The most important part of a vacation is the free pass to eat all the delicious food you want (or is that just us?). Either way, Walt Disney World® has fine-dining experiences you won’t want to miss out on. Whether it’s trying the ethnic cuisine in Epcot, enjoying the character buffet in Magic Kingdom®, or eating tasty carnival-style treats, chowing down is one of the most fun parts of visiting the parks. Walt Disney World® makes enjoying a meal for vegetarians and vegans easy and just as delectable too.
As a growing number of guests are vegetarian and vegan, Disney® has responded by providing meals that cater to these diets. Most restaurants offer at least one dish on the menu as a veggie option and counter eateries offer similar choices. In addition, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has featured a vegan kiosk since 2012.
To make your Orlando stay the most relaxing and stress-free, there are a few key tips to provide helpful information for your vegetarian or vegan diet. Since many vegetarian and vegan diets have personal variances, it is always a good idea to ask for ingredients, but following these guidelines will help lead you to some of the best meat, egg, and dairy-free meals in Orlando.
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You can find menus for most counter service restaurants online at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com to help you plan ahead, but here are some highlights:
Columbia Harbor House is a hot spot for vegetarian sandwiches and chili including veggie burgers and wraps.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café not only has veggie burgers but also satisfies your sweet tooth. Try delicious vegan mango gelato or vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
Sunshine Season located in the land pavilion boasts a breakfast menu with plenty of fresh fruit and is also popular for other vegetarian options. Surrounding Epcot counter-service restaurants also have a wide range of choices.
Booths for world cuisine from countries like China and Morocco serve up dishes that go beyond the usual sandwich or wrap.
You can get your pizza fix at Pizza Planet, which is a good choice if cheese is not a restriction for you. Vegans can satisfy their hunger at places like the Backlot Express and the Studio Catering Company, both of which feature appropriate sandwiches.
The Asia area features vegetarian egg rolls and Restaurantosaurus has a vegetarian burger. If cheese is on your menu, grab a slice at Pizzafari.
Disney® restaurants aspire to be accommodating, so many have a vegan option on the menu and the buffets generally have so much variety that you'll be able to meet your needs. A good tip though is to speak with a chef when you arrive or to call ahead of time to make sure you will have all the options you desire. Restaurants welcome a call in advance since it's more difficult for a chef to take the time to chat at length with a guest when the restaurant is very busy.
First, when you book a table service reservation in advance, have the agent note that you're a vegetarian or vegan. A day or two before your visit call to see what your options are and make any special requests if you're not satisfied with the standard dishes. Start with the main switchboard at 407-824-2222 and ask to be transferred to the restaurant at which you have a reservation. You can do this at both table service and buffet restaurants.
One restaurant that has received praise for its vegetarian and vegan dishes is Food Network's famous Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Kouzzina. This Mediterranean-style eatery on the Epcot Boardwalk has been known to create vegan-inspired dishes upon request and already features some on its menu.
If you speak to a chef who has offered to make special accommodations, get that person's name and make sure he or she knows your name and the exact date and time of your visit. When you're checking in, let the Cast Member at the desk or podium know that you've made special arrangements.
Many food carts or kiosks within the parks offer yummy snacks that remind us of fairs and summer days, but these can be a little trickier since they could contain gelatin or be coon in non-vegetarian stock or oil. Asking the food attendant for the ingredients is always helpful. When in doubt a few options are always non-buttered popcorn, soft pretzels, or a favorite for vegetarians and vegans- hummus and chips.
For those hot Florida days, ice cream shops like the Main Street Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom® have frozen goodies like Rice Dream and Tofutti Florida for a cold and refreshing scoop of goodness.
If you have a vegetarian or vegan diet you have the option of bringing your own food into the parks. Security usually checks bags at each park entrance, so just let them know that you have special dietary restrictions. Your food can be stored in a rented locker until you're ready to eat. If you need a cooler for the food, make sure it has soft sides for easy carry and storing ability.
There are a few places to stop in on the way to the parks if you are going this route. There is a Whole Foods nearby off of Interstate 4 and Sand Lake Road. There is also a Publix with a salad bar and extensive Greenwise selection on Celebration Avenue and 192, just off I-4, as well as many other grocery stores in the vicinity.
Our townhomes and vacation homes near Walt Disney World® are extremely popular with guests who are on vegetarian and vegan diets. Since all of these homes have fully equipped kitchens and refrigerators with plenty of storage, this saves our guests a lot of money, time, and hassle since meal prep has been made that much easier. In addition, check out these many hotels that also offer refrigerators in the rooms, which is a great option if you are only staying for a few nights.
These options and tips make it easy for vegetarians and vegans to experience the variety of dining Disney® have to offer without added stress.