It’s a Small Culinary World: Disney Food Review

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.

Made to order Mouse Waffles were a hit!

Made to order Mouse Waffles were a hit!

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.

The world's nastiest hot dog. No mustard could save it.

The world's nastiest hot dog. No mustard could save it.

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.

The Chicken "Caesar" salad I goat wasn't bad--just small and as rare as a short line on a nice day.

The Chicken "Caesar" salad I got wasn't bad--just small and as rare as a short line on a nice day.

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.

Salmon and veggies weren't bad, I just didn't get to eat much of it. My kids chose this over the hot dog from the kids menu.

Salmon and veggies weren't bad, I just didn't get to eat much of it. My kids chose this over the hot dog from the kids menu.

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.

Peanut Butter and Jelly just isn't that hard. Crustables, I mock you.

Peanut Butter and Jelly just isn't that hard. Crustables, I mock you.

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.

The oatmeal was tasty, at the proper temperature, and cheap.

The oatmeal was tasty, at the proper temperature, and cheap.

TIPS:

  • 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.
Carrot cakes are easy to identify, and desserts are pushed as part of the meal plan.

Carrot cakes are easy to identify, and desserts are pushed as part of the meal plan.

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!

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10 Comments

Filed under Restaurant Reviews

10 responses to “It’s a Small Culinary World: Disney Food Review

  1. Amy- The pictures say it all! I’ve been enjoying your blog. Are you going to the Food and Wine event at Epcot tomorrow?

    • The Practical Cook

      Thanks! The Food and Wine event was happening when we were there on Sunday. Tomorrow’s blog will cover that aspect of the food. It was an improvement, to say the least. 🙂

  2. I’ve only been to Disney once (the one in CA), and only for one evening, but my inability to find something I could or would eat as a vegetarian (and not even a healthy one) really made me cranky and I did not enjoy myself as much as I could have. I’m pretty sure I ended up with a sub-par veggie burger and a very large Mickey-shaped rice krispy treat.

    • The Practical Cook

      I have 2 such krispy treats in my possession right now. 🙂 Thanks for your feedback, well said. It is hard to enjoy oneself fully when struggling for something decent to eat. It’s like being at a concert, but trapped for several days.

      • I was also super-hungry and ready for dinner when we got there, and even finding the one place that had a vegetarian option was a huge hassle. I really don’t get why they don’t have better food–people would pay for it.

  3. Isn’t it odd that they provide more (somewhat) healthy options for the kids? They get the option of fruit and carrots, but the adults get what?? Fries? I brought lots of snacks on our recent trip. We didn’t do the meal plan and thought the cost savings was good, but you’ve made some excellent points about the lack of choices. Here are the snacks I took: http://almostonpurpose.blogspot.com/2011/09/enjoying-disney-trip-and-saving-some.html

    Thank you for your fabulous blog. I love your style!

    • The Practical Cook

      I had no idea that adults loved fried more than kids before Disney. 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing it. I agree with you on the non-messy snacks, key to survival.

      Thanks for your kind words–love what you’re doing as well!

  4. Kelly

    That sounds frightening and complicated. Yikes. I fear the mouse.

    • The Practical Cook

      I think the key may be sticking to mouse-shaped foods: the ice cream bars, rice krispy treats, and waffles were all hits. Perhaps that which doesn’t fit in the mold should be avoided. 🙂

      • Kelly

        This reminds me of a similar eating out mantra that I am always searching in vain for an exception to: if you are in a bar, order bar food. (not the interesting pasta which will invariably be underdone/overdone and swimming in oil)

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