Special Dining Needs at Disney: Doing Your Vegan Park Prep

Quick_Service_Healthy_Snacks_(Shutter's_at_Old_Port_Royale_at_Disney's_Caribbean_Beach_Resort)There are a few things that everybody looks forward to when it comes to vacation, and one of them is almost always eating. Disney World is definitely a food lover’s paradise and that doesn’t change even if you do have an extra layer of special like I do and are vegan.

Not eating anything animal related might trim out most things that immediately pop to mind when you think about your excursion through the parks (please join me for a moment of silence for funnel cakes and caramel Mickey Pants apples…) but that doesn’t mean that you have to subsist on granola that you lug into the parks in your backpack (though this is totally an option and something that I am a big fan of). Doing a little bit of planning ahead and then adventuring with a strategy will ensure that you can vacation binge with the rest of them, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or have another type of food restriction.

Over the next couple of weeks we are going to talk about what it’s like to be a “World traveler” as a vegan and how to make the absolute most of it. We’re going to start with…

The Prep Work.
You’ve planned your FastPass+ reservations, bought your Memory Maker, and even customized your MagicBand. Now it’s time to put the same kind of forethought into what you are going to eat. Whether you are the only vegan in the family or you are a whole family of plant lovers, getting a jump on your planning helps you to feel more confident you are never going to get like Winnie the Pooh and have a rumbly in your tumbly while touring, and gets you organized so you can enjoy those hot-ticket meals like everyone else.

Make reservations. As soon as you hit the 180-day mark, make your dining reservations. Grab the hard to get spots first. This includes ones such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, Crystal Palace for breakfast, and Minnie’s special dinners in Hollywood Studios. When you are making your reservation online, look for the special requests area. This will let you denote “allergies”. While veganism isn’t necessarily based on allergies, this is your place to show what you can’t eat, so check off eggs, dairy, shellfish, poultry, and anything else you see that you do not want included. This is your first step toward vegan yumminess

Give them a call. Once you have made your reservations, call Disney Dining. Give them your reservation information and let them know that you are vegan. They will make a note of it on your reservation so that the restaurant is prepared. You are now building your foundation for some pretty amazing plant-based meals

Read the menus. You watched ride videos, read the maps, and may have even marked off everything that you want to see so that you have a touring plan. Now it’s time to get that familiar with the food options. Go online and read the menus for all of the different quick service locations where you might eat. This can give you an overlay of what is available to you straight off the menu. You can then start planning for substitutions. The Lighthouse sandwich at Columbia Harbour House, for example, is vegetarian as-is, but if you ask for them to leave off the slaw, you have a satisfying vegan meal. Jot down things that you might have questions about and you can ask Cast Members when you arrive. Plan to get creative. Vegan eating at Disney is quite literally a walk in the park. You might not be able to just sidle up to any counter service location and order something without checking or asking for a couple of tweaks, but if you get creative and commit to a little bit of exploring, you can find some hidden gems that come together to make an amazing meal that you might even find your meat-eating counterparts drooling over.

Start reviewing the menus for different small restaurants and kiosks so you can plan some of your creative meals. One of my favorites is to head over to Pecos Bill next to Splash Mountain and share a veggie fajita bowl with my mommy. She isn’t vegan, but she loves these things. Be sure to ask for plain rice instead of cilantro rice, since that has dairy in it. Also ask for an extra order of tortillas. Now you have a giant bowl of rice, beans, peppers, onions, and other goodness. This is just the start. Head on into the main room and visit the phenomenal toppings bar. Load up on the mushrooms, onions, roasted corn, guacamole, and tomatoes, and create the best-ever loaded fajitas. Mommy likes to appeal to her non-veganness by tossing on some shredded cheese and sour cream as well.

Next time we’ll talk about some of the best vegan meals, snacks, and treats you can find in the World, and how to make sure that you get the vegan meal you want at all those restaurants where you made reservations.

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.

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