counter service kids’ meals are still very focused on chicken.

For guests on the Disney Dining Plan with adventurous children, a good strategy might be to look for those counter service restaurants where there is not a specific childrens’ menu; a loophole in the Dining Plan allows kids to order any meal when there is no children’s menu available. This is the case at Yorkshire Fish Shop, Boulangerie Patisserie, and the turkey stands.

If you have a child with an adventurous palate, the table service restaurants might be more satisfying for him or her. In a future post, I’ll discuss the more non-traditional children’s table service menus at Walt Disney World.

We feature a chapter on menu items for the adventurous kid in our Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining! If you don’t have your copy yet, get it today at DFBGuide.com!

Do you have other suggestions for adventurous kids? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!

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11 Comments

  1. Janna says:

    Great info, Erin!
    My older son (12) is my chicken nuggets/pizza/macaroni guy. My younger son (4) is my Japanese/Mexican/fruits & veggies guy. What has worked for us in the dining plan is having one kid old enough to be a Disney ‘adult’. Since my younger son was two, he has been eating off of the adult menus (and eating most of his meal, to the shock of most servers). We would just order a kids meal (OOP then) for the older one. Now, with one of each on the dining plan, we are all happy.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Courtney says:

    Mmmm. A Cheese plate and baguette from Boulangerie Patisserie and a Grand Marnier Orange Slush – not a better lunch in this world :)

  3. Shayne says:

    Given the number of calories and fat grams in a turkey leg, I don’t think I’d even order one for all 4 of us (2 adults, 2 kids) to share!

    My boys are generally picky, but every now and then, they surprise me with their willingness to be adventurous, so these suggestions are much appreciated. Looking forward to the companion post on table service options!

    Are the empanadas at La Cantina similar to the ones at La Hacienda de San Angel?

  4. Samantha says:

    Hi,

    So in 3 weeks i am heading down on a 6:55 flight to my favorite place on Earth!!! We will be staying at Yaht Club for a few days and then switching over to the beautiful Bay Lake Towers. I was wondering what would be a nice place to eat at for lunch ( near the yaht club) that wont keep us waiting to long for food (plane rides make you hungry!!!), which place offers a nice variety and wont take to long to get to?

  5. AJ says:

    Samantha, you could try Captain’s Grill or Crew’s Cup at the Yacht Club or Beaches and Cream at Beach Club.

  6. Rebecca Schwesig says:

    What great info! I have dealt with this issue for the last few years. My older daughter, while I wouldn’t call her adventurous, does get tired of chicken fingers and PB&J Uncrustables. We’ve usually worked around it by either sharing our adult meals with her or ordering her something ala carte and paying out of pocket (we typically do the Dining Plan). Now that she has turned 10, she’ll be on the adult plan, so it has opened up a whole new world (not to mention my pocketbook). Can’t wait to read your take on table service meals for the adventurous kid. We’ve done well with buffets, but that’s probably the easy way out.

  7. Lena says:

    Thanks so much for this article. My DD is only 2 1/2, but really doesn’t eat most “child friendly” items. She prefers a wider range of items and what I would consider healthier, more “adult” foods. I really look forward to your TS suggestions!

  8. Samantha says:

    Thanx so much i will have to give one of these places a try!!! :)

  9. My son is getting more adventurous in his choices, so these sound like some fun ones to try with him on our next trip!

  10. Gabi says:

    My children are 6 and 10yrs old, when I saw the childrens options for the quick dinning menu, I checked to see how much extra it would be to make my 6 yr old a 10 yr old, only $40 more, done deal!

  11. Deb P says:

    Great article… we love the empanadas and the fish, but would add German pretzels as well. I would also add Sunshine Seasons in the The Land of EPCOT to the list. They have a lot of choices for picky and adventurous eaters and a few little surprises.

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