By Meredith West
I LOVE DISNEY! My family loves Disney World! Disney is a magical place where wonderful memories can be made with your family, but those memories shouldn't be at the expense of your health. So of course, we've got you covered with our Eating Out in Disney Guide (PDF download below) and park tips and packing tips to always be prepared for any meals during your stay at Disney!
If you really think about it, Disney World—or any vacation for that matter, is just another week. Do you normally wake up on am Monday and say “I am going to gorge myself this week, stuff my face with every treat that comes my way, and not have a plan.”
In the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge, we teach our clients to prepare for the expected and unexpected. Having prepped meals, snacks and a plan for eating out sets us up for success. A few treats or an off-meal will not stall progress towards your goals, but an entire vacation of bad choices can set you back not only physically, but mentally as well. It's hard to reset after a complete fall off the wagon! Do yourself a favor and at least let the wagon drag you, ha!
Disney with kids takes a lot of planning. It can be stressful. Your food and heath do not have to cause additional stress. Whether you use a Disney Dinning Plan or not, we've got your covered with a plan for either scenario.
For my family of 5, I have figured out that it is not worth it for us to purchase the Disney Dining Package. Mostly because of my picky eaters I take so much food and have access to a small fridge. But having the Disney Dining Plan has it's perks as well if you want to eat well while at Disney parks. It is best just to crunch the numbers and assess what would work best for your family.
Disney World allows in ALL outside food and drink (except alcohol). I take full advantage of this! It is great to have parent and kid snacks handy to calm the HANGRY and could save you quite a bit of money. Each day I pack a soft sided cooler bag (I use a Scout bag purchased at Accents in Hattiesburg), I freeze water bottles to serve two purposes—most of these small soft coolers do not hold ice well and water to drink.
I pack a lot of food because of my FOMAM (fear of missing a meal) and because if anyone is hungry NO ONE is having fun! It's amazing how quickly a child’s behavior and attitude can change after they have had a banana. A Disney trip for the West children also means we go to Sam’s or Walmart and they get to pick out stuff we don’t keep in the house on a regular basis. Uncrustables, Cheezits, Rice Crispy Treats, and fruit snacks are some of the things they choose that get me though to the next meal without a melt down.
Items to pack not needing refrigeration:
- Individual packs of olives
- Tuna packs
- Protein Bars
- Premixed Shakes
- Ostrim beef Jerky
Items to pack needing very little refrigeration:
- Boiled eggs
- Mini pepers
- Sugar snaps
- Mini guacamole or hummus
- Deli meat roll ups
There are many facets to planning ahead. Planning ahead can save you time, money, and help you stay on track!
Planning ahead and packing the whole family a lunch to have in the park saves a ton of money and gives you more time to ride rides!
If you have access to a room with a mini fridge or full size refrigerator your options are endless. We love to order both a big fruit and vegetable tray! I make a simplified version of CK Ranch with ranch powder and an individual size greek yogurt. Just mix the powder with the yogurt and you are ready to go!
Get your groceries delivered
I highly recommend Orlando Grocery Express for grocery delivery to any Disney or surrounding hotel! You can order groceries online before you leave and they will be waiting for you upon arrival. We eat breakfast in the room a lot of mornings. Low-Sugar instant oatmeal can be made with the hot water from the in room coffee pot. If it is in your budget, Room Service at Disney is willing to cook ANYTHING to your specifications. Even if it is on not on the menu! Don’t be afraid to ask!
The food at Disney is wonderful and full of variety, you just have to know where to go. Just like how you will learn in the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge, failing to plan is planning to fail. Fill your meal habits or eating better quality doesn't take a vacation just because you are in Disney. You can and should add in the good anywhere you go. It just takes a little planning ahead.
Dining Plan Tips
- Research the menus before you go. Disney has the menu of every single restaurant in the My Disney Experience website and on disneyworld.disney.go.com website. We even made did the work for you in a downloadable pdf— Clean Kitchen’s Eating Out in Disney Guide!
- Book Table Service meals as soon as possible. They book up fast! Dining Reservation open up 180 days in advance from a booked hotel reservation. Check out the menus and decide what type meals and experiences are best for your family. One of my all time favorites is the Hoopty Doo Revue!
- Trade your dessert in for an extra water bottle. For each quick service meal on the Disney Dining plan you are not limited or forced to get a dessert. They will allow you to trade your dessert for a bottle of water!
I can not recall a bad Disney meal that I have had! I have also participated in the Versus S&C Challenge 3 times while at Disney, as well as on CK 12 Week Challenge and being a CK coach. Its not hard to find the good, and with all the extra walking you might actually lose weight! (My husband Gary lost lost to 10 pounds on our 2014 trip to Disney World. No fair…right?!?!)
Plan for your Treats
When in Disney with my family of 5, I personally choose my treats (when not participating in a challenge) to be of the adult beverage type. Its nice to have a glass or two of wine at dinner (or in the room) after a non-stop day in the parks! My Favorite Drink in Disney is a Tea Breeze (found only on Epcot at the Canada Pastry Kiosk and at the Jeoffery’s Coffee Kiosk by test Track) It is Grey Goose Vodka, Unsweet tea, and a splash of frozen lemonade. There is also a Delicious frozen lemon drink in France at the Grey Goose Kiosk.
Pro tip: Never order you own ice cream, popsicle, popcorn, pretzel, ect. If you are patient, you precious child will more than likely pass it off to you when they have eaten half (or even just one bite or two). I love having a bite of something so that I do not feel deprived or like I am missing out. It is also the frugal side of me that HATES to throw away any food!
If not using the Disney Dining plan, time and money can be saved by not hitting up a table service meal for more than one meal a day. My family loves riding everything multiple times, so we love to eat at good quick service restaurants. One of my favorites is Pecos Bill’s Tavern in Frontier Land. The CK recommended dish is the Fajita Platter (enough for 2, maybe 3). In the tavern there is a topping bar with all you can eat guacamole, salsa, chopped tomato, jalapenos, corn, cheese and lettuce. I make a hug salad with my portion and Gary uses the tortillas. My baby has also made a meal of just guacamole!
Disney is FUN! Disney food is great, if you look for the good! Have a blast making memories with your family and feel good about what you put in your body…. and maybe if you are lucky even lose a pound or two!If you want some extra support while in Disney and planning for it, check out the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge! We can help you learn to navigate any situation. Download the Clean Kitchen’s Eating Out in Disney Guide! Register for the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge here!