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News! The Disney Turkey Leg Controversy

We knew that Disney Jumbo Turkey Legs were kind of a big deal (maybe pun intended?). But apparently, they’re a front-page-of-the-NY Times big deal!

In a post entitled “Turkey Legs Conquer Land of Mouse Ears” the Times reveals just how huge the popularity of these mammoth drumstick snacks have become. But not everyone is thrilled about their iconic status. More on that later… .

A Disney Turkey Leg In All Its Glory

A Disney Turkey Leg In All Its Glory

Many guests feel it’s a rite of passage to stroll through the park of their choice, gnawing on the meaty treats. They’re a great option to share! In fact, they’ve gathered a cult following of sorts, similar to many of Disney’s iconic snacks.

Turkey Leg at Disney -- Up Close

Turkey Leg at Disney — Up Close

Like Dole Whips and Mickey Bars, you’ll find lots of fun merch featuring pictures of the meaty treat, like t-shirts, hats, and even air fresheners!

Turkey Leg Merch!

Turkey Leg Merch!

And did we mention the wallets?)

Turkey Leg Wallets, Anyone?

Turkey Leg Wallets, Anyone?

We’ve even spied the odd sweet turkey leg — in the form of a Turkey Leg-Shaped Krispy Treat!

Turkey Leg...Krispies?

Turkey Leg…Krispies?

But myths abound about the gargantuan size. It turns out, the drumsticks come from toms — the male turkeys, which are apparently much larger than the hens we’re used to seeing on the Thanksgiving table.

And sure enough, not all feedback to the article is positive. We opened our edition of the Times yesterday to find an op-ed post in strong objection to the selling of the famous drumsticks.

Whether you love them, or not so much, the Turkey Leg business at Disney Parks certainly seems to be booming! Maybe it’s the kitsch value of posting a caveman-esque Instagram, or perhaps more guests are looking for treat options that are higher in protein. No matter the reason, they’re making headlines…and not everyone is happy about it.

Let’s hear from you! Are Turkey Legs can’t-miss, or must-pass?

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98 Comments

  1. Angelina says:

    wow…how interesting! I personally will have a bite or two of my companion’s turkey legs and think they are delicious but would never want a whole one or I wouldn’t have enough room for all the other wonderful foods around the parks!

  2. Kelsey says:

    I think they are totally gross! All those sinews and tendons and pieces of cartilage and fatty chunks! Some times the meat is slimy and UGH. So disgusting!! I honestly do not KNOW how people eat them! I cringe every time I see one.

    But knowing this controversy I’ll doubtlessly NEVER order one (and neither will my kids. SO GROSS!!).

  3. Logan says:

    Didn’t you mention in a post a while ago that the legs are almost 1,000 calories each? That is almost an entire day’s calories (or at least half a day).

    And let’s try to sort out why the legs are so big…generally this is due to injected hormones and/overfeeding the turkeys so that they can’t even stand.

    If Disney is truly committed to promoting more healthful eating, the turkey legs should be downsized or removed. I personally find them revollting.

  4. Sherri Erwin says:

    I’m not a turkey leg fan. As Kelsey mentioned, the cartilage makes them hard to eat. I’ve shared one, and that was enough for me.

  5. Lisa N. says:

    I like the taste of turkey legs, but they’re a pass for me because they’re just too big for a solo traveler. Although I was able to go to Hong Kong Disneyland for a day last month and the turkey legs there are closer in size to a large chicken drumstick. Much more manageable for the two of us to split as a snack. Actually what I was most enchanted with was that the turkey leg came with two disposable gloves so we could eat it without getting our hands dirty.

  6. Rhonda says:

    I’m not a turkey fan…I’ve always chalked it up to going in late May/ early June and the heat just makes me sick o see someone eating them!

  7. Anastasia says:

    Yeah, I can’t eat a whole one and generally I find them a bit dry. However, last time I was at Universal Studios with my boyfriend we splurged on a turkey leg. I don’t know if we got it fresh or what, but it was the most delicious turkey leg I have ever had. So now I’d be more willing to get them, as long as I have someone sharing with me!

