(plant-strong Mickey and Minnie!)
Engine 2 Immersion alumni and honorary Esselstyn, Allison recently went to Disney World with her family. She has been kind enough to share her experience about eating plant-strong while visiting Disney! If you are traveling to the Magic Kingdom, there is no need to fall off the plant-strong wagon. Keep it healthy and plant-strong while on vacation!
Plant Strong at the Mouse House
Swimsuit…check! Sunblock….check! Giant suitcase filled with food….check!
Preparation for our vacation to Disney World was like most other trips-washing clothes, packing clothes, etc. But this trip was different. I wanted to continue my plant strong lifestyle while at Disney World. Oh I could have said “it’s a vacation, eat what you want!”. But honestly, I feel great eating a plant strong diet, and I don’t want to change that feeling…ever!
I initially had some concerns after reading a few sample menus. And to make matters worse, we were mostly going to skip the sit down restaurants and do quick service (or counter service) restaurants. Those menus were even worse. Right out of the Standard American Diet playbook! Our saving grace was that my dad had picked out accommodations with a kitchen. Yea.
So I started planning and reached out to my E2 group. And here’s what I did:
1) Created a menu for the week-we decided to eat oatmeal with fruit in our room for breakfast, pack nut butter sandwiches for lunch and have a ton of snacks ready to go. This was a huge help! We have a six-year-old who is constantly hungry. We never once had to buy snacks/drinks at the park (thank goodness). We did eat dinners at the parks, and just one lunch.
2) Ordered perishable groceries from the Garden Grocer. They delivered the items to the bell stand of our hotel (frozen items frozen and cold items still cold) and were waiting for us when we arrived. Would suggest ordering at least 72 hours in advance to secure your delivery time. I ordered: bananas, oranges, frozen fruit, carrots, and bell peppers.
3) Purchased the book “Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando” by Susan Schumaker and Than Jaffel. I used this book to identify the restaurants with the best vegan options.
4) Packed a “food case” that we checked. That had nut butter, rolled oats, trail mix, bread, canned black beans, and a few other odds and ends. Thankfully it was under 50 lbs!
5) We also rented a jogging stroller for our son from Kingdom Strollers, which was delivered to the bell stand. Now my son is six and a half, has not used a stroller in over 3+ years and has hiked mountains with us in Washington State, but Disney World is a totally different story! Running from ride to ride on asphalt ground from early morning until late at night was going to exhaust any child. And we were able to load the bottom of the stroller with food/water. I was also able to hang my lumbar pack from the stroller handle when not going on rides. Kingdom Strollers also delivered 2 cases of bottled water to our room.
6) If you do have advance dining reservations, call the special diet hotline and request a vegan meal. I wish I had also asked for no oil, as I ended up with a salad with an oil-based dressing at one place (The Hoop-De-Doo Review). But at least I was not subjected to eating the giant bucket of fried chicken and ribs that everyone else was eating. My plate of roasted veggies was really good!
7) Bring backpacks into the park! In the morning we packed up for a day of fun. My husband carried a backpack with bottled water, frozen juice boxes, trail mix, salt free pretzels and sandwiches. My backpack had extra changes of clothes for the temperature fluctuations in the early morning/evening. Disney does check bags, but allows food to be brought in-just no glass or coolers. I did find a really cool plastic segmented snack container called “Fit and Fresh”. It has middle section for dips and a freezer pack that fits just under the lid. That worked well for our grapes and carrots.
8) If eating at a sit down restaurant without a reservation, just let your server know your dietary restrictions. The chef will come out to talk about vegan options. One restaurant gave me an incredible Portobello sandwich with a fruit salad (I nixed the fries, even if they were fried in vegan oil!). Our first night at Disney was spent at the German Biergarten buffet in Epcot (my dad’s selection-his name is Adolph and his father was a butcher if that gives you any indication of our heritage….). Amazingly when the chef came out to indicate the plant options, I ended up with an overflowing plate of cabbage, bean salad, lettuce and bread. Oh it was good!
Some of the other places we ate at:
-Olivia’s at Old Key West (where we stayed)
The chef came out and gave me a few vegan options. I had an amazing Portobello sandwich with fruit salad and rice dream ice cream for dessert.
-Tusker House in Animal Kingdom
An excellent buffet with a mix of African foods. Lots of yummy veggie options- Veggies with couscous, salad, bread. My plate was loaded! Again when I told the server, she had the chef stop by to walk the buffet with me.
-Tangerine café at Morocco in Epcot
Excellent counter service options.
Cosmic Ray’s café in Magic Kingdom
I felt the Magic Kingdom had the least amount of plant strong options, but I did find a veggie sandwich (just make sure they hold the mayo –eww).
A friend commented, “You know, most people are excited to go on vacation and pig out on junk. I think you’re more excited about the food you ordered from Garden Grocer than riding the rides”. That was rather true. And eating plant strong can sometimes be a challenge. But I find it to be an exciting challenge!
And a big thanks to Natala for sending the following resources!
Thanks Allison for the the guest post and the GREAT tips!
Do you have any tips for traveling to Disney? Please leave a comment!