How to Vacation at Disney World Vegan Style
Paul and I went to Disney World for a long weekend getaway. We always try to get away before the holidays to regroup and relax.
Disney may be the “happiest place in the world,” but it certainly isn’t the healthiest or vegan-friendliest place. In fact, I was shocked by the amount of “unhealthy” people having difficulty getting around Disney. The food offerings, of course, don’t help any of this situation.
When the kids were little, we bought a Disney Vacation Club Time-Share. Our family enjoyed years of family vacations, and the kids loved every minute of it. Now that the kids are older, Paul and I enjoy long weekends of relaxation, at least until we have grandkids to spoil.
I have mastered the impossible task of eating healthy on the Disney property without ever having to rent a car. Although there are wonderful vegan restaurants in Orlando, which will cater to low-fat, vegan eating, we take the Magic Express from the airport and stay on property. Since we only go for long weekends, we don’t want to waste time in the car.
We stayed at Saratoga Springs this time, walking distance from Disney Springs. We chose this location on purpose, so we could walk to an array of restaurants at Disney Springs.
Saratoga Springs has two restaurants; the casual restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although limited in choices, few choices exist. They have fresh fruit daily, toast and bagels, an array of salads including a quinoa and kale salad. A veggie Panini and flat bread pizzas can be made to order without oil, butter or cheese. The finer dining restaurant doesn’t have anything, so we don’t even bother.
Disney Springs offers a variety of options as well. Believe it or not, Splitsville Lanes, the bowling alley, has a spicy vegetable rice bowl which was wonderful. They also have a veggie pizza; order with no cheese,and they will make oil free. For kids, they have pasta and marinara. Check on the menu on the attached link. This was a great place for the whole family; big TVS for games, bowling, outdoor patio.
Our next suggestion is Bongos Cuban Cafe at Disney Springs. The house salad or the avocado salad are both vegan. Note, the avocado salad is NOT on greens. It is more avocado than anything, so if you don’t want all avocado, stay clear. They have a fabulous vegetarian stew, which is vegan. They also have black beans and rice, just black beans, or just whole grain brown rice. Steamed mixed vegetables are available, but ask for no oil or butter.
They also make a great Virgin Mojito without any sugar. It was to die for!
A new high-end Mexican restaurant is located in the new part of Disney Springs called Frontera Cocina. The chips are homemade and great, but definitely fried. They serve a Sikil Pak, which is creamy Yukon pumpkin seed, habanero dip served with cucumber and jicama and tortilla chips. You can ask for more cucumber and jicama instead of chips. For an entrée, they serve a zucchini and Poblano Rajas Tostada, which is vegetarian. You have to ask for no goat cheese, and they are happy to comply.
Sometimes, Paul and like to restaurant hop instead of eating a full meal and taste something vegan in any location we can find. We revisited on of our favorite “hangs” Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar: The Landing-Disney Springs. This is an appetizer/drink stop only. Although they do not have ‘vegan’ fare, they are happy to accommodate your dietary needs. Air Pretzels are vegan. They are served with beer cheese and a mustard; just ask for double mustard. Allah’s Falafel is to die for; just remember to ask for no yogurt cheese sauce. You can also order Junior’s Flatbread without the turkey and chèvre. They will cover your flat bread with butternut squash and other veggies as a replacement for your cheese and turkey.
They also have a great non-alcoholic beverages.
My FAVORITE place to eat in Disney is Mortimoto. Every time we go to Disney, we make two reservations here. They have a back door that leads to the top of the restaurant overlooking Disney. The restaurant is beautiful! It used to be a bottling factory, so all the light fixtures are empty glass bottles that hang from the ceilings. There are so many possibilities on the menu, even the most picky vegan dines high on the “hog,” no pun intended. Our favorites are the vegetable dumplings, the veggie sushi roll, the Portobello mushroom fries (they are fried, so avoid if you are following a low-fat diet), and the vegetable egg rolls (also fired). The Portobello mushroom fries come with mayo, so ask for no mayo and they will bring gonzo sauce or soy, whichever you prefer. The Miso soup in vegan with large chunks of tofu and floating scallions. The House Green Salad is beautifully presented, and the dressing is tangy and delicious. The entrée possibilities are endless (just remember to say no egg). The Vegetable Lo Mein Noodles is fabulous, as is the Moritmoto Veggie Pad Thai (skip the egg). If you don’t want an entrée, the Veggie Tofu Medley is a must, as are the Wok Sautéed Chinese Vegetables and Steamed Brown Rice. The staff accommodates low-fat, and no oil. If you ask, they deliver.
