A number of years ago I arrived late in the evening at a Disney resort and wanted to grab a quick bite to eat. I called Disney Dining to ask them where I could find an inexpensive, tasty meal.
I was then promptly told by the operator (jokingly), “Uh, Sir, this is Disney…”
This led me to wonder, how can Disney food be so expensive when it is considered to be so bad by so many?
Disney food is considered bad by many people because it is made to cater to a wide audience. They are attempting to feed an international group with a variety of tastes and dietary restrictions. The result is bland food that is often lacking in salt or spice.
When you are visiting Walt Disney World, you begin to realize why many people refer to it as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’. It’s a great place to spend time with family and friends, enjoying the parks and all of the amenities they make available.
If you’re looking for good food, however, you need to look beyond what is on the surface. Disney realizes that your visit is all about the experience and is not necessarily about the food.
The goal at Disney is to feed as many people as possible while not offending as many people as possible with the food that is available.
Your goal should be to find the best food possible for the experience.
In this article, I’ll guide you to the best food that many people never discover in the parks from my years of personal experience!
I’m a current DVC (Disney Vacation Club) member so, as you can imagine I visit all the parks very regularly!
Can You Find Good Food at Disney?
Unlike the operator I spoke to at Disney Dining, who obviously had a good sense of humor, it certainly is possible to find good food at Disney. There are times when you can even eat at a reasonable price!
- Perhaps one of the best options to consider is going for small portions rather than a large meal.
Choosing appetizers off the menu is a great way to get a taste of what is available without being disappointed at paying a premium for lackluster food.
You also need to know where to look in order to find the best food available. Although there are food stations and restaurants located throughout the parks, sometimes the best choices are available outside of the parks.
If you’re visiting one of the four major theme parks, you can easily access the various resorts using Disney transportation. It is sometimes a welcome break to take a nice ride by boat, bus, or monorail to the resort to grab a quick bite to eat.
- You do not have to be staying at Walt Disney World to eat at any of the Disney resorts or hotels!
In fact, some of the best food you will find at Disney is at the resorts. They will feed you treats in line with the overall theme of the resort and you will find it to be head and shoulders above the ‘fast food’ options that are available inside of the parks.
One other option to consider is visiting Disney during the Food Festival. The festival typically spans from July till mid-November. During that festival, it is all about the food and you will find plenty of good choices while wandering around inside Epcot.
What Are the Unhealthiest Disney Foods?
While it may be true that Disney is the happiest place on earth, it is not always the healthiest place on earth. That is especially true when it comes to food, and many of the choices were not created with health in mind.
Primarily, this is because the majority of food sold at Disney parks is fast food. As such, you will not find many healthy choices available at the food stations and restaurants.
There may be some healthy food choices but they are few and far between. You really have to peruse the menu to see what is the best choice for you.
As far as the unhealthiest food choices at Disney are concerned, you have a lot of options available. Fried foods and sweet foods are everywhere you look, and if you haven’t dined on a giant turkey leg, you really haven’t experienced Disney food yet!
Some of the seemingly healthy choices can also be deceiving.
For example, you might choose a salad from a menu thinking that it is a healthy choice but when you look further at the nutritional information, you find out that it isn’t the same salad that you would make at home.
Sometimes, it is just a good idea to go with it and spend a couple of days snacking on things that are not exactly the healthiest food choices.
If you are eating a specialized diet, however, there are options available. This includes an option that most people overlook.
If you have ever wondered how to become a Disney Cast Member I have written a detailed guide!
There is even a YouTube channel dedicated to all the food at Walt Disney World! Check It Out Below!
Can You Bring Your Own Food into the Parks?
One option that is frequently overlooked is the possibility of bringing your own food into the parks at Disney. Doing so is allowed by Disney, provided you follow their guidelines and inform a member of the cast at the Security Center when you bring food into one of the parks.
Even though you can bring food into a Disney park, there are limitations as to the type of food you can bring in.
The general guideline is that you can bring any food or beverage into the park for self-consumption only. They cannot be in a glass container and must not require any type of refrigeration, heating, or temperature control.
Another interesting restriction is that you cannot bring food into a Disney park that has a pungent odor. If you were planning on bringing that tuna salad in for lunch, you’re out of luck.
Then again, if you want to pack some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids along with a bag of carrots and celery slices, it makes for a great, inexpensive meal at the park. Try getting a little creative with the food choice and you will find it is easy to stay within the guidelines.
Even though it is permissible to bring food into Disney parks, I would still suggest grabbing a Disney-themed snack. It is especially a good idea if it is your first time at the park or if you don’t come very often. Give yourself the Disney experience, at least a little.
What Are the Best Places to Eat at the Four Disney Parks?
Each of the four main Disney parks offers good choices for food. They also offer some choices that are lackluster, to say the least.
Knowing where to eat before you enter the park is as important as knowing what you are going to eat. Here are our choices for the best dining experience at each of the four Disney parks.
Magic Kingdom: Gaston’s Tavern
This ‘tavern’ is a great choice if you are looking for a light meal or snack. It is perfect for anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, but any Disney fan will find something enjoyable inside.
The theme is right on point and the cinnamon rolls with extra icing are to die for!
Epcot: Via Napoli
Epcot offers food from many parts of the world but if you’re in the mood for Italian food, then stop by Via Napoli.
It’s a great place to grab a pizza or to have anything from a small plate to a pasta dish. They also have some good offerings for the kids, but you might want to grab a few of those fried mozzarella bites for yourself.
Disney’s Hollywood Studio: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
If you’re looking for someplace where food and fun come together, then this 50’s style drive-in theater will be right up your alley. They offer good American cuisine, including a tasty BBQ burger and fried dill pickles.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Yak & Yeti Restaurant
A little advance preparation is necessary to eat at this spacious restaurant. You will have to get a reservation in advance but it is well worth the wait.
The meals cost between $15 and $35 but if you are in the mood for some pan-Asian food, start with the potstickers and move up from there.
Kids also have plenty of choices, including tempura chicken and mac & cheese.
Some Disney Dining You May Have Missed
It’s no secret that most of the better dining options are at the resorts and not inside the parks. There are still some hidden gems and here are some you may have missed.
La Hacienda de San Angel – When you are visiting Mexico in Epcot, then you should grab a snack at this restaurant.
It may be a quick bite, but the seats are comfortable, and the view is fantastic. That is especially true when the fireworks start in the evening (pro tip).
Rix Sports Bar & Grill – Head over to Disney’s Coronado Springs resort for a sizable snack plate.
Not only will you leave with a full belly, but it’s also a great place to linger and watch your favorite sports on one of their 31 giant screen TVs.
Grand Floridian Café – One other hidden gem that you will not want to miss is this Café, located in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. It offers casual dining on American food and a view that will keep you lingering in your seat.
Have a magical day!