  8. Robert Crawford says:

    The loon in the NYT is full of it. They really shouldn’t publish the raving’s of madmen; it only encourages their fantasies and puts the rest of the population at risk.

  9. Jenny says:

    We have the Turkey wallet in my Disney Outlet store.

  10. Bret says:

    Do you know you can also get them on the Disney Cruise ships? Yep on pirate night you can get them at the buffet after the fire works. They are just as good as at WDW.

  11. What?! Turkey is a bad meat?! I thought they said it was the best after fish! What will they have us eat? Grass?

  12. Venessa Hinojosa-Wright says:

    Disgusting! No thanks!

  13. Bel says:

    I was all geared up to have one for the first time on a recent trip to WDW – that was until the lady running out Keys to the Kingdom tour told us how many calories were in them! One turkey leg would be like two days worth of food for me!!!! I decided to skip it knowing I could eat five other things at WDW instead.

  14. Randi says:

    I love the turkey legs, but the prices for them are getting ridiculous. When I was in Disney in May, one leg was nearly $11, which was almost double the cost from 2005 or so.

  15. maureen says:

    I have 7 children, several years ago, we bought our first Turkey leg to taste it and hopefully for the kids to enjoy and snack on, before dinner time. What happened next, well it was like watching a cartoon termites decimating a house! We bought it gave it to the eldest child, I turned to look for a place to sit, or just get out of the sun, It didn’t take that long to find a seat, but in short order I was given a meatless bone! Neither one of us got to taste it!

  16. US$ 11 for a Turkey Leg is too much. Disney, sometimes, uses us as cash cows.

  17. Greg says:

    1,093 calories

    53 grams of fat

    over 5,000 milligrams of sodium

    No thanks.

  18. Greg, please, where did you get these nutrition facts on the Turkey Leg?

  19. @Marcos Valenca – that’s the standard “amusement park turkey leg” nutrition facts as given at Web MD. The 5000 mg sodium is the scariest in that – that is 3-5 days’ worth of sodium.

    Personally I think they are pretty awful looking, I’m a vegetarian myself but I’m not typically “grossed out” by watching other guests consume the meat options. These turkey legs however kinda look like an anatomy lesson =P

    I also don’t like the fact that a lot of consumers of the turkey legs are so careless with them – I’ve been “bumped into” with the legs/bones many times waiting in lines, and it’s kinda yucky seeing the bones with cartilage laying around on the ground and in bushes throughout the Magic Kingdom, often with seagulls or egrets pulling apart the tendons and fighting over the scraps.

    So yeah, not a big fan.

  20. Mark D. says:

    They smell pretty amazing, but everytime I fall for that smell, I am disappointed. Dry and too many tendons for my liking.

    Down with the Turkey Leg, up with the fantastic Pork Shank!!!

    Oh and pssst…..to those quoting calories, it’s a well known fact that on vacation there are no calories. I think it’s in the brochure somewhere.

  21. @Jasmine Becket-Griffith – Let’s not blame the Turkey Legs for some umpolite park guests.

    @Mark D. – I LOL with your calories on vacation sentence!

    I just say if we were to treat all park food as they are trying to treat Turkey Legs, they are going to shoot every cupcake, gooey cinnamon roll and pastry on sight!

  22. Chris James (UK) says:

    Well I have to say I am disgusted by these things personally. I can never get my head around why people buy them. Nobody needs a snack that big. I love the calories theory (I too live by that as I fill my face with cupcakes, beignets and coca cola) but you e got to admit that the 53g of fat is scary. And not to mention the sodium! That’s way too high! And are these sold in Animal Kingdom? I should hope not. Wouldn’t do to promote animal conservation whilst buying in mass produced turkey legs bred to be big enough to sell for 11 dollars, would it?! Not a fan. Sorry.

  23. Nicole Peirce says:

    The turkey legs are ok – I can only eat them if my family shares one with me. But the pork shank – now that thing is DELICIOUS!

