Eating out when you are trying to watch your calories or your fat intake is difficult no matter where you are. It can be even harder when you are on vacation, fast food with a fried side dish is often the easiest choice. Fortunately Walt Disney World takes various eating habits into consideration at their restaurants and it is not hard to find a healthy meal. If you have special dietary restrictions or requests you should call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) and talk with someone about your needs. If you just want to make sure that you don’t overdo it there are options at all four parks, Downtown Disney and at the resorts that will help keep your calorie count under control.
The parks all have healthy options. You can purchase fresh fruit at all four of them and some of the other choices are healthier than you might think. A half cup of Dole Whip, for example, only has about approximately 80 calories. (Remember that you are served more than half a cup.) Disney does not release the nutritional information for most of their dishes but with a few careful questions you should be able to enjoy a great meal without blowing all of your hard work. You can always ask to speak to a chef if another cast member cannot tell you what you need to know.
The following list is by no means complete and not everyone will agree with every choice. It is meant as a starting point so that you will have an idea of where some of the healthier options are.
10) Cosmic Rays Starlight Café
Magic Kingdom-Tomorrowland; Counter Service
Cosmic Ray’s has three different “bays” from which to order, but they now all serve the same foods. There are chicken, burger, and sandwich options. There are healthy offerings at all three bays. Healthier chicken choices include ½ rotisserie chicken or a grilled chicken sandwich. You can also get a vegetable sandwich or a veggie burger. Apple slices can replace the french fries. One thing to watch out for at Cosmic Ray’s is the toppings bar. While some of the choices on it are healthy others will quickly add extra fat and calories.
9) 50’s Prime Time Café
Disney’s Hollywood Studios-Echo Lake; Full Service
Sometimes a little bit of comfort food on a hectic vacation can be a welcome alternative. The problem with many comfort foods is that they are high in fat, calories and sodium. 50’s Prime Time Café gives you a great alternative on the menu, the Blue Plate Special. Items on it will change, the restaurant markets it as a “healthy Seasonal alternative with all the fixings”. They also have Spaghetti and Vegetarian “Meatballs” which is made with multigrain spaghetti. Remember that you need to finish your food or you won’t get dessert. That includes a No Sugar Added Cheesecake.
8) Flame Tree Barbecue
Disney’s Animal Kingdom-Discovery Island; Counter Service
If you’re trying to watch your fat intake you may want to skip the cole slaw here. The Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich is a good choice, make sure you order it without the cranberry mayonnaise. The Barbecued Chicken Salad is another good option. There is also a Seasonal Fruit Plate which is served with honey yogurt. Ask for that to be served on the side and you’ll have a refreshing, healthy meal. Kids can have a Baked Chicken Drumstick. That comes with grapes, carrot sticks, and a healthy beverage.
7) ABC Commissary
Disney’s Hollywood Studios-Commissary Lane; Counter Service
On a hot day ABC Commissary offers some welcome relief. The eating area is large, making it fairly easy to get a table except during the busiest of times. Watch out, there are plenty of fried foods on the menu. They do have a couple of filling meals that are healthier. The Asian Salad is a combination of noodles and fresh raw vegetables. The other healthy choice is the Chicken Curry, which is served with rice. If you do order something that comes with french fries or chips ask if apple slices can be substituted. A no sugar added Strawberry Parfait is on the dessert menu. Kids can get a turkey sandwich, a much better option than the cheeseburger or the fried chicken nuggets.
6) Yak and Yeti Restaurant
Disney’s Animal Kingdom-Asia; Full Service
Yak and Yeti has some great choices for those who are watching what they eat but there are also many fried items as well. Ask a lot of questions if you are not sure, the servers are very knowledgeable. The Mandarin Chicken Salad is a good choice if you ask for the dressing on the side. The Ahi Tuna Salad is huge and filled with vegetables. The Seared Miso Salmon is a house specialty that is also healthy. If you order something that is stir fried ask them to cook your order without oil. Steamed jasmine or brown rice is available as a side dish, allowing you to fill up without adding a lot of extra calories.
5) Columbia Harbour House
Magic Kingdom-Liberty Square; Counter Service
Seafood restaurants at Disney are full of healthy and not-so-healthy food choices. Columbia Harbour House has its share of both. The Lighthouse Sandwich is hummus, tomato and broccoli slaw. The Anchors Away Sandwich is white tuna, lettuce and tomato. Sandwiches are served on multigrain buns, skip the chips that come with them. For something more than a sandwich there is Grilled Salmon. The Broccoli Peppercorn Salad and the Garden Harvest Salad are also healthy options. Both come with chicken. Sides include steamed broccoli and couscous.
4) Teppan Edo
Epcot-Japan Pavilion in World Showcase; Full Service
A quick word about World Showcase, it is filled with healthy options if you pick and choose carefully. There are also plenty of things that have more fat and calories than most people should consume in one sitting. Watch out for fried foods and heavy sauces. Consider splitting an entrée with another member of your party, some of the meals are huge.
Teppan Edo is known not only for their fresh food options but also for the show. The chefs prepare the food right in front of you, making it easy to keep an eye on what you are going to eat. Try the Tori; a dish made of chicken with seasonal vegetables, rice and udon noodles. The Yasi is the vegetarian version. Consider making a meal out of an appetizer, the Sushi Sample is a good choice. You could add a garden or seaweed salad and a bowl of healthy, but delicious, Miso soup.
3) Sunshine Seasons
Epcot-The Land Pavilion in Future World; Counter Service
With a name like Sunshine Seasons you know that you are going to find some healthy choices. The restaurant is made up of four different bays, each with different items. You might want to try the Seared Tuna Salad or the Oak-Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Sandwich. The Grilled Salmon is also a good choice. Rotisserie Chicken is sold as well. Sunshine Seasons is known for their willingness to accommodate special dietary requests, ask ahead of time if possible.
2) California Grill
Disney’s Contemporary Resort; Full Service
A meal at California Grill is a dining experience. Make your reservation well in advance, especially if you’re hoping to be there to see Wishes from the Magic Kingdom. California Grill offers more than just atmosphere, there are many healthy options on the menu. They pride themselves on using the freshest possible ingredients. Start off with sushi or the Florida Peach Salad. Try the Roaster Organic Chicken for the main course or the Columbia River Wild King Salmon. The Peaches and Cream cake for dessert is made without added sugar. The menu changes from time to time, ask to see a copy before you enter the restaurant so you will not be tempted once you are seated. (Honorable mention at the Contemporary is the Wave, with many healthy options.)
1) Fresh A-Peel
Downtown Disney Marketplace; Counter Service
Fresh A-Peel brings a whole new meaning to healthy eating while on vacation. Located inside the same building as Pollo Campero, they use locally grown produce and hormone free meats. Popchips or carrot sticks are served instead of french fries. Burgers, hot dogs and various salads are served. Multigrain buns are used. The veggie burger is made out of falafel, offering a change from the other Disney vegetarian burgers. Fresh A-Peel also has fresh fruit smoothies and probiotic vanilla frozen yogurt. While you’re there visit the babycakesNYC counter for vegan baked goods made without gluten or processed sugars. They taste so good that you’ll never know that anything is missing.