I just came back from a week in Orlando Florida, visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios and LegoLand. It was a blast!
Being plant based (vegan), I had done some research on what were some good places to eat and snacks to try, and I can say that I was not disappointed! I wanted to share with everyone some of the best snacks and places to eat while on your own trip!
All the Disney parks have Mickey Soft Pretzels, if you are hungry and need something quick you are sure to find these! I had one for a late morning snack/lunch, and I got some mustard to dip it in, it was pretty good.
In the all new Fantasyland there is a small area next to the new ‘Be Our Guest’ Restaurant that looks like the little town that Belle is from in Beauty and the beast. There is a cute shop and Gaston’s Tavern. We popped in there for a quick snack and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a lot of offerings for vegetarians, and for the vegans they had a fruit plate, a veggie plate with hummus, and the highlight was La Fou’s Brew. This ridiculous concoction of frozen apple juice, sweetened with a toasted marshmallow syrup and topped with mango foam was AMAZING! It was tasty, sweet, and beat the heat! Even came in a cute souvenir mug :) (Update: I have confirmed that the drink is dairy free and ingredients lists appear to not have animal products, however, ‘natural flavors’ are listed and I cannot confirm that they are vegan, I personally feel fine drinking it, but if you are uber sensitive to making 100% sure your consuming vegan products you may not want to try this)
In Tomorrowland there is Ray’s Cosmic Starlight Cafe. There is a section for sandwiches and salads where you are sure to find something to eat, but I highly recommend going over to the Burger area and getting a veggie burger and fries. It was SO YUMMY! They have a toppings bar for you to add whatever you want, I had mustard, pickles and sauteed onions. Also, it was a good deal, about 9 dollars got you a lot of food!
I wanted so badly to try the Dole Whip, as it was recommended by many other vegan friends, but the line was an hour long, no joke! Everyone, vegan and non vegan, were lined up to try it. Next time I will have to go there straight away!
The Land was one area of Epcot I was looking forward to the most. The educational tour of the sustainable farming and research that Epcot is a part of was amazing. And better yet we then got to eat some of these foods! The Sunshine Seasons restaurant had lots of options to choose from. There was a grilled veggie pita sandwich, a selection of salads (many had cheese which you could easily ask for without) and there was an Asian noodle area, although all the dishes were served with rice not noodles! The Asian section also had a grab and go area where you could get vegetable fresh rolls, veggie sushi, seaweed salad etc. The highlight for me was the Tamarind Vegan ‘beef’. I should have asked what it was made out of, but I was so hungry I didn’t care. It was so delicious and again inexpensive (editors note: when I say ‘inexpensive’ I mean for Disney standards, it was still upwards of 10 dollars for one dish at lunch!) for how filled up I felt afterwards.
We were lucky to have booked our trip during the annual Food and Wine Festival too, so there were plenty of places to stop for quick bites and tastes all throughout the World Showcase. The very first food booth we came across was called Terra, and it was ALL VEGAN. Not only was this all vegan but it was amazing, even the non vegans in my group were loving the dishes we tried. First up was the crabless crab cake, served with a spicy sauce and slaw. I would eat it over a real crab cake any day, it was unbelievably delicious! Next up was the chocolate and blood orange cupcake with chocolate tofu frosting. I’m not a big fan of orange flavor in my food, but this was perfect and subtle, and you would never know it was a ‘vegan’ cupcake, it was moist and the frosting, wow! Lastly, to drink we had fresh watermelon juice. I have no words for how much I love this beverage. It was literally just watermelon juice, nothing else, and it may be fighting for the number one spot on what I ate on this vacation. I am about to dig the juicer up out of the basement and start juicing watermelons all the time!
There were plenty other delicious things to eat, all of the menus were marked with vegetarian choices, and almost every place had something for the vegetarians. It was a little harder for vegans, as many of the vegetarian dishes had cheese or dairy in them. However, not impossible. At Disney they were very accommodating when you told them you were vegan.
Hollywood studios, like Magic Kingdom, had snack stands all over with the soft pretzels, popcorn, even funnel cakes. Although not the healthiest options, they were vegan. We didn’t realize how busy the parks would be and failed to make reservations at a restaurant for dinner, so we went to the marketplace on Sunset Boulevard, near the Tower of Terror. I found a delicious veggie black bean burger, topped with a spicy sauce and guacamole, and serve with fries. Very yummy, about 10 dollars and I could hardly finish it, it was so big, bigger than the regular beef burgers. There were also places to get fresh fruit and lemonade, which was lovely on such an excruciatingly hot day! Hollywood Studios is a smaller park, it seemed to me that unless you went to one of the restaurants, the black bean burger or a plain salad were your only options for a vegan meal, outside of snacks like fruit, popcorn and soft pretzels.
Universal Studios – Wizarding World of Harry potter: Diagon Alley
I am only going to talk about Diagon Alley, because that’s were we ate and spent 90% of our day. I would like to assume that throughout the park there are things to eat for vegans, but I can tell you right off the bat Universal was not nearly as friendly and aware of vegan diets as Disney Parks are. When I told the person I was ordering from that I was vegan she told me that she had no idea what that meant! That part aside, we did enjoy a wonderful day. We ate lunch AND dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. There were little to no vegan friendly options. At lunch I shared the Ploughman’s Platter (serves 2) with my friend, and it was tasty. A salad of greens with a zesty mustardy vinaigrette, pickles, a piece of bread, a beet and apple salad, as well as two kinds of cheese, scotch eggs (which I gave to my husband) and a mustard aioli (made with real mayo). I avoided the cheeses and the mustard, and was satisfied with the rest of the platter. At dinner they told me they had a vegetable platter that was not on the menu, and it was salad and veggies, so I ate it, and it was good, but nothing special.
Even though I wasn’t thrilled with the food options, the MOST DELICIOUS thing I had on the trip was at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and that was the BUTTERBEER! It is vegan and non alcoholic, and I cannot gush about how amazing this stuff was enough. I was worried it was going to be sickeningly sweet, but it wasn’t it was just perfect. It tasted a bit like cream soda, and the butterscotch tasting foamy topping was what made it. I had about three of them, I could have had more, and I went into withdrawal from it as soon as we left the park. I plan on finding as many copycat recipes as I can to try to recreate this nectar of the gods! (Update: Many sources are conflicting as to whether or not butterbeer is vegan. Some say it is, some say it isn’t, some say it is only dairy free, but not necessarily vegan. As of today, my research shows that Universal has yet to provide a definitive answer to anyone yet.)
Those were the vegan highlights of the trip. I will say that we also went to downtown Disney and ate at T-REX. When I first looked at the menu I was sad that I would probably end up eating another plain salad for lunch, but then I decided to just ask the waitress, and it turns out they had a veggie burger available that is not on the menu, It was quite tasty and served with guacamole. So, I strongly urge you to speak up and ask the waitstaff if there is anything else for vegans like a veggie burger, because I realized that at Disney, there usually is! Also, we realized that although they check your bags at all the parks, they were not strict about bringing in outside food and drinks, so everyday we packed some apples, bananas, veggie sticks, nuts and water bottles. We probably saved hundreds of dollars by filling up our water bottles at the water fountains all over the park and having healthy snack options on hand.
I hope this helps you plan your next trip! Enjoy!