  24. Heidi says:

    My mom once got a turkey leg and I tried some of it. It was alright. I will never have the desire to get one myself but I wouldn’t mind having a bite every year or so ;).

  25. Cricket says:

    Let people eat what they want to eat. Who are we to judge on what anyone chooses to enjoy if it’s not harming anyone else.

  26. ryan says:

    You are not eating turkey friends – that is emu! And even if it is turkey, those birds are pumped full of a horrible diet and artificial hormones. You are what you eat.

  27. Joe says:

    Absolutely delicious…& fun to eat…& relatively healthy to eat. I love them!

  28. dan says:

    Just there last week and loved the turkey leg. I’m fit and exercise regularly so I am not concerned by calorie or fat content. Not to mention walking around Disney World for 10 hours that day. For a one time treat it was awesome.

  29. Kathy D. says:

    I think the turkey legs are gross. They look disgusting, and I hate the smell. Standing behind someone in line who is eating one makes me nauseous.

  30. Sandy says:

    There is no controversy about the big legs. They have been around for decades and decades. i used to buy them at the taste of Chicago and Six Flags long before I realized Disney sold them as well. I have also bought them at the grocery store (yes they were that big). I wish people would stop making drama where there is none.

  31. Randy Godeau says:

    For me, a trip to Disneyworld (normally twice a year) without a turkey leg would just not be the same. I love them! Don’t change a thing, thank you :o)

  32. Jennifer says:

    I personally don’t like them and wouldn’t get one, but seriously stop being so judgmental! You don’t like it, fine, that doesn’t mean you need to bash everyone over the skull with your hatred and disgust.

  33. Steph M says:

    LOVE THEM!! I can’t eat more than a few bites at a time, but it works to get a few for the family to share. YUM! They taste more like ham than turkey to me which is a bonus.

  34. Christine says:

    They are disgusting!!!! I’m vegetarian and for me I am nauseous when I see them!!! I’ll pass thank you!

  35. Steph M says:

    Right on, Cricket! People need to occupy less of their time wondering, judging and putting down other for what they like and don’t. The world would be an amazing place if people did.

  36. Robin P says:

    ryan, it’s not emu, please get your facts straight.

    The pork shank is tastier. Split one last year for lunch with my daughter and we ordered a small fries and it was more than enough.

  37. Brian says:

    Dear readers what about to tell you about Walt Disney World,,, things I have witnessed. .. slicing up poor defenseless TOmatO”s peeling off there skins while still alive. ,,, the senseless cruelty to vegetable s!!!! Must be stoped, Oh the humanities. .o_O!!

  38. Former Cast says:

    As an X Cast Member I’ve seem it all all and heard it all. Everyone has their Disney traditions. The turkey leg is one of them. And most people while on vacation throw out common sense and calorie counting. Some of the food traditions at Disney you would never find or do in the “real” world so leave the turkey leg and others alone. Is it healthy? No…but neither is drinking around the world (especially during Food & Wine) but plenty of people do it…or the kitchen sink at Beaches & Cream, or the all you can eat buffet dinners that you eat until you burst….or a rice crispie treat that could feed a starving nation it’s so large….so if you don’t like it fine…but leave the people that do alone. And think about some of your traditions before you start criticizing

  39. Missy says:

    The comment saying they’re about double the price from 2005. Duh! That was 9 years ago. Almost everything has doubled since then: gas, milk, etc so that was a moot point. The way I see it – just like with ANYthing. If you want it & wanna pay for it – do so. If not, walk on by & get something you would enjoy. Spend your time enjoying the Disney park instead of judging everyone around you & you might just have a better time.

  40. Rebecca says:

    When you go to Disney World, you usually buy a food plan. That is the case when my mother took our family in 2005. The music playing that she had that your eyes rather restrictive on the meals that we could have; I mean how many would have during the week we were there. The turkey legs are considered a snack option on your plan, and it is therefore a good thing to be able to share between two people and only on the amount of one snack. It is a good way home stretching dog. However, if you are not me your plan and you were looking for a snack the turkey leg isn’t the healthiest because of its size, and usually it will be one person challenge down on the gigantic or snack. I am therefore against the turkey leg being an option because usually only one person will be eating and it therefore will have to feed obesity in America, in a tiny way. Since Walt Disney World is probably the most frequented park in the world, it should have snacks that are very healthy and good to have on a day when it is over 100° and it’s guests need replenishment.

