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.

Counter Service Dining with an Adventerous Child at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbor House and Cosmic Ray’s offer mixed greens with chicken for [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: A Parent’s Dilemma — Multi-Line Quick Service

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster ponders how to avoid lost kids and cold food at the multi-line quick service locations like Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and Sunshine Seasons.

While I am obviously a fan of Disney dining in general, there is one particular aspect of eating at Walt Disney World that, as a parent, I find maddening: the multi-line quick service restaurant.

For those of you new to eating at WDW, some of the quick service (otherwise known as counter service) restaurants are set up with one order/payment line for all types of food items served there. The out-of-Disney-World analogy to this would be McDonald’s or similar fast food restaurants where you walk up to the cashier and tell him you want a burger, your husband wants chicken, and your daughter wants a salad. You pay and they give you all your food on one tray. Makes sense, right?

Epcot's Electric Umbrella. Single-line quick service. Many foods, one place to order.

However, many quick service restaurants on Disney property do not follow this model. Instead of one place to order all the items sold at that location, there are multiple lines. One line to order burgers, one line to order chicken, one line to order salads, and so on. The out-of-Disney-World analogy to this is the mall food court.

Multi-line, food-court-style, quick service restaurant.

So, Here’s the Problem

The multi-line quick service restaurant became my personal pet peeve way back in 1998, during our first trip to WDW with our oldest daughter, who was not quite two years old at the time. We were staying at [Read more…]

Guest Review — Theme Park Throw Down: Counter Service

After long deliberation, Nick T. of Disney & Beyond has ranked the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks based on his interpretation of the quality of their counter service offerings! Every once in a while we like to stir things up on the Disney Food Blog, so we’d love to hear your opinion on the matter — did Nick get it right, or would you change some things around?  Take it away, Nick!

Backlot Express

Just over a month ago, a friend and I, both avid readers of The Disney Food Blog, got into a debate about the best overall counter service options in Walt Disney World’s parks. What started as a fun, simple discussion quickly turned heated, and I started to wonder what the reaction would be if I shared my opinions with the world. Thanks to AJ, now I can. I’d simply like to rank, in my humble opinion, the four Disney World theme parks based on counter service offerings.

For this list, I have taken into account both food and atmosphere. The food part is obvious, but I take atmosphere into account because I feel that is what makes the experience uniquely Disney, and it can actually add to the dining experience. But enough of this chit chat, yak yak, and flim flam. Just refrain from hibernating and enjoy the show. (Some Disney Fudge to whoever is the first to recognize that line.)

ABC Commissary

4. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Yes, I rank the park formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios as the worst overall in park counter service. Why? Well, to me, both the food selection and the atmosphere of the counter service restaurants in the park are quite [Read more…]

5 Best Quick-Service Dining Plan Values

Wolfgang Puck Express

You heard about our Five Best “One-Credit” Table-Service Values last week, so I wanted to share what I believe to be the five best quick-service values today! These are my picks based on what you get for one quick-service credit on the Disney Dining Plan; they may not stand up as the best when we consider paying out of pocket.

Hopefully this will be useful to those of you heading down to the World for free dining this fall!

Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney (West Side and Marketplace)

With the famous (and delicious) rotisserie chicken ringing up at over $14 plus tax, it costs more than some table service meals. Some of the salads and sandwiches alone will cost [Read more…]

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!

Tips for Eating Healthy in Walt Disney World

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 [Read more…]