(Mostly) Plant Based in Disney World (and Universal Studios)!

pizap.com14132139386231I 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 (as much as possible, I still allow some dairy and eggs on occasion), 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!

Magic Kingdom

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.

10710851_10152534236900326_7330502295980303420_nIn 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! (Update: veggie burgers and bean burgers do contain egg)

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, vegetarian, vegan and non omnivores alike, were lined up to try it. Next time I will have to go there straight away!

Epcot Center

1621982_10152536347755326_362402086891552208_nThe 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, I think it was seitan. 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.)

10659417_10152536829055326_2266905741063008077_nWe 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 omnivores 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 of 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.

Hollywood Studios

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 or vegetarian 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. 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.

10485310_10152542256225326_7359561796129786746_nEven 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 NOT vegan  but it is 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: The topping does have dairy in it, and they will not serve it without the topping, so if you’re vegan skip this.)

Those were the veggie 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 vegetarians 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!

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11 thoughts on “(Mostly) Plant Based in Disney World (and Universal Studios)!

  1. I am going to Universal next week and I am pre-inspecting menus.

    I emailed the chef at Universal and the butterbeer DOES contain milk so it is NOT vegan 😥

    Disney’s veggie burgers DO contain egg. Sigh.
    Love your blog!!!

    • Unfortunately I have been unable to confirm this myself since posting this blog. I have still seen conflicting information and no one at universal has been able to give a straight answer 😦

      I have also been told that the veggie burger I had at Hollywood studious had egg white in it.

      I can say for certain that the food I mentioned at epcott was definitely 100% confirmed vegan.

    • I just returned from a trip to Universal and Disney, and I was told definitively by a chef at the Leaky Cauldron that the butterbeer as it is prepared is NOT VEGAN. She could not tell me what made it so, due to strict copyright, but said that it was the topping that made it non-vegan, and that in Universal’s contract with JK Rowling, she insisted that it could not be sold without the topping. Something about it being a complete fantasy item, blah blah blah. This all pertains to the frozen and cold butterbeer, BTW. The hot butterbeer actually contains milk in the base, so it’s even farther from being vegan.

      I really wanted to try the butterbeer, so my boyfriend ordered a frozen one (just the topping’s not vegan), I inserted a straw with the plastic still on, to prevent the straw from picking up any of the topping, and once it was fully submerged I pulled off the plastic. Kind of cheating, but I wasn’t paying for the non-vegan drink (boyfriend would have bought it for himself anyway) and the topping is lighter than the drink so it floats on top and doesn’t separate. For the rest of our time there, I just had the pumpkin juice instead, which is actually really good, and more refreshing than the butterbeer in my opinion.

  2. I can confirm after emailing with a chef at Universal and talking to several members of staff in The Leaky Cauldron that the Butterbeer does contain whey in the foam topping, but they are told to tell people it is “dairy free” because whey is not considered to be dairy. They will not sell Butterbeer without the topping, so if you are dying to try it you can try and scrape the foam topping off, but I’ve also been told it is gross without with topping.

  3. It is my understanding that the black bean burgers at all of the parks contain egg. This is supposedly true at Disney, Universal, Cedar Point, etc.

  4. Just returned last night from Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando. Yes, the veggie burgers and back bean burgers at both parks still contain egg. The butter beer is still not vegan. The split pea soup contains ham. The tomato and potato leek soup have dairy. The Pad Thai (at Mythos and Confisco) has fish sauce, but they will make it without that for you. I am not sure if the Pad Thai would have come with egg, but we asked for it with out the fish sauce and egg, just in case.

    • yes, the topping is made with some sort product containing whey. Cant seem to get confirmation of exactly what it is though, and for some god knows what reason this is NOT considered dairy, so some reports say its ‘dairy-free’ which is very misleading. However, for those lacto-ovo vegetarians it is safe to have.

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