A short bus ride from Disney Springs to the Boardwalk area provides a plethora of more dining choices. One of our favorite Italian fine dining restaurant, IL Mulino New York Trattoria. Everything is homemade and fresh. If you tell them you are vegan, they immediately provide options, although there are already options on the menu. Italian Chefs have a tendency to add cheese and oil to everything, but if you specify your preference, they are over the top accommodating. The dish son the menu we have tried and LOVE are the Minestrone Soup, which is vegan and Insalata Trattoria. The Risotto Con Fungi can be made vegan if you ask. The pasta dishes we adore are the Pappardelle with fresh tomato basil sauce, Rigatoni Con Fungi, and Penne Rigatoni with marinara. Again, express no oil, no cheese, and they will do as you please 🙂
Another restaurant, which most people do not even attempt, as vegans, is The Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. Despite the menu’s lack of vegan choices, the chef will make whatever fresh and fabulous dishes he/she has vegan, and even come to your table to discuss you choices. I happened up this accidentally while staying the boardwalk. I figured I would eat salad, when traveling with friends, and I was pleasantly surprised by a table side visit and one of the most incredible vegan meals I have ever had. I return every year with the exact same experience, but all unique meals, based on the seasonal vegetables available.
On the casual side of dining, The Rainforest Cafe offers two locations; Disney Springs and The Animal Kingdom. The menu has a variety of options. As an appetizer, try the Parrilla Veggie Flat Bread (hold the cheese). The Paradise Chopped Salad or the new Kale and Quinoa Salad are huge and filling. We tries the Rainforest Natural Burger with a side of Caribbean Rice. You have the option of seasonal vegetables too, but as for no butter, or it is swimming.
The burger was huge. Of course, our waitress questioned our choice and asked if we were sure, and if she should add mayo or cheese. We declined, and went for the original version. It was very veggie! and filling.
Blaze Pizza opened recently as well in the new part of Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). This is a make your own pizza place, so you get to choose whatever you get. They have vegan cheese, but you don’t have to opt for any cheese at all. You also can say “no oil,” and they leave the olive oil off. We ordered a veggie pizza, no cheese and a Kale, Quinoa, Cranberry Salad to split. It was wonderful!
Blaze has a “make your own salad option as well.” The prices are comparable to home (not Disney prices), so this is a great wallet relief as well.
One of our favorite snack stands is Wentzel’s Pretzels. For a vegan snack, you need to order the “non-fat Original;” this means no butter. The salt sticks just as well, and they are just as yummy. Obviously the dip choices are not an option, but what goes better with pretzels than mustard? My husband had a little fun making his version of a Donald Trump pretzel and expressing his love in his own pretzel way.
On our last day, Paul and I happened upon an incredible find. Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC. This is a fabulous little bakery in Disney Springs. And are you ready for this? The baked goods are refined sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan and kosher. Paul looked like he had found the gold at the end of the rainbow. He was in dessert heaven. The bakery serves breakfast, lunch items, and dessert. They also have lat night hours. Although I don’t have a sweet tooth, I took bites of Paul’s delicacies, and if you are going to eat this stuff, this is definitely the place to eat it. I wasn’t aware such a place existed, and it the mix of fattening options, it was a treasure amongst the fattening and unhealthy.
If you have any questions about any area in Disney, including the parks. please ask. I have been there hundreds of times. I have other suggestions, but I just focused on this passed trip.