Vacation dining usually means receiving huge plates of extremely generous portions of food, and often of the greasy variety. It may look and smell wonderful, but it can cost a small fortune, and you’ll feel obligated to eat every bite (as well as what the kids don’t finish). Delicious as they are going in, large portions of greasy and salty foods tend to not mix well with Florida’s heat index. Most of us would rather spend time experiencing the magic of Disney rather than scoping out the nearest bathroom, so here’s how you can avoid the stomachache:
If possible, stay in a hotel that offers a full kitchen, and dine in before and after trips to the park. There are a couple of online grocery delivery services that you can use, and they will conveniently stock your fridge and pantry before your arrival. The prices are reasonable, and the delivery fee is well worth the savings in taxi fare and time spent doing your own grocery shopping. Compared to eating all meals in the parks, it’s downright cheap—and it’s suitable for every diet.
If not a full kitchen, your room is probably at least equipped with a mini-fridge. Stock it with yogurt to mix with granola for a healthy breakfast or late night snack. Breakfast bars, grapes and trail mix are excellent options for snacks that will be much more stomach friendly than the cotton candy, popcorn and chocolate sold in the parks. Any little snack that doesn’t need to be kept cold, throw it in a little backpack or bag and head to the parks.
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
The kid’s meals always have the option of replacing the side of fries with fruit or vegetables. Consider ordering healthy meals for everybody and sharing an order of fries or onion rings instead. That allows everyone to get their fix of great smelling goodies, but they’re mostly filling up on foods that won’t cause stomach issues while riding good ol’ Thunder Mountain Railroad. Honestly, the vegetables and fruits at Walt Disney World are nothing short of amazing, anyway. Since so much of what is served is grown on property (you can even take a tour!), the freshness and flavors are incredible.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a special treat now and again. The real problem is when these ice cream and junk food stops start to happen every couple of hours. Yummy treats are available approximately every twenty yards, so overeating without realizing it is all too easy. Try limiting the special treats to one per day, and look for healthier options throughout the parks. We love the Dole Whip Float in the Magic Kingdom, the almond-covered pretzel from Norway in EPCOT and the blueberry-banana smoothie from Animal Kingdom. These are absolutely delicious, and they aren’t sold outside of the parks.
THE SPECIAL MEALS
When character dining, you may have a set menu and price per number in your party. Others may be buffet style, so you will have more freedom to choose good-versus-bad type foods. If you actually order from a menu, remember that your kids most likely have eyes that are much bigger than their little stomachs. They also may insist that they’re starving and can’t possibly share a meal, but usually the portions are more than enough for one person. Suggest sharing a meal and then if they’re hungry after, they can snack on something that you brought. When possible, order for them and pass out the food so that they can sample everything on the table. Trust me, there won’t be any unsatisfied little bellies after that!
It requires a little extra preparation and perhaps a small backpack, but eating healthier at Walt Disney World is certainly do-able. As long as the majority of the food that you’re getting throughout the day is nutritious, you can’t go wrong with the occasional Mickey-shaped ice cream bar. A little balance and a little extra care is all you need to ensure that you have the best time at the happiest place on earth.
Michelle Rise is a homemaker, a mother of five and a travel enthusiast. With many years of experience trekking through Florida with her family, Michelle has become an expert on navigating families through Disney parks. When she’s not writing about her experiences or teaching her children to drive, Michelle can be found chasing the family dog up Rainbow Mountain with her husband of over 25 years, Ben. You can follow Michelle on Twitter, @Rise7Up, for all of her latest writings.