Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook rarely goes negative, in this case, a gentle reminder is most necessary. This past weekend was spent inside the Disney compound, where one is practically forced to consume Disney food in order to survive. Having visited Disney years ago, as a child and as a teenager, I remember the food getting better. The general consensus from the native Floridians I spoke with was that effort was being made.
I will say, backed by The Practical Cooks Junior and my most Practical Parents, it is very much a work in progress, and to coin a corporate phrase, there’s a lot of opportunity here.
For the good people of Disney:
1. You are located in Florida, fruits and vegetables are plentiful there.Though I applaud the efforts at healthy eating, you have to fight for your right to be vegetarian. I had to send back fries, fend off electric yellow cheese sauce (determined to be “nasty” by the Eldest), and actively request grapes, apple slices, and carrot sticks. However, these options are not advertised or available for adults. Um, I like vegetables, too. A lot in fact.
2. The dining plan should not be more complicated than Google’s search algorithm. You know things are overpriced, and they sell this hard as a way to save money (and for me, to not truly think about paying a premium for swill). However, one false move and you’ve got 2 snacks and 1 table service gone. Multiple times I had to firmly insist that I had punches left on the card and a manager was brought in. Thirty minutes spent when you’re hungry and tired: not acceptable.
3. Other chains do it better and faster. Why should the commercially produced food at Disney be less palatable than Cracker Barrel or Chik-fil-A? I found the service to be slow, the food to be overpriced, and just barely edible overall. Because I don’t drink soda and avoid less than perfect fries, I was hungry a lot of the time, resorting to my fail-safe trail mix. If it’s a profit center, make it more of one: Disney, please consult with companies who are doing it right.
4. Kids can smell a rat in the shape of a mouse. The Youngest took one look at the Smucker’s Crustable and said, “I want real food.” She lived on grapes, carrot sticks, and yogurt, with dessert as her entree of choice. Both Jrs. left their fries, ordered hot dogs exactly once (just say no to cheese sauce), and tried to doctor their food. I don’t force them to finish their plates, and they chose hunger over gross as well. They loved Fried at the fair, they’re not snobs, they’re just in touch with their taste buds.
5. Coffee is not optional. I found actual coffee in EPCOT, which I’ll cover in more detail tomorrow, but in this day and age, 7-11 has gourmet coffee options. There’s no lattes in sight, and the drip coffee was pretty awful. Tired cranky parents plus bad coffee, not a winning combo. It would be an easy and welcome addition, iced in the summer and hot year-round, on coffee carts.
- Breakfast isn’t bad. The kids enjoyed the waffles immensely, and the prices are more reasonable. I had oatmeal most days, which counted as a snack.
- Pack snacks, like granola, trail mix, and fruit.
- Skip the sit-down meals unless you’re looking for a character moment. Choose breakfast for that.
- Consider eating sandwiches in your room as a mid-day break.
- Accept dessert as necessary calories. I had a chocolate chip cookie for dinner the first night, and the carrot cakes saved the day more than once.
What did you think of Disney food? Share your experiences or tips and tricks in the comments line below. Or Tweet!
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Tomorrow, Food of the Future: EPCOT Food Review!