  41. Ava Y. says:

    Looks somewhat barbaric when you see someone roaming around the park gnawing on one of these.

  42. Stacey says:

    I completely adore the Turkey leg and every year that I do go to Disney I have to have one. People complain of the calories in them but are people also realizing how much of a walk it takes to go threw all of the parks. At the end of the trip I doubt it would make a change since you will be more likely burning it all off unless you sit most of the time. I will agree with disliking the cartilage, but to each is there own. In all they are completely fabulous and it would not feel like Disney if they were no longer there. Disney does not offer many meal items you can hold in one hand and wait in line with out making a massive miss. Most require you to sit down. I think its a brilliant idea and I can not wait to have mine in 2014.

  43. Aaron Newton says:

    Yes the turkey legs are ridiculously high in calories, sodium, and fat.

    And image to eat HALF of one TWICE a year.

    People should worry more about what they eat on a daily basis. What you eat on vacation becomes practically meaningless.

  44. Alice Rademacher says:

    For the love of christ….if I want a turkey leg at $10 a leg I will have one. Even though I am not a fan of turkey at all and never eat it at Thanksgiving when I’m at home I will have a part of one when at Disney World. I could never eat a whole one, but the smell gets me every time.

  45. David says:

    Never had one at Disney, but I like turkey legs grilled with bar-b-q sauce or fried. They are delicious and I can certainly eat 2-3 at a sitting. Guess it’s a guy thing ?

  46. E Diz says:

    Clearly the one who wrote this never ate a turkey leg whilst awaiting their buzzer to go off, signaling that their table was ready at the all you can eat buffet at the Crystal Palace restaurant on Mainstreet USA. What can I say…we were hungry.

  47. adrienne says:

    Those things are disgusting. The smell is obnoxious. I’m nauseous at the thought.

  48. Marmorgan says:

    Just one more reason to not eat something I wasn’t going to eat anyway.

    Surely I can think of…oh, I don’t know…about a *ZILLION* better ways to eat that many calories at a Disney park.

  49. Chris B says:

    Personally, I have no issue with the Turkey Leg contraversy.

    Here’s why:

    A. Male turkeys are MASSIVE. That is a fact. No horomones needed.

    B. Horomones/GMO are widespread through most meats in the US. Blaming one food item for “Horomone Injection” is like blaming the ocean for being wet and little salty.

    C. As for the health issue, unless you can afford to go to a Disney Park every day and have one, it’s unlikely you will gain ill effects from the one turkey leg. In fact, I myself can’t finish a whole one and while on our honeymoon, my wife and I shared the damn thing. Heck, everything at the parks meal wise is shareable – the portions are the typically massive american portions us Canucks have come to love for our vacation times. US citizens have cornered the art of gluttony, which is in much benefit for those of us who wish to indulge in excess while we a whisped away to magical places.

    Personally, I think attacking agricultural practices at that level are kind of silly, since there are a number of endangered species being slaughtered for their bitty parts for eating which we seem to forget too too easily. Shark fin soup anyone?

    Also, the Disney parks DO promote healthy eating. And I have found their healthy choices generous and delicious. It’s kind of like going to McDonald’s and saying “You have salad. That means you’re trying to promote healthy eating. Why do you still have the Big Mac then. McDonald’s – you suck!”

    You go to these places to have a choice. If you want to eat healthy, don’t order the turkey leg. If you want to eat a turkey leg, don’t order a salad.

    The blame game is ridonkulous, since we are all people with brains and free to make our own choices.

    Sorry bout that… /rant off

    C

  50. Chris B says:

    Oh yeah.

    And…

    ILOVETHOSEFRICKINTURKEYLEGSCAUSETHEY’REBLOODYDELICIOUS.

    :)

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